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    Thread: Black Forest Industries Stage 3 clutch kit review

    1. Member GasInMyVeins's Avatar
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      02-16-2016 11:28 AM #1
      I apologize up front, but this is going to be a picture-free review. I just didn't bother to take pictures when doing the install.


      At about 15k, my Gen 3 GLI's clutch started to slip. It had APR's Stage 1 installed at about 1k, so I was anticipating it. I messaged BFI and after discussing the plans for the car (DD, Stage 2) and my preferences (I like a heavy, fairly aggressive clutch), they recommended their Stage 3 kit. I waited a bit and bought it on Black Friday for just over $800. For reasons uninteresting, it took me a while to install it and I've just finished the 500 mile break-in, so I wanted to give my impressions (plus I haven't seen anyone do a review on this kit yet).
      • The kit components feel and look very high quality, and all the needed flywheel and pressure plate bolts are included. The kit also includes a new OE plastic throwout bearing, with the option to upgrade to a metal one (I skipped that because it's just a DD).
      • I didn't have a scale handy when I did the install, but I'd guess the new parts are close to half the weight of the OE versions.
      • The install is super straightforward, but the instructions BFI provides are generic and not really of any use. Dropping the subframe made the whole job way easier. I also took the opportunity to swap to the Passat aluminum subframe.
      • The pedal is noticeably heavier than stock. For the first 100-200 miles, it felt like a 60%+ increase in pedal effort. Since then, I've either gotten used to it or the pressure plate broke in a bit; it's still a good bit heavier, but it's really nice. The pressure plate is a 2500 lb plate, compared to the stock 1600 (if I remember correctly). I daily drove my 20th with a similar clutch for about three years, so it feels natural to me.
      • The engagement was pretty harsh and grabby in the first 100 miles or so, but it has settled down noticeably. It's only a bit more difficult to modulate than my totally stock A4 now. The engagement point is a couple inches lower in the pedal travel though, because of the SMF's shorter height, so that takes some getting used to. All that said, if you are not used to a fairly grabby clutch or are not planning for over 400 lb-ft., you're probably better off sticking with the Stage 2 clutch.
      • The clutch chatter is substantial. You don't hear it much in the car, but it's very noticeable from outside. Like I said, I daily drove my 20th with a similar setup for three years, so clutch chatter doesn't bother me, but I know some people object to it. Heavier trans oil would probably help quiet it a bit. I can record a video if anyone cares.


      Overall, I couldn't be happier with the clutch. It's capable of way more torque than I'll ever make, so I don't have to worry about that as I upgrade, and it has the heavy pedal and semi-aggressive bite that I'm used to and prefer.

      Side note: I also ordered a dogbone insert with the clutch kit. Two months later when I went to do the install, I realized that the Passat subframe I was swapping in used a different insert and BFI was super accommodating in getting me the right one and getting it to me quickly. I've been buying parts from them for years and one of the main reasons I keep coming back is the excellent service.

      EDIT: Up to 7,500 or so on this kit and it's still awesome. I had someone hit me up in PMs about how bad the chatter was, so I took a quick (crappy) video and figured I'd link it here. I'm going to swap to heavier gear oil eventually and I'll update on how that helps.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiKACHH07BE
      Last edited by GasInMyVeins; 09-14-2016 at 01:00 PM.
      2003 GTI 20AE #1901: my Jazz Blue racecar
      2014 GLI Edition 30 6M in Tornado Red: my wife's daily
      IG: @gasinmyveins18T

    2. Junior Member
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      02-16-2016 01:51 PM #2
      I can completely relate to this review. Just over the weekend, I installed a Stage 2 BFI clutch with SMF in my '12 GLI and, as you've said, the quality is excellent. I appreciate the firmer pedal and the quicker clutch engagement. I'm currently on stage 2, and I'm only about 100 miles into the clutch break-in. Good write up and thanks for the reassurance that going with BFI was the right idea!

    3. Forum Sponsor michael@blackforest's Avatar
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      02-17-2016 09:40 AM #3
      Quote Originally Posted by GasInMyVeins View Post
      I apologize up front, but this is going to be a picture-free review. I just didn't bother to take pictures when doing the install.


      At about 15k, my Gen 3 GLI's clutch started to slip. It had APR's Stage 1 installed at about 1k, so I was anticipating it. I messaged BFI and after discussing the plans for the car (DD, Stage 2) and my preferences (I like a heavy, fairly aggressive clutch), they recommended their Stage 3 kit. I waited a bit and bought it on Black Friday for just over $800. For reasons uninteresting, it took me a while to install it and I've just finished the 500 mile break-in, so I wanted to give my impressions (plus I haven't seen anyone do a review on this kit yet).
      • The kit components feel and look very high quality, and all the needed flywheel and pressure plate bolts are included. The kit also includes a new OE plastic throwout bearing, with the option to upgrade to a metal one (I skipped that because it's just a DD).
      • I didn't have a scale handy when I did the install, but I'd guess the new parts are close to half the weight of the OE versions.
      • The install is super straightforward, but the instructions BFI provides are generic and not really of any use. Dropping the subframe made the whole job way easier. I also took the opportunity to swap to the Passat aluminum subframe.
      • The pedal is noticeably heavier than stock. For the first 100-200 miles, it felt like a 60%+ increase in pedal effort. Since then, I've either gotten used to it or the pressure plate broke in a bit; it's still a good bit heavier, but it's really nice. The pressure plate is a 2500 lb plate, compared to the stock 1600 (if I remember correctly). I daily drove my 20th with a similar clutch for about three years, so it feels natural to me.
      • The engagement was pretty harsh and grabby in the first 100 miles or so, but it has settled down noticeably. It's only a bit more difficult to modulate than my totally stock A4 now. The engagement point is a couple inches lower in the pedal travel though, because of the SMF's shorter height, so that takes some getting used to.
      • The clutch chatter is substantial. You don't hear it much in the car, but it's very noticeable from outside. Like I said, I daily drove my 20th with a similar setup for three years, so clutch chatter doesn't bother me, but I know some people object to it. Heavier trans oil would probably help quiet it a bit. I can record a video if anyone cares.

      Overall, I couldn't be happier with the clutch. It's capable of way more torque than I'll ever make, so I don't have to worry about that as I upgrade, and it has the heavy pedal and semi-aggressive bite that I'm used to and prefer.

      Side note: I also ordered a dogbone insert with the clutch kit. Two months later when I went to do the install, I realized that the Passat subframe I was swapping in used a different insert and BFI was super accommodating in getting me the right one and getting it to me quickly. I've been buying parts from them for years and one of the main reasons I keep coming back is the excellent service.
      I'm glad to hear you are happy with your clutch!

    4. Forum Sponsor michael@blackforest's Avatar
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      02-17-2016 09:41 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by mvalentino View Post
      I can completely relate to this review. Just over the weekend, I installed a Stage 2 BFI clutch with SMF in my '12 GLI and, as you've said, the quality is excellent. I appreciate the firmer pedal and the quicker clutch engagement. I'm currently on stage 2, and I'm only about 100 miles into the clutch break-in. Good write up and thanks for the reassurance that going with BFI was the right idea!
      Be sure to report back after your break in period.

    5. Member GasInMyVeins's Avatar
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      02-17-2016 02:08 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by michael@blackforest View Post
      I'm glad to hear you are happy with your clutch!
      2003 GTI 20AE #1901: my Jazz Blue racecar
      2014 GLI Edition 30 6M in Tornado Red: my wife's daily
      IG: @gasinmyveins18T

    6. Semi-n00b mk4whyyousobroke's Avatar
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      02-29-2016 09:31 PM #6
      can i install a stage 2 or stage 3 clutch on an mk4 without any engine modifications?
      its got a ko4 turbo, been chipped, tuned, but i was told by a "car guy" that because i have low engine output, installing anything higher than a stage 1 clutch would simply render my car inoperable.

    7. Forum Sponsor michael@blackforest's Avatar
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      03-01-2016 09:19 AM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by mk4whyyousobroke View Post
      can i install a stage 2 or stage 3 clutch on an mk4 without any engine modifications?
      its got a ko4 turbo, been chipped, tuned, but i was told by a "car guy" that because i have low engine output, installing anything higher than a stage 1 clutch would simply render my car inoperable.
      That's simply not true. You could put a Stage 5 clutch in a completely stock car, and the car would still be driveable, but it would be completely unnecessary. If you have a K04 and a tune I would recommend against a Stage 1 clutch. You should go with at least Stage 2, if not Stage 3.

    8. Member VRBehavior's Avatar
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      04-22-2016 12:18 AM #8
      Please excuse the stupid question but, you mentioned a 500 mile break-in period. Is that a period in which it would be recommended not to aggressively shift or use any sort of......"spirited" throttle?

    9. Junior Member
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      04-22-2016 07:12 AM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by VRBehavior View Post
      Please excuse the stupid question but, you mentioned a 500 mile break-in period. Is that a period in which it would be recommended not to aggressively shift or use any sort of......"spirited" throttle?
      You really need to baby the car while the clutch is breaking in to allow proper transfer of the clutch disc friction material to the flywheel surface

      Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
      2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI - Unitronic Stage 2 ECM - BFI Stage 2 clutch and SMF - Unitronic Turboback exhaust - Unitronic Cold Air Intake - 034 Motorsports rear sway bar - Eibach Pro lowering springs - GFB DV+ Diverter valve - OSIR shift knob - OSIR shift boot

    10. Member GasInMyVeins's Avatar
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      04-22-2016 09:00 AM #10
      mvalentino nailed it. For the first 500 miles (on any clutch), you should stick to light throttle, stay out of boost as best you can, and don't do quick shifts.
      Last edited by GasInMyVeins; 05-25-2016 at 10:14 AM.
      2003 GTI 20AE #1901: my Jazz Blue racecar
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    11. Member DFWSKATE's Avatar
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      04-22-2016 09:10 AM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by GasInMyVeins View Post
      mvalentino nailed it. For the first 500 miles (on any clutch), you shouldn't stick to light throttle, stay out of boost as best you can, and don't do quick shifts.
      ^

      To add to that, the 500 miles rule of thumb is also dependent on your driving. 500 miles of highway commute isn't going to break in the same as 500 miles of stop and go city driving.

    12. Member VRBehavior's Avatar
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      04-23-2016 08:37 AM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by mvalentino View Post
      You really need to baby the car while the clutch is breaking in to allow proper transfer of the clutch disc friction material to the flywheel surface

      Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
      God that's going to be a test. The struggle will be real but worth it. Just ordered the stage 3!I'm sold hoping it arrives before the Savannah even. That'll be some good miles breaking in. I'm wondering if a stainless steel clutch line and billet bleeder block will help with clutch pedal feel.
      Quote Originally Posted by GasInMyVeins View Post
      mvalentino nailed it. For the first 500 miles (on any clutch), you shouldn't stick to light throttle, stay out of boost as best you can, and don't do quick shifts.

    13. Junior Member
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      04-23-2016 08:39 AM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by VRBehavior View Post
      God that's going to be a test. The struggle will be real but worth it. Just ordered the stage 3!I'm sold hoping it arrives before the Savannah even. That'll be some good miles breaking in. I'm wondering if a stainless steel clutch line and billet bleeder block will help with clutch pedal feel.
      It's so worth it though. The clutch feels stiffer with a more positive engagement and just for the peace of mind that it can handle an increase in power!

      Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
      2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI - Unitronic Stage 2 ECM - BFI Stage 2 clutch and SMF - Unitronic Turboback exhaust - Unitronic Cold Air Intake - 034 Motorsports rear sway bar - Eibach Pro lowering springs - GFB DV+ Diverter valve - OSIR shift knob - OSIR shift boot

    14. Member VMPhil's Avatar
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      04-23-2016 11:41 AM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by VRBehavior View Post
      God that's going to be a test. The struggle will be real but worth it..
      I am in the middle of mine. I have had to hit boots a couple of times but never went past 5 psi. Passing on the expressway. It is really hard especially on highway driving when entering traffic at high speed.

      Just drive like a normal person, don't do any clutch dumps and don't boost to 20 psi from a 30mph roll while in 5th or 6th gear and you should be fine.
      Last edited by VMPhil; 04-23-2016 at 11:45 AM.
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    15. Member GasInMyVeins's Avatar
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      04-25-2016 11:30 AM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by DFWSKATE View Post
      ^

      To add to that, the 500 miles rule of thumb is also dependent on your driving. 500 miles of highway commute isn't going to break in the same as 500 miles of stop and go city driving.
      Really good point. I forgot to mention that.
      2003 GTI 20AE #1901: my Jazz Blue racecar
      2014 GLI Edition 30 6M in Tornado Red: my wife's daily
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    16. Member GasInMyVeins's Avatar
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      09-14-2016 01:01 PM #16
      I shot a video of the chatter because someone PM'd me about it, so it's linked above and I'll bump this in case anyone is interested.
      2003 GTI 20AE #1901: my Jazz Blue racecar
      2014 GLI Edition 30 6M in Tornado Red: my wife's daily
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    17. Member hebwml's Avatar
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      12-29-2016 04:11 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by mvalentino View Post
      I can completely relate to this review. Just over the weekend, I installed a Stage 2 BFI clutch with SMF in my '12 GLI and, as you've said, the quality is excellent. I appreciate the firmer pedal and the quicker clutch engagement. I'm currently on stage 2, and I'm only about 100 miles into the clutch break-in. Good write up and thanks for the reassurance that going with BFI was the right idea!
      How are you liking the clutch? does it sound a noisy as the video makes it out to be? I find videos shot with phones have terrible audio.

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