Riding your way to a factory style bike comes in one of two ways: Climbing through the pro ranks or working a day job, saving money and buying aftermarket upgrades that turn your stock floor model into a feared beast.

The pros have it easy, at least when it comes to those fancy upgrades and getting them installed. The rest of us? Not so much. It's expensive, time consuming and, for quite a few, once that golden boy of a part finally arrives it's quickly, or in some cases not so quickly, realized that an expensive upgrade comes with some caveats.

You need more stuff!

Such is the case when riders upgrade their clutch. You've probably heard of Rekluse, many swear it's the finest money buys. But don't discount Hinson (a favorite of lots of pros) and Wiseco, among others. Regardless of your flavor of clutch, don't think ordering the clutch and excitedly installing it upon arrival means cranking out laps the next day.

Check the other clutch components before upgrading or replacing your clutch

Hopefully you double checked the wear limits of all the clutch components including the pressure plate, hub and basket. Prior to ordering a clutch replacement you should first check whether you need to replace all the component parts.

What happens, way too often, is the brand new clutch gets installed amongst old parts. Then, when the new clutch doesn't work right, the rider believes they got a defective system or the clutch isn't as great as advertised. Meanwhile the new clutch says, "It's not me, it's you!"

Or, another rider rips laps while ripping through their clutch once a month and spending a needless amount of hours and money on replacement parts thinking that means they've elevated their game and other riders best watch out. Well, that's not true either.

We're not saying all clutch components require replacing. Unlike the drive parts where you replace chain and sprockets regardless of use, check the wear limits on the clutch components. If they're within specs, you can reuse them. However, usually when it's time for a clutch replacement or clutch upgrade those component parts also need replacing but quite often get overlooked. The "looks good" method does not work.

So now you've got a brand new $800 clutch working in sync with well-used components. Do you think that old gasket and used clutch oil works alongside a brand new clutch for very long? You know what happens when you add one good battery to a pack of old batteries? The old batteries suck the life out of the new battery. Same thing with the new clutch. The old parts make the new part function like an old part. The clutch and the clutch pack, though different, work interchangeably.

Therefore, when the gears start slipping or you finally saved for the latest high-powered upgrade, (i.e. the clutch) before placing the order disassemble the clutch and check the thickness of the following:

  • Drive plate (or Steel) thickness
  • Pressure plate surface
  • Fiber thickness on the pads of the clutch plate

You'll need a micrometer or digital Vernier caliper along with the bike's owner's manual which details the recommended thickness for each. Read more about When to Replace a Dirt Bike Clutch Pack. Most clutch kits DO NOT include the cover gasket, pressure plates, and hub and basket. It's all separate so if you haven't yet bought that Rekluse or Hinson you've had your eye on, recognize the need for possible extra replacement parts in addition to the new clutch.

If you've already bought the new clutch, prior to install, check the other components. You might need to order more parts and wait another week before that much-anticipated test ride but you'll be happier with the results and you can start saving for the next upgrade rather than for more clutch parts.

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