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 How to get a smoother downshift
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HiFiDrive
Male Starting Member
2 Posts


Porter Ranch, California
USA

Suzuki

DR200

Posted - 10/15/2015 :  9:32 AM                       Like
Hey msgroup,
I'm a new rider who passed the msf course and now have my license. All is well except my downshifts. When I downshift it tends to be slightly jerky and the engine revs high when I release the clutch slowly. I did try revmatching but was not successful at it, therefore I'd like to master the current way I do it. Here's what I do. Clutch in with f&r brakes, click down, clutch out, brakes out. I've been wanting to ride forever and now I can but this is frustrating.

Thanks everyone

greywolf
Male Moderator
1492 Posts
[Mentor]


Evanston, IL
USA

Suzuki

DL650AL2

Posted - 10/15/2015 :  1:12 PM
You can either get more practiced at rev matching or let the clutch out more slowly. If the engine revs high, it means the gear was too low for the speed you were going. A slower clutch lever release will give you more feedback to help match revs. You don't need to let the clutch out for every downshift. As you are coming to a stop or slowing down from highway speed to city speed, it is important to stay in an appropriate gear for the speed you are moving but you don't need to let the clutch lever out for each gear change. In the above examples, the lever does not need to be let out until moving away after a stop or until reaching city speed when just slowing down. Reaching city speed may have taken two or three downshifts but the clutch lever only needs to be let out after the last downshift.

With most bikes, as long as you are going less than 20mph before getting down to first gear and would be between 2500 rpm and 80% of red line if you let the clutch lever out, the gear would be appropriate. Some people prefer to let the clutch lever out at every downshift, essentially using the engine to slow down, but I prefer using the brakes for that. Brakes are easier and cheaper to replace than clutches. Besides, it makes riding easier.

Making basic riding easier means you have more attention to give to safety.
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commonground
Male Standard Member
155 Posts


Windsor, PA
USA

Yamaha

V Star 1300

Posted - 10/15/2015 :  2:55 PM
I would recommend getting the "Ride Like A Pro" DVD. Jerry "Motorman" Palladino the creator, puts a lot of emphasis on the use of the clutch along with throttle and rear brake. Augie

https://www.ridelikeapro.com/
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1689 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Posted - 10/15/2015 :  4:05 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
You might be new to a manual transmissions, car or bike. In that case, it may just take some time and experience. I'm assuming too, that you're downshifting ONE gear at a time, right?

If you're slowing down and coming to a stop, getting off the gas, and you say braking as well, you need not downshift instantly. Let the bike slow, and downshift, then the revs won't go so high. Ease the clutch out for smoothness.

I downshift when slowing in normal traffic. I like just a little blip of the throttle in order to match revs to the gear. But even that isn't necessary if easing the clutch out a bit slower.

I'd suggest practice but delay the downshift to a lower speed in the higher gear. Get smooth that way, then try higher rpm downshifting.
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HiFiDrive
Male Starting Member
2 Posts


Porter Ranch, California
USA

Suzuki

DR200

Posted - 10/15/2015 :  4:46 PM
Yes I always prefer switching gears one at a time and I avoid coasting the bike in neutral, or clutch pulled in. I always like to be at the appropriate gear at all times.


Thanks guys
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greywolf
Male Moderator
1492 Posts
[Mentor]


Evanston, IL
USA

Suzuki

DL650AL2

Posted - 10/16/2015 :  5:26 AM
You can and should be in the appropriate gear at all times but that doesn't require letting the clutch lever out for each gear. You're making the task more difficult than it needs to be. You say you have a preference. You're a new rider. You haven't had enough experience to have a preference. At this point it's a prejudice. You're making a judgement not based on education but on ideas you developed from thin air. Don't let your prejudices get in your way.

If you think you have experience from car manual transmissions that applies, you don't. A sequential gearbox is very different from a selective gearbox and you are a newbie on the former. The bike probably has a wider rpm range too.
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scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6886 Posts
[Mentor]


Pleasanton, CA
USA

KTM

990 Adv, XR650L

Posted - 10/16/2015 :  6:36 AM
It would help to know what bike you're riding. An inline four is going to be different from a big twin, which will be different from a single.

If I want smoother downshifts, I hold throttle open a little bit. If I hold the throttle where it would keep the engine at 4000 rpms in neutral, downshifts will be smooth. Letting the clutch out doesn't have to spin the engine up nearly as much. But it's a rare case when I'll do that.

It also makes a difference at what engine speed you're downshifting. Let me use my KTM 990 V-Twin as an example. It isn't really "happy" below 3000 rpms and redline is at 9500 rpms. If I wait to downshift until the engine speed drops below 3000, the speed only goes up to 4000 or so in the next gear and it will be smooth. If I downshift the same gears at 6000 rpms the downshift won't be smooth unless I work the throttle a bit to help smooth it out. I almost always downshift at lower engine speeds and it's smooth.

In my own case, I've acquired the habit of blipping the throttle on downshifts to smooth them out and would have a hard time breaking the habit if there were some reason to do that. What I do is as I'm pulling the clutch in is open the throttle very quickly for a fraction of a second, then let the clutch back out after I've let off of the throttle. The whole thing takes maybe half a second.

You could also switch to a bike with a slipper clutch and not have to worry about it at all.

My only recommendation is to ride a lot and you'll figure it out. It just takes time to get smooth. It helps a lot if you're working on smoothness, because being smooth in all motorcycle inputs is a valuable skill.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1689 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Posted - 10/16/2015 :  7:25 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
quote:
Originally posted by greywolf


If you think you have experience from car manual transmissions that applies, you don't. A sequential gearbox is very different from a selective gearbox and you are a newbie on the former. The bike probably has a wider rpm range too.



In the context that most new and younger riders likely have zero experience driving a manual transmission car. In that case, it's a foreign concept of using a clutch, feathering it and gas, and changing gears appropriate for speed and rpm. I'd suggest it's easier to teach someone to ride a motorcycle, that already has experience driving a manual car. Then it's just a matter of the clutch is left hand not left foot, and the gear changer is even easier to use.
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