Kawasaki Motorcycle Forums banner

1 - 20 of 63 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Happy New Year everyone!
I'm a beginner and I'm hoping you can give me some advice regarding downshifting, because I hear a lot of conflicting ideas. My owner's manual says to downshift from 5th to 4th at 15mph, 4th to 3rd at 12 mph, and 3rd to 2nd at 9mph. However, this doesn't give me a large enough time frame to pull in the clutch, downshift, let the clutch out smoothly, and repeat the process for each gear.

What is your downshifting technique when coming to a stop sign or at a red light? What about a quick unexpected stop? I'm looking for the most safe technique which won't damage my engine or wear out my transmission/clutch prematurely.

Do you wait until you are stopped in say 3rd gear, then pull in the clutch and downshift to first?

Do you apply the brakes as you approach the stop, then hold in the clutch as you break and shift down to first without letting go of the clutch?

What exactly wears out the clutch? (I hear it's an expensive replacement) Is it worse to hold it in while coasting to a stop or to engage and disengage multiple times as you downshift?

Thank you all so much for your advice, I really appreciate it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
612 Posts
Hey Indirt, and welcome to the site!

Firstly, I think that it is more important to "listen to the bike". downshifting should not be done (IMO) by the numbrs on the speedo but rather by the "feel" of the bike and "sound" of the engine - it just comes with more riding and getting to know your bike.
 

·
Drink Plenty of Water
Joined
·
784 Posts
This is by no means expert advise or anything. I am a new rider as well. I just make sure to be downshifted all the way before stopping. Its hard after you stop to downshift. If I know I'm going to stop I pull in the clutch and coast. I will go to 4th,,coast a little 3rd, coast a little, 2nd, then 1st and stop.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
If he's inexperienced enough to be asking a question like he is, then he is too inexperienced to know how to ride a bike by ear. One wonders if he should be riding at all with that little understanding.
 

·
Ahhh Crap
Joined
·
2,344 Posts
Because of how the positive neutral finder works on Kawasaki transmissions you'll NEED to be downshifting into 1st just before you come to a stop. As you get used to the bike and get the fell of it, you'll master downshifting. Kawasaki never intende for us to look at our speedometers while we were shifting and downshifting.

Oh, if you haven't taken the MSF class, it's all covered there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,156 Posts
Well, the book does give some interesting ideas out.

IF you are coming to a stop, while the bike is still rolling just jack it down through the gears while the clutch is in and the bike is still running, don't let the clutch out in between. If during normal running you slow down to the point that the engine is lugging in the present gear, shift down a gear and try that one.

The book is trying to have you have the bike in a gear that IF you let out the clutch for some reason it won't lock the back wheel up to the engine and slide. Covering their rear ends. It may seem remedial BUT you have to remember that the majority of Americans do not know how to shift a manual transmission. The only ones that do know are gearheads and those of us who grew up running light farm equipment. Everything else is pretty much automatic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
Much like driving a car, the bike will tell you where the shift points are if you listen.

That being said, PLEASE take a Motorcycle Safety Course. In addition to being a requirement in most states, the information and practice you get will be invaluable.
 

·
900 Customer
Joined
·
901 Posts
+1000 for the MSF course. As for downshifting, generally you just want to be sure you're not lugging the engine or using too much engine braking. But as others have said, if you have to ask this question, take the MSF. That's not a jab at you, we just want you to be a good rider ;)
 

·
Deeppurple52
Joined
·
2,072 Posts
Down Shift

In..... Good question, easy answer. Motorcycle manuals, like car manuals, are not a very good way to learn how to ride. I have ridden for many years and (almost) never downshift through all the gears. When I slow I usually go down to 4th, then third, maybe 2nd but ALWAYS go to first before stopping. A lot depends on your speed and the situation. If slowing, you always want to be in the correct gear for your speed. If coming to a stop from, say 30 mph, there is little need to down shift. Just pull in the clutch and snick down through the gears arriving in 1st before you stop. This will prevent your neutral finder from getting you stuck in neutral. If that happens, let the clutch out in neutral, pull it back in and shift into 1st.
Some of the folks I ride with downshift all the time, some don't. As you ride more you will quickly get the feel of what gear you need to be in. After getting hung up in neutral, you will also learn that you need to be in 1st when you stop. This is all part of the adventure, learn as you go. It will be second nature to you in no time at all. You will not wear out the clutch! I ride a lot of miles, usually downshift and have never replaced one. Enjoy the ride! ... and welcome aboard!
 

·
Giant Biker
Joined
·
2,323 Posts
Just to answer the OP's other part of his question----slipping the clutch excessively is what will wear it out prematurely. Proper engagement with minimum clutch slip will maximize the life of the clutch.

shifting down and letting the clutch out to engine brake will not damage the clutch. Holding the lutch in while coasting and braking to a stop will not harm the clutch either.

However, clutches are wearing components. They have a very long life if properly maintained and operated, but just like a brake pad, they are intended to wear and eventually need replacement.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
252 Posts
Down shifting is not difficult, but it an acquired skill. I would recommend getting comfortable with the bike with your upshifting. Once you have a really good "feel" for upshifting, downshifting will become very easy. I never look at my speedo when doing either. I go by how the engine sounds and feels when shifting either up or down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,138 Posts
That is way to slow on down shifts. I have a 1500 Nomad and come down from 5th at 45 and 4th about 35. It will vary a lot depending on the conditions. Just keep on driving you will get the knack. A lot of the time I don't use the clutch just control the shifting with the brake and throttle,but this takes a lot of experience.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,476 Posts
Down shifting is another way of slowing the bike down by using the engine.

For now, when you are coming to a stop, just hold in the clutch, and step down through the gears until you are in 1st. You always want to be in 1st when you are stopped. Use both your brakes to stop, and consentrate on learning to stop. The down shifting will come later.

Never let go of the clutch when you are stopped, unless you are sure you are in nuetral, and never down shift or upshift with out the clutch being in.

Always release the clutch slowly, to make sure you are in nuetral (don't trust the light)
When you do start to use the down shifting process, always release the clutch slowly only to the friction point to slow you down. You don't have to let it all the way out to slow the bike.

When down shifting, let off the throttle, as the bike slows, shift down one gear, release the clutch to the friction point, as the bike slows more, repeat and down shift again and do that until you are in 1st gear.

You can use the clutch by down shifting as a way of helping in the twisties too. Say from 4th to 3rd.

The clutches on these Kawis, are really tuff, so you are not going to hurt it.

Take the motorcycle training course in your area right away. You should do that first so you don't have to undo a lot of bad habbits.

D
 

·
Poser Proud®
Joined
·
3,778 Posts
Welcome to the forum indirt! Good questions. The book is a "general guide" only. There have been several good answers to your questions already posted. As you get used to the bike, you will learn how to use lower gears to slow the bike down, but until you get comfortable with the bike, don't worry about that part of riding. You won't cause any excess wear on the clutch just shifting up and down, or sitting with the clutch "in" at a stoplight. The clutch gets worn when you slip the clutch (have it partly engaged for long periods). Like sitting on a hill using the clutch to hold you in place. The clutch will wear out (it is supposed to) but that will be a long time if you don't abuse it. I would also recommend the MSF course if you haven't taken it. Well worth the money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
157 Posts
If you are doing an emergency stop never worry about downshifting, just grab on both levers. Downshifting will only distract your attention from the most important thing, getting your bike stopped as quick and safe as possible. You want your clutch engaged and maximum braking power.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
If you are doing an emergency stop never worry about downshifting, just grab on both levers. Downshifting will only distract your attention from the most important thing, getting your bike stopped as quick and safe as possible. You want your clutch engaged and maximum braking power.
Kawi-Fan;
Juat as different individuals have different tates in women, I'm gonna have to disagree with you here. Not saying you are wrong, just wrong for me. I've been in a couple of panic situations in my 25 years of riding and find that I have enough time to start grabbing the clutch and kicking the shifter to use the engine to slow me down. it's a more controled stop than just grabbing the binders. Now, having said that, I'll qualify my statement by saying that perhaps I actually wasn't in a panic situation since I had time to downshift but the brown stain in my underware said otherwise. All in all, the longer you ride, the more natural things like panic stops become and you atomatically do what you need to do, or you hit the other guy. Yep, I've done that too.
I was somewhere in Indiana last summer following a buddy when he suddenly decided to pull into a gas station on the left at an intersection. I was a little too close and couldn't make the turn and the light at the intersection just turned red. I COULD have jammed both brakes on and mebee do a high side but instead I quickly downshifted while using the brakes to slow. Thank God no traffic was comming through the intersection but I didn't lay it down. Panic situation? I sure as hell was but fortunately nothing came of it. The mind can work pretty quick when it has to. You may have handled it differently with the same results. To each his own.
Keith
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
789 Posts
If you are doing an emergency stop never worry about downshifting, just grab on both levers. Downshifting will only distract your attention from the most important thing, getting your bike stopped as quick and safe as possible. You want your clutch engaged and maximum braking power.

I have to disagree as well. In both the MSF course test and the state M class test down shifting is required in the panic stop portion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,476 Posts
Kawi-Fan;
Juat as different individuals have different tates in women, I'm gonna have to disagree with you here. Not saying you are wrong, just wrong for me. I've been in a couple of panic situations in my 25 years of riding and find that I have enough time to start grabbing the clutch and kicking the shifter to use the engine to slow me down. it's a more controled stop than just grabbing the binders. Now, having said that, I'll qualify my statement by saying that perhaps I actually wasn't in a panic situation since I had time to downshift but the brown stain in my underware said otherwise. All in all, the longer you ride, the more natural things like panic stops become and you atomatically do what you need to do, or you hit the other guy. Yep, I've done that too.
I was somewhere in Indiana last summer following a buddy when he suddenly decided to pull into a gas station on the left at an intersection. I was a little too close and couldn't make the turn and the light at the intersection just turned red. I COULD have jammed both brakes on and mebee do a high side but instead I quickly downshifted while using the brakes to slow. Thank God no traffic was comming through the intersection but I didn't lay it down. Panic situation? I sure as hell was but fortunately nothing came of it. The mind can work pretty quick when it has to. You may have handled it differently with the same results. To each his own.
Keith
I agree very strongly with Keith on the point of getting to 1st gear in a panic stop. The very next thing you do after stopping, maybe a panic exceleration. The vehicle behind you, may not have stopped as short as you. Bikes stop better than cars do.

Get to 1st always at every stop, and get ready to go fast.

D
 

·
Novice Tank Roller
Joined
·
15,810 Posts
In,
Don't worry so much about the clutch wearout. As long as you don't slip the clutch at lot, it will last a long time. I have 50k on my bike and have never had a clutch problem with it. Just don't slip it too much when taking off, or when downshifting, don't do it at such high rpms that you have to let the clutch out very slow. if you do that, you're doing it too soon.

You'll know when you've mastered the downshifting process though, when you get to the point that you can slow down without using brakes to a point of almost being able to stop.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
157 Posts
I certainly don't want to start a big controversy; I just want everybody to be safe. I didn't mean applying full rear brake. When I said grab both levers I meant full clutch and full front brake. Use rear brake as you see fit; because full rear brake could spell disaster.

I'm getting my info from someone who I think has a good knowledge of riding.
I'm quoting his article below and providing a link to all his other info. If it helps great, if not "ride safe!!"

Topic
James R. Davis
Administrator

12302 Posts
[HIGH Karma]


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Houston, TX
USA

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Honda
GoldWing 1500
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Peer Review: Blocked
Posted - 03/18/2007 : 12:11 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Downshifting During Emergency Braking
(MSF teaches an Unsafe practice)

By: James R. Davis


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The MSF insists that you downshift while braking in their range exercises. Indeed, if you fail to do that your performance is reduced in the class.

The logic for this, they explain, is so that you end up in first gear when you come to a complete stop so that, if you need to then quickly start moving again, you can do so without loss of time.

This is simply specious thinking, in my opinion. It suggests, for example, that either you are always in second gear when you begin braking or that you are to downshift several times while braking, even in an emergency situation.

But there is an even more obvious flaw in that argument. The technique they teach is to downshift at the start of your braking effort. In other words, you are encouraged to take the time when you are moving at your fastest speed in order to save time when you are not moving at all - after you have come to a complete stop. (You would think that if you don't let out the clutch lever during multiple downshifts you will not have lost any time. Untrue. The reason is not because of engine braking conflicts. It's because of the distraction that interferes with braking skill performance.)

Most of you have heard my arguments for covering your front brake any time you are moving faster than you can run. In essence, my argument is that by covering your front brake lever you save yourself about 1/10th of a second in reaction time or, at 60 MPH, about NINE FEET of stopping distance as compared to not covering that lever.

Note, please, that again we are talking about saving time when the motorcycle is moving at its highest velocity. So, advice by the MSF to downshift at the start of your braking effort is tantamount to advocating that you give away braking time while the motorcycle is moving at its highest velocity.

There is, of course, another even more important reason that you should NOT downshift while emergency braking. It takes mental effort and focus away from what may well be a life saving concentration on controlling your motorcycle during an emergency braking maneuver - a distraction when you simply cannot afford any distractions.

It is my opinion that downshifting while braking CAN be safely done during any normal gradual stopping maneuver but should NOT be done in an emergency stop effort. The MSF training is misdirected and counter-productive to the extent that it fails to differentiate between those kinds of maneuvers and it leads to longer stopping distance and greater time to stop during an emergency situation.

Studies have convincingly shown that in order to stop in the shortest possible distance and the shortest possible time you must disengage the clutch fully at the time you begin to brake.

Here, for example, is a chart that demonstrates the effect that clutch usage had on 77 emergency braking stops performed by professional riders performed and documented by the Federation Motorcycliste Du Quebec in 2004:



You see that the greatest deceleration rate, fstest time and shortest distance all were the result of fully disengaging the clutch lever at the start of an emergency stop effort.

Get into the habit of downshifting AFTER YOU HAVE COME TO A COMPLETE STOP.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright © 1992 - 2008 by The Master Strategy Group, all rights reserved.
Motorcycle Safety Site

(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)


* All Things Motorcycle *
 
1 - 20 of 63 Posts
Top