Saturday I picked up Lizzie, my V-Star 1300, after having “clutch enhancement surgery” performed on her.
Lucky for me, it turned out to be a beautiful 75-degree winter day here in Austin, and I was able to go on a nice little ride to try it out. To be sure, this auto-clutch concept takes getting used to, but so far, so good. . . .
Here is some basic information about the EFM Auto Clutch and review of my first impressions after riding about 250 miles with it.
This Super Auto Clutch video explains in easy terms how an auto clutch or centrifugal clutch engages and disengages. While the video shows a different brand than EFM and the design is not identical (but close), it’s the same concept.
This Faq Page from the EFM website explains a little more about how it works.
New Year’s Solution gives a quick explanation of why I had the auto clutch installed.
Of course, I know little about motorcycle mechanics and did not do the installation myself. Jennifer, from Austin City Powersports, said the installation is definitely not a casual weekend job. You may have to make a few or even several adjustments to get it exactly right, and each time an adjustment is made, the entire auto clutch has to be removed. With the V-Star 1300, it also required removing the exhaust system to get to the clutch. However, once it is properly set, it should not have to be readjusted.
An auto clutch is NOT the same as an automatic transmission or CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). You still have to manually shift gears with your left foot (or whatever), and you still have to understand how and when to use those gears. I’ve read where people want to know if the auto clutch is a good alternative for someone who is having a hard time learning to shift. Personally, I don’t think so.
From the outside, Lizzie looks exactly the same. The modification is done on the pressure plate, so nothing shows on the outside of the bike. Apparently some models have a spacer that pushes the cover out, but that’s not the case with the V-Star 1300.
Having ridden a good 12,000 miles on little twist-and-go scooters, I expected to start rolling without a thought, but that’s not what happened. The muscle memory of pulling in the clutch lever to begin moving the heavy motorcycle was practically impossible to overcome, and the feeling in my gut was exactly like the first time I breathed underwater in scuba class — This is not right! But with a lot of concentration and ignoring instincts, I forced myself to forget the lever and she took off without stalling. Sweet!
If you want to use the clutch lever, it works as usual at idle and up to about 1,500 rpm’s. (That number may not be exactly right.) There is zero pull on the lever while idling, and the tension increases as the rpm’s increase.
To shift gears, you roll off the throttle a bit and use your left foot for shifting like you normally do. Simple as that.
My test riding included some of the tightest curves in this area (not a lot to choose from) and remote country roads with steep grades. There is only one tight curve with a steep elevation change that I know of around here, and I rode that going both directions. As far as I could tell, engine braking seemed to be exactly the same as the OEM clutch in all gears. It seemed like there is more pull in all the gears at lower speeds, but I’d like to confirm that with more mileage.
If you park the bike while it’s in gear, it can roll on an incline since the auto clutch is not engaged. I need to come up with an easy way to set the front brake, which shouldn’t be hard to do. Several people have suggested wrapping an inner tube around the front brake to hold it.
Because the bike will roll when parked in gear, it’s easy to believe it’s in neutral when it isn’t. It’s important to always make sure it’s in neutral before starting so it can’t take off on its own, especially if you’re using a choke.
There seem to be a few other quirky things to be aware of with this auto clutch, but I don’t want to speculate on them until I know for sure what I’m talking about! I’ll post more after I’ve ridden a while. It is February and today’s high is stuck in the thirties, so it might be a while before I can put on some serious miles.
In conclusion — if it’s possible to have a credible conclusion after only 250 miles — I can see how dirt bikers and racers love these clutches so much. Changing gears is much quicker and easier than it used to be, with absolutely no wear and tear on the left hand.
It appears that the EFM auto clutch is going to turn out to be the perfect solution to my left-handed issues!
Peace on the Road!
Discussion about a problem with the auto clutch and the solution in EFM Auto Clutch — One Year Later.