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Clutch Tips?

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by NofC, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. On a slight tanget, I booked a private tutorial last night to get a bit of practice riding a manual as part of upgrading from a scooter. Loved it, it actually feels like more involved riding than my Vespa used to offer, and am really looking forward to some test rides this weekend.

    Anyways, my instuctor offered a few handy hints about the clutch along the way, such as keeping pressure on the gearshift selector and letting the clutch out until I can feel the gear contacting before easing the pressure off the gears as a way of avoiding neutral when shifting down from second, and a couple of other things along these lines.

    I have a lot of lessons to absorb along the way of course, but I'd like to invite some input from those who've been riding longer than I have along these general lines - what advice would you give when it comes to using the clutch and gears, that you didn't necessarily know when you were first starting out, but have come to realise is pretty valuable?
  2. both on the left side
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  3. Hehe, yup. The clutch is not the rear brake *repeat until you stop wondering what happened to the revs*
  4. A bit of pressure on the lever between up changes makes for a smoother and faster change for me.
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  5. ^^ This, plus you don't need to pull the clutch in all the way. By having some upward pressure on the gear lever, the slightest squeeze on the clutch will have it change gear for you.

    Was taught this by Chef when I first started riding, and it continues to work well for me.
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  6. I found upshifts were a lot smoother than my downshifts, but I also know I was not (deliberately) keeping the pressure on during an upshift, apart from the 20 minutes drilling I did of it... hope that means I completely absorbed the lesson, but possibly not. o_O
  7. Are you blipping the throttle on the downshifts? This smooths them out considerably, a technique worth mastering
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  8. The clutch friction point is adjustable (in the case of my bike, a minor adjustment on the handlebars and a major adjustment closer to the engine). My takeoffs and gear changes got a lot smoother once the friction point was moved closer to the middle of the range rather than right at the very end.

    Practice some hill starts. IMO they're easier on a bike than a car.

    Practice blipping / rev matching on downshifts, it sounds cooler and stops you from accidentally locking your rear wheel.

    Blipping, downshifting and applying the front brake at the same time takes a bit more coordination, still haven't quite got that one sussed myself.
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  9. So bearing in mind this was my first time on a bike in over 25 years (not counting the last 3.5 years where I was on the scoot), and that I may have incorrectly remembered what my instructor told me, but there was something about smooth downchanges being about the way that the gears take up the slack on the chain which is created when you pull in the clutch, and that rev matching can also be achieved simply by slowing down, rather than using the throttle? So rev matching is about trying to get the engine's revs to match the gear you've selected so that the chain doesn't have too much slack which causes a lurch forwards, or too little which causes you to miss the gear? Please let me know exactly how much I've misunderstood, as I really want to get this straight in my head before I get myself in to trouble. And going from there, adding a bit of throttle (blipping) is about managing engine revs to ensure that you get the optimal amount of slack in the chain?
  10. Not if you ride an old Indian (left foot clutch, gear level next to tank on the right) ... which to be fair very few do but it's worth knowing if you hang around the vintage crowd.
  11. I've never thought of it in terms of chain slack. I think in terms of matching engine revs and road speed in the target gear. For downshifting (when slowing down) I've always controlled my road speed first and changed down to keep the engine spinning where I want it (ie so I have usable torque to speed up if required to avoid a cage monkey, but not so it's revving it's tits off).
    Exactly how you shift will be part general good technique but also part what works for you on your bike the way you are riding on the day. You get a feel for what you're trying to do after a while and you'll stop thinking about doing it and just do it.
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  12. Someone more knowledgeable may correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAIK blipping has nothing to do with the chain and applies to shaft-drive bikes too. The idea is that when the clutch is pulled in, the engine is at its idle speed, which is much lower than it would be with the bike in motion and the clutch out. If you just release the clutch quickly without matching revs, the engine will try to slow the rear wheel's speed down to what it would be at idle - equivalent to applying a big jab of rear brake. At best this is inelegant and at worst it's dangerous as the rear wheel can lock up. You can sorta-kinda get around this by letting the clutch out slowly, but the ideal way to downshift is to give the throttle a quick twist and let the clutch out quickly. With a bit of practice you can do it smoothly, then with more practice you can do it without even thinking about it.

    To prevent the slack in the chain from jerking you around, be smooth when you go on and off throttle. If the chain is _too_ slack, you need to adjust it (requires some spanners and 5-10 minutes).
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  13. cameronp - makes sense to me, thanks.
  14. Clutched blip for down...

    Clutch-less for up....

    As your instructor indicated.....a little positive pressure on the selector prior to shifting....
    No clutch - momentary (snap) throttle to disengage dogs - push selector - next gear --> done......

    NOTE.....this is not what you want to do now......this is where you want to be......

    For now.......be very subtle with all changes up and down.....use as much clutch as you feel is necessary.....the rest will come in time....

    Well done....be safe.....enjoy :D
    • Like Like x 1
  15. #15 Hypervisor, Feb 14, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
    I've been riding for a month, so don't take my comments as gospel. What works for me may not work for all.
    • As said, When your changing up (1,2,3 etc) the gears you can load your foot against the gear lever as this will speed up the change. Some people will not even have their foot near the lever and this will cause jerky movement and a higher potential to miss a change as they fumble to find the lever.
    • Take your bike to a large car park and just learn to move your bike with just the clutch, slowly let the clutch out and let it grab then bring it back in. Also learn to feather the clutch (in/out quickly around the grab point). This is a useful skill for clutch control and moving the bike in slow speed situations.
    • When your feeling a little more advanced, learn to change gears without the clutch. It's really simple, Normally you will want to use this technique under high load (going fast). It's a matter of loading your foot against the gear level (when going up the gears... 1->2->3) and then quickly coming off the throttle and back on (it's a quick and slight wrist snap) and now your into the next gear. You need to snap your wrist on the throttle just enough to take the load off the gear and back on again to continue riding. NB: 1st -> 2nd is very hard. You really don't need to do this for normal slow shifts, only when your riding harder.
    • You have 3 methods of downshifting (maybe more?):
      • Blipping the throttle on downshift: You will depress the clutch, gear down and then slightly bring up the revs (a quick twist of the throttle). A split second after bringing up the revs you will let the clutch out. Too many revs and the change will be rough and abrupt, too little and the bike will rev a second time as the engine matches the correct wheel speed. When you hit a perfect blip, letting the clutch out will be very smooth (seamless). I tend to only do this when I'm being a boy racer. This is great when your coming up to a corner and need to drop a gear without slowing down. Most do this when it's not needed and just makes it harder to control the bike (e.x. When slowing down at a set of traffic lights) [downshifting to NOT slow down]
      • Downshift braking: When coming up to a stop, Clutch in and shift down. Now slowly release the clutch and let the forces of the lower gear (5->4 for example) slow the bike down. Use this in combination with the brakes. Too fast and you can lock the rear Tyre (this occurs more on sportsbikes), too slow and you won't get the lower gear friction to slow the bike down. Using the brakes can modulate the rpm of the engine, As long as your not over revving the engine (Redlining the bike) this isn't terrible for the engine. The advantage is it gives you a good idea what gear your in (rev vs. road speed) and means the gear and rpm are ready for you to continue riding (maybe if the traffic light changes, etc) [downshifting TO slow down]
      • Lastly, You can just clutch in and down,down,down. Problems with this include no ability to know where you are in the gearbox (unless you have it on a display or you change all the way down to 1st) and no ability to quickly take off as your revs drop down. [downshifting TO slow down]
    • When taking off on a bike (in 1st), it's much different from a car. A bike clutch is made to slip, something that will make a Manual car driver cringe. Bikes have a bathed in oil "wet clutch" which is able to soak heat up much better (the oil). What this means is when your taking off you can bring the revs up higher and also slip or "drag" on the clutch for longer. Start letting the clutch out, as it grabs bring up the revs (2000-3000rpm) (depends on bike power, your weight, inclination) you should be fully off the clutch by about 6ft~ from take off. The real takeaway from this is, don't be scared be ride the clutch a lil bit... compared to a car. :D
    • Learn how to change into 1st gear while the bike is rolling slowly, this can be anything from changing down and slowly letting the clutch out all the way to needing a little blip on the throttle to match the engine rpm. It's a useful skill to have. Again this depends on the bike/gearbox and your level of confidence.
    • Always take off in the ready position! (Ready position = Foot on the right peg, covering the brake). It's really good for control of the bike (modulating the brake). It's also much better to use the rear and be covering it if you need to make a quick stop at slow speed. Using the front break at slow speed or when turning will tip the bike. Generally because people are not covering the rear and panic, while grabbing for the front.
    Some notes:
    • Some will say that blipping is better for downshifts, Problem is, it provides no friction when slowing down. This is a technique for downshifting when your not coming to a stop!!!. Not only are you now managing a blip downshift your also needing to balance the front brake and throttle. This is a great technique when you need to change down, while having the revs matching the new lower gear.
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  16. Okay, you're now the second person to have mentioned clutchless upshifts. The thought of this makes my sense of mechanical sympathy twinge in horror. Surely this can't be good for the gearbox?! I also can't understand what advantage this has unless you're on a racetrack (and in that case you're not going to be expecting to get the same number of k's out of your bike, so fair enough).

    I'm also going to take exception to "You can just clutch in and down,down,down. Problems with this include no ability to know where you are in the gearbox (unless you have it on a display) and no ability to quickly take off as your revs drop down.": If you don't instinctively know what gear you're in at all times, that's something to start learning too! Usually when I'm gradually coming to a complete stop I'll stay in gear 'til 20-30 km/h in third, then clutch in and down to first, ready to take off again if necessary.

    Good point on clutch slip and taking off. Knowing that my bike has a wet clutch has encouraged me to abuse it horribly ;)
  17. #17 Hypervisor, Feb 15, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013

    It's not terrible for the gearbox, From many, many people I have spoke to and read from about the topic it's damage is nominal and it's the primary way to change gears on semi-auto bikes and on Dirt bikes. For them it's second nature to clutch-less upshift.

    When doing a proper clutch-less up shift you will generally get a much smoother change, with less risk of doing a poor change and over revving the engine.

    The primary purpose of the clutch is the allow an engine to keep running while the rear wheel have stopped, it's also a method to slowly and gradually transfer power from the engine to the wheels. When riding at speed there is no need disengage the clutch from the flywheel. In a car with a H pattern gearbox, It makes more sense due to the relative time it takes to find a gear and engine/wheel speed mismatches that will occur. In a motorbike with a sequential gearbox the change is very quick. When you clutch-in all you are doing is "unloading" the gears allowing them to move freely (coming off the throttle will do the same thing) (in this time the input shaft connected to the clutch is still spinning as you engage the next gear). Fundamentally coming off the gas is the same as clutching (well as far as the gearbox is concerned) as the input shaft will still have momentum eitherway.

    Normally it's only a big problem if you cannot do it well. The biggest advantage I find is that when your riding quickly you have a higher chance of doing a poor *with* clutch shift than doing a clutch-less shift. So I negate any possible damage with less clutch and engine wear. When I'm going quick, I personally know I cannot quickly enough and smoothly enough control the clutch without sometimes missing a change (compared to clutch-less).
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  18. Hypervisor - cheers mate, that was a damn good post. Just to help focus my question a bit more, the two hour session I did was enough to get me through most of what you listed and it all felt pretty comfortable, it's just a case of practicing it from here until it's second nature rather than a mental check-list. My humble scoot taught me a lot about the basics of riding, and I've done as many technical roads as I can find within the Sydney environs (Old Pac, Galston Gorge, McCarrs Creek, Putty, that kinda thing) in the last couple of years, just to get my skills as far as I could on what I was riding. And because its fun. Ok, mostly the fun. Thing for me is that the way a manual clutch affects the behaviour of a bike does make it a rather different beast, like donkeys and horses, almost. Things like the hows and whys of blipping are hugely helpful, and your note about blipping for downshifts is the perfect example of the sort of info I'm hoping for. Again, thanks. And again, that was rather nicely written. (y)

    BitSar - cheers mate. I really didn't expect it to be that much different in terms of my immersion in riding relative to the scoot, but it was. And yes, patience. The man with patience can accomplish anything, but it just takes soooo long to learn...
  19. So I've googled clutchless shifting and it seems that lots of people agree with you, it's perfectly fine. :eek: Good explanation on how bike gearboxes work, too. Maybe I'll get out there and practice it some time soon, though honestly shifting using the clutch is working out just fine for me so far.
  20. I have a "fair idea" of what gear i'm in most of the time, Just based on the speed I am going and the revs my engine is at (typically by the sound). Exactly like my car, If i'm going 3,000rpm at 10-15km/h hour I know I'm in about first, If i'm at 6000rpm in 2nd I know I'm at 80-90km/h (without looking at the speedo and listening to the engine) or 100-105km/h in 5th will be 3000rpm. I could never remember where I am in all the time as I can the gear so many times. I actually learnt this by starting off in a manual car with no tacho. Listening to the engine is great too, 2,000rpm doesn't always mean the same thing.