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Old September 12th, 2018, 11:23 PM   #1
smoreschoco
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Downshifting as a Newbie

I was going to post this to the Advise on Shifting post linked in the sticky, but I figured I better start a new thread instead of digging up a 2009 post.

As a manual car owner, I always do the double clutch method. That is, shift to neutral first, engage the clutch, rev the engine, then shift again. Thatís my way of downshifting in my car.

On my motorcycle, Iím a little bit confused. With a sequential transmission, I obviously canít shift to neutral first (well, I could, but you get the idea.) Do I just disengage the clutch, give it some gas, and then let go? In my car, double clutching will spin up the flywheel first before connecting it to the drive shaft. I guess it doesnít matter with a motorcyle since the load is light enough?

Could someone please confirm my assumption or correct me if Iím wrong?

Should I even bother with rev matching, since the wet clutch can slip anyway? When I ease out the clutch handle, it seems to shift just fine.

Thanks.
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Old September 13th, 2018, 06:26 AM   #2
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You should be fine just shifting, but if you're downshifting at a critical time like in a turn, it can be helpful to blip the throttle while the clutch is disengaged do avoid the risk of skidding the rear tire as the engine is suddenly brought up to speed. Many riders get used to blipping the throttle on downshifts as a habit. It gets more important with bigger engines. My Guzzi 1000 calls for throttle blipping for most downshifts unless I'm holding the clutch lever in while getting to first gear, coming to a full stop.
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Old September 13th, 2018, 06:28 AM   #3
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A few things here.

First, let's get double-clutching in your car out of the way. By now that's in ingrained habit, so you're going to continue to do it. That's fine, no harm done, but that method hasn't been necessary for decades. MANY decades... ever since the synchromesh transmission was invented (introduced by Cadillac in 1928 and now universal).

Personally, when driving fast I do what race drivers do... heel-and-toe. But that's another discussion.

Rev matching, whether by blipping or allowing the clutch to slip, IS important on a bike. "Light load" has nothing to do with it. Easy to demonstrate this... next time you downshift, wait a sec between gears and then just dump the clutch to see what happens. YIKES!

TL; DR for the following: You'll be doing both (blipping and slipping) but the situation determines what's appropriate.


You can downshift using one of two methods, and you covered both, but there's a variation that's important.

- Blip as you shift to keep the engine revs up. Your application of the clutch is very brief and the shift needs to be quick or the engine revs will drop too low and the shift will be jerky.

or

- Allow the clutch to slip as you let it out. The slipping gently pulls the engine up to speed.

Here's the variation:

- You blip AND let the clutch out gradually. This is needed to rev match in really slow corners or if you're really lazy with your shifting and let the revs drop way off.

There's no one "right" answer. On the track on my slipper clutch-equipped R6, at speed I'll grab two or three very quick downshifts as I approach the end of the front straight by blipping and downshifting as I brake. Not a lot of manual clutch slipping going on there. Then I'll pause for a second or two and make the final shift for the corner a bit more gradual, gradually releasing the clutch to help with engine braking.

Engine braking is the real difference. Letting the clutch out gradually gives you control over engine braking. When you do a rapid blip downshift you don't get that... the engine is fully engaged except for the brief moment of shifting.

HOWEVER in a situation where you're going from high speed to heavy braking (like slowing down at the end of the front straight on the track), the transition from wide-open to deceleration needs to be very smooth. A botched downshift (i.e. letting the engine revs drop off and then letting the clutch out too fast) can cause the rear to brake loose if you don't have a slipper clutch (you don't). This is why I blip-blip for those first couple of shifts: it's smoother overall. It's that last one where I want the clutch to slip.

Rapid blip downshifting requires dexterity, speed of action and mechanical sympathy with the bike. Remember the herky-jerky shifts when you were learning to drive a manual transmission? That's where you are with the bike right now.

Slipping the clutch is more accommodating of leisurely, deliberate shifts. But learn how to blip, to make sure the revs are matched even if you do slip the clutch.

Have a look at this. This is Ken Condon, motojournalist and full-time instructor on a Triumph Street Triple R (which I've purchased from him and will be picking up this weekend). Ken prefers not to blip because the bike does not have a slipper clutch. Look at how fast his downshifts are. Now, he's hauling it down from 130 or so on the track...this kind of quickness isn't really needed on the street.

Link to original page on YouTube.

Also this. He narrates the lap and does talk about downshifting starting around 7:30. Stick with it for a lap or two... he also discusses blipping vs. slipping the clutch. Same track.

Link to original page on YouTube.

And this. This shows the throttle hand. At 2:20 he blips the throttle going into a very slow hairpin. At 4:40 he doesn't... and the tire breaks loose a bit.

Link to original page on YouTube.

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Old September 13th, 2018, 10:27 AM   #4
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Double de-clutching isn't needed in autos unless you have one that absolutely requires it to shift. These 1927s are some of last ones needing it.



Unless you are decelerating quickly, such as under maximum braking, blipping isn't needed.
Rev-matching works smoother:

1. adjust throttle to steady-state speed
2. squeeze-clutch, notice revs don't change if you did #1 correctly
3. shift down one gear
4. at same time, increase revs by 500rpms
5. let out clutch

If you did #4 & #5 just right, revs won't change when you let out clutch and there won't be any jerking of bike.
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Old September 13th, 2018, 10:35 AM   #5
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Hmmmm....

Your #1 suggests that the throttle should not be moved.

Next time you're on your bike, ride along and pull in the clutch without moving the throttle at all.

What happens?

When you disengage the driveline with the clutch, the load goes away. The engine will spin up, no?

I get what you're saying but I think the way it's expressed might be misleading.
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Old September 13th, 2018, 01:59 PM   #6
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Yes, perhaps.

1 & 2 should be combined to have effect of: "Adjust throttle so that when you squeeze clutch, engine-RPMs doesn't change". There may be a slight let-off of throttle when squeezing clutch so that RPMs doesn't increase or decrease.
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Old September 14th, 2018, 11:09 PM   #7
smoreschoco
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple Jim View Post
You should be fine just shifting, but if you're downshifting at a critical time like in a turn, it can be helpful to blip the throttle while the clutch is disengaged do avoid the risk of skidding the rear tire as the engine is suddenly brought up to speed. Many riders get used to blipping the throttle on downshifts as a habit. It gets more important with bigger engines. My Guzzi 1000 calls for throttle blipping for most downshifts unless I'm holding the clutch lever in while getting to first gear, coming to a full stop.
Okay, so that pretty much is consistent to a stick shift. I’ll probably just need to get use to what speed vs what rpm and turn it into muscle memories.
Quote:
Originally Posted by adouglas View Post
A few things here.

First, let's get double-clutching in your car out of the way. By now that's in ingrained habit, so you're going to continue to do it. That's fine, no harm done, but that method hasn't been necessary for decades. MANY decades... ever since the synchromesh transmission was invented (introduced by Cadillac in 1928 and now universal).

Personally, when driving fast I do what race drivers do... heel-and-toe. But that's another discussion.

Rev matching, whether by blipping or allowing the clutch to slip, IS important on a bike. "Light load" has nothing to do with it. Easy to demonstrate this... next time you downshift, wait a sec between gears and then just dump the clutch to see what happens. YIKES!

TL; DR for the following: You'll be doing both (blipping and slipping) but the situation determines what's appropriate.


You can downshift using one of two methods, and you covered both, but there's a variation that's important.

- Blip as you shift to keep the engine revs up. Your application of the clutch is very brief and the shift needs to be quick or the engine revs will drop too low and the shift will be jerky.

or

- Allow the clutch to slip as you let it out. The slipping gently pulls the engine up to speed.

Here's the variation:

- You blip AND let the clutch out gradually. This is needed to rev match in really slow corners or if you're really lazy with your shifting and let the revs drop way off.

There's no one "right" answer. On the track on my slipper clutch-equipped R6, at speed I'll grab two or three very quick downshifts as I approach the end of the front straight by blipping and downshifting as I brake. Not a lot of manual clutch slipping going on there. Then I'll pause for a second or two and make the final shift for the corner a bit more gradual, gradually releasing the clutch to help with engine braking.

Engine braking is the real difference. Letting the clutch out gradually gives you control over engine braking. When you do a rapid blip downshift you don't get that... the engine is fully engaged except for the brief moment of shifting.

HOWEVER in a situation where you're going from high speed to heavy braking (like slowing down at the end of the front straight on the track), the transition from wide-open to deceleration needs to be very smooth. A botched downshift (i.e. letting the engine revs drop off and then letting the clutch out too fast) can cause the rear to brake loose if you don't have a slipper clutch (you don't). This is why I blip-blip for those first couple of shifts: it's smoother overall. It's that last one where I want the clutch to slip.

Rapid blip downshifting requires dexterity, speed of action and mechanical sympathy with the bike. Remember the herky-jerky shifts when you were learning to drive a manual transmission? That's where you are with the bike right now.

Slipping the clutch is more accommodating of leisurely, deliberate shifts. But learn how to blip, to make sure the revs are matched even if you do slip the clutch.

Have a look at this. This is Ken Condon, motojournalist and full-time instructor on a Triumph Street Triple R (which I've purchased from him and will be picking up this weekend). Ken prefers not to blip because the bike does not have a slipper clutch. Look at how fast his downshifts are. Now, he's hauling it down from 130 or so on the track...this kind of quickness isn't really needed on the street.

Link to original page on YouTube.

Also this. He narrates the lap and does talk about downshifting starting around 7:30. Stick with it for a lap or two... he also discusses blipping vs. slipping the clutch. Same track.

Link to original page on YouTube.

And this. This shows the throttle hand. At 2:20 he blips the throttle going into a very slow hairpin. At 4:40 he doesn't... and the tire breaks loose a bit.

Link to original page on YouTube.

From driving a stick shift, I know I’m a slow shifter. I tend to rev the engine higher than needed to compensate my slow motion. I’ll probably do the same on my bike and ease out the clutch handle to avoid lurching the motorcycle.

OT: I know the synchromesh exists, but always thought double clutching would lessen the rate of wear on the synchromesh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
Double de-clutching isn't needed in autos unless you have one that absolutely requires it to shift. These 1927s are some of last ones needing it.



Unless you are decelerating quickly, such as under maximum braking, blipping isn't needed.
Rev-matching works smoother:

1. adjust throttle to steady-state speed
2. squeeze-clutch, notice revs don't change if you did #1 correctly
3. shift down one gear
4. at same time, increase revs by 500rpms
5. let out clutch

If you did #4 & #5 just right, revs won't change when you let out clutch and there won't be any jerking of bike.
So you hold onto the steady throttle and finish shifting down before the engine revs too high? That’s actually new to me and sounds reasonable. Since I’m disengaging the clutch, I don’t suppose it will cause wears on the clutch.

Last futzed with by smoreschoco; September 15th, 2018 at 08:30 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old September 15th, 2018, 05:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoreschoco View Post
OT: I know the synchromesh exists, but always though double clutching would lessen the rate of wear on the synchromesh.
A bit of insight coming from a lifetime of experience:

I'm 59 and have been driving manual transmissions for 45 years, give or take. I've driven something like a million miles all told. The highest mileage I've put on a single vehicle is 254,000. My current car, a tiny Japanese econobox that i use to tow my bike, broke 190,000 miles this summer.

I do not double-clutch and never have. I have never, ever had anything go wrong with a transmission. And I have never, ever had a clutch wear out. Not once.

In theory you're right, but it's akin to saying "I never rev the engine past 2,000 rpm because I want to lessen the rate of wear on the engine block."

Seriously. Don't sweat it. The sun will expand into a red giant and consume the planet before you wear out those synchros.

You've already noted the big reason NOT to double-clutch: It makes shifting really slow, because you're adding some steps. You won't hurt anything by doing it, but you really aren't getting any meaningful benefit.

Shifting really slowly could potentially be a safety issue. What if something happens while you're in the middle of the whole process? What happens if you mis-time it and wind up in neutral when you NEED to give it some throttle?

It's a lifetime habit so I'm sure you'll keep doing it anyway. Just one caution: Don't do it WHILE you're in a turn. Way too slow between gears. Get into the proper gear before you reach the corner. You don't want to be rolling around the bend in neutral. (PS: Watch the "selfie" video again and note that shifts don't happen in the corners.)

Your bike really can handle it (so can your car). In the video above did you notice that Ken doesn't even use the clutch while upshifting? I'm about to buy that very bike. It has 15,000 miles on it. I'm going to trust my life to it. And I have absolutely no doubt that the transmission is fine.
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Last futzed with by adouglas; September 15th, 2018 at 07:03 AM.
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Old September 15th, 2018, 06:24 AM   #9
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I think you're overthinking this. You are aware of how shifting works and want to reduce clinks and bangs. As you get experience, you'll learn how to shift quickly and smoothly. A Ninja 250 has a small engine with relatively little inertia, and a small transmission with gears that can quickly change speed as needed, so it's a good motorcycle to get practice with.
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Old September 15th, 2018, 03:01 PM   #10
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You're way overthinking this.

Sequential boxes are meant to change gears faster. Instead of syncro's, they have a carefully designed set of dogs (basically large splines) cut into the drive collars and input gears that actually thrust (move axially) into each other when torque is applied between them. Aka... any slight amount of engagement will actually force the gear and drive collar to engage completely when a torque is applied. This means you only have to unload the gears with the clutch very briefly to disengage the current gear before clicking into the next gear and quickly letting the clutch back out. You can very casually make smooth, rapid shifts without causing any undue damage to the transmission.

This is why you've commonly heard drivers of race cars with sequential boxes report that their car shifts smoother the quicker they shift it. It's also a big part of why clutchless shifts are so easy and butter smooth on a motorcycle compared to a more traditional synchronized car transmission.
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Old September 15th, 2018, 06:15 PM   #11
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One thing you can do to speed up your shifting is put a little bit of pressure on the shift lever before pulling in the clutch and it will slip right up.
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Old September 16th, 2018, 03:37 AM   #12
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Just bang it out. Have no fear!

Try getting somewhere with no clutch. It's definitely not as bad as it seems, there is a lot of leeway with the dogs.
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Old September 16th, 2018, 06:19 AM   #13
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Try getting somewhere with no clutch. It's definitely not as bad as it seems, there is a lot of leeway with the dogs.
It's not difficult except for the red lights, when you have to get off and push it fast enough to get into first gear without stalling.
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Old September 30th, 2018, 10:06 PM   #14
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Hey everyone, I’m back from a 400 miles trip!

Actual riding and learning is way more useful than reading articles online... I was mostly riding on two-lane twisty highway with lots of up and downshifting. I decided not to rev match and just focus on other things. Having one less thing to worry about was definitely as plus to slowly build up my confidence in riding. Downshifting without blipping was just fine. All I had to do is slow down enough and just shift before a turn. It’s slightly jerky, but since I do everything before start leaning to turn, I wasn’t worry about slipping the rear wheel. I wasn’t trying to downshift at high rev anyway.

Overall, a successful three-day motorcycle camping trip was a success!
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Old September 30th, 2018, 10:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adouglas View Post
A bit of insight coming from a lifetime of experience:

I'm 59 and have been driving manual transmissions for 45 years, give or take. I've driven something like a million miles all told. The highest mileage I've put on a single vehicle is 254,000. My current car, a tiny Japanese econobox that i use to tow my bike, broke 190,000 miles this summer.

I do not double-clutch and never have. I have never, ever had anything go wrong with a transmission. And I have never, ever had a clutch wear out. Not once.

In theory you're right, but it's akin to saying "I never rev the engine past 2,000 rpm because I want to lessen the rate of wear on the engine block."

Seriously. Don't sweat it. The sun will expand into a red giant and consume the planet before you wear out those synchros.

You've already noted the big reason NOT to double-clutch: It makes shifting really slow, because you're adding some steps. You won't hurt anything by doing it, but you really aren't getting any meaningful benefit.

Shifting really slowly could potentially be a safety issue. What if something happens while you're in the middle of the whole process? What happens if you mis-time it and wind up in neutral when you NEED to give it some throttle?

It's a lifetime habit so I'm sure you'll keep doing it anyway. Just one caution: Don't do it WHILE you're in a turn. Way too slow between gears. Get into the proper gear before you reach the corner. You don't want to be rolling around the bend in neutral. (PS: Watch the "selfie" video again and note that shifts don't happen in the corners.)

Your bike really can handle it (so can your car). In the video above did you notice that Ken doesn't even use the clutch while upshifting? I'm about to buy that very bike. It has 15,000 miles on it. I'm going to trust my life to it. And I have absolutely no doubt that the transmission is fine.
Made myself to stop double clutching and just blip before I move the stick. Itís so much faster lol (duh.) I found myself downshifting a lot more often than when I was double clutching since itís much less work. I suppose as long as Iím blipping first, there isnít much more wears in the synchromesh.
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Old October 1st, 2018, 05:00 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoreschoco View Post
I decided not to rev match and just focus on other things. Having one less thing to worry about was definitely as plus to slowly build up my confidence in riding. Downshifting without blipping was just fine. All I had to do is slow down enough and just shift before a turn. Itís slightly jerky, but since I do everything before start leaning to turn, I wasnít worry about slipping the rear wheel. I wasnít trying to downshift at high rev anyway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by smoreschoco View Post
Made myself to stop double clutching and just blip before I move the stick. Itís so much faster lol (duh.) I found myself downshifting a lot more often than when I was double clutching since itís much less work. I suppose as long as Iím blipping first, there isnít much more wears in the synchromesh.
Put these two together and what you get is this:

If you blip on the bike like you're now doing in your car, your shifts will be faster, smoother, and more timely.

That keeps the chassis settled. The bike is happy. And when the bike is happy, you're happy.

Nothing really wrong with the way you're doing it on the bike (slow way down and wait before shifting) but it limits you somewhat. You're narrowing the window of speed at which the shift can take place. You noted the side effect of this yourself... it's jerky.

I like your thinking about learning. Simplify so you can focus, observe and learn better.

Keep working on it. Smooth is good. Skill is good.

PS:I belatedly realized in my long post above about synchros that I may have misled you... the post was about your car and it reads as if it's about both your car and your bike. Your bike's transmission has no synchros.
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