Archive | July, 2011

EFM Auto Clutch — Final Review

8 Jul

To begin with the end. . . .  Two thumbs up! 

Facts are in and case is closed.  Time to render my final verdict and review for the EFM Auto Clutch!

As expected, my recent 5,800-mile Lake Superior ride put the EFM auto clutch to the daily challenge of motorcycle touring.   Under certain circumstances, yes, it would have been easier to use a regular clutch — but the main thing is that there is absolutely NO WAY I could have ridden that far without the auto clutch!

(Warning:  This is not one of my usual ride reports.  You may find it boring unless you’re interested in learning more about the EFM auto clutch!)

If this is your first time to read one of my EFM Auto Clutch reviews, I suggest you read the two earlier reviews before continuing with this final review.  Each article builds upon the one before it, and I won’t repeat what’s been said previously.

EFM Auto Clutch — First Impressions provides links to basic information that will help you understand how the auto clutch or centrifugal clutch concept works and talks about the first few hundred miles of riding with the EFM.

EFM Auto Clutch — Almost-But-Not-Quite-Final Impressions goes into detail about my impressions after riding a little under 2,000 miles.

Now that I’m back from the Lake Superior ride, I can confirm everything in my first two reviews and can think of only a few things to add.    First, the negative.

*  At times the lack of clutch control was annoying.  Slow speeds were always tricky on tight U-turns, off-camber turns or taking off at a weird angle, and I sometimes resorted to duck-walking and other bungling methods.   Lack of smooth technique may have been a little embarrassing; but, when it was all said and done, I never got stuck in gravel, missed a mark,  or dropped the bike.

I believe someone who has more leverage or more upper-body strength than myself may do better at handling the lack of clutch control.  Also, I believe I may have an easier time with an auto clutch on a smaller, lighter bike than the V-Star 1300; however, the V-Star is my choice for now.  I’ve accepted the fact that with no clutch control my slow-speed skills will not be as good as they used to be — but apparently they’re good enough!

*  In my last review I mentioned how occasionally I’d hear a loud rattle or scraping sound on take-off.  When I got into the cooler northern states and Canada, that happened almost every day.  When I got back to the hot southern states, it did not happen.  It only seemed to happen once in a morning and always within the first few minutes of riding.

I contacted Garry at EFM Auto Clutch about that sound.  He said sometimes it gets a little dry and can stick.  If it gets worse, then it may need to be readjusted.  I don’t know much about motorcycle mechanics, but that’s exactly what I thought it sounded like.  Not gonna worry about it!

*  On rare occasions while pulling up to a stop, I couldn’t shift down into first gear from second, even when the rpm’s were low.  In that case I simply pulled in the clutch lever and shifted into first while stopped.  No big deal.

Now a few positive points.

*  Of course, the number one positive point is that I was able to ride my motorcycle 5,800 miles and my left hand didn’t do anything but rest on the grip!

*  In spite of the fact that I left home at 4:00 a.m., I caught the beginning of rush hour in Fort Worth.   This was the first “unscheduled” challenge for the auto clutch, and it performed magnificently.  If you have any type of left-handed impairment, you’ll understand how much I appreciated being able to slowly inch along without pain and wondering if I’d even make it.

*  In North Dakota I ended up on a section of road that had been completely torn apart.  This particular section was slick with  mud and ruts, on a fairly tight S-curve, and it was lightly raining at the time.  Honestly, the conditions were bad enough that if I’d known about it ahead of time, I’d have found another way around.  Even the flag workers and road crew all seemed to stop what they were doing to see if I’d make it!

With the auto clutch it was easy to hold a slow, steady pace through that slick mess, even though Lizzie fishtailed the entire way.  The auto clutch made controlling the bike effortless since I didn’t have to worry about stalling at the slow pace or spinning out from an increase in speed.   I will say, I strongly suspect this ordeal may not have turned out as well with a regular clutch!

*  I’ll mention that Garry, the owner of EFM Auto Clutch, is good about answering e-mails and phone calls.  I called him with questions several times when I was deciding whether or not to have the auto clutch installed, and he was always patient and never tried to talk me into anything.  My understanding is that he’s also helpful if you have questions during the installation process.

Con                                Pro

No clutch control                                      I’m still riding!
Has a few quirks
Have to break a few habits


Regarding a dirt bike. . .  .

I don’t have personal knowledge about that, but there is a lot of information on the internet about riders and racers who love an auto clutch for off-road riding and racing.  One of the guys I met on the Lake Superior ride said his son has raced with one for a few years and loves it.

Regarding a street bike. . . .

If you have an impaired left hand or arm, I highly recommend that you consider installing an EFM auto clutch.  Yes, you do have to make adjustments to your riding; but if you have some type of impairment, I’ll bet you’re already good at making adjustments!

Because you have to give up clutch control, the decision to install an auto clutch should not be taken lightly.  In fact, the only other reasons I can think of for getting an auto clutch would be for racing, daily commuting in stop-and-go traffic, or for a parade/show bike.  I’ve read where a few people want to clean up their handlebars by eliminating the clutch lever, but I wouldn’t suggest doing that if you want to ride very far.

But don’t take my word for it.   The following picture can be substituted for everything I’ve ever written or spoken about the EFM auto clutch.  It shows a dirty Lizzie  taken at the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border in Canada — which is a  very long way from Austin, Texas — and this picture is possible because of the EFM auto clutch.   I hope those of you with a left hand or arm impairment can also continue to experience the joy and freedom that can only come from a motorcycle!

For me, the EFM Auto Clutch is worth its weight in gold.  While the cons do tip the scale a bit, they don’t even begin to outweigh the pro — and I’ll definitely stake my reputation on it!   Two thumbs up!

Peace on the Road!


Discussion about a problem with the auto clutch and the solution in EFM Auto Clutch — One Year Later.


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