3 Clutch Technique Mistakes New Dirt Bike Riders Make

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” This famous phrase basically means that you can’t properly do or know something if you’ve never heard or learned it before. This is precisely the truth when it comes to using the clutch on your dirt bike as a new rider

All Your Fingers

The first riding technique mistake is one that even one that I’ve seen motorcycle instructors use, which tells you how misinformed you might be as a new rider!

Well, it’s simply the use of all four of your fingers on the clutch lever. It’s an easy mistake to make if you don’t know any better because all you’re thinking is, “I have to pull in the clutch lever, so using all of my fingers makes it easy”.

This is actually dangerous because it leaves no fingers left on the handlebar to grip or hang on. If you hit an obstacle or rough terrain, your hand is likely to slip off sooner or later. 

So, what’s the fix?

Only use one or two fingers. 1 finger clutch pull is best and possible with practice and some tuning if needed. 2 fingers is okay if you simply don’t have the finger strength. 

Clutch lever pulls are stiffer on some dirt bikes than others due to the nature of the clutch. However, there are ways to make it easier to pull, such as regularly lubricating the cable if it’s a cable pull clutch assembly. 

Dumping The Clutch

The next big mistake that causes beginners to struggle is dumping the clutch too quickly. When learning how to use the clutch on a dirt bike for the first time, it’s easy to let the clutch out too soon. 

What happens, is you start moving in 1st gear and you think the bike is moving fast enough, so you let the clutch all the way out (fully engaged), but the engine stalls. 

So, how do you fix this simple mistake? By slipping the clutch longer. 


All you have to do is keep the clutch lever in the “friction zone” until you’ve accelerated enough to put your feet on the footpegs. Once you have enough speed, then you can let the clutch out. 

Holding Onto The Bars

The last common mistake beginners make with the clutch is holding onto the handlebars. 

You say: “Wait, what?”

Okay, let me explain. Of course you need to hang on to the bars or else you’ll be riding no handed…

The problem is that you don’t have any fingers touching the clutch lever. The simple technique of leaving a finger or two resting on the clutch lever can help prevent a lot of engine stalls and tip overs. 

Think of it like this…

You’re riding through the woods and there’s a lot of tight corners that require you to slow way down. There’s one that’s especially tight and technical and you accidentally slow down too much that you kill the engine before you can grab the clutch to pull it in. 

Instead, with a finger already on the clutch lever, you don’t lose that fraction of a second it takes to move it from the handlebar to the lever. Now you can just instantly pull it in and keep the engine running. 

Learn these and more techniques in-depth

Want to learn how to safely and confidently ride your dirt bike so that you don’t crash really hard? These basic techniques and many more are taught in my Virtual Dirt Biker School. Tap here to learn more. 


Kelley Fager

I help newer riders learn to safely ride with confidence by teaching basic techniques in a way that's easy to understand. Learn To Ride With Control Here

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