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Thread: newbie shifting help

  1. #1
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    newbie shifting help

    hey everyone! I'm new to this forum and riding, so forgive me if my question has been covered in another thread somewhere. Like most newbies I am having a hell of a time trying to master downshifting. it is not smooth at all and I think my timing might just be off but I'm afraid to try it at higher speeds for fear of flying off my bike. I have taken the basic rider course but shifting wasn't covered much and we really never made it into higher gears. I have also heard to try almost every technique there is but I want to know if anyone has any specific advice on what worked for them and how you practiced it? thank you!

  2. #2
    Gold Member madvlad's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    At higher revs the bike will always jerk harshly given the higher Rev range of that of a car/truck. I would start with downshifting at lower rev ranges till you learn your bike and the points to do it at. These are things that come with time when you're new as you're learning your way around.
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    Gold Member Yearly Supporter Sully's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    When you say "it's not smooth at all", what is happening? Are you rolling off the throttle? Are you letting the clutch out to quickly? Are you braking?
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    Senior Member Moderator Jmetz's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    As green as you are I would say don't worry so much about downshifting/throttle blipping until you get your basic skills in line.
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    Senior Member Moderator Spooph's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    first learn to downshift properly - that means downshifting and letting the clutch out slowly to minimize the bike jerking. Sure, it will feel like you are being pulled forward, but it will give you a better idea of how far apart the revs are for certain gears, at certain RPM's.

    Once you have a good idea, you can try to blip the throttle.

    Once you have that down, you can try it without the clutch.

    This is best attempted in highest gear to next highest gear. Not sure what kind of bike you have, but if it has a 6 speed transmission, from 6 to 5 and back up to 6.

    This goes without saying, but just because: The higher RPM's, the higher the change in RPM's will also be between gears... So if practicing between 6 and 5, the RPM change might be only 500rpm if you're practicing at 40mph or so, but it might be 5K RPM's between 1st and 2nd at 40mph - again, depending on what kind of bike you have. Hence, start with the top gears, because it's much easier to rev match when the difference is smaller.
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    Gold Member Yearly Supporter Sully's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    I don't recommend trying to downshift without using the clutch
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    Senior Member Moderator Spooph's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    why not? Genuinely curious...
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    Gold Member asp_125's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    With downshifting, especially as new as you are, it's important to work on smoothness. Roll off the throttle, squeeze in the clutch, tap your toe to select the next lower gear, and then (here's the important part) eeeeeeee-ease out the clutch, get back on the throttle. Most newbies who aren't good at rev matching yet, let out the clutch too quickly. You don't have to take all day to ease out the clutch, just don't let it spring out of its own accord either; a nice gradual release is all it takes.

    Also, pay attention to your upshift points/speeds. If you go from say 2nd to 3rd at 30mph, then your downshifts should happen around the same speed. Provided you're not lugging or over-revving the engine to shift, the bike should shift smoothly up/down without any lurching. If you feel lurching, pull the clutch back in a smidge and then re-release slower.

    The secret is learning the friction zone. Practice practice practice.
    Last edited by asp_125; Wed Jul 15th, 2015 at 04:26 PM.
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    Gold Member Yearly Supporter Sully's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    The clutch is there for a reason, to use while shifting. If you downshift without using the clutch, you could damage your bike (transmission, gears, etc.) need a new clutch and your bike would probably jerk and could become unstable. Of course you CAN do it, but it's not really a good idea, especially for n00bs, IMO. You can also upshift without using your clutch if you are somewhere above like 8000rpm's as well without much of a bike reaction, but why not use your clutch? I've done it a few times, at first on accident then a few times on purpose, but not worth it.

    Why wouldn't you use the clutch? Genuinely curious...
    Last edited by Sully; Wed Jul 15th, 2015 at 04:19 PM.
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    thanks guys that's really helpful. I honestly think it's a combination of letting out the clutch too quickly and not shifting at the right time. I have a 2002 ninja 250 and have only taken out out a few times, haven't really climbed over 3rd gear yet and just needed some tips on how to practice this because that lurch is a little scary!

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    Gold Member Yearly Supporter Sully's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    If your bike is lurching, let out the clutch slower. Like asp_125 said above - eeeeeeee-ease out the clutch, then roll on the throttle. And practice, practice, practice. It will become second nature in no time and you won't even think about it
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    Senior Member Moderator Slo's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    Along with what others have said.... besides not using the clutch on downshifts....

    Since you are new you are probably taking a bit too long completing the downshift and letting the clutch out. Meaning the RPMs are falling much further than it should.

    The rest have already been discussed above.
    Last edited by Slo; Wed Jul 15th, 2015 at 06:35 PM.

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    Senior Member Moderator Spooph's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    Sully, I don't use the clutch on downshifts because I can't operate it fast enough. I use it every up shift though. It's a lot easier for the engine to speed up than it is to slow down, as is my experience. My 250 also has 60K+ on it's so it's a bit sloppy. I've done the same with bob's 250 thoug... I'm sure some bikes are easier and respond better to it...
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    Senior Member WolFeYeZ's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    Quote Originally Posted by Spooph View Post
    Sully, I don't use the clutch on downshifts because I can't operate it fast enough. I use it every up shift though. It's a lot easier for the engine to speed up than it is to slow down, as is my experience. My 250 also has 60K+ on it's so it's a bit sloppy. I've done the same with bob's 250 thoug... I'm sure some bikes are easier and respond better to it...
    Odd... I think most people do it the other way around. Clutchless upshifts and using the clutch for downshifts. I have heard that clutchless downshifts screw up your shift forks, but a good clutchless upshift is just fine.

    Do you just pull on the shift lever and turn the throttle on a little more for a clutchless downshift? Do explain :P
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    Not a fan of the jerk? Some of the most exciting moments are a poorly matched downshift near/on a corner that causes the bike to wobble a bit ;-)

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    Gold Member madvlad's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    None of the Marquez wobble when you n00b
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    Yea phase 1 of downshifting is to let the clutch out slowly across the friction point. Basically you are going to pull the clutch in, click down a gear, let out quickly up to the friction point and then slowly move through that point as the engine rpm rises to meet the new gear.

    Phase 2 will be once you master the above you can try to blip the throttle and then you wont have to ride the friction point and can just go quickly, but dont worry about that until you master the first way.
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo View Post
    Since you are new you are probably taking a bit too long completing the downshift and letting the clutch out. Meaning the RPMs are falling much further than it should.
    This. Also remember that you only need to pull the clutch lever in a little bit to disengage the clutch. Test it out to see how far you really need pull it. You want to let it out fairly quickly (but smoothly!) in most cases. That keeps the engine speed from dropping too much and jerking the bike when you re-engage it.
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    Senior Member Ezzzzy1's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    You can also adjust the clutch. Someone that knows what they are doing could probably help but if the clutch lever is loose or to tight you could have some issues.

    People play with that stuff all the time without really knowing what they are doing. If there were previous owners they may have messed with it.
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    Senior Member Moderator Slo's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    There are all types of scenarios and situations on what technique to use, we definitely don't want to throw too much at you while you are learning. Start with the basics:

    - Downshift to slow down for a red light along with brakes (whether to use both brakes is another debate for another time)
    - Downshift to get into the right gear/power to get more power to pass or due to being in too high of a gear for the speed

    Just like some others have said, you will want to get the downshifting done smoothly and have it be 2nd nature before trying to use an advanced technique like blipping the throttle. In the beginning, you will downshift slow, causing the rpms to fall and causing more engine braking suddenly (the initial jerk), over time, you will get quicker and smoother with it. If at times you are causing a slight screech from the rear tire, you are not being smooth with the clutch.

    Most of the time, blipping the throttle or rev matching is done to NOT unsettle the bike (weight front to rear) but can get trickier when your downshifting to get higher up in the rpm and get right back on the throttle for let's say.... passing someone.

    Also a technique that has to be practiced to get it right is if you are slowing down applying the "front" brake while rev matching. If your a car guy, think of heel-toe shifting..... same concept. Constant smooth pressure on the brake while rev matching on down shifts.
    Last edited by Slo; Thu Jul 16th, 2015 at 09:18 AM.

  21. #21
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    Really good stuff here...

    Quote Originally Posted by WolFeYeZ View Post
    Odd... I think most people do it the other way around. Clutchless upshifts and using the clutch for downshifts. I have heard that clutchless downshifts screw up your shift forks, but a good clutchless upshift is just fine.

    Do you just pull on the shift lever and turn the throttle on a little more for a clutchless downshift? Do explain :P
    First off, are we using the terms in the same way? Downshift is shifting to a lower gear, so from 6 >5, 5>4, 4>3 and such forth. Upshift is opposite, shifting to a higher gear. 3>4, 4>5, 5>6.

    Just making sure there is no miscommunication here, as I might be using them wrong.

    So, on the ninjette, the engine doesn't spin down (lowering RPM's) very quickly. It revs higher much faster than it loses rpm's.

    upshifting then requires more time for the engine to slow down to match RPM's for the higher gear, which means the instantaneous shift of clutchless-shifting is too fast, and the clutch is needed to smooth out the transition.

    on a downshift though, going from a higher gear to a lower gear, being that it revs higher quicker than it can loose rpm's, the engine can be revved higher, to match the higher rpm's of the lower gear without the clutch.

    Compare the upshifts at the beginning of this video to the downshifts at 0:13-0:19. Yes, this is me shifting on my 250. The difference is milliseconds, but I can't smoothly upshift without the clutch, I can however smoothly race down the gears without the clutch in rapid downshifts - much faster than trying to actuate the clutch accurately in between all those downshifts... This might be unique to the ninjette, I don't know, but I have done with SS 600's, including an F3, F4, and a Daytona 675...



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  22. #22
    Senior Member Moderator Slo's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    downshifting is into a lower gear....ex: 4th down to 3rd gear, upshifting is shifting into higher gear ex: 3rd into 4th gear

    Regardless of gpshift or standard shift .... whichever direction. Spooh, for the most part, your perspective and technique is reverse what others on here are trying to say. Your logic is..... special haha.

    When you shift into a higher gear, most of the time, its upon acceleration or getting up to speed. Bike hardly gets unsettled when upshifting under 95% of conditions/scenarios without a clutch if done properly. However downshifting on most bikes out there without a clutch, is a violent reaction on the bike and does cause unsettling under most even normal conditions. If you are having problems shifting up a gear smoothly without a clutch, it's just the technique that needs to be practiced, just like bouncing a basketball, just a little more time practicing.
    Last edited by Slo; Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 10:29 AM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Moderator Spooph's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    Slo, when it comes to most any SS bike, I completely agree with you, however, I'll settle to agree to disagree when it comes with the 250... I realized I mentioned 600's SS bikes, however most specifically, and to the OP's situation, the 250 just doesn't spin down fast enough.... Me thinks we need to get together with various other bikes and figure this out, even if it is just to make me realize the error of my ways.

    To further illustrate this situation, it would be cool to get a big cruiser involved, something that really takes it's time to loose RPM's...
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    Gold Member asp_125's Avatar
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    Re: newbie shifting help

    I think the baby ninja is different. When Ann did her track day she found that it was easier to bang down without the clutch than with. Different on her FZ6R, though.

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