Using the Clutch-Help!!

I have been racing a YZ125 for about a year now.

The bike has been kicking my butt in tight technical woods courses.

I have finally figured out (with the help of hubby) that I am not use / abusing my clutch to help me through.

Can anyone give a little advise of how they learned to use the clutch to their advantage? Or is it trail by fire?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.:thumbsup:

I was a 4 finger clutch user for a long time up until I was about 17-18 and some friends introduced me to trials riding and a trials bike. They (and the tials bike) taught me to 1 or 2 finger the clutch for better control of the application of the power to the rear wheel. I eventually got my own trials bike to practice on, however just from that day of putting around it taught me how to apply that technique for slow sections to my bigger offroad/motocross bikes. I am no pro mind you but think about modulating the clutch in those slower tighter sections without fully disengaging when you really don't need to. The trials bike helped this immensely. So if you have the opportunity to hop on one of these bikes for a day. Otherwise its a trial and error. It takes practice and a well lubed/routed cable and a clutch basket thats in good condition :thumbsup: I taught my wife PrincessMX this way and she has really good clutch control for a beginner

For me I ride with one finger always covering the clutch and the front brake. This allows me to feather the clutch when needed as well as be light on the front brake :thumbsup:

Now for feathering the clutch try riding slow and using the clutch to control your speed vs letting off the throttle and grabbing any brake. It takes practice but when you feather the clutch you can control your rear wheel speed in and though the turns.

Thats how I do it on my 250 2 stroke as well as my 4 stroke:thumbsup: Clutch control is a big part of trail riding as well as racing :thumbsup:

I'll just ramble:D

I had the background of already knowing how to drive a clutch car, and back when I was learning I had a job with an old Pinto with bald tires that I used to do delivery in downtown Seattle--lots of stopping and starting on VERY steep hills that were often wet. Debi will know what I mean haha! The skillz I learned in that car, which was all about controlling what little traction I had so I wouldn't crash into things(or worse get rear ended because remember Pintos had those gas tanks in the back that exploded...), they gave me a sense of how the clutch controls power to the wheels to use traction. Which traction affects slowing down, and accelerating, and also how much sideways torquey squirt you're going to get with accelerating--the clutch refines all that.

SO Debi can whack me if I get this wrong--on a 2 stroke in the tight you can't lug it or keep it down in a slow gear like 4-strokes(which is usually why people like 4 strokes in tight woods), it will take a lot more clutch work to keep the engine revved up where the 2's like to run(the happy zone, and every bike has one, my WR likes 3rd in the tight stuff), without killing the engine when you cut the throttle.

THere are times when I'm going along and I can't just whap the throotle to get more speed--I'll lose traction by the back wheel sliding because the throttle sent power too sharply, and the surface was to slick(either wet or slidy gravelly) to keep up friction with the tire so I can get launched along faster. SO instead I have my momentum up(so I don't stall or slow down too much), pull the clutch in, turn the throttle to get the engine speed up, then let the clutch out--how fast you let the clutch out will control the rate of power the engine puts to the wheel so you don't lose traction.

There's lots of other ways that the clutch does things to power. But I think the main thing to focus on first is listening to the engine(how revved up it is) and getting a feel for how the clutch engages, where it engages in the pull(so you can learn the feathering thing).

ALso a thing to focus on in the tight is being smooth, don't zoom way fast when you can then scrub speed way down in the corner. Learning good cornering technique will help you corner faster and smoother, and you'll be more efficient and more relaxed because you aren't fighting for control.

If you can practice corners, somewhere where you can do just a couple turns over and over again and really pay attention to where you use the clutch and then experiment with braking/accelerating you'll really gain a lot. It's hard out in the woods where you have to pay attention to where other people are and there's always something new up the trail to focus on.

OKay, I did the dishes and thought some more...(if you can stand it haha). You're probably getting your butt kicked by the bike because you're trying to make it turn through the tight by your own might, and since you dont' have the clutch control the power is wild and that sets up stress too. THe bike will thread that tight stuff fine once you get a handle on letting it fly and your input is small efforts of balance/body weight, clutch/throttle--stuff that doesn't need brute strength to do. Like I said learn to corner, and lean that bike over instaed of steering it around a corner. The bike doesn't WANT to steer, it wants to lean. You know how you can make a bicycle turn etc by shifting your weight, it's the same thing.

ALso make sure your suspension(springs, clickers--compression and rebound ) and sag is set up proper for conditions and your speed/aggression, that makes a HUGE difference in how the bikes handles. If the bike handle crappy you're going to be fighting that. Tire pressure matters too. Putting the forks up in the triple clamps helps the bike turn quicker(and I still dont' mean by steering).

I know this sounds like a lot of information to throw at you, but if you print off some articles(there are some articles here on TT, or there were) and let it soak in, and ask some friends that will help you, it is SOSOSO worth the effort to get your bike set up nice. It makes such a HUGE HUGE MAGICAL difference!!!

Dang, and then there is center of gravity--just do a search here on TT at least for a place to start.

Very true Celeste... you can't lug a 2 stroke as it fouls plugs :thumbsup:

Took me a while to get the hang of feathering it while going steep down hill, over rocks, and alternating it with the rear brake and not relying on the front brake for that type of terrain.

Junkman - I do not think I have access to one of those bikes. I need to learn how to do this on the bike.

Plushpuppy - you make complete sense. Like you I have drive clutch vehicles my entire life. I was taught NEVER ride the clutch. So when I started riding dirt bikes I used the same teachings. I am starting to learn otherwise. The clutch on a dirt bike to designed to be used and abused.

Scott and I have worked on the bike a lot. He reset the clickers, rebound, rear spring and took some shims out of the front forks to soften up for woods riding. The bike has really been set up for me as much as possible. I don't like to jump hard or jump at all for that matter. Low to the ground and let her fly.

The clutching is where I need to work. Your advise on learning to corner somewhere will probably be my biggest help. I come up short(slow) in the turn. I have no issues powering out of the turn, I need to learn to come into the turn harder. Knock on wood I have yet to foul a plug (much to hubby's amazement.) I do lug through the tight stuff.

I came to realize this problem at my last race and then ride the next weekend. We rode a LOT of palmetto roots. Those things suck. I kept stalling the bike and not keeping the momentum through it.

I am guessing I need to "Ride" the clutch a bit more?

Thanks everyone for taking time to lend some advise and techniques.

Very true Celeste... you can't lug a 2 stroke as it fouls plugs :thumbsup:

Baloney!:thumbsup: A KDX can lug it's way through the tight stuff. I never foul plugs on mine.

Baloney!:thumbsup: A KDX can lug it's way through the tight stuff. I never foul plugs on mine.

No it's Spam not Baloney :cheers:

All my 2 smokes have fouled a plug when lugging it for to long. You know lugging with out blipping the throttle :bonk: It can also be due to the pre mix and pre mix % I was running as well :thumbsup:

One word for your tight woods clutch issues "REKLUSE". Also fouling plugs is usually a function of improper jetting. I change the plug in my KTM two stroke every two years needs it or not.

yes, improper jetting--my old xr100 would foul plugs above 3000 ft, had to keep that revved up and blown out.

fouling plugs is usually a function of improper jetting. I change the plug in my KTM two stroke every two years needs it or not.

I agree there. The only two stroke bike that I can foul a plug on lugging it, would be my CR85 since it isn't designed to run at low RPMs. On the bigger bikes, I usually change my sparkplug during a top end overhaul.:thumbsup:

One word for your tight woods clutch issues "REKLUSE". Also fouling plugs is usually a function of improper jetting. I change the plug in my KTM two stroke every two years needs it or not.

I appreciate the advise but I don't want a Rekluse right now. I want to learn to clutch.

Will be going out riding this weekend in the "no Name area" so I am going to try some of the techniques you all have suggested. Will keep you posted.


Yeah no use running a rekluse you end up having way to much fun riding and the frustration factor goes way down. Ever wonder why all those Worcs champions, GNCC Pros and endurocross winners run them? I can tell you it ain't cause they don't know how to use the clutch. It's because it's so much faster and smoother on one.

Baloney!:thumbsup: A KDX can lug it's way through the tight stuff. I never foul plugs on mine.

YAY!! for KDXs :confused:

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