Tuesday Tip: Clutch Free Play and Control Reach

Josh Grant’s mechanic, Naveen Dassanayake, followed his rider from the Honda of Houston’s amateur program to the Amsoil Chaparral Honda squad. Given his experience with amateur racers, he noted that some riders think they’re doing themselves a favor by adjusting out all the free play from their clutch cable, when actually, it needs a small amount.

“A lot of people don’t pay attention to it, but it’s something that’s really important,” Naveen explains, “Some people don’t have enough free play in the clutch cable, so they burn it up really fast. When the plates expand, they need to have enough free play up at the lever.”

So how much do you need? “When the bike’s cold, a lot of people put a quarter between the lever and perch, and then adjust the slack out of the cable to get the right free play. There are a lot of aftermarket perches that you can adjust while you’re riding—like we use Works Connection — so riders need to get a feel for the free play and adjust accordingly.” Naveen also noted, “After a while of using the quarter method, as a mechanic you’ll be able to tell when there’s enough free play.”

Naveen also let us in on a couple tips for lever setup that Josh likes, but you probably won’t find in your owner’s manual. “If you want a touchier front brake using the stock Honda levers, remove the circlip, and remove the reach adjuster bolt. Take off the adjuster nut and throw it away before replacing the bolt. It gives you an extra three millimeters of reach, and for people who race Arenacross or Supercross who like really touchy brakes with the stock brake lever, that’s a good way to go.”

And finally, Naveen mentioned, “For SX, the riders like to have the levers a little further out, so that it’s a little touchier. (In other words, it’s good for pros, but not as hot for beginners). But for longer motos, running the reach further in toward the handlebars is one way to help reduce arm pump.”