How to Adjust Dirt Bike Clutch, Cable and Lever

Written by

James Stevens

Fact-checked by

Robert A. Verdin

how to adjust dirt bike clutch

A dirt bike’s clutch is important because it allows you to engage your gears to move your dirt bike. In line with this, it’s crucial that it’s functional not to damage your clutch plates and even engine easily.

However, you may sometimes encounter dirt bike clutch problems that could be due to misadjusted or improperly adjusted clutch. Examples of these are frayed cable, a slipping clutch, and a stalling dirt bike when you put it in gear.

To fix these clutch issues, it’s important to learn how to adjust dirt bike clutch. Read on for more details!

What to Prepare

To get the job done, you need the following tools to adjust your clutch.

  • Plier or wrench
  • Tape measure
  • Nickel

Steps to Adjust the Dirt Bike Clutch

Motorcycle clutch adjustment is crucial if your clutch is having issues or isn’t functional anymore. Please check out the simple steps below to understand the adjustment points of your dirt bike and the ways to fix a misadjusted clutch.

Step 1: Check the Clutch Perch


If your dirt bike has a clutch cover, remove it first to easily inspect your clutch perch and the knobs.

Step 2: Learn About Your Adjustment Points


If there’s too much slack in your clutch, your clutch won’t activate or engage, which heavily affects your dirt bike’s performance. Therefore, the clutch lever position of your dirt bike must be right because it’s essential for the proper power transfer from the engine to the rear wheel.

You have two points for clutch cable adjustment.

  • The clutch lever adjustment screw or adjuster knob on the clutch perch is the first. This is what you’ll use when making immediate adjustments to your clutch.
  • The second one is located on the cable by the handlebar’s end. It consists of an adjuster and a lock nut, which is usually what the rider uses when making major cable adjustments.

Step 3: Adjust the Clutch Cable


If your bike has already cooled down, check if the free play is just right. Clutch-free play is the amount of slack before you feel resistance on the lever. If you have too much free play, it will be hard to engage your gears. On the other hand, if there’s no free play, it might cause your clutch plates to slip.

  • To adjust your free play, you need to loosen the nut near the end of the lever using your pliers first.
  • Then, to tighten the clutch cable or loosen it, just move the adjustment to increase or decrease the amount of your dirt bike’s free play.
  • To have the right clutch engagement point, ensure you have a nickel-thick of free play or about ⅛”-⅜” inches of space between the free play and the lever end.
  • Use your tape measure to ensure you have the right distance, or insert a nickel when you pull in your clutch to have the correct range.

You can watch this YouTube video for more details on adjusting the clutch cable!

Step 4: Do a Final Check

After being satisfied with your adjustments, ensure that the nuts are secure tightly and that you’ve returned the clutch perch cover.

Once done, check if your clutch now moves smoothly. If so, you’re now ready for your next ride!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the effects of having a tight clutch?

A tight clutch may cause your engine to malfunction or your clutch to slip off or wear out. Therefore, it’s important to have the property clutch adjustment.

How much does clutch adjustment cost?

If you’re doing it yourself, adjusting your clutch won’t really cost any amount. However, if you’re bringing your dirt bike to a moto shop, the usual cost is around $41 to $51, still depending on the model you have.

When should I replace my clutch?

Here are some situations where your clutch needs to be replaced if clutch adjustment no longer works:

  • Slipping clutch: the dirt bike won’t move forward after engaging the gears
  • Burning clutch: your dirt bike creates a strong and strange smell
  • The clutch lever is not engaging: there’s a notchy feel when you engage your clutch.


Overall, to ensure the optimal performance of your dirt bike, your clutch must work well. For instance, the free play must have the right amount, the cables must not be too tight, and the clutch lever must have the right tension.

If you have the correct clutch adjustment, you can avoid wearing out your clutch plates too soon or even your engine. As such, learning how to adjust dirt bike clutch is a great skill to have.

Now that you know the proper clutch adjustment, you should be able to ride your dirt bike smoothly without stressing about your clutch.

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James Stevens

James Stevens is an expert bike mechanic who knows everything from basic repairs to custom modifications. What sets him apart is his ability to explain complex concepts in a way that's easy to understand. Check out his content on Speedway if you need help with upgrades or modifications for your bike.