Once again, the subject of the 50cc clutch life comes up and this time I want to talk to you about the clutch pins. The 2013-2020 clutch assembly on the KTM / Husqvarna 50’s uses a system where the clutch plates slide on 6 internal pins. The stock pins are nice when they are new but over time, the clutch plates will begin to wear grooves in the pins and hinder the ability of them to slide up and down like they are designed to do. This is the same effect as notches in the clutch basket of the conventional clutch. Nihilo believes that the internal pin system is superior to the tongs on the outer basket of a conventional clutch but as we all know, all clutch parts will eventually wear out, so choosing the best quality replacement parts is very important.
Nihilo Concepts set out to develop a replacement pin system that we recommend you install when your original pins show signs of wear. Now before you toss the stock pins you can get a little more life out of them by spinning them 180 degrees to place the smooth side inward against the plates. Since the pins are round, only the inner half are affected by wear so the outside of the pins do not get any wear initially. It’s a good practice to loosen the bolts at the base of the pins and spin them 180 degrees at the first sign of notching, this will give you another life span before replacing the stock pins with Nihilo’s Nickel Boron coated pins.
Nickel Boron is a lubricity coating that we use on all our 50cc clutch pins; it is slippery and has a very high Rockwell hardness. The coating was developed by an engineer from the same town where we are located. It was not widely used in the motorsports industry until we experimented with it on a few parts. This special coating has become a standard application on military weapons used in the desert. Nickel Born when looked at under a microscope, looks a lot like cauliflower, it has a very hard ball-shaped surface, so there is less surface area hence less friction. Another benefit to this hard coating that it is a poor conductor of heat; it will not efficiently pull heat in and cools very quickly. It is used on Military weapons where gun components must slide freely at rapid speed without creating too much heat. In desert warfare, petroleum-based lubricants cannot be used because they would attract sand and dirt. In our motors, we can use oil so you can imagine how good the plates slide with the hard coating and lubrication.
Nihilo has found this coating to be very valuable on several of our products but especially on the clutch pins. These pins need to be hard and slippery and the Nickel Boron coating provides just that. Because they do not hold heat, they do not expand and become tight against the plates. The Nihilo Clutch Pins are of the same design and size as the OEM units, and their benefit is in the extra hardness to limit wear and the lubricity that allows the plates to slide up and down freely. Nihilo Clutch pins will last many times the life of the OEM pins.
Pick the right pins!: There are two versions of the 50 clutch pins and you need to make sure you get the right ones. In 2013 when this style of clutch was first released there was an issue with the pins allowing the bottom plate to get stuck underneath the pin when the Cush drive was activated. ( we will talk about the cushioning system of the clutch and Nihilo parts to make it better in a future Blog) If you have a 2013 KTM 50 you will want to purchase the tall pins or part #NHDCP50T, if you have a 2014-2020 KTM or Husqvarna 50 you will want the short pin or part #NHDCP50S. Click on the link below to purchase the clutch pins and to see a diagram of the difference between the tall and short pins.
When replacing the clutch pins for the first time you will find out that the black Allen head screws that come stock on the clutch will strip out very easily. Nihilo has solved this problem as well, we offer A4 Stainless Steel Torx head screws to replace the OEM parts, they guarantee tight tool fitment and strength and can be used many times without issue. Look for part # NCBK5013 when ordering your new pins.
One last note: Carefully inspect the clutch plates where they come into contact with the pins, Over time the plates will become stretched from banging into the pins and if allowed to remain in the clutch have been known to break and cause excessive damage to other clutch components, if the half circles that slide on the pins are worn and stretched out we recommend you replace the plates.
By: Bob Brewster Riding and wrenching on dirt bikes since 1968