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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a new rider and I have a question about shifting and whether or not I am doing something correctly.

When I approach a traffic signal and need to stop, I understand that I need to downshift into first, but I'm not sure whteher or not I need to release the clutch prior to me wanting to accelerate again.

What I'm doing is this...

Say I'm going 35mph and in second gear when a traffic signals turns red in front of me. I continue in second gear until I'm relatively close to the light, and then I pull the clutch in and coast until I get under 5 or 10 mph, and then click down on the shifter and continue braking until I'm stopped. I've never release the clutch. I keep holding the clutch in until the light changes to green and then I release it while throttling to resume.

My question is if what I am doing above is correct or if I should be releasing the clutch prior to coming to a stop and then pulling it in again to keep the bike from stalling at a standstill.

If I downshift into first from second at two high of a speed, I've locked the rear tire. If I wait until I'm going 10mph or so to downshift from second to first and need to pull in, downshift, let it out, and then pull it again, it's a lot for me to fit into two seconds or so.

Thanks for helping!
 

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New rider myself this year and a lot of these questions I have learned trial and error.

So from what it sounds like, you are doing everything right. Coast into the stop with the clutch squeezed and easing on the brakes. Hold the clutch in after stopped until it's time to go.

The other option is doing engine braking by downshifting into a lower gear and releasing the clutch with no throttle. This brings high RPMs and will force the bike to slow and also jerk you forward. That, along with braking could be bad but is feasible.

Also, make sure you stay in gear when stopped just in case you need to take off real quick because the idiot behind you isn't stopping. Of course if it's a long stop and people are stopped behind you I feel safe to put it in N. Just make sure you downshift before trying to go, always embarrassing.
 

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There are two ways to slow down/stop a bike (well three if you count crashing lol), simply using the brakes (mainly front), or using the engine and gearbox to slow you down.

I've always been in the latter camp, it comes from having bikes as a kid that had no brakes at all, and also it takes strain off the brakes and allows you to lose speed a lot smoother and steadier than braking alone does. Plus once you learn to do it properly your engine will be kept at the optimal RPM speed for a really good follow through - ie takeoff.

Watch some motorbike racing, especially footage of the Isle of Man TT (because it's "real world" racing, not sterile Formula1 rubbish), you'll see how they use the engine for speed control a lot more than the brakes.

Here's a great video -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iRWp9rhfS_0

If you want your engine to slow you down then release the clutch before using the brakes, if you just want to use the brakes then just keep the clutch in and keep stamping on the gearshift till you're in the desired gear - ie first or second - before taking off again.

Don't just dump the clutch or you'll find your back end overtaking the front! Learn to read your engine, you'll know instinctively if your revs are too low to release the clutch. If that's the case then simply rev the engine with the clutch in to get it up to speed, then release the clutch.

This is all instinctive stuff that you'll learn eventually so don't sweat it and don't think too much about it! Listen to your engine, feel what the bike is doing/wanting to do, and feel/read the road. It all sounds very "use the force Luke", but that's what biking is all about - a spiritual connection between man, machine, and the environment.

Enjoy :D.
 

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I very, very rarely downshift into first. I'll downshift through the gears until I am in 2nd, then I either drop it in neutral or 1st (depending on how long the light will take) with the clutch in. Do whatever is comfy for you.
 

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Keep it in a gear until you are assured that no one is going to rearend you. Don't be stuck in neutral when you see a car about to hit you. Defensive riding, leave yourself a way out.

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As a note for those that say use engine to slow you down, at the end of the day brakes are very cheap to replace and easy. where as replacing internal engine parts not so much.. Personally I use more brake than engine, but the engine does assist. My 2 cents, not worth much..
 

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It sounds like you are doing ok ,I get it into first before I get to the stop .Proper downshifting keeps you in a good position to react and make a quick escape from trouble , be it in first ,second ,third etc . Keep your bike in a good RPM range . I always use both brakes to stop , but that appears to be a mater of opinion , personal preference on here among folks .
 

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Do they not teach this stuff in the MSF?

They do, but downshifting technique at a regular stop is a matter of preference, just as it is for those driving a standard transmission car.

I would ask the original poster what he has learned from his experience and what he thinks is the right technique based on that?
 

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Aferbrick, says it for me, the only thing I'd add is if you change down as you brake then your always in the right gear to pull away if you need to.
As to wearing out engines and other internals, in 35 yrs of riding never worn out a gearbox or clutch just my pennyworth.

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Discussion Starter #11
SoCal, my experience isn't sufficient to base an informed opinion on.

The crux of my question was whether or not I should be releasing the clutch when I hit first gear and then pull it again when I actually stop, or if I can just keep holding the clutch in until the light turns green or I need to move to get out of the way of something.

I understand if I want to engine brake I need to release the clutch, but besides wanting to engine brake, is there any other reason to let the clutch out?
 

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There should be no reason you have to let out the clutch when downshifting from second to first near a stop.

When I stop even from highway speeds in fifth gear I will use engine braking in fifth gear until the rpm's drop to around 2000 and then pull in the clutch and start downshifting while braking until I come to a stop. By that time I'm already in first gear ready to go when the light changes or I need to move to get to safety. The point being that my clutch is in the whole time from fifth gear until I'm ready to go when it's time to go. No need to let out the clutch when downshifting unless you are going to use engine braking.
 

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I come up to the lights in second,drop it into neutral,then watch the light phase until I think it's close to changing before selecting 1st gear.
I seldom sit with the clutch engaged and in gear.
It not good for truck clutches and I'm a truck driver.
It wasn't good for my ear if the old man gave me a clip around it when he taught me to drive.
It wasn't a good idea before I got a bike with a hydraulic clutch,because I was always wary of a clutch cable letting go.

So it's become a habit to not sit with the bike in gear.
 

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Uuumm ? Back to the old everyone does it different thing I guess . My schooling taught me to keep the bike in gear , in case a quick escape is needed ? That fraction of a second can be lifesaving . Actually I never had any drivers safety schooling / course , but ? So maybe I have it wrong .

New rider - for what it's worth I just took a peak in the safe riding tips booklet triumph supplies .

"when you come to a stop in traffic ,leave the bike in first gear with the clutch disengaged ( just in case you want to accelerate out of there in a hurry ) Who knows what may be coming up behind you . "
 

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Sounds like your releasing the clutch abruptly. After downshifting, when I'm releasing the clutch, if I feel engine compression (engine braking) I give it some gas to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Sometimes at very slow speeds I'll feel alot of engine braking in first, then I'll just slip her into 2nd, some gas and I'm on my way.

Something to keep in mind, the Bonneville transmission is the smoothest I've ever used on a motorcycle. Smoothest by a long shot.
 

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Lots of personal preference on here and I don't think there is a "right" way to do it.

My way:

As I approach a light, I'm typically downshifting one gear at a time with a little "blip" of the throttle before releasing the clutch. Ideally this doesn't put excess wear on the machine at all -- in fact it's better for it. Let me explain:

Let's say I'm coming to a stop, currently cruising at 60 km/hr in 5th gear at 2000 RPM.

Further, let's assume to do the same speed in 4th gear requires 3000 RPM.

So, coming in in 5th gear at 60km/hr and 2000 RMP, I will pull in the clutch, downshift, and then blip the throttle up to 3000 RPM and release the clutch. As the rider, you can feel when you've hit the sweet spot -- ideally your bike's speed and such doesn't change even a little bit until you are in a lower gear and rolling off the throttle. So no lurching, sudden moves, etc. All of the bike's motions are controlled via the throttle, and you slowly allow the engine compression to slow the drive wheel in a natural, force-minimizing way.

Regardless of how you slow -- if you use engine breaking at all, or even coasting, I consider this next part critical: As I do all of the above, I'm VERY lightly holding my foot on the rear brake -- this is to activate the brake light and inform drivers behind me that I am slowing down (I think this is critically important).

Downshifting is something that can be done in cars and on bikes and it does lend for a smoother, more controlled ride that is ultimately better for the machine as it puts less sudden forces where they don't belong.

(To understand what I mean by that, imagine you are going down the highway at 90km/hr and you roll of the throttle slowly -- your bike will very naturally just slow down. With the above example, throwing shifting into the mix should feel just like that with the throttle blips)
 

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I never use first gear to slow down like I will the other gears. Its too low of a gear. Keep doing what you are doing, sounds good to me!
 

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What nobody has mentioned (and what was emphasized in my advanced riding class) is that you have much better control while under engine power, even in the friction zone. It is much easier to stop smoothly if you use the friction zone (clutch partially engaged) until just before final stop. This does not have to be first gear but that is the MSF preference. Never or seldom should you coast a motorcycle because you lose critical control when you do so. Just my 2 cents.
 

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What nobody has mentioned (and what was emphasized in my advanced riding class) is that you have much better control while under engine power, even in the friction zone. It is much easier to stop smoothly if you use the friction zone (clutch partially engaged) until just before final stop. This does not have to be first gear but that is the MSF preference. Never or seldom should you coast a motorcycle because you lose critical control when you do so. Just my 2 cents.
The OP admits to being a beginning rider. You are quoting the ADVANCED RiderCourse, and not quite 'chapter and verse'.

I am an MSF RiderCoach. For beginners and intermediate riders (BRC & BRC2) the technique taught is exactly what the OP is doing. When you are coming to a stop "Downshift (to first) keeping the clutch squeezed and stop using both brakes."

Keep doing what you are doing and after a year or so of riding, take the ARC yourself, and don't take what someone remembers learning there as gospel.
 
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