How to Use a Clutch on a Dirt Bike – 4 Steps for Beginners

Written by

James Stevens

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Robert A. Verdin

how to use a clutch on a dirt bike

To drive a dirt bike, changing gears is one of the important aspects. Thus, if you drive a manual bike, learning how to use the clutch is necessary to shift gears and start or stop your motorcycle.

In this article, we’ll teach you how to use a clutch on a dirt bike, mistakes to avoid, and tips on proper clutch control. So if you’re a beginner or someone who wants to transition to a manual transmission, continue reading below!

Step-by-step to Use a Clutch on a Dirt Bike

Although a bit challenging at first, dirt bikes with a clutch are fun to ride because you get to change gears manually. However, to ride a dirt bike legally and safely for manual bikes, you need to learn how to use the clutch.

Please take a look at the detailed steps below for more details.

Step 1: Start your bike

Get your dirt bike running, and then make sure you know where your clutch is and the brake and gear levers to avoid issues when driving your bike.

Now, warm up the bike for several minutes.

Step 2: Pull the clutch on your dirt bike


Once your bike has started, it’s most likely on neutral. Thus, to start a dirt bike with a clutch or get it moving, you need to shift to first gear first.

To do this, grasp or pull the clutch all the way to prepare yourself for the next step.

Step 3: Shift your gear

While pulling the clutch, push down on the gear lever with your left foot to shift to the first gear.

Make sure you can grasp the clutch hard enough so your bike won’t stall while changing gears.

Here’s a dirt bike gears diagram for more details on where your gears are:


Step 4: Release the clutch

Once you’re able to get your dirt bike moving, you want to give it a little gas to accelerate it further. To achieve this, you need to release the clutch slowly while easing off the throttle with your right hand.


When your bike starts to rev up while riding, it’s time to shift on a dirt bike or change gears once more. To do this, just pull in the clutch slowly and then lift the gear lever while giving your dirt bike a little throttle. Once done, release the clutch slowly again.

Riding a Dirt Bike Without a Clutch

Is it really possible to shift gears without a clutch? Yes, it is, but it isn’t recommended for average riders because making this work needs a lot of experience. You may also damage your bike’s transmission if you try to incorrectly shift gears without using your clutch.

Suppose you want to speed up or change your gear without using a clutch. In that case, you need to apply some pressure to the gear lever, let off the throttle, shift your gear up, and then ensure you roll back your throttle in order to accelerate.

Tips for Practicing Clutch Control

To ride a dirt bike with a clutch for beginners, you are prone to committing mistakes. Thus, here are some of the common mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Releasing the clutch too soon


If you release the clutch too quickly, chances are your bike will abruptly stop. To avoid releasing the clutch too soon, keep it in the “friction zone”. It means that your bike should have enough acceleration before you release your clutch.

2. Grabbing the brake instead of the clutch

If you’re a beginner, you may sometimes get confused about the location of your brake and clutch. Remember that your clutch is on the left side of your handlebar. Grabbing the brake instead of the clutch may cause an accident, so be careful.

3. Putting all fingers or none at all on the clutch


To ensure that you can easily shift into gear when needed, it’s recommended to put at least one or two fingers on the clutch while riding. Also, don’t put all your fingers on the clutch, as it may actually cause accidents because you don’t have enough strength to hold your handle grip while driving.



Do all dirt bikes have a clutch?

The short answer is no. Whether you have a 2-stroke or 4-stroke dirt bike, it doesn’t need to have a clutch if what you drive has an automatic transmission.

However, if you have a manual dirt bike, it should have a clutch to help you shift gears and start your bike.

Is using a clutch okay for beginners?

To ride a dirt bike for beginners, it’s easiest to ride a no-clutch dirt bike or an automatic motorcycle. The reason is that it’s easier to control because you don’t have to worry about how to change gears manually.

However, first-time riders can also ride motorcycles with a clutch! Just make sure you keep in mind the steps and tips above to make the experience less overwhelming and daunting.

Where is the clutch on a dirt bike?

Don’t forget that the clutch for dirt bikes is found on the handlebars, specifically on the left side.

How long does it take to learn clutch control on a dirt bike?

If you’re dedicated enough and keep trying, you can learn clutch control on a dirt bike in less than an hour! In addition, if you keep practicing and being patient, you’ll master it in a week or a month, depending on your progress.

How often should I replace the clutch plates on my dirt bike?

When you can no longer change gears easily, have a stuck clutch lever, or there’s no change in speed when you have shifted to a higher gear, it means that your dirt bike clutch plates are damaged or bad.

When you have any of those signs above, it’s time to replace your clutch so that you can start riding smoothly again.

How can I make my clutch last longer on my dirt bike?

If you want to save money on maintenance and replacement, you can make your clutch last longer by changing your oil regularly and putting your dirt bike into a neutral position when stopped. The most important is to use your clutch correctly, as described in the steps above.

What is the dirt bike clutch price?

Dirt bike clutch replacement usually costs around $300 to $800. If you plan to buy just the parts, plates usually cost around $60, springs $15, and cables $10.


Riding a dirt bike is fun and exhilarating. Still, you need to learn the proper way to drive it to avoid injuries or accidents. If you’re driving a manual, learning how to use a clutch on a dirt bike is critical to allow you to start riding and shift gears.

Always remember when to pull your clutch and release it to have a smooth riding experience. With patience and practice, you’ll master your clutch controls over time.

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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.