5 Tips To Improve Dirt Bike Clutch Control

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Dirt bike handlebar with a person pressing on the clutch lever with forest on the background

Learning precise dirt bike clutch control is an essential skill for any technical dirt bike rider. Getting better at dirt bike clutch control involves setting up the forward controls correctly and doing few basic clutch control exercises.

In this post, we will cover how to correctly setup the clutch lever and how to use the clutch properly. You can quickly improve your dirt bike skills with these 5 tips whether you are a beginner or an advanced rider. With these dirt bike setup tips and practicing methods, you will learn functional clutch control skills with your dirt bike in a matter of few days.

Let’ s get started.

1. Adjust the Dirt Bike Clutch Position and Reach

Good clutch control starts with a correct handlebar position and setting up the forward controls to fit your hands. The clutch lever can be adjusted in several different ways to fit your arms, finger length and lever reach. The angle and position on the handlebars is also important and should be adjusted correctly to your height.

Adjust the clutch lever in the handlebar so that your index finger reaches the clutch lever easily. Check that the clutch is fully disengaged when the clutch lever is pulled in against your middle finger. Check that the clutch is barely touching the grip donut area. The lever angle is also important. The clutch lever should be angled only slightly downwards.

For more instructions how to adjust your levers for an optimal position, check out our detailed guide for setting up dirt bike handlebars for trail riding and our ultimate brake and clutch lever positioning guide.

2. Learn One Finger Clutch Operation

For a beginner, learning one finger clutch operation can be a difficult task. But it doesn’t need to be. Once you have setup the clutch properly, using the clutch should be easy. The clutch lever pull should be relatively light to operate with two fingers and is a good starting point.

Use your index and middle finger to start with. Over time, use the index finger more and more as you are getting better and stronger.

You can start with two finger clutch operation. Once warmed up on the trails, use only index finger when riding in relatively easy terrain. When you feel fatigue in your hands or clutch finger, switch to two finger clutch operation. Slowly over several weeks, you will use more and more one finger clutch operation. Over time, you will experience more precise and controllable clutch control using only the index finger.

Left hand on the handlebar with index finger depressing the clutch lever

The benefits of using only one finger to operate the dirt bike clutch is the better, more precise feedback from the friction point and being able to grip the handlebar using three fingers. This usually helps with arm pump and arm fatigue. If you are experiencing arm pump, read our 11 tips to prevent arm pump in trail riding.

Read also: How To Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome In Trail Riding

3. Flush Clutch Fluid for Lighter Clutch Pull

If the clutch lever feels difficult or hard to pull in or is spongy or changes over time, you should flush the clutch fluid. In case of cable clutch, check the cable clutch wire and housing for kinks or breakages and replace if necessary. The clutch operation should feel consistent and light and should not change while riding the dirt bike. The clutch fluid may have air build up or is contaminated.

Flush the clutch fluid and bleed it well for proper operation. Also, check your motor oil for proper oil level and replace frequently per user manual recommended interval. The wet clutch in dirt bikes are using the motor oil to lubricate the clutch plates and old oil can affect the clutch friction point operation.

Read also: The Best Dirt Bike Setup For Beginners

4. Find Dirt Bike Clutch Friction Point

Most technical riding techniques require precise clutch control. Going over obstacles, such as logs, ledges and rocks usually involve using the clutch to modulate the power delivery. Learning, adjusting and using the friction point is important and luckily there are several methods to practice and get better at using the dirt bike clutch.

Our favorite clutch operation exercise is to find a small and smooth incline and use the clutch friction point to rock the dirt bike back and forward.

Set your dirt bike on a small incline. Place your left leg on a stable position near the left foot peg or slightly forward. Without lifting or moving the left leg, use the clutch to slowly move the dirt bike forward about a foot length. Pulling the clutch slightly in, let the bike roll back into initial position. Repeat the process. Use only low revs as this exercise does not require lot of power.

The goal for this exercise is to find and use the dirt bike clutch friction point to rock the bike forward and back. Move slowly without stalling the dirt bike or losing control. The key is to be able to find comfortable clutch operation and repeatedly be able to move the bike slowly forward and slowly back into initial position.

You can use this skill in many areas in the trails. This skill will also help you prevent the dirt bike from rolling backwards in the future and to prevent stalling.

Read also: Top 5 Static Balance Exercises To Improve Trail Riding

5. Practice Lifting the Front Wheel

Once you are getting better with the basic clutch control exercises, such as the rolling back and forth described above, you can practice more advanced techniques. This next step will help you further control the clutch and use it to lift the front wheel up off the ground. Being able to lift the front end with precise clutch operation is a basic requirement to learn wheelies and similar more advanced techniques.

This next exercise is very similar to the previous one. Find a small, 4 to 8 inch ledge or an incline that has a step-up. Start with a smaller step up and work your way to bigger ledges and you will notice how it gets easier to control the front end.

Place the front wheel on the corner of the ledge and use the front brake to hold the front wheel locked during the entire exercise. Place your left leg next the rear axle. Sit back on the seat, almost on the fender. If you are shorter and cannot reach the ground well, place a steady rock under your left leg to sit comfortably on the back of the seat.

Now, similarly to rocking the bike forward with the clutch, use slightly elevated engine revolutions and release the clutch out slightly quicker but not fully out. Pull the clutch in to drop the front end back down. The goal is to give it a short and controllable burst of power using the clutch in the friction area.

Keep your upper body stationary and do not move forward with the dirt bike. It should almost feel like the dirt bike runs out under you or rotates around and you lift the front end with your arms, rather than you moving forward with the bike.

Rider with a dirt bike using the clutch to lift front end up to a wheelie
Place the dirt bike to an incline or a step-up. Sit back on the seat with left leg behind or near the rear axle.
Dirt bike on a dirt hill making a wheelie
Using the clutch friction point, give small amount of power and release the clutch slightly to lift the front end.

Read also: Single Track Riding Tips for Beginners

Conclusions

Precise dirt bike clutch control is key to improving your riding skills. Use these exercises to improve your clutch control whenever you go out riding. Add the ledge exercise to your warmup routine and you will be amazed how quickly it will help you get better over a few weeks. It only takes about 5 to 10 minutes each time you go out to ride.

Slip that clutch!

Last updated: June 21, 2022