I finally got the z-Start auto clutch from Rekluse http://www.rekluse.com/ for my XR650R and had a chance to test it out the other day. The z-Start auto clutch enhanced my riding experience and is a product I won’t be without again. Installation was pretty simple and probably took me about two hours, but I was taking my time. Now that I’ve installed one, I could probably do the whole install in less than 40 minutes without much trouble. You do have to be very careful to not to drop any small parts inside your engine and you should be a bit mechanically inclined, but the average do-it-yourself type person who has good common sense and good tools can install and configure this product by themselves. The idea of an auto clutch for my XR650R didn’t sound all that appealing more than year ago, but then the idea started to grow on me after giving it more thought and reading the comments from other auto clutch users with CRF450’s, YZF’s & KTM’s just further enticed me. Now that I’ve ridden with one, I won’t be without it on any bike I own from now on. I like my big CT70 (hehe!), but there’s much more to the auto clutch than simply being able to idle in gear. Once you spend some time riding a z-Start’d bike, you may be hooked. I thought it would take a long time for me to break my 30+ year habit with using the clutch, but riding with the z-Start felt more natural to me than riding without it after a few hours of playing around, especially on technical terrain. You can either twist the throttle slowly for a smooth gentle start or launch hard just as if you let out the clutch for that perfect race start, only the z-Start does it for you automatically. It makes riding trails that much more effortless. The z-Start makes the bike feel like it has a much wider power band, and therefore you feel like you’re in the sweet spot more often than not with less shifting and fiddling with the clutch. If you ever thought about gearing down to a lower ratio for trail use but didn’t want to give up any of the top speed from the stock gearing, then think twice about the z-Start because it makes simple work out of riding technical terrain. You don’t have to worry about stalling the bike or lugging it at too low of RPM when going slow, because the z-Start automatically clutches and declutches so elegantly that you won’t know its happening. I was more relaxed riding in technical terrain with the z-Start than I’ve ever been. At one point while climbing a gnarly hill in 2nd gear I hit a rock near the top which pitched me a bit to the side and brought me to a halt about 12 feet from the top. Fortunately this last portion of the climb was significantly less steep, but my bike would have stalled for sure in 2nd gear had I been using the stock clutch when I hit that rock and from there things would have been very unpleasant. I pictured myself cart wheeling backwards 40+ feet down the hill as my kids watched below. If fear hadn’t taken over and I had somehow properly reacted by slipping the stock clutch setup at the right moment while trying to stay atop what felt like a bucking bronco on the side of a hill, then maybe I could have climbed out without incident, but I doubt it. I was at the point to where I was ready to let go of my bike because it should have stalled at that point. The z-Start seamlessly clutched and declutched for me to prevent my bike from stalling at that brief critical moment and I was able to twist the throttle and climb out of trouble while holding on for dear life. I never realized how much I used the clutch or how often I shifted gears because it just happened without thinking for the most part like driving a car with a manual transmission, but now that I’m aware of this I can see it happened much more often than I ever thought. The z-Start doesn’t give your bike an automatic transmission, but you’ll probably find yourself shifting a lot less often and feel more confident in some situations as you get used to piloting what feels like an XR650R automatic when it comes to certain types of riding. The z-Start is user configurable for different stall and engagement speeds to meet a wide variety of needs. If you buy the optional clutch perch adjuster, you still retain the use of your existing clutch and you can adjust the stall speed externally by turning a threaded adjuster that fits inline with the existing clutch adjuster on the stock perch. For my general purpose fun and trail use, I chose to set up my z-Start with low stall, quick engagement and to lock up harder more quickly, but there’s a lot of flexibility in the way you can setup your z-Start if you choose to. It’s hard to put in words just how kool this product really is, especially when I couldn’t see the point of a product like this early last year. If you ever have the chance to try out a z-Start’d bike, then take the opportunity to see what it’s like for yourself. It may be more fun that you realize! Look for a review of the z-Start in Dirt Bike magazine (XR650R) and Motocross Action (CRF450) in the coming months.