KLR-650 Hydraulic Clutch Review

Short answer: Awesome but expensive upgrade. I think it's worth it, but if you just ride on the road or open terrain, it's a luxury that's probably not worth the money.

I mail-ordered my hydraulic clutch kit from Dual Star and it arrived, through customs and all the rest, in reasonable time. This was quite a while ago, so I have nothing to say about the current customer support levels that Dual Star is offering. I also have no idea if the current model they offer is the same quality as the original. Please consider this to be a long-service review.

Mounting was easy, though I did have to cut quite a bit away from the mounting area of the stock brush guard. After the trimming, I simply zip-tied the brush guard straight to the the clutch reservoir. That mounting system worked great until I ripped both brush guards off during a particularly nasty race. After that, I replaced the brush guards with some aluminium lever guards, which cleared the clutch lever just fine.

One issue is that with the width of the signal switch mount, the lever is not quite as far down the bar as it should be. I find that my little finger doesn't rest on the clutch lever. However, the pull is so much less that I don't find this to be an problem. I actually two-finger clutch at times. Another minor point is that there is a bump on the signal switch/mirror mount that can interfere with the lever pull when the mirror mount is rotated too far away from the rider. I keep my mirror mounts a bit loose so they can shuffle around, rather than breaking, so sometimes I have to pull them back so the clutch works again. Mildly annoying but mostly insignificant issues, really.

The slave cylinder was very easy to mount with no clearance or routing issues at all. It's easier to take off than the stock cable system, except you don't have to take the hydraulic off for lubing, ever.

In riding, the clutch pull is much less than stock; this makes tight-woods riding much more practical. With the stock clutch cable, I was always lubing it to keep the pull as light as possible. Even then, during difficult rides, I'd start to power-shift when I could get away with it, just to give my left hand a break. The stock pull is just too hard to finesse the bike over obstacles for any length of time. My hand would just give out and the clutch became a switch, a switch that I would avoid using if I could. That problem disappears with the hydraulic clutch and this opened up whole new riding possibilities.

For maintenance, well, what maintenance? I haven't touched it since I put it on; I've not even checked the fluid level in years. There's no more pre-ride ritual cable lubing, no adjusting, it's just there and it just works. The hydraulic clutch has worked flawlessly for about a decade of riding with zero maintenance. You can't get any better. If you don't like lubing cables, then the hydraulic clutch might be worth it just for that.

Conclusion: Well, if you're a long-distance tourer, then I suppose the hydraulic clutch is kind of pointless. But, if you're into technical riding, then I'd say it's a necessity. I wouldn't be riding my bike where I do without that clutch. Of course, if you're not concerned about the cost, you don't mind modifying or changing your brush guards, and you don't particularly enjoy lubing cables, then the hydraulic clutch is a very nice luxury, one I highly recommend.


Well, it just goes to show that you should never upset the maintenance gods by saying "The hydraulic clutch has worked flawlessly for about a decade of riding with zero maintenance." Yup, it broke today. The end of the slave cylinder shaft broke off, right where it fits into the clutch arm. It would appear that, over the years, it had fatigued and changing the clutch springs put it over the edge.

Anyway, I managed to ride home without a clutch, which is an interesting experience in city traffic, and will be repairing it shortly. I'll write about that process as a separate entry.

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