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1st ride!:) clutch help, stalling, and changing gears

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by AlbieQ, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. Hi all, i just got my bike yesterday and went for my first ride around the block today for about 45mins-1hr. Overall it was sooo fun and i think i've been bitten by the bug, i just wanna keep riding! I've seen a few people post updates on their progress so i figured i may as well try too, if i remember... (if this is a problem, please tell me, i dont wanna annoy anyone) But that being said, it's been a while since i did the pre learners course and i'm still having alot of problems, especially concerning the clutch. (please excuse my ignorance, this bike is the only manual thing ive done, i only drive an automatic car)

    Could someone please explain in the dumbest way possible, what 'feathering' the clutch means, and when im supposed to do it? Also, whenever i do change gears, the bike seems to jerk abit (is there a certain rpm i should get to before i change gears?) and when i slowed down for turns it felt as if the bike might stall on me at times (is this something to do with rpms or gears being too low/high? I am supposed to hold the clutch in as I slow down right?). Any advice here would be great :) Stalling is also abit common for me especially as i try to take off from a stop, im pretty confident that with practice i can address this , but any useful hints are more than appreciated

    Sorry if these Questions have already been asked on other threads, i've tried my best to search for them but got confused :? I'll try to update this as i keep riding and hopefully this may help other new riders too:)

  2. Just like your brakes, the clutch has a range of operation. If you lightly touch the brake, you slow down slightly, if you grip it with all you have, you stop harder. Similarly with the clutch, as you release it, you can feel it start to 'catch'. It's from this point (also known as the friction point) until fully released that you are within this range. Feathering the clutch is something you'll do mostly in 1st at slow speeds to smooth out the sensitivity of the throttle. For example, if you are starting from a stop and you're behind a car who takes off slowly and you need to slow slightly to compensate? Instead of rolling off on the throttle (which will probably cause the bike to shudder), just pull the clutch in slightly.

    Every bike is different, so there's no real rule on RPM versus gear changes - you just have to feel it. If you find you're lurching forward, you needed more revs - if you take off faster than expected, you needed less. On the second point, it means you're trying to take the turn at too high a gear.

    I use my engine to help me slow down, so I don't hold the clutch in until the last metre or two (at which point I will be in 1st gear). The advantage to this method is that if you find you need to take off again before you come to a stop, you're in the proper gear to do it. This will also help with your problem above, about slowing down for turns. Stalling from starts usually just means you're not giving it enough revs and/or letting the clutch out too quickly.

    (I'm also a noob, so I'm sure other more experienced riders will correct me or be able to expand on examples.)
  3. The jerking when you change gears may be from letting out the clutch too quickly. Let it out progressively. Don't take forever to let it out either because this will wear out the clutch. Wearing of the clutch is part of life, so don't be afraid to experiment as you're learning about your bike. With more practice you'll learn how fast you can let the clutch out.
  4. Thermal, that was a bloody good answer on all points - well done!

    Albie, another suggestion would be to get along to a few learner practice sessions - and later on, try a learner group ride - to practice the basics with some more experienced riders alongside to provide a bit of coaching and the opportunity to discuss the basic techniques.

    Everyone has been at the stage you're at right now, and having the input and advice of more experienced riders is absolute GOLD!!

  5. If you are stalling from a take off you are letting the clutch out too fast realative to the amount of throttle you are using. Try a little more throttle and a little less clutch. Try using your ears, as you let the clutch out if you hear the revs drop give a bit more throttle. At first you need to do this conciously but pretty soon your body will adapt and your muscles will let the clutch out to the take off point without you even needing to think about it.

    In terms of jerking, the clutch may only be half the picture. Even if you are smooth on the clutch if you are ham fisted with the throttle on any bike with a decent amount of power, you will jerk. Use both smoothly.

    Feathering the clutch has been described above and is useful for riding at very low speeds by giving more throttle than you need and using the clutch , possibly combined with a little constant rear brake pressure to control speed. As said above it is smoother than trying to control low speed (walkng pace or slower,) than by using the throttle alone.
    As for using the clutch when you slow down, don't until you get to the point when the bike starts to try to stall. You will know this because it will be trying to kangaroo hop from underneath you. At that point (Probably a slow walking speed in first gear - you are dropping down through the gears as you slow aren't you?) throw the cluch completely.
    If you feel you are likely to stall going around a corner, then maybe you are going too slow for the gear you are in. If you are conrering at slow learner spped you should probably be down to second on most bikes. Work out what speed you are in for each gear when you take off from a stop. That will give you some concept of what gear you are in for what speed. The try to be in the gear appropriate to that speed when you corner. It is possible tocoast around a corner in a gear that is too high (this is very bad/probably dangerous technique by the way) but then when you try to take off the bike won't like it and will try to stall, forcing you to change down. (So why didn't you change down before the corner?)

    As in all things practice makes perfect and the more you do the better you will get.

    It's pretty hard to work out your exact problem with out seeing you rid so the best advice is , you are in Sydney so get along to their learner practice. You are welcome to ours in Melbourne, it's just that Sydney's is closer.

    Hope this helps.
  6. Automatic cars are different to manual,

    So riding the clutch is a bit harder to explain,

    Feathering or riding the clutch, Is letting the clutch out very slowly, You can feel when the clutch first bites on the motor, The bike starts to move, The revs drop, You increase the revs, Still holding the clutch in one position, As the revs begin to climb, You let the clutch out a tiny bit more,

    This is all feel, You have to learn it,

    The best way to do it, Is put your bike on a small hill, Your drive way from the street,
    And just practice taking off, Then roll back a bit and start again,

    Do that 10 times, You will have the hang of it then, Hopefully,
  7. In my experience, when first learning clutch and braking control - the focus should be on smoothness. You should be able to tell yourself if something was smooth or not. If something felt a little rough, then the next time you do it, take that extra time and try to make it that bit smoother again.

    As for stalling, are you giving it a little bit of throttle before taking off? A lot of people seem to try taking off with the engine just idling - whereas a little bit of throttle allows them to be smoother on the clutch without risk of stalling.
  8. hey guys, thanks for all the advice. Went out for my second ride around the block today - and it went really well until disaster happened near the end.

    First the good part. Didn't stall at all today ! (which is a really big thing for me), although coming to a stop and then starting off again, i still have a bad habit of letting the clutch out too quickly and the bike jumping abit. Gear shifts are also getting alot better and smoother, although some jerkiness still persists - guess i still have to get more practice co ordinating my throttle and letting go of the clutch?

    Anyway, now for the horrible part. Tried doing a few small U turns today, thinking i may as well try this low speed manouever. Went ok the first few times, but on my last attempt, im not sure how it happened but my right hand slipped on the throttle and i almost hit the kerb. Naturally I panicked so i hit the brakes and, as luck would have it, there was my first crash. Fortunately I was wearing my riding gear and no one was around. Unfortunately, i now hav a cracked mirror and a rear brake that no longer works. I'm still not comfortable going onto main roads, and now with this broken brake, even more so. Would anyone be able to suggest a good mechanic that can come to my place and fix it (in sydney)? I'd really like to have this issue fixed because I want to get back out on the roads and practice, practice, practice.

    So yeh, overall today was a very mixed day. I was starting to feel alot more confident about finally understanding the clutch and now im pretty depressed because of the crash. On a slightly brighter note , i did my first wave today to a postie, and he waved back :)
  9. Your first crash or drop,
    Wonderful, now you know that you arent going to die from crashing, as some would have you believe,
    The more you ride it, the easier it gets, It will soon become automatic what you do,

    Your doing very well, congrates, keep it up, and good on ya,
    Try a mobile bike mechanic,
  10. OK if you aren't comfortable on main roads you probably can't get to learner practice yet. So put your name down in the mentoring thread and get someone to come to you and give advice. it's easier if they can see you not guess what you are doing wrong from your posts.

    Meanwhile keep practicing in back streets.

    Finally you are picking up new skils. You don't get them instantly you have to practice. The good news is that they do come with practice, so just keep practicing.
  11. So finally back on the road again today after getting my bike fixed and waiting for the weather here in sydney to cool down. I've managed to find a pretty good isolated carpark near where I live over the weekends so took my bike down there for some slow speed practice, mainly just U turns as a result of what happened last week. I think I was doing ok, not great by any stretch of the imagination, but ok prehapes. Making sure I kept looking up and towards where I was supposed to go definately helped alot more than just staring ahead.

    Just concerning U turns, how do you (or are you even supposed to) lean? I realised I had room to turn alot sharper but whenever I tried it felt as if I was gonna go over cause it was so slow so I had to stick my leg out. And also, I've realised that when I do slow speed stuff, I tend to grip really hard with my hands so it hurts my wrists. I've only just stopped doing that during normal riding and its annoying that this bad habit is coming up again. Any advice on how to relax there? Anyway, other than that and a few practice stop/starts (I'm definately getting alot better at that) I went down to the local BP and fueled up. Glad to report no incidents there :)

    I'm feeling alot more confident now in my riding abilities under normal road conditions. May tackle a few more main roads and traffic in the near future, just to see how I go. If all goes well, then its off to homebush for me and the practice sessions there:)

  12. I had HEAPS of trouble with this at first. Especially when going right around a small, tight round about. In the end, someone mentioned to me in passing about leaning the opposite way when making a SLOW turn. So, normally, if you are cornering, you lean TOWARD the corner, but, if it's at slow speed, you lean the bike toward the corner, and you lean away from the corner. As soon as I started doing that, tight, slow corners because MUCH easier. Give that a go. As for being tense, I too had that problem. I tell myself ALL the time to relax. Shake out your arms like chicken wings. You'll find as you start to master slow turning by counter leaning that you will feel less stressed about it, and will start to loosen your grip.
  13. Firstly doing a U-turn look where you want to go, just like you take every other turn. On a U turn that means you have your head turned right round looking over your shoulder. Secondly make sure you have your bars turned all the way. You can't turn tightly if you only have the bars partly turned. Sounds obvious but most learners and many non-learners will not have their bars fully turned. Finally if you are at low speed the bike will try to fall over so as minglis said try leaning the to the opposite side to counter balance. This is the only time you ever do this. In all other turns you will lean with the bike.

    If you are jerky on the throttle, then it may be easier to give a few extra revs and feather the clutch, maybe even with a bit of rear brake to help control speed. Do not repeat NOT hit the front brake at low speed while doing a U-turn. Unless you are super gentle it is a classic newbie error that will cause the bike to lie down and take a little nap.
  14. Just in case people were wondering, im still very much alive and kicking. Its been about a month and a half now since i got the bike and i've finally cracked the 1000km barrier today. I know that 1000km is a joke to most of the riders out here on this forum but i figured I may as well try summarise a little of what I learnt/done (like a progress report), in case new riders are interested, and also that maybe in a few yrs (months?) time, i can look back and laugh at myself :) Anyway here goes:

    - Riding in the wet isn't fun. In fact it gets downright dangerous if you run onto an oil patch. Raindrops also hurt your face if the visors up...
    - Owning a bike can have costs that eventually add up to quite alot. (Well actually, my CTP and rego r due end of this month so I'm probably just having a little cry here)
    - Turning right at roundabouts is still hard. Doing U turns are still hard. Slow speed manuoevrs are still hard. period.
    - Filling up on petrol is cheap, even premium. Cheaper than using public transport in fact. Riding to uni most days has also made me unable to drink alcohol, saving me more money.
    - Riding a 250cc is fun. Riding is fun. Having a heart attack beats taking Sydney public transport
    - Bike maintaince can get abit scary at 1st, especially when u know nothing about mechanics etc like me. That being said i have taken my fairings off just to have a little look inside and i hope i'll b able to do the basics soon. Anyone know of places where they teach this? I've heard conflicting stories about how many arent run because they're worried about possible legal problems?

    Thats pretty much all i can think about at this awkward hour. I keep telling myself I'll try to make it to a Saturday session at homebush cause all i hear about it is good stuff, but in between uni study and work, i cant seem to find time :(. I promise though I will go one day. Anway hope to see some of u guys (and girls) out on the roads (maybe I have already?)
  15. Glad to hear everything is getting better. A lot of people will mention on here that it's just like taking baby steps and each skill comes as time progresses. You seem to be doign that OK and it is good to reflect on what you did so you continually improve.

    As far as the Homebush sessions are concerned, the day of the session is by request. If you work Saturdays you can ask for Sundays. Just post in the thread and be there really.

    If weekends are out of the question, I work in Homebush so can head there after work if you want someone to show you the ropes. I'll just need some heads up so I ride the bike instead of the cage ;)

  16. Try and make it fun. If you enjoy riding in the rain, you'll enjoy the worst thing on a motorbike. A wear one of those plastic raincoats over your gear. You'll stay nice and dry and enjoy the quizical looks of all the motorists as this bright yellow blob goes fanging through the traffic :D

    Yeah it does. Compared to a little 4 cyclinder corolla, it works out to be around about $500 cheaper a year to ride a bike. But thats counting services and replacing gear and rides every weekend. If you just commuted to and from work, didn't bother with gear (apart from a helmet) you'd be up a thousand or two.

    Biggest costs with any bike are services, gear, rego and insurance. Wish we didn't get reamed so hard on the last two.

    Don't sweat it. Not everyone is an ambiturner :D . I say that firmly tongue in cheek because pretty much everyone (including me) had trouble turning one way or another.... It was left for me. Just practice it. Same with the slow speed stuff. Practice and you'll get better.
  17. I think you'd really benefit from a day in the dirt.
    Not serious motocross or enduro stuff but a basic traillie or ag bike just to cruise around in off road conditions. Don't go any faster than you feel comfortable.
    Know anyone with a farm?
  18. I am getting my bike serviced tomorrow by Mark. He's doing the service at my place in front of me and will be explaining what he's doing. Hopefully I will be able to do the next service myself! http://www.mobilemotorcyclerepairer.com.au/
  19. haha thanks for all the useful advice guys and sorry for my late responses, I haven't had the chance to do much on these forums yet.

    @cardboardtenant, thanks for clarifying some info and ur offer, i'll definately hit up the NSW sessions page when i get some free time, hope to see you and the others there!

    @modern_ninja, love ur idea of riding as a yellow blob, seeing the faces drivers must be priceless, will definately do. and yeh, definately not an ambiturner yet, might need some orange mocha frappacino to help me sort through this issue

    @AlGroover, unfortuantely none of my mates have a farm, though one does live near a sports oval i think...haha. so unfortuantely no dirt bike riding for me :(

    @benn0551, yeh Mark's a great guy, i had him come fix my bike up and do a service check of it after i dropped it doing one of my crappy U turns. Unfortuantely, it turned out that my drop had broken off my rear brake foot rest thing (i forget the correct term), so I had to drive to silverwater to pick up some parts and by the time i got back, he'd pretty much finished everything else - so i couldn't learn too much :(. my 12000km check mayb soon so I'll prob hit him up again and try learn some maintance stuff then.

    Other than this, not much to report on progress - having a few problems with downshifting and tryin to engine brake (i always used to just clutch and tap down gears like i was taught at Clyde), but pretty confident i'll get the hang of it eventually (or im just cocky). Unfortunately havent had time to do recreational riding lately, so just mainly riding as a commute to uni. theres about 5/6 other ninja owners at unsw, and i've met 2 of them (both learners too) in passing, we all laugh as we watch people tryin to find parking :). Anyway, thats it for me now, stay safe all!

  20. Oh damn. Don't drink coffee!!!!

    It must be the reason all those ducati/R1/harley riders at cafe's can't ride...