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Author Topic: Dealing with heavy clutch pull on your motorcycle: Get tough!  (Read 63192 times)

  • *****
January 04, 2017, 05:15:58 PM
I can't think of a cheaper, easier way to ease your clutch pull than to simply keep your hand fit for the task.

My motivation for starting this topic stems from the fact that after a long winter in Alaska, come spring it seems like my clutch is harder to pull. But by the end of summer I'm really not noticing the issue. I finally admitted to myself this winter that my clutch springs, lever, fluid, were all fine. Was I crazy then? Not likely (exactly what a crazy person would say), but I was the problem. As a right-hander, my left gets less use all winter, therefore losses just enough grip strength to notice the difference when I go for that first ride in spring ( with that damn gravel everywhere, whoa!  :o ).

To make things a bit worse, despite being hydraulic, the clutch pull on a '97 Suzuki Bandit GSF1200 is sort of tough to begin with, and I wouldn't say I'm exceptionally strong.

Is your clutch difficult to pull, especially during those first few rides in the spring?

Although this topic is geared toward hand strength, it's important to first rule out the actual possibility of a mechanical issue. So very quickly, here's a list of culprits to investigate:
  • Is the clutch lever pinched too tightly in the perch? The lever should have a slight free play.
  • Is the lever lubricated in the perch and where the bolt goes through to hold the lever in place? Clean it and get some grease in there.
  • If cable actuated, is the clutch cable moving freely? And/or does it need to be lubricated? Detach the cable at both ends and try to slide it. Should be very easy to move with little to no drag. Cables can get gummed up over time or even rusted. It takes very little rust inside the cable housing to ruin your plans for a ride.
  • Is the cable bent sharply somewhere or pinched? Follow it along and be sure it has a smooth, kink-free contour all the way down.
  • Do you have the correct lever installed on the bike? The leverage of any lever, in any situation, will change depending on the length of the lever, the fulcrum or pivot point, etc.
  • Is the clutch lever and perch positioned properly? It is easier to pull the lever gripping it near the end versus gripping near the perch. Sliding the perch toward the bike more means you'll grab the lever more toward the end. (I did this and and it relieved a couple pounds of pressure required to pull my clutch.)
  • If hydraulic, is their clean fluid in the clutch master and slave cylinders?
  • Is the hydraulic clutch line old and weak? A weekened hose will bulge and flex under presser. Your hand strength is wasted on the hose lining instead of being transferred sharply to the clutch slave cylinder itself. Replace the hose.
  • Has it been years since the master and slave cylinders were flushed out?
  • Do the cylinders need to be rebuild with new seals, springs and whatnot?
  • Did some jackass try to put grease in the slave cylinder? No joke, one of the previous owners of my Bandit did this.

If you've been maintaining your bike for years and you're pretty sure you don't have any of the issues above, then perhaps like me you just need to keep your damn hand strong, plain and simple. Squeezing your girlfriend's boobs ( or your boyfriend's... um... neck  :-X ) isn't going to do the trick; you need something more. Which brings me to this cheap little gadget, the Gold's Gym Adjustable Hand Grip, Hand Strengthener:
See more photos below.

I got one for just over $10 as an impulse buy, and I love it! Honestly I'm really surprised I actually like it so much. Seems like nothing special, but I have it sitting on my desk and whenever I'm on the phone or taking a break from work, or just dreaming about motorcycles and staring into space, I pick it up and squeeze ten or twenty times. Another good location to keep it is next to the toilet, a perfect place to let out off some steam.  ;)

After a few months of not riding my motorcycle, the clutch felt a little tough. After only a few days of using the Gold's Gym Adjustable Grip, I noticed a significant improvement. I really only needed to keep my hand muscles warmed up and ready for the job. A big help! And after a month of use I felt even more improvement, especially as I increased the tension on the grip strengthener. I've left it at a pretty simple 30-40lb pull for a while now with no reason to go higher.


I use to hate the feeling of grip strengtheners. The old kind with the springs tend to be too stiff and the farther you pull the harder it gets. Plus they hurt your hands. They're crap and they don't feel like your clutch at all!

Being adjustable, I was able to start with the Gold's Grip at the lowest setting (which is more comparable to my motorcycle clutch pull) and do what I needed to do effectively. I have since increased the load on the gripper for added impact, but my plan is to keep it low. I want to strengthen or MAINTAIN my strength, not induce a carpal tunnel condition or other hand injury.


  • Adjustable; a quick turn of the knob increases or decreases weight
  • Feels more like a clutch pull at lower settings
  • Has rubberized, more oval-ish handles that don't hurt
  • Has about the same reach as my motorcycle clutch lever
  • Adjustable from 20lbs to 90lbs making it more than adequate for clutch hand strength training


  • Occasionally makes a creaking sound where the hook of the spring attaches. A little oil or grease should fix it.


  • $10-$15


After investigating all the mods pitched out there to improve or decrease clutch pull weight, and almost completely dismissing the importance of the clutch hand itself, I'm so glad I started working on my grip strength. I can't think of a cheaper, easier way to ease your clutch pull than to simply keep your hand fit for the task. Six or so months of not riding a motorcycle during winter in Alaska has a negative impact on all your riding abilities to include clutch hand strength. Fortunately, it's a simple issue to overcome.

« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 10:18:40 AM by TABA »
There and back again.

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