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Downshifting Advice

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Before I attend the two day camp at Barbers for level two and three, I am having trouble on the track with smooth downshifts. Everything is fine when I am not in a hurry, but when my pace increases (still not one of the real fast guys) on my 02 R6, I have rear wheel hop and chatter from releasing the clutch. I get into the corner hard on the brakes at say 14,500 rpm and pull in the clutch and downshift and left off the cltuch..problem is I dont have time to slowwwwwly release the clutch to prevent rear wheel hop and chatter and I try to blip the throttle but I end up easing off the brakes as I blip. I try to get ALL my shifting including letting the clutch 100% out before I start into the turn because my clutch engagement is so rough I am scared it will cause my rear wheel to break loose even if it doesnt chatter or hop. I have tried to practice but it just doent seem to be getting me anywhere. I hate to have to shift in longer turns because of the problem. Is there a example of practice techniques that could be shared with me? I am ready to got out and buy a $1500 slipper clutch at this point. I could shave ten seconds off my laps times if I could cure this! Thanks for any help!

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Don't spend the money on a slipper clutch, yet. Get good with the one you have. Timing and practice is all you need (don't we all). I had the same problem at Laguna Seca this year, not downshifting correctly. Trying to go through too many gears down at one time without getting the engine up to speed to match the wheel speed. Hence your hopping around? Try going slow to go fast. Keith and my instructor worked (tirelessly) to get my timing down. Roll off, brake, clutch, downshift/blip (hard to get the rpm's up), catch the rpm's on the downside as you let the clutch out, and viola', there you have it. Okay, don't let off the brake or move it closer/farther away, keep you turn pt in sight, set the right speed for the turn, get your steering input correct to set the angle, get you body position set before all this, etc... School is better than a slipper clutch anyday. Sitting on the bike on a stand, doing it over and over, listening to the engine and feeling what it's like helps. Doing it slowly at first to get the timing down really helps when the speed goes up and you need it. I'm still screwing it up (ala the last track day) but keep working to get it right. When you do it, it's sweet and you wonder what the big deal was. When you don't , you immediatly get into a SR :ph34r: and know what the big deal is. It'll come. Just keep after it.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Don't spend the money on a slipper clutch, yet. Get good with the one you have


Good advice. Another thing you can do is raise the idle a bit. I keep mine around 3k. This also helps take out drive train slap, which is not only annoying but at full lean can be dangerous..



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I have tried to practice but it just doent seem to be getting me anywhere. I hate to have to shift in longer turns because of the problem. Is there a example of practice techniques that could be shared with me?

regarding practice techniques you have to isolate the different components.


first you have to be able to upshift and downshift smoothly and quickly while in a straight line...

set an arbitrary speed, say 40mph...and shift back and forth between the same two gears...and make sure you stay rock steady at ~40. since you seem to be familiar with the "feed the clutch out slowly" method of downshifting...

you should practice blipping on the downshifts. smooth is the key, you don't want any hiccups in the bike whatsoever.


next you should be able to smoothly transition between brakes and throttle. in order to be super smooth you can remain on the throttle even when you initially start braking...and you should still be braking when you initially start rolling back on the throttle. not only is this a smooth way of transitioning...it will also get you accustomed to using the brakes and the throttle at the same time.


you will want to analyze why you are letting off on the brakes when you are blipping the throttle. it's hard to visualize your exact problem without seeing you in person.


check the position of your brake lever. check your foream arm/wrist/hand positions too...they should be in a straight line (no ugly bends).

you shouldn't really be grabbing, holding, or adding weight to any part of your hands either.


you can blip with your palm (so that all fingers can be braking)...and you can blip with your outer fingers while the first two are doing the braking...and you could do both...



if you think about it, just keeping the same amount of throttle while braking will already cause the revs to rise when you pull in the clutch lever (let alone blipping).


this is something you can practice with the bike off and not running.


the key is practicing slowly and methodically when your mind is at ease. not much is going to happen if you practice doing it all at once at speed...


whatever the case, do NOT go out and buy a slipper clutch. that would just be a bandaid, and not a cure.


edit: two more points...


1. when braking while downshifitng your priority is braking. don't sacrifice your braking trying to blip at the same time.


2. ideally you want to raise the engine revs the precise amount for the next gear...

(for example, if 40mph is 8k in second, and 10k in first, you want those engine revs to be at 10k when you fully release the clutch lever)

however, if you're going to err...do so on the side of blipping too much rather than too little. too little gets the rear wheel/engine VERY unhappy.

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One thing that didn't get covered is to wait as long as possible to do the downshift. When you shut the throttle and the revs are up it's much harder to do a downshift than if you wait until close to the end of braking and the revs are down. The engine braking is much less at 8,000 rpm than it is 14,000 rpm.

I will wait until just before I turn to do the downshift and this leaves most of my attention to be spent on using the brakes and getting the speed correct for the approaching turn.


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