Clutch, Flywheel, Shifters, and transmission
The clutch, flywheel and transmission make up the Power Train or Drive Train.
The fly wheel is what is connected to the engine. The engine is cranking the fly wheel around. Basically, you can look at it like it is a large metal disk that is connected to the driveshaft. Every time a cylinder fires, it helps spin the fly wheel.
Once a heavy fly wheel is in motion, the momentum (mass * velocity?the heavier the fly wheel, the more momentum) smoothes out the engine/cylinder ?pulses?.
It is this momentum and the ability of the fly wheel to maintain a constant speed that allows you to launch a car smoothly. If a fly wheel has little mass, it has a harder time keeping the engine at the same speed and can stall when the gear is engaged.
It is for driving/launch ease that most manufacturers use a somewhat heavy fly wheel.
A lighter flywheel does not have as much ability to maintain the engine speed when a load is applied to it. While that makes launching the car a little more difficult, it makes the engine much more ?rev? happy! No longer is an engine slowed down in its acceleration/deceleration by the momentum of a heavy fly wheel.
A lighter flywheel makes a huge performance increase!
The clutch is the ?connector? between the transmission and the engine.
When you work the clutch pedal, you engage (pedal out) or disengage (pedal in) the clutch. In other words, when the clutch is engaged (pedal out) the transmission is connected to the engine. When you press the clutch pedal in you disconnect the engine from the transmission (disengage).
The clutch engages the engine through use of a pressure plate. Think of it like when you are with a bunch of your friends and a ?hotty? walks by. As the ?hotty? walks past you, your friends shove you in the back, right in to the hotty. You now have no option but to interact with the object of desire (you can apologize or strike up a conversation?or whatever). You are now ?engaged? with the hotty.
The pressure plate pushes the high friction, clutch surface in contact with the fly wheel?until they are ?engaged?.
When things are too powerful?
Back to our example?
If the ?hotty? is too ?hot? for you (or too powerful in the case of an engine), you may initially ?slip? or fumble in your connection.
This is called ?slippage?. Harmful in dating and to the clutch in your car!
When you add a lot of power, or do a lot of high RPM launches, the stock clutch does not have the ability to adhere or clamp to the fly wheel. It is a sure way to go through a clutch quickly.
High performance clutch have higher clamping power. That means that they are less likely to wear out quickly, but most importantly, can handle higher engine power output.
The downside to a high performance clutch is similar to its advantage?no or little slippage. Some slippage reduces the immediate shock to the transmission and also makes for a ?smoother? launch (if that is what you are going for?I prefer a rocket launch :^).