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Why a clutch?

It's common for people to think that a clutch is not necessary on an electric bike, electric motors don't stall, have almost the same torque throughout their rev range and give virtually instant response (at least according to the controller settings).

So why add a clutch?

Depending on your riding style a clutch may or may not be a significant feature, however not having one will definitely limit some of the options available to you. It's up to you to decide if that matters.

Some of the considerations are:

  • Your clutch hand is secure on a fixed handgrip, so as the bike moves about it is relatively easy to keep the clutch control consistent and steady with just your index finger, unlike a throttle which moves as the bike moves beneath you.

  • When the bike gets away from you it is virtually always possible to pull the clutch and instantly cut the power. Throttles are notorious for "Whiskey Throttle" - when the bike unexpectedly accelerates your throttle hand unavoidably rolls the throttle on even further, a recipe for disaster. The clutch provides instant power cut.

  • Some trials type moves are impossible without the speed of response that only a clutch provides - rev the motor then pop the clutch to almost instantly rotate the bike vertical without gaining forward speed. "Front on" is the classic move that is effectively impossible on throttle alone - front wheel on the face of an obstacle, bike stationary. Rev and pop the clutch and the bike will instantly leap up to the top of the obstacle, but it relies on virtually instant power on & power off, accurately timed to your body movements. It is incredibly difficult (or impossible) to snap a throttle on to full power while at the same time trying to jump up and through the bars.

  • Learning to use a clutch is still a foundational skill if a rider is planning on riding ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) bikes. Having a clutch on an electric bike allows beginners to learn to use the clutch without any dramas of stalling etc. If you don't want to use the clutch, just don't.

  • A slipping clutch provides incredibly smooth power delivery - once the clutch is slipping, what the motor revs do makes almost no difference to the applied power. Throttle wobbles make little difference to the bike speed or the power to the wheel, this makes a huge difference when traction is at a premium.

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