View Full Version : Suicide Clutch terminology
04-13-2005, 03:24 AM
I've always considered a suicide clutch to be a clutch pedal that is spring loaded to engage. Sometimes with a pedal cut off. Is this correct?
Scary due to the fact that if you lose your balance or get distracted and put your foot down you'll lurch forward - possibly out into traffic.
*** or a clutch pedal set-up with little resistance. A creeper. It will creep into engagement if you don't keep your foot on it. Would you call that ummm... a potentially hazardous clutch?
A standard non-spring loaded foot clutch is simply refered to as a foot clutch.
Paul, I think you've got the suicide stuff correct. At least that's how I've come to believe they are. Potentially hazardous can be right! I've found however if your running a good front brake you can even manage quite well at the steepest hill Stop sign!
04-13-2005, 08:45 PM
Even my wife rides her '65 Police Special hack with the rocker completely free-wheeling. When I first set it up for her with drag, she exclaimed "That's stupid."
If you intend to enduro through creek bottoms and cow paths, by all means, use the tension spring. But on the street, it just robs you of feel for the clutch.
True Suicide is when you depend upon the tensioner to hold it out of gear at a stop sign. When I see a rocker stuck in the air, I know I'm looking at a novice.
But yeah, in the vernacular of chopper rags since the '60s, a suicide pedal is traditionally a mirror image of the brake.
On milwaukie machines anyway.
04-13-2005, 11:17 PM
The hard core chopper guys go even farther with NO front brake. They "hold em" on the hills using the throttle and slipping the clutch. This may be closer to Russian Roulette than suicide.
(hardy har har)
04-14-2005, 08:14 AM
Best method on the hill with no front brake, pop it into neutral and use your left leg to support machine while applying the brake with your right. The tricky part is launch time, keeping your balance while you stomp the clutch pedal, slap it into gear and pull away smoothly. Practice, practice.
I was always under the impression that the term originated with the fact that the Indian clutch used to operate in the opposite direction to the H-D.
It was possible that when in the toe-down (disengaged) position with the Indian clutch, lifting the foot inadvertently, or even relaxing pressure, could cause the bike to jump forward. If this happened at an intersection, then rider and bike could be catapulted out into crossing traffic.
H-D considered their toe-down to engage system to be a safer one. And I believe they did advertise it as such.
Canadian Army H-D 45s had an auxilliary hand clutch as well as the normal foot one.
04-14-2005, 06:46 PM
Just invert the lever at the clutch throwout and the Indian pedal works either way.
This was a minor advantage that Indian had over H-D, as both competed for the same customers. (Just as both marques produced shift levers available on either side.)
I'd like to re-phrase my contention:
The suicide aspect of a footclutch is that foolishly relying upon the tensioner to keep it engaged is tempting fate. All too often motor vibration can ease them into gear, propelling you into traffic if not alert.
If it is so tight that it won't, it's too gawdam tight to feel it engage, and you 'launch' instead of gracefully starting to roll. And your ankle has to be double-jointed if you carry a passenger.
It is safest not to sit in gear at a long stoplight. With a free clutch, you learn to instinctually get in neutral as you roll to the stop, or at least bang the shifter out of gear in an awkward instant, like when a novice passenger shifts her weight.
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