BATTLE OF THE CLUTCH KITSWhat clutch suits your needs the most?
So, do you drive a MK7 GTI or MK7 Golf R? Have you quickly found the first weak point? Was that weak point the factory clutch not being up to the standard tasks you expected to hold up to when you started asking it to hold more power than stock. You’re not alone.
In most cases the factory clutch will work just fine in factory trim but the urge for more power kicked in. We always want more! Maybe you want to flash the ECU with software from our Friends at APR or another software provider, maybe a Burger Motorsport JB4 if thats what you fancy. Most find out pretty quick that the torque surpassed the factory clutches capability fairly easily.
Theses are some of the options that we have the most experience installing and feel confident in recommending to you.
HS Tuning has really pioneered the market of the dual mass flywheel compatible clutch kits when they released their RSR clutch kit. These guys were offering a kit that was drop in, capable of handling bolt on power levels and no one would ever really be able to tell the difference between the two. This is one of many options available today and is still a big seller among MK7 Enthusiasts. They even just starting posting teasers about their hybrid disc that is handling APR Stage 3+ torque levels.
South Bend Clutch
The king of the clutch world. Known for their high torque holding capacities, South Bend Clutch has built a very large reputation in the tuner world, especially the European Market. The crew out there in Indiana can transmit thousands of lb ft. of torque through diesel trucks, I certainly think they can make a clutch last in a Volkswagen. But, the big challenge here is to maintain good driveability and keep a composed level of noise. Southbend has come along way in modernizing their clutch systems to make them comfortable and useable for the every day driver. Reliability is always a major factor when deciding on a clutch kit. With the OE dual mass flywheel being a known issue at high power levels and at risk during launches (especially on the AWD variants), South Bend Clutch has chosen the Single Mass Flywheel route to avoid this. Southbend Clutch Kits are handling APR Stage 3+ power levels with ease and plenty more capability moving forward.
Sachs Race Engineering
Sachs is Sachs. They are an OE supplier for many products in the VAG family. So when Their race line announced their dual mass flywheel compatible power clutch, it became very popular and FAST. The SRE clutch kit for the MK7 platform utilizes both an OE style full faced organic disc and customized center hub and also available is a 4 -puck disc for even higher holding capacity. These clutch kits should be suitable for whatever you throw at them, that is until the flywheel becomes an issue with separation.
What is a Dual mass flywheel?
A dual-mass flywheel or DMF works the same way a conventional flywheel works. The different mainly being the dual mass flywheel acts as a damper system similar to that of a true harmonic balancer. This damper on the backside of the crank will soften any drivetrain jolts, variations, or revolutions that can cause excessive vibration felt inside the cabin. Below is a video from ZF/Sachs of how the Dual Mass Flywheel works.
As you can see, the dual mass flywheel was a good idea in a luxury car situation. The car was more comfortable, but you lack in some areas by using this design. From our experience, the dual mass flywheel just doesn’t last long term in higher torque applications. We have also took some long term notes of the differences between these clutch kits. We did this so we can make honest recommendations and provide good information to help you aid in making the best decision based off your needs and expectations.
I have driven multiple HS Tuning RSR clutch kits and Sachs SRE kits back to back from a stock clutch and it really felt no different to me. The engagement was a little bit more aggressive due to the revised center hub design, but honestly, I only noticed because I was looking for the change. Unless you know what you’re looking for, most people can’t tell a difference especially the wife (woops did we just tattle on some of you guys? 😁 ) The delivery in which the power applied was the same, shifting was the same as stock, but obviously even when loaded with APR Stage 2 on a MK7 Golf R, it handled the power no problem.
So, now that you are probably interested in one of these DMF compatible kits, I figure I’ll express some of my opinion here. Even when removing the helper spring behind the pedal and removing the delay valve, I still didn’t get great feedback from the clutch no matter what clutch kit was in there. This is something I’ve contributed to the dual mass flywheel dampening some of that feedback I rely on as a driver. My ability to naturally predict what was going to come next has been blinded and I suddenly felt like a 16 year old kid learning a manual transmission for the first time. On many instances I came up to a stop sign on a hill and I didn’t know when the clutch would engage as I let off the pedal. Every scenario I experienced a different engagement point too, I quickly decided this was not for me, after some driving I decided I dod not like the dual mass flywheel on these cars.
I then had a chance to drive a South Bend stage 3 endurance equipped Golf R for the day (I know lucky me). All I have to say is “that’s what I’m talking about”. To me, the car drove better, letting out the clutch was easier and less jerky and was most importantly, predictable. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face driving this car around. Instant gratification every time I came to a stop sign, I actually hoped I could get stuck at a right light or stop sign just so I could start and stop again. The stage 3 endurance didn’t require that much pedal force either, mayeb 20% greater than stock, it was very marginal. I have bad knees from my days of hockey and landscaping so I figured this could be annoying to be all day. But I was wrong, dead wrong. My MK4 TDi with a stock DMF and clutch was stiffer than this car was. I really didn’t want to get back in my Jetta after being in this Golf R all day.
So what is a single mass flywheel exactly? Well, the flywheel is a solid piece of either cast steel, billet steel, or cast or billet aluminum that attached directly to the crank and provide direct contatn with the clutch. Most single mass clutch kits utilize sprung hubs to dampen the vibration in the drivetrain (similar to that of how a DMF works… not quite the same however. So as you can see there is a limited amount of dampening to be had. Luckily, companies like South Bend Clutch have gotten things under control.
But SMF's are noisy! How can I avoid it?Come on, they're not all that bad...
SMF Chatter • In The Flesh
Now after hearing these videos, this isn’t as true as it used to be, is it? Maybe it is to some people, but the noise really isn’t that bad. South Bend’s silent design clutch disc has cut down considerably on chatter. I generally only received some chatter when low in 2nd gear come to a stop as I pushed in the clutch, then it went away or when easing out in first gear. But it was very minor, but I come from diesels so the noise never bothered me. This might be a concern to some people if they are bothered by such small occurrences. If this is the case, than the Sachs or the HS Tuning might be a better option for you!