How a Clutch Works
A standard clutch assembly comprises of several different parts that fit together and assist in helping you to change gear and pull away smoothly. These are the clutch cover, clutch plate, pressure plate, clutch fork, clutch cable or hydraulic system and bearing. There is one other vital component called the flywheel that sits next to the engine and this helps keep the clutch and engine spinning at the same time.
When you are driving and your foot is off the pedal, springs force the pressure plate to push the clutch plate against the flywheel. Because there is a high level of friction between the clutch plate and flywheel this keeps the engine and clutch turning over at the same speed.
When you press the clutch down, the clutch cable or hydraulic system pushes the clutch fork forward, which in turn presses the bearing onto the diaphragm in the clutch cover. The diaphragm then pulls the pressure plate away from the clutch plate which disengages the clutch from the flywheel and engine allowing you to change gear.