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Rekluse Core EXP/Left Hand Rear Brake

Among the best upgrades that the aftermarket is capable of conjuring.

by Martin Hackworth

Photos: Martin Hackworth, Rekluse


      Alright - so I am stubborn. Worse, just a bit south of full of it, if forced to own up to a personal shortcoming. Before this year I scoffed at Rekluse clutches. Yep, it's true. And I had to get in line to do it too. My riding buddies, who tend toward the hard corps trad end of the riding spectrum, would howl in derision at the mere mention of Rekluse (by way of disclosure, similar protests were heard from the same quarters concerning the advent of push button starting, radiators and mono shocks). Not, mind you, that any of us are alone in this misconception. If you want to yap about Rekluse Clutches, without actually having used one, your are going to yell to be heard above the din.

    Earlier this year I had an opportunity to spend a few days at Jimmy Lewis Offroad. One morning Jimmy invited me ride one of his Rekluse-equipped personal bikes. I could not believe how smooth it was - like the greatest, most experienced left hand in the world controlled the clutch in any condition. No reasonable person could have come to any conclusion other than that it was pretty trick. When Jimmy asked me what I thought about it, I came back with the usual line about a Rekluse clutch being a cheater part. 
"Cheating?" said Jimmy, with only the vaguest hint of a smile, "Well, why don't you just start riding harder stuff?" Though it'd been 40 years or so, I was reminded, in that moment, that getting spanked still hurts.

     A month later I was a course worker at the King of the Motos enduro. No shortage of Rekluse clutches there - being used by some of the best riders in the world too. From my perch in Sledgehammer canyon, it dawned on me that perhaps I ought to try a Rekluse. Soon after I began perusing the Rekluse website for options for my CRF450X. Because I wanted to retain the operation of the clutch lever, and wanted to be able to bump start the bike in a pinch, I chose the top of the line Core EXP, which allows for the most normal operation of the clutch lever (if desired) and retains bump-starting ability.

     Upon opening the box, anyone with experience in tools or machinery will be impressed by the caliber of the parts in the Rekluse kit. We are talking a very high level of craftsmanship and attention to detail here - all made in the USA. It is one quality unit. By all accounts, Rekluse clutches, across the board, are sturdier than the OEM units they replace. The Rekluse clutch simply exudes mechanical virtue. It's cool to behold just sitting in the box.

     The Core EXP comes with a base plate, a clutch basket, drive plates, the EXP disk, anti-squeal x-rings, a tab lock washer, a pressure plate, a pressure plate lining plate, pressure plate springs, pressure plate bolts and a clutch outer cover. The OEM thrust washer, center clutch nut and friction plates are reused. Rekluse does sell their own friction plates.    
     For anyone who's ever swapped out clutch disks, and who has access to a reasonably well-equipped shop, installation of the Core EXP takes less than an hour. The meticulous written directions that come in the box are augmented by well-shot and well-narrated videos on the Rekluse website. The only quibble I have with the instructions involves the part where the earnest folks at Rekluse suggest using a stick or wrench between the spokes of the rear wheel and the swingarm in order to provide the necessary resistance to spin off the center clutch nut with a socket and wrench (a big rascal, at 32mm on the 450, requiring some bodacious torque). Move out of the tool-town sticks. Rattle guns are cheap.    

     I recommend that you install the anti-squeal x-rings that come with the kit and that you consider using the Shell Rotella oil that Rekluse recommends (it made a difference for me). Beyond that, all you have to do is follow the instructions and you'll be enjoying your Rekluse within an hour. Careful adjustment is the key, and I cannot suggest strongly enough that you follow the instructions particular to your unit very carefully. Watching the video is not a bad idea either. I found it very helpful.

     In use, it's very easy to get the clutch to freewheel (or not) on descents by merely changing gears. When I want some engine braking at low speeds, I use first or second gear; when I don't, I just click up into third. Engine braking, in any gear, may be achieved merely by blipping the throttle to engage the clutch and it requires almost no time to integrate this technique into your riding repertoire. You'll probably find yourself riding a gear higher than you normally do with a Rekluse which, in most cases, is a good thing. You do have to be careful, however, about not getting too carried away with this as excessive time in inappropriately high gears will cause premature wear.

     I have now ridden with my Rekluse Core EXP for six months in sand, mud, snow, boulder fields, mountain singletrack, dirt roads and mx tracks. I have yet to find a situation where the I thought that I could have done a better job clutching manually than the Rekluse does automatically. I've adjusted the unit twice - and one of those times was right after breaking it in. I recommend keeping your clutch lever (Rekluse suggests binning it) for times when you want to rev the engine before engaging the clutch. Other than that, the clutch lever is redundant in normal riding with the Core EXP installed.  
Core EXP




Fish Butte
     I also recommend investing in the Rekluse Left Hand Rear Brake, an item that is well worth the few hundred extra bucks that it costs. It is essential for those moments when you kill the engine on a steep uphill and the clutch freewheels. It is great for tackling steep switchbacks while up on the pegs, since you can brake and maintain proper body position at the same time, without having to shift around to find the rear brake pedal with your boot. With the installation of the Rekluse LHRB kit, the rear brake is actuated with both the foot pedal and a lever on the left handlebar. There are several mounting options for the brake lever. Since I chose to retain my clutch lever, I mounted the LHRB lever below it. Aside from a few minor clearance issues, it's all very clean and works just fine.

     Installation of the LHRB is a bit involved (more so than the clutch, IMO). First you have to remove and dispose of the old brake fluid in the system. The master cylinder for the LHRB kit is on the handlebar lever and you have to insert an o-ring and sleeve into the existing master cylinder to transfer the operation of it to the new one. During this process you will figure out what that spare o-ring in the kit is for. After that, it is simply a matter of bleeding the lines, which you do by forcing fluid all the way through the system from the bleeder screw on the rear master cylinder with a large syringe, to the new master cylinder attached to the brake lever. As with the directions for installing the clutch, the directions for the LHRB are complete and augmented by excellent videos on the Rekluse website. Be sure to pay attention to the warning about very small bubbles in the fluid. I had to run almost 3/4 of a bottle of Motul RBF660 DOT 4 fluid through the system in order to purge all of the really tiny bubbles.

     Once installed, the LHRB works like a champ. It does take quite a squeeze to completely lock the rear wheel (I still find that more easily done with the foot pedal), but for anything short of that, it's great. The utility of a handlebar-mounted rear brake will amaze you. There's no going back.       
     Just in case it is not evident by now, I really like my Rekluse Core EXP and the LHRB. I will probably never again own a dirt bike that is not equipped with a Rekluse clutch and LHRB, and these are probably the first aftermarket accessories I'll purchase with any future bikes. The Rekluse Core EXP/LHRB combo is as good of a system the aftermarket for motorcycles is capable of conjuring. It's all a bit spendy, but you do get what you pay for. No higher praise is possible. 

Rekluse Core EXP/Left Hand Rear Brake

The Good: A quality unit that is well-designed and well-made.
The Rad: Makes your left hand obsolete, unless you are left-handed (kinda).
The Gnarly: Running out of excuses - besides lack of ability.

Core EXP Clutch $899.00 
LHRB Kit $299.00 at Pocatello PowerSports

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