Mar 10, 2022
Rekluse sat down with KTM Twins Ambassador, "The Gear Dude" Spencer Hill, to talk about his favorite parts about riding, what he likes about running Rekluse auto and manual clutches, and more.
Rekluse: When did you get your start riding?
Spencer: I didn’t start riding motorcycles until I was about 22 or 23. I had a friend that bought a Triumph Bonneville right when the retro bikes were coming back, the café racer type thing. I thought it was super cool, so I bought a 1969 Honda CL175. I’m an engineer by trade, so I rebuilt that bike from top to bottom and fell in love with motorcycles. My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, and I would cruise around the city. That’s how I got started.
What’s your favorite part about riding? Taking your wife for a ride, finding new places?
I don’t think my wife has ridden on the back of one of my motorcycles since then [laughs]. My favorite thing is probably just being out in the middle of nowhere. I really like rough camping. Just being on a trip where you can go a night or two without really going through any cities and just being out on your own, on your own mission.
What’s your favorite “middle of nowhere” to go to?
I love Death Valley. I’m sort of a history buff. It’s just a cool place to ride without the frame of reference of modern anything. Being in the middle of nowhere like that really makes the history come alive.
What kind of history is out there?
There’s ghost towns, a ton of old mines, Barker Ranch where the Manson family hung out, lots of interesting stuff.
Do you have a favorite riding memory? An epic trip that stands out?
Doing the Continental Divide in 2016. That was probably my favorite motorcycle memory.
How long did that take you?
Like 17 days. I was with 2 guys who had never ridden motorcycles before. They just dove right in [laughs]. Other than that, I did a month-long trip with my wife from Washington all the way down to Mexico. We hit all the national parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone. That was my favorite long trip.
That’s awesome. During that month-long trip, were you guys just living off the bike or getting hotel rooms?
We did a bit of both. We had all our camping stuff with us, so we did camp like 75% of the time. We stayed in hotels in a couple big cities like San Diego and in Palm Springs because it was so damn hot out [laughs].
What does adventure riding mean to you?
It just means the freedom of being able to explore and not worry about where I’m going to stay or where my destination is. Just being self-sufficient in that way – having your own camping kit, food, enough fuel, to be able to do whatever you want and be in the back country.
What advice would you give someone who was wanting to get into adventure riding?
Start on a dirt bike. That’s my number one thing. I think a common mistake people make is go out and buy a [BMW] 1200 GS or a [KTM] 1290 to start out with. [Starting on a big bike] can really sour you on the whole sport. So start small and just go out and do it.
Switching gears a bit, you’re a KTM Twins Ambassador. What does that entail?
I started with KTM Twins when it changed ownership in 2016. They wanted to build a promotional bike to garner some attention, and they asked me to do it, so I built out a Rally 690. I’ve been doing projects like that with them ever since. I did a 1090 after the first 690, then I’m working on a 790 build right now. We go to most of the major events and rallies and fly the KTM Twins flag.
Do you guys have any big rides or events coming up?
We have a big Death Valley trip coming up this Winter, but that’s more of a personal trip than a [KTM Twins] promotional trip. Then event season this year with the Touratech Rally and that kind of stuff.
Do you have a favorite rally?
I like the Touratech Rally a lot, just because it’s in my back yard. It’s about 2 hours away from my house, and it’s in an area that I ride in a lot. Other than that, I love the KTM [Adventure] Rally, I love the culture there. They usually put together incredible rides.
So what’s your background with Rekluse?
I got started [with Rekluse] right when I started that first 690 build for KTM Twins. I had 2 690’s at the time, one that was more like a dirt bike and the other that was a Rally setup. I had an auto clutch [RadiusX] in both of them and I absolutely loved it. That was the first time I had one in a bike. I have ran [Rekluse] product ever since then. I had TorqDrive [manual clutch] in the 1090, then I have TorqDrive in the new 790, and I have a [RadiusX] auto clutch waiting to get installed [into the 790].
What do you feel the benefits of TorqDrive are?
The biggest advantage on the 790 with [TorqDrive] is it’s just a more robust clutch. The 790 has clutch issues. I’ve put about 3,000 miles on TorqDrive now. I haven’t gotten any of the fade or anything. I’m going to check it out when I take it apart to put the [RadiusX] auto clutch in, but I suspect that it’s still good. It’s a more robust clutch, and I think it just does better with these powerful bikes.
What were the benefits of RadiusX?
I had it super dialed on one of the 690s, and it just seemed like it worked perfectly. It made riding more effortless, especially in technical terrain. It felt like it had a better grab than the stock clutch on that bike. It just really made it feel like a dirt bike. And it was great for wheelies [laughs].
Other than the bigger adventure bikes, what models do you have experience with Rekluse clutches on?
[KTM] 500 EXC. I went riding with Jimmy Lewis a couple months ago, and he has a couple [KTM] 500’s dialed in with [RadiusCX]. He has them so dialed in and perfect, I love it on that bike. I’ve gone back to back – I rode with [auto clutches with Jimmy Lewis] in Nevada, then I was in Moab and I got a chance to ride a brand new [KTM] 500 that was bone stock. I was like “oh man, how do people do this with a regular clutch?” [laughs].
Are there any standout bike models where you think the clutch really shines?
I think TorqDrive was really great in the 790 as far as reducing the lever pull, because it’s a cable clutch as opposed to the usual hydraulic clutch on a KTM. It made the lever pull easier and it did better at transferring the power. I’m really excited to see how the auto clutch does in the 790, because it already has the quick shifter. So with the RadiusX, it could be a perfect combination of quick shifter and auto clutch. It could be really cool.
What scenarios do you feel like the auto clutch comes in handy?
The auto clutch just makes technical terrain much more enjoyable. Rocky climbs, Moab type stuff, it just keeps one thing off your plate. It makes in more fun for me, because it’s one less thing I have to worry about.
What about TorqDrive? Where does it come in handy?
It’s just the only solution for the 790. KTM should have put a better clutch in to start, so I think [TorqDrive] shines as the proper replacement.
What common misconceptions have you heard about auto clutches, and how do they compare to the actual performance of the product?
Before I ever used an auto clutch, I had people saying that your bike will constantly roll backwards, that your bike will be rolling off hills. That was sort of funny to me. The other [misconception] was that the clutch required constant adjustment. That was the first thing I learned with my first 690 – if you adjust it properly, you really don’t have to mess with it. It was a seamless product on the bike… I thought I would have to tinker with it a lot, but I didn’t. You just check Free Play Gain and make sure that’s within spec, and it’s easy.
Where can people find you online?
My website is thegeardude.com – most people follow what I do on Instagram, which is @the_gear_dude, or The Gear Dude on Facebook.
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