Racer X: Tell us how the concept of building an automatic clutch for a dirt bike came together and eventually became Rekluse Motorsports.
Joe DeGano: There was an auto-clutch on the market years ago and our president and founder, Al Young, put one in his bike and didn’t like the way that it worked. He thought he could build a better one. He went ahead and pretty much invented the Z-Start Rekluse Auto-Clutch. He put ten of them on the Internet and sure enough, he sold them, so he went into production. Now the new Core XP is our new technology, and it’s a night and day difference from the first one we built ten years ago.
Core EXP Hydraulic actuated.
What advantages does the Auto-Clutch provide for motocrossers who don’t have any clutch-related complaints?
The thing with our product is, many people don’t understand really what it is or what it can do. But once you ride a bike with one, that’s it. You’ll never want to ride a bike without one again. We have an incredibly loyal customer base. We’ve had a difficult time trying to bring the Auto-Clutch into the market as a performance product, but it is. Our ad campaign is; faster corners, better starts, quicker lap times. That’s how we got into motocross and supercross this year with HRT Kawasaki and Munn Racing. Those guys were skeptical, but we went out to the supercross track and tested with and without the Auto-Clutch and their lap times were anywhere from half a second to a full second faster with our product. They were like, “Oh, wow, that’s what it does.” You can go into corners a gear higher, your starts are more consistent, or if you ride trails, you don’t have to worry about your bike stalling while you’re going up a gnarly, rocky or rutted hill. The list goes on and on.
It’s been ten years of trying to get the market to change their perception of the Auto-Clutch being a product for an old or beginning rider to something you would want to put in your race bike. We’re slowly starting to swing the pendulum the other way, and people are starting to realize that this product makes you go faster. Like I said, you’ll have faster cornering, better starts and lower lap times, and we can prove it. We have a 30-day guarantee: If you buy one and put it in your bike, and if it didn’t make you a better rider or increase your fun, we’ll return it and give you your money back.
How does the clutch assembly work?
It’s a centrifugal clutch design. Basically there are wedges inside of a disc, and as the clutch spins up, the wedges spread out, expand the disc and engage the clutch. That engagement is completely adjustable. You can still disengage the clutch manually exactly like you would a stock bike too. The lever feels exactly the same, you just don’t have to use it. You can leave the bike in gear and just sit there without ever pulling the clutch in. With the Auto-Clutch doing the work for you, you can come into a corner a gear higher, and instead of doing all this fancy clutch work, you can just turn the throttle and let the Auto-Clutch do the modulation for you. It’s way more accurate and more consistent, and once you get the feel of it, you can haul! Another advantage is that it won’t stall. If you come into a corner and accidentally lock up the rear brake, the clutch reacts and won’t allow the engine to stall.
What about engine braking?
That’s completely adjustable, but when it comes out of the box, it’s set up the same as stock. There are some pro riders who prefer to adjust it back to allow it to freewheel at places like Southwick; it’s all up to rider preference. But out of the box, it’s the same as stock. If I were to install it in your bike and not tell you, you wouldn’t know it was there. You can still pop or slip the clutch if you need to bring the front end up over something.
Your company seems to have a much larger presence in the off-road segment than in the motocross scene. Why is that?
That’s where we started. We went to a bunch of off-road races and started giving them to people, and we’ve got a bunch of champions running our products there. If you go to a GNCC it’s amazing how many people have Rekluse clutches in their bikes. Last year we put a big focus in moving into motocross and supercross, and we had good results.
How can customers learn more about your company?
They can go to www.rekluse.com. We’ve got videos on how it works, we’ve got videos with our race teams explaining the benefits and we’ve got technical info on there as well. We’re an American company and we manufacture our products in the United States. All of our clutches are made here, and we export to over 41 countries worldwide. In 2012, we earned the Exporter of the Year Award from the Small Business Association. We have a spirit of innovation in our manufacturing department, and we want our technology, innovation and manufacturing to stay in the U.S.A., which is really hard to do. It’s so cool what they’ve done in the manufacturing facility in order to stay lean and be profitable without taking our manufacturing process overseas like so many companies do. We also make clutch baskets, manual clutches, left-hand brake kits; everything we make is innovative. We don’t just remake stock parts out of billet aluminum. Everything we make has some technological advantage to it, and the stuff our R&D team comes up with is really exciting.
Thanks for your time, Joe.
No problem, thank you.