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 Motorcycle Safety
 Contrary Opinions
 Putting it in neutral at stop lights
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WingMan3070
Junior Member
54 Posts


Glendale, AZ
USA

Harley-Davidson

Ultra Classic

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  10:21 AM
quote:
a) Sitting in gear with the clutch pulled in is NOT the same as being in neutral. Neutral is a STABLE state - you don't have to DO anything. In gear, clutch in, is a metastable state - you need to keep pulling on that clutch lever to keep the bike safe. This also applies to cars. Now, what happens if you are in gear and your hand (or foot) comes off the clutch. At the least you stall. Then you are in a panic situation. At the next you lurch into the car in front and cause a fair bit of damage. At the worst you lurch into the cross traffic and die. So we think putting into neutral is a safe thing to do at the lights.


IMHO
There is a reason they make neutral hard to find, or at least harder than the other forward gears, Other than so you don't accidently hit it while trying to shift to the next gear normally. It's not where you should be most of the time, not while parking nor riding nor at stop lights.

AS far as rear-end accidents being unheard of in the UK. Maybe, but if you got tapped from the rear even slightly by someone not paying attention talking on their cell phone and creeping forward into you,you might go sailing all the way into the intersection. Most people I see in neutral have both feet down and both hands off the bars. Given this situation, you would need to depend on your boots as brakes!!

BTW - being hit from behind is not the only reason to be ready. A guy in our group was stopped at an intersection where there was a liquor store, out came a robber gun in hand. Ran right by my friend and pointed his gun (Did not shoot) back toward the store. My friend was right in the line of fire. One in a million - maybe but being ready to go is just a good habit to get into.

I have also heard of, but have no first hand knowledge of people being accosted, or robbed or jacked at intersections.

Just my opinion!
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twc
Male Advanced Member
836 Posts
[Mentor]


Fort Collins, CO
USA

Harley-Davidson

Electra Glide Ultra

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  10:28 AM
quote:
Originally posted by jollyroger

...over here the hotrods would use the amber/red as a staging light.

I have news for you: they use it as a staging light in the U.K., too. Not only that, it's not unheard of for people to take off when the light turns to red-amber, in anticipation of an imminent green. Of course, they would be susceptible to a "foul start" ticket if caught, but it happens.

Disclaimer: The majority of my city driving has been in the Bristol area, but I suspect it's comparable to any other large city in the U.K.
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jollyroger
Advanced Member
2157 Posts
[Mentor]


St. Charles, MO
USA

Harley-Davidson

Springer Classic

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  10:35 AM
quote:
Originally posted by timbo


b) Almost all our vehicles are manual gear boxes - very few automatics. So we do not get the same situation as you guys where at lights when it goes green the auto's just floor it'n'go. Everyone has to put it into gear and go.




Well most of "ours" are automatics, but most of *mine* have manual gear boxes.
I treat them all the same way whether it's clutch in/brake in with my hands or feet..it's still, let's say, 'out of gear'...
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twc
Male Advanced Member
836 Posts
[Mentor]


Fort Collins, CO
USA

Harley-Davidson

Electra Glide Ultra

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  11:03 AM
quote:
Originally posted by WingMan3070

There is a reason they make neutral hard to find, or at least harder than the other forward gears...

That's an interesting point of view. I never considered the possibility that manufacturers deliberately made neutral hard to find.

It's true that we have to hunt a little on our Harleys, but Kawasaki has a positive neutral mechanism. When you're stopped and lift up on the shift lever (from first gear), it stops at neutral; in fact, you can't put the bike into second gear while you're stopped. You can shift to neutral while your moving, but you have to hunt for it; actually, you're more likely to find it accidentally as the result of a less-than-authoritative upshift than to find it deliberately .
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17284 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  11:08 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
LOL

The reason neutral is between 1st and 2nd is not to make it hard to find. It's to prevent you from downshifting once too often and ending up with a surprise engine disconnect.
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WingMan3070
Junior Member
54 Posts


Glendale, AZ
USA

Harley-Davidson

Ultra Classic

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  11:13 AM
quote:
The reason neutral is between 1st and 2nd is not to make it hard to find. It's to prevent you from down shifting once too often and ending up with a surprise engine disconnect.


True James, but I believe manufactures make it slightly harder to find that other gears on purpose, or you might say a lighter touch to find it. Very much for the same reason.
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jollyroger
Advanced Member
2157 Posts
[Mentor]


St. Charles, MO
USA

Harley-Davidson

Springer Classic

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  11:19 AM
quote:
Originally posted by twc


It's true that we have to hunt a little on our Harleys...


That certainly is a nice way to put it.
Mine is more like ridiculous to find; one more reason to not fiddle with it at a light--by the time I'd found it, I'd have to shift out of it to go..
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WingMan3070
Junior Member
54 Posts


Glendale, AZ
USA

Harley-Davidson

Ultra Classic

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  11:23 AM
quote:
That certainly is a nice way to put it.
Mine is more like ridiculous to find; one more reason to not fiddle with it at a light--by the time I'd found it, I'd have to shift out of it to go..


My Ultra is the same way. I normally have to squeeze the clutch and with both feet down just push the bike an inch or so to take the pressure off, then it will slip in easily. Not worth the trouble at lights!
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ColoRexer
Male Advanced Member
616 Posts
[Mentor]


Castle Rock, CO
USA

Kawasaki

ZX14

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  11:33 AM
Errrm, not always. Can you say 'Positive Neutral Finder'? Does only Kawasaki do this? Great feature. If you are stopped, you will snick up to neutral 100% of the time from first. Yes, it is to impossible cycle up through the gears while stopped. Once moving, however, it wants to go into second very easily, and it takes a pretty bad shift to find neutral by accident.

Could this design be a nod to the European market, with their different practices?
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twc
Male Advanced Member
836 Posts
[Mentor]


Fort Collins, CO
USA

Harley-Davidson

Electra Glide Ultra

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  11:40 AM
quote:
Originally posted by ColoRexer

Could this design be a nod to the European market, with their different practices?

You might be tempted to conclude, for example, that all British-built bikes have some mechanism to make it easy to find neutral, since that's the common practice while stopped at traffic signals.

But I wouldn't .
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ColoRexer
Male Advanced Member
616 Posts
[Mentor]


Castle Rock, CO
USA

Kawasaki

ZX14

Posted - 06/22/2007 :  11:56 AM
quote:
Originally posted by twc

quote:
Originally posted by ColoRexer

Could this design be a nod to the European market, with their different practices?

You might be tempted to conclude, for example, that all British-built bikes have some mechanism to make it easy to find neutral, since that's the common practice while stopped at traffic signals.

But I wouldn't .




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kimbodious
Male Starting Member
1 Posts


Mission Beach, Queensland
Australia

Yamaha

FZ6-N

Posted - 06/23/2007 :  11:49 PM
hello all, I guess I should g'day#13;#10;#13;#10;[p]I am "that guy" who has had their clutch cable snap while waiting in gear at a T intersection. It was a Yamaha Ag 100 I recall and I was revving the ring ning ning out of the poor wee beastie at the time. I was "launched" across the road, missed everything except a pile of gravel. The whole event was witnessed by the officers in an approaching police car who had a good chuckle at my discomfort and embarrassment when they understood the reason for my sudden erratic behaviour. My latest Yamaha still has a clutch cable, I still wait at intersections in first gear, I don't bother with the "look at me" revving anymore but just in case the worst happens again, I have my big spud-picking right mitt clamped firmly over my front brake lever. I have an several occasions had to do a quick dump and run to escape a rear ender, usually either to the side of the road or up alongside the car in front of me....... cheers ...kimbo

Edited by - kimbodious on 06/23/2007 11:59 PM
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kiddal
Male Advanced Member
1561 Posts
[Mentor]


SE, Indiana
USA

Kawasaki

KLR650

Posted - 06/24/2007 :  10:20 PM
You highlighted why revving the motor is unsafe (in addition to annoying). I think my bike would lurch about 3 inches if the clutch cable broke. I'll take my chances there.
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Scott Free
Starting Member
1 Posts


Tacoma, Washington
USA

Honda

250 CMX Rebel

Peer Review: 1

Posted - 03/30/2008 :  1:24 PM
These bird-brain, ding-a-ling, "what if", scenario's are, (expletives deleted), MOOT. For example; The "quick get away" move - launching in to the middle of an intersection should do the trick to loose a leg, or the whole show! That's thinkin' there Einsteins! I've been riding for 43 years, and for over a half a million miles. That's my 'cred'. This one's easy. Excessive wear and tear on parts of long clutch engagements, trump any other reason. Always neutral whenever you can!
In conclusion, Whenever you swing your leg over that saddle, assume that every cager and nit-wit is out to kill you, and you will never have a problem.

One love,
Free
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17284 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 03/30/2008 :  3:13 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Scott,

As a new member you get a pass on your lack of civility - this time only.

If you have something to add to a discussion, please feel free to do so, but the next time you elect to call another member a 'bird brain' or in any other way are not civil here, will find that message thrown away - along with your membership.

As to putting it into neutral ... it is my opinion that the only time you put a bike into neutral is as a start-up activity. There is no wear and tear on your bike to hold in the clutch at a stop sign, and when you are stopped your right hand should be squeezing your brake lever so that if something like a broken clutch cable occurs, big deal. You go nowhere and stall your engine.
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VodkaAndPickles
Male Advanced Member
589 Posts


Langhorne, PA
USA

Suzuki

Intruder 1500 LC

Posted - 03/30/2008 :  6:36 PM
Damn, I should have gotten a Rebel, those things must be indestructible!

Edited by - VodkaAndPickles on 03/30/2008 8:35 PM
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rioguy
Ex-Member

Posted - 03/30/2008 :  7:30 PM
Scott,

Who said anything about launching into the middle of an intersection. I always pick an escape route a car can't follow me into. If I'm first and I'm going to be rear ended, often a simple turn from a stop ahead of the car to my left or right will do it. Or if I'm further back, I can lane split.

Often, if you examine an intersection as you are sitting there, there are places cars don't go through, especially with turn arrows.

I suppose I could duckwalk out of the way if I'm going to be rear ended if I'm in neutra. And they say you can outswim a shark with those inflatible lifepreservers, too.

No escape route works if you stop so close to the car in front of you that you can inhale their exhaust. Why do so many bikers do this.

About 30 years ago in my cage, I avoided being rear ended because I was prepared with an escape route. It was in Alabama on an interstate, 3 lanes in my direction with a the right lane blocked off with cones for construction. Traffic came to a complete stop. The car behind me didn't notice and I raced into the construction area blowing my horn and pulling well forward so the car in front of me could do the same. Instead of hitting me, the car that didn't stop hit the car in front of me. I guess I could have saved wear on my throwout bearing by being in neutral, but then my rear end would have been totalled.

Take a look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfqZUFoQu1E

This biker didn't have a chance if someone wanted to rear end him. Yet there was a perfectly good escape route to the left or right of the car in front of him.

Do what you like, but I prefer to keep my options open. BTW, my IQ is just low enough my socks still match. But I can't read a map, so I never carry one.
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nolafolk
Male Junior Member
55 Posts


Trussville, AL
USA

Suzuki

SV-650

Posted - 04/02/2008 :  10:50 PM
I'm a firm believer in adapting to circumstances. I was taught (OK, 45 years ago, but traffic is still traffic) that you should go to neutral when stopped under the following circumstances:
- Traffic behind you has built up and stopped.
- Cross traffic in front of you makes a forward escape dangerous or impossible.

I was also taught that you should stop far enough back that you can see where the rear tires of the car in front of you touch the ground.

The "recommended" strategy when you can't go forward is to watch your mirrors and be prepared to bail and head for the curb. In my 45 years of riding I've actually had to bail only once. Traffic was dense, I was about five cars back from the light, the road was three narrow lanes, and as I stopped I heard screeching tires. I dumped the clutch which stalled the bike, swung a leg and ran for the curb. The car managed to stop with my bike's rear tire well under it's front bumper.

Twice I've been able to take off, steer for the shoulder, and get out of harm's way. In both those occasions I would have been pancaked between two cars if I didn't get out.

So things can be different. Sometimes I stay in gear, sometimes I go to neutral. Keep thinking, and keep watching.
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talon47
Female Junior Member
55 Posts


SYLVA, NC
USA

Suzuki

C50

Posted - 04/03/2008 :  2:35 PM
Glad I found this thread. My 2007 V Star 1100 Custom is very cranky about finding neutral when she is hot. From this thread it looks like keeping the clutch lever pulled in during stop and go traffic is not harmful to the bike? Guess I've always thought it was more wear and tear or something, so pending traffic conditions, I try for neutral. I don't have trouble holding the lever for long periods, as long as I'm not harming the bike. Thanks for any info.
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dogfish
Male Standard Member
101 Posts


Ashburn, VA
USA

Yamaha

Stratoliner

Posted - 05/30/2008 :  10:24 AM
quote:
Originally posted by talon47

Glad I found this thread. My 2007 V Star 1100 Custom is very cranky about finding neutral when she is hot. From this thread it looks like keeping the clutch lever pulled in during stop and go traffic is not harmful to the bike? Guess I've always thought it was more wear and tear or something, so pending traffic conditions, I try for neutral. I don't have trouble holding the lever for long periods, as long as I'm not harming the bike. Thanks for any info.



I'm not an expert motorcycle mechanic, but I believe motorcycle clutches and automotive clutches operate on similar principles.

When your clutch is all the way disengaged (i.e. engine is disconnected from tranny), then the only stress is the actual linkage (lever, cable and connecting hardware). So there is arguably no increased mechanical wear on the actual clutch itself. True, you are adding more strain on the actual cable, and if it broke you would risk an incident if you were not holding in the brake (or showing off by revving the engine). But if you are doing what you should be doing, common sense seems to dictate that this is safer.

However, I do not yet ride a motorcycle, so I am by no means any expert. All of my advice is based on the theoretical aspects, my particular common sense (which is subjective), as well as a great deal of studying on motorcycle safety in preparation to learning to ride
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