8 Reasons Your Motorcycle Clutch Is Too Hard

One of the most common problems you may face with your motorcycle includes trouble with the clutch. Since it is intended to help you transition safely between gears, it makes sense that the clutch system is tough and might be a bit difficult to pull. However, perhaps it is much too difficult to pull. It can make one wonder what causes a motorcycle clutch to be too hard?

Continue reading to learn eight reasons your motorcycle clutch is too hard. From failure to keep your clutch in good condition, improper installation on the inner mechanics, or problems due to wear and tear over time, the reasons can vary. Below is an in-depth explanation to help you figure out why your clutch might be too difficult to pull. By considering these causes, you should be able to find out how to fix your problem.

Why Is Your Motorcycle Clutch Too Hard?

Motorcycle clutch
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There are several possibilities that could explain why your motorcycle clutch is too hard to pull. However, before trying to figure out the problem on your own, you need to consider each of the different reasons why this could be happening. Whether you are experienced or not with riding or working on a motorcycle, if you find yourself thinking, “my motorcycle clutch is too hard,” it is time to take a diagnostic look at your bike.

Below are eight reasons your motorcycle clutch is too hard. As you read, think about the different aspects you may expect are involved with your motorcycle. If anything pops out to you, making you think it might be the source of the problem, make sure to do more research, and contact a professional if you need to.

You Need To Lubricate Your Clutch Cable

One of the most common causes of a clutch that is too difficult to pull involves the clutch cable. That is the cable that runs from your clutch handle all the way down to your clutch plates. 

The clutch cable is essential to a functional clutch because it responds when you pull the clutch and works with the clutch plates and springs to help you switch gears.

As you might have guessed, if there is a problem with your clutch cable, you will not have much success in using the clutch. First, make sure that your clutch cable is lubricated. If you have not lubricated it in a while, old lubricants can become packed together and cake up along the cable or against the clutch plates. If you know how to lubricate your cable yourself, this can be an easy fix. If not, call someone with experience.

If you clean off old lubricant and re-lubricate your clutch cable only to find that the clutch is still too hard to pull, you might need to take a closer look. 

If too much wear and tear has caused the cable to fray or become damaged in any way, you will need to replace the clutch cable completely. Again, as with any of the projects in this article, make sure you either know how to do this correctly or get in touch with someone who can.

Your Clutch Lever Is Dirty Or Worn

Another highly likely problem you might come across is if the actual clutch lever is problematic. 

Whether from being idle to going in motion or while increasing speed, the lever is constantly being pulled on when switching gears. Since it is the most physically used part of the entire clutch system, it can become damaged over time.

Colored Lever set

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If you think the problem might be from the clutch lever, detach it from your handlebar and carefully inspect its condition. If there is any major damage to it, you might need a replacement. A damaged lever is not safe to use, especially since it is the main part of the clutch system that you need to have in order to have a working clutch.

If there is no structural damage to the clutch lever, there is another possibility. Materials can get jammed in the creases where the clutch lever pivots to engage the rest of the system, whether it be from: 

  • Poor weather conditions
  • Dirt and other particles on your hands or gloves
  • Anything else like pollen build-up

If this is the problem, it is an easy fix. By removing the clutch lever, you can clean out the lever and the area where it is attached, making sure you wipe away any dirt, dust, etc.

Do You Need To Adjust Your Clutch Lever?

One other small issue that can explain why your clutch is too hard to pull is if the lever needs to be adjusted. 

Most clutch levers are adjustable, and if you buy your motorcycle and do not adjust the lever to your liking, it might be in a position that appears to make your clutch faulty. 

Your hands may be too big or too small, or the lever might just be in a totally wonky position. Make sure that the lever is adjusted to fit your hand specifically.

Is Your Cable Routing Installed Incorrectly?

Going back to the clutch cable, failure to attach the cable correctly from the clutch lever to the clutch plates can result in a clutch that is too hard. 

If the cable is not connected properly, the clutch could either be pulled with no problem whatsoever but have no result or be pulled as hard as possible and never budge.

If you have installed the cable yourself, go back and make sure it is fully connected. You should also check to see if there are kinks anywhere in the cable that might be preventing the cable from moving. 

It is essential to ensure that your cable is secure. Failure to do so can not only cause your clutch lever to be too hard to pull but also pose a risk while you are on the road. A faulty cable is one issue that should never be ignored. Just as the rest of the clutch system must remain intact, you do not want a cable that appears secure to disconnect while you are riding your motorcycle.

Are Your Clutch Springs Too Stiff Or Too Strong?

As a part of the clutch system, your motorcycle will have four to six large springs to help engage the transmission while pulling the clutch. 

By pulling the clutch lever, these springs compress from the force of your hand. So, if you have tough springs, it can be a nuisance to have to pull against their stiff push-back design every time you pull the clutch.

Clutch springs set

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One way that you could fix this problem is by replacing the clutch springs altogether. Of course, you may not want to do this, but if you decide to, make sure you install springs with less compression resistance. Having looser springs will make it easier to pull your clutch. This should go without saying, but make sure the springs you buy as replacements for your clutch are made for a motorcycle clutch system.

Another option is to add washers to the spring bolt to decrease the push-back from the springs. As long as you do not add more than 2 mm of thickness of washers, your motorcycle’s clutch system should function just as well as before. However, with something like this, adding even the smallest excess amount of washers can go wrong, so make sure you test out the clutch to see if it works efficiently.

Maybe Your Clutch Plates Are Damaged

Because the clutch plates are so strong and durable, it is not likely that you will find the problem this deep in the clutch system. Still, general wear and tear can cause problems with any part of your bike, so if you cannot find the problem anywhere else, check the clutch plates.

Cluch plates kit

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The clutch plates are a huge part of the clutch system as they act as the main part of the system’s structural security. If there is damage to your clutch plates, it can cause other major problems to your bike. Unfortunately, these damages might not be reversible, so unless it is simply dirt or lubricant that is interfering with your clutch plates, you might need to get them replaced.

As said above, this is not a common problem. The reasons mentioned prior to faulty clutch plates are much more likely and easier to examine, so make sure you check those out before wasting your time on the plates. Although, even if you find the problem early on in your bike examination, it might not hurt to make sure the other moving parts are functional as well.

Perhaps Other Interior Clutch Mechanics Are Faulty

If you cannot seem to find the source of the problem, no matter how closely you look, it might be best to take your motorcycle to the shop and have it checked out. Sometimes, there are special cases where only an extremely experienced professional can find what is going on. If this is the case, it does not mean there is major damage.

There are many aspects that go into the working parts of a motorcycle. It might even end up being a problem with your transmission instead of the clutch itself. In an instance like this, it may not be likely that you know what to do. So, when in doubt, find the experience to help you.

Sticking Or Binding Can Occur In The System

Related to miscellaneous problems with the mechanics of your motorcycle involves sticking or binding in the system. If there is any build-up or damage to the interior of your bike, this can be a serious problem. 

If the gear selector pedal has a poor connection to your transmission, there is a chance it could also interfere with the connection to your clutch lever.  

How To Make Your Clutch Easier To Pull

Honda Shadow handlebar
Photo by Duane Swaby on Unsplash

If you are not able to find the problem, it may mean your clutch was made to require a large amount of pressure to pull. In the same way, perhaps you found a problem, fixed it, but realized the clutch is still too hard to pull. Well, there are different methods you can try to soften the tension in your clutch.

Can You Use A Hydraulic Clutch Instead?

One way to decrease the difficulty of pulling your clutch is to use a hydraulic clutch. Some newer motorcycles come with hydraulic clutches depending on the model, but it is not very common. If your motorcycle does not have a hydraulic clutch, you might consider replacing your old system with one.

A hydraulic clutch works with the help of fluid to engage with the clutch plates and transmission. It makes pulling the clutch lever substantially easier, though some riders say it makes it too easy. 

Pro Tip: Part of the reason some people like a bit of added pressure when pulling the clutch lever is so that they can feel the gears shift to know that the transmission is working properly.

A hydraulic clutch may not give you that pressure, and you may not like losing that sensation. However, another benefit of a hydraulic clutch is that it does not require as many parts, making it much easier to maintain and remain functional. On the flip side, they tend to be more expensive than a typical replacement clutch.

Motorcycle Hydraulic Clutch Kit

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Work On Your Grip Strength

It may seem silly, but strengthening your grip can be extremely beneficial for making it easier to pull your clutch. Sometimes, the problem might be simply because the strength of your hand is not capable of pulling comfortably on the clutch lever. If this is the case, perform basic hand exercises to help you work on your grip strength.

Do You Need to Fix Your Posture?

It may come as a surprise, but your clutch lever may be too hard to pull because of the way you sit on your motorcycle

If you do not ride your motorcycle in a way that allows your wrists to be level with your bike’s clutch lever, you can have trouble pulling the lever. 

Any awkward bend in your wrist can cause extra tension in your arms and reduce your chances of pulling the clutch with ease.

Takeaway

There are plenty of reasons that might be the cause of your motorcycle clutch being too hard to pull, but it can be even more difficult to find the source of the problem. By learning about the possible causes mentioned above, you should be able to locate the problem and either fix it yourself or take it in for professional work. 

The clutch system is one of the most important working parts of your motorcycle, so you want to make sure it never faces unnecessary problems that could lead to damage or injury.

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