Hope this is the right area, feel free to move if needed, mods. Thanks.
Not sure how much interest there will be here for this review, but when I was researching bikes and my physical limitations, I found little information on clutchess riding, save for full automatic conversions ($$$$) or non-HD offerings (Honda DCT, for example). I figure now that I've spent some time with my Rekluse clutch, I'd post something in case someone else comes along in the future looking for info. This forum's been so helpful to me in my still oh-so-new journey into riding that I definitely want to give back whenever I can.
This is probably going to be a long one (I'm a verbose SOB), but there will be a TL;DR at the bottom for those who don't want to read it all or don't have the time. Don't worry, my feelings won't be hurt.
Some background for those who might not be aware:
- Arthritis/nerve damage/weakness in both hands and wrists due to misspent youth/service in the Army/genetics/age/etc.
- Always wanted an HD, but given my physical limitations, I didn't think it would be possible
- Researched and fell in love with the idea of the Honda CTX700/DCT combo as a first bike due to my issues. Local dealer couldn't get one in, out of state dealers were being chitheads about it. Plus there was that whole "always wanted an HD all my life" thing
- Learned about Rekluse and their auto clutch technology. Decided that this would be the way I could own my HD and actually be able to ride it too
- Ended up getting my first HD Iron 883. Before I could get the clutch, I crashed/wrecked the bike. Insurance totaled it out
- Ordered a new Iron 883. Rode it home. Tried practicing working the friction zone in the driveway. Within 10 minutes, my left hand was ready to give out.
- Bought the clutch from a local shop, had them install it.
Now, for the review:
First things first. The clutch isn't cheap (relative term, I know). I didn't want to spend the money but when the wife even said I should do it, I figured what the hell. It retails for $850 (for the HD version, other MFG may vary on cost). Local shop cut me a deal and quoted me $800 regardless of where I had it installed. Labor was going to be the same cost if I had it done there or at the HD dealership, so I decided to stay with the same shop seeing as they did me a solid on the price. The instructions for installation seemed simple enough and I'm mechanically inclined, but I've never worked on bikes before so I gladly left it to the professionals.
For those that aren't aware, what the clutch allows a rider to do is roll on from a stop in 1st or 2nd gear without using the clutch at all. If the bike is stopped and is in 1st or 2nd gear, the clutch acts as it's in neutral from a "not stalling" standpoint. Once you roll on the throttle, the clutch engages due to RPM. You still need to upshift and downshift as normal, which is what I wanted anyway. I just didn't want to have to hold in the clutch at a stoplight (I'll always be in gear no matter what) and was worried about modulating a clutch lever in stop and go riding/commuting or modulating for slow speed maneuverability.
This thing isn't a magic bullet, but it's the closest you can get without having a full-on automatic transmission. There's no change whatsoever to the stock clutch mechanism, the Rekluse replaces the whole thing. I had my installer put the HD clutch assembly in a sealed bag with a light coat of oil over it in case I do ever sell or trade in the Iron. Also, the Rekluse gives you more and better quality pressure plates, making the clutch last even longer than a stock one should. In theory at least, as we know every bike and rider is different.
In real world riding, it's quite nice to have. As I slow to a stop, I simply hold in the clutch lever for a few seconds as I downshift to 1st. I've yet to try and roll on from 2nd gear at a stop, but I should try it soon just for kicks and giggles. Slow speed maneuvering is so much easier with this clutch. I'm still very much a new rider, and even without my physical limitations, this clutch has really helped boost my confidence as a rider and allowed me to get out there and ride. Some may look at it as a crutch or something else less than flattering, but I don't care. It's literally
the thing that is allowing me to do something I love.
But of course, with every story, there has to be a boogeyman. The clutch isn't perfect. When I start my bike, it idles a hair high for a few minutes due to the clutch engaging in a certain RPM range (this can be adjusted, I will do it/have it done sometime soon). When it is in this high idle phase, if I shift the bike from neutral into 1st and slowly release the clutch lever, the bike will creep forward a bit. If I were to not put it back in neutral and let it go by it's own devices, it might actually roll along at 2-3MPH. I just usually start it up and give it a few minutes - long enough to put my jacket, helmet, and gloves on - and it's fine. Again, not an issue with the clutch itself, just needs to be adjusted. The other potential issue is that because the clutch isn't fully engaged when it's parked, if you park on a really steep incline there's a possibility of the bike rolling away - the website can explain it better than I can if you want to know more. The kit comes with velcro straps that you use to keep the front brake lever pulled in to prevent this. I keep them in my saddle bags, but have never used them and have even parked on some not insignificant inclined surfaces with no issue.
From what I've seen, Rekluse makes a clutch for every HD bike out there, but I was only interesting in looking at one for my Iron or the Fat Bob I was considering as well. Aside from price (I'm a contract worker who's currently without one) and needing to get the idle situation tweaked, I have no reservations about this clutch. It's allowed me to ride a motorcycle that I've wanted to since I was just a little kid, and no amount of money can replace that.
I think that's the gist of it, but of course I'm happy to answer any questions that you have to the best of my (limited thus far) ability.
Expensive (is a relative term)
Needs to be adjusted for RPM idle
Care should be exercised when parking on super steep inclines
Not the same as modulating a regular clutch/considered a crutch possibly - depends on the rider if this is a con or not
No need to hold in clutch at stop
Always in gear at any stop - HUGE safety bonus right there IMHO
Can roll on from a stop in 1st or 2nd gear
Doesn't change factory clutch components/bike can be converted back to stock clutch easily if needed
Slow speed maneuvering is made exponentially easier
Give the (newer) rider confidence
Without the Rekluse, I literally wouldn't be able to ride. I can't recommend it enough for anyone considering one.