Motorcycle Clutch Plate Replacement Questions I Got.

When I was discussing my latest motorcycle clutch plate replacement job, some questions came up at work. The discussion revolved around how motorcycles generally have wet clutches while cars have dry clutches. But many of the questions came from people who only drive automatic transmissions.

Let’s address some of those motorcycle clutch plate replacement questions I received.

What Are The Different Motorcycle Clutch Plates?

The plates we typically change are the clutch friction plates. They have a wearable surface that creates enough friction to lock up power from the engine to the drive train while allowing variable pressure to adjust how much engine power is transferred.

The clutch friction plates have a material that reminds me of brake material you find on your motorcycle cycle’s front or back brake pads. This material seems to balance friction with slip so that it can offer the best of both worlds. I’m sure oil plays a crucial part. 😀

Two types of motorcycle clutch plates, metal drive plates and friction plates.
Clutch metal drive plates at top, and clutch friction plates at the bottom.

There is a second type of motorcycle clutch plate: metal drive plates. They are metal plates without wearable surfaces used to work with the friction plates and slide, or not, in adjusting the engine power to the drive train.

The motorcycle clutch drive plates shouldn’t need regular replacement since they do not have a wearable surface.

Do You Need To Soak New Motorcycle Clutch Plates?

If you have wet clutch motorcycle transmission, your clutch plates will also need to be wet.  

The motorcycle clutch friction palates have a friction material that absorbs oil to balance their friction properties with the pressure plates. Also, this oil is used to cool the clutch friction plates.

Suppose the motorcycle friction clutch plates are installed dry. In that case, there could be too much friction and insufficient oil flow into and around the plate material, resulting in a burned-up clutch immediately.  

If not immediately, I’m sure most of the life of that motorcycle’s friction clutch plates has been eaten up at the first start of the bike.

So, please soak your new motorcycle clutch plates.

How Long Do Motorcycle Clutch Plates Need To Soak?

This question about soak time for new clutch plates was challenging to answer since there was some human engineering involved.

The typical answer is like 20 minutes to an hour is ‘enough,’ getting oil in the majority of the clutch plate material as possible. Then after installing the plates, a leisurely break in the ride will do the rest. 

However, I know how we think as humans.

We started the project to replace the clutch plates; we forgot how long we started the soak. Or worse, we get to the point where new plates are to be installed, and our soak is started late, rushed, and not enough time is allowed for the oil to soak into the plate material.

So…. the recommendation I follow is “overnight.” This way, there is no concern if the soak is long enough since it will last several hours. The clutch plates are automatically ready for when it comes time to install them.  

Therefore, I will soak my new motorcycle clutch plates overnight in clean oil.

What Kind Of Oil To Soak Motorcycle Clutch Plates In?

This easy. Soak your new motorcycle clutch plates in the same oil you run in your motorcycle. Just be sure it’s clean oil. :p

Motorcycle clutch plate pack soaking in oil.
New motorcycle clutch pack soaking in my motorcycle oil.

How Long Do You Soak Harley Clutch Plates?

Amazing how if I talk motorcycles with anyone, including Harley owners, I feel people think Harley’s are from another planet, so they must be treated entirely differently.

I plan to do my motorcycle maintenance when I get a Harley Davidson motorcycle(or if I get a Harley Davidson motorcycle). Including replacing the motorcycle’s worn clutch plates. 

So I plan to soak the new motorcycle plates overnight in clean motorcycle oil before starting the job—the same as my Chonda bikes(TaoTao TBR7 and Boom Vader 125cc).  

I’m sure saying I would treat my future Harley like my Chinese Dual-sport motorcycle might get some hate comments. Fire away. 😀

I am done with talking about the clutch friction plates and asking questions about the metal pressure plates.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Clutch Metal Plates?

Good news from what I’ve experienced and learned from others. Cover some this in another post: Motorcycle Clutch Plate Replacement Cost?

The metal clutch plates rarely need to be replaced and stand up well for a long time.  

FYI, sometimes people call these metal plates in a clutch pack “drive plates.” I might use metal plates and drive plates interchangeably, so bear with me.

This is because the friction plate material is a wearable item, and if you replace your motorcycle clutch plates before all the material is gone, the metal plates are spared.  

Now, if you were very late in replacing your motorcycle clutch plates or burned up your motorcycle clutch, a quick amazon search revealed a set of motorcycle clutch pressure plates run, often as part of clutch kits, for less than $100.

Author’s Notice: This page contains affiliate links, for which I may earn a commission by their use. Also, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases.

Search Amazon For Metal Drive Clutch Plates.

However, as I said, I learned these metal drive plates are pretty tough.

How Do You Clean Metal Drive Clutch Plates?

I wipe these metal clutch plates down. Become a real fan of those blue shop towels; they absorb oil very well and are pretty much lint-free. You might want to try them.  Kind I use: Scott Shop Towels.

Click for Current Prices For Blue Shop Towels.

Can You Clean Clutch Plates With Brake Cleaner?

I’ve cleaned engine parts with brake cleaner and have heard it’s safe to use on these metal drive clutch plates. Again I would do a final wipe-down of all engine parts before installing them back into the engine casing.

Wiping everything down ensures no grim was picked up from my hands, and I get the last chance to look over the part before I install it.

Just An FYI About Brake Cleaner.

I’ve started leaning towards using denatured alcohol for cleaning engine parts. It does an excellent job de-greasing surfaces and letting my shop towels remove old oil and grim.

Jug of denatured alcohol.
Big jug of denatured alcohol I bought at hardware store.

Brake cleaner has been a standard for cleaning for a long time, but something about the chemicals concerns me.   

So, How To Clean Motorcycle Clutch Plates?

As I said, as my only cleaning step, I usually wipe down the metal clutch plates as much as possible with a clean shop towel

. Still, some people have noticed the dimples the in the metal clutch plates can trap dirt.

So in the future, if I plan to get crazy trying to re-install the metal plates as clean as possible, it will be simple these steps:

  1. Wipe off excess oil with shop towels.
  2. Using a small basin filled with denatured alcohol, using gloves, and a small soft bristle brush, scrub the surfaces of the metal clutch plates.
  3. Wipe down with a clean shop towel and leave the cleaned metal clutch plates to dry before re-installing. This step should be fast since denatured alcohol evaporates fast.

Note, in no way am I trying to clean the clutch friction plates. These plates are normal wear items typically replaced when doing a motorcycle clutch replacement maintenance item.  

I want these new friction plates only soaked in clean oil, with no mechanical or chemical cleaning process.

Please comment if you have any insight on using denatured alcohol over brake cleaner. Thank you.

FYI: Building My List of Must-Have Tools For Motorcycle Owners

Click To See My Recommended
TBR7 Upgrades

Picture of me, as a New Motorcyclist.
Just Me…Newly Licensed.

Hi I’m Tom, A New Motorcycle Rider and Blog Author.

I am a new rider(Pa Learners Permit at the end of 2020, and I received a Pa Motorcycle License in 2021 after passing a Motorcycle Safety Course).

I bought my first motorcycle, a TaoTao TBR7, at the beginning of 2021 and have been doing upgrades on that motorcycle since.

I added to my motorcycle collection by buying a Boom Vader Gen 2 in 2022, and that Grom-Clone motorcycle has been upgraded by me as well.

I continue to ride my Boom Vader Gen 2 motorcycle as well as my TaoTao TBR7 dual-sport bike.

Read more on my About Me page.

Fun Fact: I’ve only been on one group ride.

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