The Main Difference Between A Wet Clutch And a Dry Clutch

2016-10-28 admin 13

The main difference between a wet clutch and a dry clutch is that a wet clutch runs inside the engine and is lubricated and cooled by the engine/transmission oil in a motorcycle.  Most Japanese motorcycles have wet clutches.  A dry clutch runs in air between the engine and transmission.  Ducati and BMW often use dry clutches.

Wet clutches tend to have multiple plates.  They run in oil and slip more than dry clutches, so need more plates to make up for that slippage and potentially smaller plate size.  All clutches shed material as they wear.  Wet clutches put that into the engine oil, dry clutches dust it to the atmosphere.  Wet clutches add heat and shear to the engine oil, so the engine oil has to be designed to take care of that.  Wet clutches tend to last longer than dry clutches and wet clutches do not generally need any adjustment.  Wet clutches, with their multiple plates and their oil bath do tend to run cooler on any particular plate than dry clutches.

Dry clutches don't run in oil, they run in air, so they rob a bit less power than wet clutches, hence Ducati's continued use of them.   Dry clutches do need to be adjusted properly.  They wear faster than wet clutches.  They are noisier than wet clutches.

Both types of clutches work the same way.  They have cable or hydraulic actuation so when you pull the lever in to the bars, the clutch decouples - disengages the engine from the transmission so you can shift gears or come to a stop without killing the engine.  When you let the clutch lever out, springs at the clutch push the plates together again and the friction of the plates allows you to start off without jerking the bike - with practice, of course.  Once the lever is all the way out, the two plates are joined together by that friction and every turn of the engine side of the clutch produces the same turn of the transmission side of the clutch.


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