Classic Techniques: a lighter clutch

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It’s heavy maaaaan! Certain Italian classics demand a strong hand on the clutch and brake levers. John Kennewell says he’s gone beyond getting a grip, and seeks assistance from a Moose instead…

Many moons ago in RC198, Paul Miles waxed lyrical over the merits and very few de-merits of his beautiful Laverda 750 SF. His main gripe was the standard Italian clutch. I’ve long held the theory that Italian manhood requires proof of same via a grip of Hercules, which manifests itself at both clutch and brake levers of Italian classics of a certain vintage, almost irrespective of capacity and weight, certainly before disc brakes became standard issue. Clutches have maintained that tradition more resolutely.

My Moto Guzzi Ambassador is a case in point. It’s of a certain vintage, definitely a certain weight, equipped with a pre-disc 2ls front brake and a clutch that, when first tried, reminded me of a Jota I once was offered a chance to ride. As that needed both hands to free its clutch I gracefully declined, chastened, and with my manhood questioned, took solace in that thankfully I was not Italian!

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Back then tempus hadn’t already fugitted and Arthur Itus had not become a permanent uninvited guest. While not of Herculean magnitude, my clutch lever grip had proven adequate for a riding lifetime of Ariels. In fact it still is, even with Arthur resident in knuckles and fingers, so take a bow Mr Burman and my grateful thanks. But memories of the way that Jota clutch defeated a younger and stronger hand remain as fresh as when puzzled owner queried ‘wot’s up wi’ thee?’

His lifetime of wielding a trowel the size of a shovel, and throwing bricks into walls had yielded a legacy of prehensile multi-fingered appendage well in excess of twice the size of mine…

So what to do with the Guzzi clutch?

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I haven’t a lifetime of trowel wielding or brick throwing left in me. Plainly the Guzzi clutch is not one of Mr Burman’s finest nor could it be made an equal. It has a touch more torque (yes that again!) to manage than a Model A or even a mighty KH, so it needs those manly Italian springs to transmit same to its meaty 4.00 x 18. Fettling, adjusting, and lubricating plus re-locating the cable-run did improve things, and for country-laning would be fine. The thought of it in traffic registered as ‘pain’ without the need to prove it!

Doubtless those lovely people in the Moto Guzzi fraternity would have come across and resolved the problem many times over, so what else to do but consult the oracle of Guzzidom: This Old Tractor (don’t you just love that name?) Whereupon the advice was loud and clear – ‘Get a Moose.’ Clear as mud to the uninitiated, but intriguing nonetheless. Further research came up with the ‘Moose Racing Easy Pull Clutch System.’ Several YouTube reviews were positive, most reporting a ‘pull’ reduction in the order of 25-40% when compared with the original. It sounded promising. Eureka!

Available from the States at around $50 which sounded pretty reasonable, but then add the same for shipping, import tax, VAT, etc. Hmm. Closer to home I located the 24MX, an athletically-orientated outfit catering for moto-crossers and endure / off-road protagonists. Their website revealed what looked very much like an English Moose and, at half the price of the US Moose, it was worth a punt. It arrived within three days (great service 24MX, thanks), and on inspection it looked a very well-made bit of kit.

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Duly fitted, a simple job, the pull is both lighter and smoother. I’m sure Archimedes would have been proud that his lever principle could be put to such effective use in the 21st century! Fitting is straightforward as can be seen. The weight of ‘pull’ can be adjusted by repositioning the pivot peg into one of three holes in the operating lever and corresponding recess in the body of the unit. The photos show the dry build, but on completion the cables were oiled and the Moose liberally greased to provide future lubrication and prevent rain ingress.

So if Paul hasn’t yet developed a ‘man’s grip’, Italian-style, or taken up bricklaying, then I’d recommend he go Moose. He won’t regret it and I’m sure the Lav would be flushed with enthusiasm too!


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