A slipper clutch may sound confusing, but its concept is simple: provide rear-wheel control under heavy braking situations. By preventing rear-wheel hop, a slipper clutch provides better traction control for high performance riding.
A slipper, or as some manufactures call it, a “back torque limiter,” allows the clutch to partially disengage or “slip” during heavy “engine braking” when the rear wheel attempts to drive the engine faster than it would run under its own power. The slipping of the clutch prevents the “engine braking” from locking up the rear wheel and causing chatter, especially when braking at a high speed for a sharp turn.
When using a conventional clutch, the force of high-speed engine braking (especially in liter bikes) transmits through the drive chain and causes rear-wheel hop, creating a loss of traction. But with a slipper clutch, this chassis instability is prevented. On the track, this provides an increased corner entry speed, which means faster lap times.
Slipper clutches are used in road racing, supermotards and off road bikes. And although most of the advantages are only observable at the track, a slipper clutch can also benefit everyday street bikes. Slipper clutches eliminate extra loading on the rear suspension for a more predictable ride on your favorite canon road, and they minimize the risk of over-revving during downshifts in emergency situations.
Gaining popularity, slipper clutches are now factory installed on various production motorcycles like the Honda CBR1000RR, the Aprilia RSV Mille and the Ducati 1198. Some of the leading slipper clutch manufactures are Yoyodyne, Hinson, Sigma, TSS and STM, with prices from $600 to more than $3500 (averaging $1200). This may sound like a pricey investment, but the performance is substantial.