Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Ducati Dry Clutch and Its Distinctive Rattle

Just as you can tell when a Harley is somewhere in the vicinity by the distinctive rumble of its V-Twin, so can you tell when a Ducati has just pulled up next to you.Although many might think that the rattling sound coming from a Ducati is a sign that the bike is in dire need of a tune-up, the bike is in fact perfectly fine. What you are hearing is the signature sound of the Ducati dry clutch, which is music to the ears of many a Ducati enthusiast.

Dry vs. Wet Clutch

It may seem obvious to many of our readers, but let us remind you of the difference between wet and dry clutches. The wet clutch, which you’ll find on just about every bike, is bathed in oil and completely sealed off. Dry clutches, on the other hand, are totally free of oil and do not need to be sealed. Many dry clutches are exposed so that the spinning clutch plates are visible to any passerby.

Pros and Cons of a Dry Clutch

Since Ducati employs the dry clutch on most of their bikes, we’ll take a quick look at the pros and cons of such a set up.


  1. Easy access for repairs. There is no need to drain the oil before removing the clutch cover if you need to service your clutch. This is especially important in racing where clutches are regularly burned out and need to be replaced immediately.
  2. The dry clutch does not share oil with the rest of the engine and thus any debris from disintegrating clutch plates will not harm engine internals.
  3. Submerging a clutch in oil creates drag which will diminish the engine’s horsepower; it might not reduce the horsepower by much, but every little bit counts on the track.
  4. Heat generated by the clutch plates does not heat up the engine’s oil, which is especially important for bikes in which oil is used in the cooling system.


  1. Much louder, but this is a matter of preference.
  2. With an exposed dry clutch, the springs will eventually rust. This can be prevented by installing stainless steel springs.

Why Does Ducati Use Dry Clutches on Most of its Bikes?

As you’ve probably gathered from the above list, dry clutches are most useful on race machines. For that reason, many will argue that Ducati’s use of a dry clutch on street bikes is only for marketing purposes.
In the past, Ducati has claimed that they build all their bikes to racing specs and that means using a dry clutch. However, in recent years, Ducati has produced bikes whose specifications are more in line with the target audience.
Today, bikes such as the Ducati 848 and Monster 1100 Evo are equipped with a wet clutch for easier use.

Why The Ducati Dry Clutch Sounds Like Rocks in a Bucket

If you’re still wondering what exactly it is that makes the Ducati dry clutch sound like someone put marbles in it, here’s your answer. The sound you’re hearing is the clutch plates bouncing off of one another when the clutch is disengaged.You’ll hear this sound when a Ducati rolls up next to you at a stop sign and the rider has pulled in the clutch lever, freeing up the plates to knock into each other.
Without any oil surrounding the clutch pack to lubricate the plates, you get that distinctive sound of rocks in a bucket.
So next time someone pulls up next to you on a Ducati, you’ll know better than to yell to them that they should get their valves adjusted.

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