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Clutch Masters’ New Single-Disc Kits for Honda K and B-Series Blend Road and Track Use with Precision
BY Mike Maravilla //
March 7, 2023
@mike_futureclassic
Photography: Mike Maravilla
@mike_futureclassic
Videography: Mike Maravilla
@mike_futureclassic
  • Clutch Masters is a high-performance clutch manufacturer devoted to crafting solutions for virtually every platform and horsepower requirement.
  • The Short Shift (SS) series clutch kits walk the “dual duty” (street+track) line with precision, offering long life and positive engagement with little to no drawbacks.
  • Each clutch system component is proudly made in the USA with a decreasing environmental impact to boot.

136,000 miles. That’s how far my 2004 Honda Civic Si has traveled since new. I bought the car from my neighbor (the original owner) nearly two years ago. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to lovingly restore and modify it, scratching a 25-year-long itch that has gone ignored since high school.

You see, most of my friends drove the gamut of JDM sub-compact cars: the Type R, Eclipse GSX, Civic Si, 3000GT, Prelude SH, 2.5RS, SC300, RX-7, and the list goes on. We didn’t know how coveted they’d become nowadays, but I think deep down, we understood that they were innately more special than your average car.

PROGRESS UP UNTIL NOW

The EP3, lovingly/insultingly nicknamed the bread van, might not have the same media panache as some of the aforementioned, but this hatch (console-mounted shifter and all) is admittedly one of my favorites. To me, the EP3’s underdog status adds to its allure.

Being largely under-appreciated, I felt compelled to modify it with top-tier components. The car was besmeared with Spoon and Mugen bits inside and out, and an OEM JDM roof spoiler and front bumper cover — with a super rare Air Walker aero front lip — were sourced to complement the tuner accessories. Koyorad and Mishimoto provided a one-two punch for engine cooling and silicone hoses, respectively. The stock seats were adequate, but a set of velour Recaro Profi SPGs made for an enormous upgrade. Underneath, the car received a Whiteline Performance rear sway bar, all-new OEM bushings throughout, and a custom valved set of Stance XR1 coilovers.

THE BENEFIT OF WINTER

The falling temperatures of the northern hemisphere meant two things: 1.) the Mugen MC10 wheels were begrudgingly swapped for a winter set of Enkei RPF1s, and 2.) it was time to tackle more pressing issues with the car. Indeed, the latter is easily the sole benefit of the cooler months up here; our spring and summer car “season” is often shorter than expected, so winter’s downtime (thanks to chassis-killing salt on the roads) becomes a crucial housekeeping period to ensure everything is sorted by March or April.

With most of the car addressed for a reasonably cheap driver, one area still needed some sizable improvement: the clutch. Considering most cars of similar vintage are likely yearning for similar maintenance, the opportunity couldn’t have been better for an aftermarket manufacturer to work its magic.

EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED

Call it fortuitous timing but Clutch Masters, an authority in performance clutch and flywheel systems, recently released a new kit for Honda/Acura B and K-series cars. Like most motorsport consumer products, this Short Shift series single-disc clutch kit (FX300SS) was the happy amalgamation of experience and modern technological advancements.

Decades of data from its ever-popular 725 Series twin-disc clutches trickled down to inject a sporting character into an OE-style form factor. The result was a robust street-friendly kit that afforded faster shifts, lighter rotating mass, and a consistent pedal feel. As advertised, this Short Shift clutch kit sounded like a perfect complement to my car’s street-biased but circuit-tuned personality.

A few days after the clutch arrived, I entrusted the surgery to our local mainstay, R/T Tuning, in Montgomeryville, PA. Its team mixes decades of experience, precise accuracy, quality tools and machinery, and knowledgeable staff for the ultimate performance install destination.

A CLOSER LOOK

Before diving into it, I had the opportunity to unbox the kit to take a closer look at each of the FX300SS’s components: the clutch disc, clutch cover, flywheel, and accompanying accessories. This kit utilizes a steel-backed, segmented Kevlar disc. This configuration creates more torque-holding capacity than traditional single setups while also boasting exceptional disc life. The cover itself is CNC machined from 6061 billet aluminum and hard coat anodized for longevity.

Since the EP3 uses a 5-speed gearbox, a Clutch Masters flywheel (FW-037-SF) was a mandatory add-on to properly mate with the cover. While an aluminum variant is available (FW-037-AL), the 4140 billet steel model was already lighter than the outgoing factory unit and would be more durable for daily driving duty.

WITHOUT A HITCH

Under the knife at R/T Tuning, disassembly went smoothly. First, the battery and intake were removed to gain access to the EP3’s shift cables. Thereafter, the axles and subframe were carefully extracted while the existing transmission fluid was drained.

Without further obstructions, the transmission was lowered out of the car’s confines, and the factory clutch and flywheel were removed. Seeing the Clutch Masters replacement parts next to the OEM units ramped up my excitement. Calling the Short Shift clutch kit an upgrade would be almost insulting. In every sense of the word, the new pieces were lightyears ahead in fit and finish, weight, and material.

Installation was straightforward as well. R/T Tuning installed a fresh OEM pilot bearing (22103-PNA-003) before fitting the billet steel flywheel. Clutch Masters included a handy alignment tool in the kit, which made the clutch bolt on without any guesswork. A high-performance release bearing (also part of the Clutch Masters kit) made its way into the transmission before being reunited with the car. Since the clutch was meant to work seamlessly with the factory hydraulics, no further work was necessary; however, Clutch Masters recommends that you consider their internal hydraulic release bearing and master cylinder upgrades while you’re at it. Honda Genuine manual transmission fluid came next before it was jettisoned over to the other side of the shop for a fresh alignment.

NIGHT AND DAY

Although I had expected a difference from stock, the first time I pushed the clutch down to start the car, I audibly said, “wow”. In the best way possible, the new Clutch Masters unit was perceivably heavier than stock. While the factory clutch was devoid of feel, the Short Shift kit introduced some much-welcomed mechanical feedback into the pedal. The result is a much more confidence-inspiring, spirited driving experience. I never thought that the EP3 needed a short shifter, but with how much more precision and accuracy the Clutch Masters kit added to the drivetrain, I crave a similar sensation through my right hand’s inputs.

Suffice it to say, I’m downright impressed by Clutch Masters’ work. The company’s own sentiments might explain it best: “[with the Short Shift series] we’ve created something we feel is perfect for those enthusiasts that want every last bit of performance they can eke out of their car.”

I couldn’t agree further. Huge thanks to R/T Tuning for a flawless install and to Clutch Masters for putting together the quintessential plug-and-play kit for B and K-series owners. It really is everything they claim it to be, and even a little more.


 

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