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Clutchless Down Shifting?

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Bent or worn shift forks and damaged dogs/slots on the pinions are, if not exactly common, not unusual. Pre-loading the shifter will put bending forces onto the shift forks - too much, and it can bend permanently. Even restricted pressure will increase wear. However, they can usually take quite a bit of wear before they stop functioning. Bending them, though, will usually make it hard to shift or gears to jump out under load. Bending them do take some serious effort, however, and isn't very common.

 

Having the dogs or "claws" break is perhaps a bit more common damage done to motorcycle trannies and is caused by shock loads. Imperfection during production will make this kind of damage more likely. However, elongated slots or rounded off dogs is by far the most common thing to take place, as they wear over time. The result is that the affected gears starts jumping out under load.

 

Here is a picture of a badly broken pinion 800x600-IMG_9636.jpg

 

Rounded dogs DSCN1261.jpg

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And just to clarify, and make an attempt to get back on topic, a clutchless downshift is no more likely to cause any damage to the transmition then one done using the clutch. I don't think the images in the post above are due to the rider performing clutchless downshifts, even though that is the subject of this topic.

 

 

 

 

It seems like every time the topic of clutcless shifting (be it up or down) comes up on a forum it leads to a discussion of whether or not it is bad for the tranny.

 

 

Let me just state for the record that, when performed correctly, a clutchless downshift (or upshift) is no harder on the tranny then a shift done properly using the clutch.

 

 

 

 

 

As for this thread, rather then continue to beat a dead horse, I'd like to pose a question or two :)

 

 

 

 

 

Is there any advantage to doing clutchless downshifts?

 

 

What are the pros and cons of clutched and clutchless downshifts?

 

 

please no wise guy responses about how one of the cons is more wear, I can envision Jason typing this as a write :)

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My response was to Dave and his assumption that gearboxes seems almost bullet proof ;) Please note that I didn't mention the word clutch anywhere as I agree that proper technique will not damage the gearbox - be that with or without use of the clutch.

 

Now to your questions :)

 

Is there any advantage to doing clutchless downshifts?

 

Advantage? It must be that you can retain a full grip on the left side of the handlebars. I honestly cannot think of any other valid reasons. Shifting down at lower rpm isn't valid - you can do that also with the clutch.

 

What are the pros and cons of clutched and clutchless downshifts?

 

Pros: See above. And your race will not be affected if your clutch release fails (which isn't very often). If you find it easier to perform clutchless shifts than clutched shifts, you will find it a pro as well. I'll risk saying those will be in a great minority if you make a study among all riders in the world - just as you are likely to find among car drivers, whose gearboxes are also simple to shift without the use of a clutch if you take care.

 

Cons: It takes time to master for what I personally consider a miniscule return. And many will never master it, but that could naturally be said for a lot of things. It will make you less likely to pull the clutch should the rear wheel lock up due to a mechanical issue (which, admittedly, doesn't happen very often). It will, in my opinion, increase the number of poor shifts for most riders, increasing the risk of gearbox damage.

 

In conclusion, I will say that both pros and cons are very limited and that it is more down to personal preferences than any real benefits. But please feel free to disagree. My words are no more gospel that those of others. What I can say is that I have tried clutchless downshifts many times over the past 30 years and never found any reason to persue the subject into perfection because for me, the clutch is something I can operate well without thinking about it.

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here's a pro for clutchless downshifts.

 

 

A clutchless downshift can actually be easier to perform and take less attention and coridnation then properly downshifting (and matching the revs with a blip) using the clutch.

 

As I have seen from instucting the Code R.A.C.E. school, many advanced riders struggle with braking and downshifting using the clutch. One of the skills we cover at the RACE school is braking and downshifting. We have the students come down a very loong straight flat out and then late brake and drop three gears before the turn at the end of the straight. Cobie typically sits at the side of the track and observes the riders technique braking and downshifting. We then give the rider feedback on how they could improve. I've coached the RACE school for the past ten years and I've seen riders perform this drill a few hundred times, and I can't think of one rider that did three perfect downshifts the first time out. My point being, using the clutch and properly blipping the throttle to match revs and timing all that correctly takes a lot of practice to get it right. Most riders have to put a lot of attention on performing these actions correctly. Of course once you have it down pat, it is simple and you don't have to think much about it, but you don't get there overnight without some practice.

 

Many riders struggle with the timing of when to pull in the clutch, when to release the clutch, when to blip the throttle and when to push or pull the shift lever.

 

By performing a clutchless downshift you take two steps out of the process, thus simplfying it and reducing the risk of error and freeing up some attention.

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By performing a clutchless downshift you take two steps out of the process, thus simplfying it and reducing the risk of error and freeing up some attention.

 

 

Stu stole my thunder. The most important thing I have when riding a motorcyle is free attention for sure.

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clutchless downshifts...

 

cons

 

i would rather deal with a messed up upshift than a downshift especially going at pace. having to downshift 2-4 gears after a straight without clutch modulation is going to be a disaster. and your clutch is not only used for chaning gear but is also used for traction management with or without slipper clutch especially when you are trail braking.

 

i dont see any benefit of clutchless downshifting.

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Con for Clutched downshifts (downshift using the clutch)

 

 

Some riders rather then blip the throttle and release the clutch quickly when downshifting, release the clutch slowly as they enter the corner. The upside of this is that allows them to use clutch modulation to control rear traction.

 

The downside to doing this is if you have a lot of attention on how quickly you are releasing the clutch and using the clutch to control traction on conner entry, you have much less attention available for other aspects of corner entry like ENTRY SPEED.

 

There is a lot going on at corner entry. A rider has to pay attention to their entry speed, turn point, front end traction and feel, quick turn, visual references and so on. Using the clutch to control your rear traction on the way into a corner takes a lot of skill and attention, you might be better off spending more of that $10 on your entry speed or front end feel.

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The downside to doing this is if you have a lot of attention on how quickly you are releasing the clutch and using the clutch to control traction on conner entry, you have much less attention available for other aspects of corner entry like ENTRY SPEED.

 

There is a lot going on at corner entry. A rider has to pay attention to their entry speed, turn point, front end traction and feel, quick turn, visual references and so on. Using the clutch to control your rear traction on the way into a corner takes a lot of skill and attention, you might be better off spending more of that $10 on your entry speed or front end feel.

 

This is the prmiary reason I don't do clutchless downchanges when pushing on at race pace(though I do up of course). My attention is used up on these things instead, and I agree with StuMan, they're very, very important, muh more so than changing gear which is automatic.

 

Bullet

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Jason Pridmore is big into using the clutch to modulate rear traction...attention drain IMHO.

Clutchless upshifts (or down if you use GP) works very well when in full-boogie mode.

I could see a miniscule advantage for going 5th gear to 2nd, but again I've learned to blip/change w/o thinking about it. Like the above was said it's a very small Return on Investment for something that may have high risk (?).

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Con for Clutched downshifts (downshift using the clutch)

 

 

 

There is a lot going on at corner entry. A rider has to pay attention to their entry speed, turn point, front end traction and feel, quick turn, visual references and so on. Using the clutch to control your rear traction on the way into a corner takes a lot of skill and attention, you might be better off spending more of that $10 on your entry speed or front end feel.

 

 

is that what the school is teaching?

 

i agree that its not something that someone with little experience should focus on. different people different strokes i guess.

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Never tried it but I have a track day on saturday so I'll have bit of a go at it

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Jason Pridmore is big into using the clutch to modulate rear traction...attention drain IMHO.

Clutchless upshifts (or down if you use GP) works very well when in full-boogie mode.

I could see a miniscule advantage for going 5th gear to 2nd, but again I've learned to blip/change w/o thinking about it. Like the above was said it's a very small Return on Investment for something that may have high risk (?).

 

 

Jason only recommends it for downshifting not upshifts. no reason to use the clutch on upshifts.

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is that what the school is teaching?

 

 

The School teaches to downshift using the clutch and blipping the throttle to match revs for the most part.

 

We have coached level 4 and RACE School students to do clutchless down shifts on occasion.

 

We advise against letting the clutch out slow for the reason I stated.

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clutchless downshifts...

 

cons

 

i would rather deal with a messed up upshift than a downshift especially going at pace. having to downshift 2-4 gears after a straight without clutch modulation is going to be a disaster. and your clutch is not only used for chaning gear but is also used for traction management with or without slipper clutch especially when you are trail braking.

 

i dont see any benefit of clutchless downshifting.

 

I find it easier. Less work to get the same result. Does have to be timed correctly, but less pressure on the bars too--I don't have to have both hands open from the grips.

 

Not saying its the only way, know a number of guys that do use the clutch, some do/some don't at the school. With the new bikes and the shift assist, upshifts don't even require letting the gas off, whee!!

 

CF

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tell me.... have you tried doing this while leaned over coming out from a fast corner and then entering a slower corner?

 

 

I don't know about Cobie, but that is the only circumstance where I do clutcless downshifts on a roadrace bike, Turn 8 at Willow Springs is 6th gear pinned and I drop two gears for turn 9 without the clutch. At a good pace your leaned over quite far when you do the downshifts. Worked pretty well when I set a lap record.

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tell me.... have you tried doing this while leaned over coming out from a fast corner and then entering a slower corner?

 

 

I don't know about Cobie, but that is the only circumstance where I do clutcless downshifts on a roadrace bike, Turn 8 at Willow Springs is 6th gear pinned and I drop two gears for turn 9 without the clutch. At a good pace your leaned over quite far when you do the downshifts. Worked pretty well when I set a lap record.

 

wow... i was thinking the opposite. do you brake for the corner or do you just let off? i assume you have a slipper clutch on your bike?

 

you got me all curious now... im going to have to give this a go this year. the main reason i use the clutch is i quit blipping the throttle. it enabled me to be really smooth with the brake and removed any jerkiness when entering the corner. so all i had to really do is modulate both levers while entering.. its easier for me to do than to brake while reving- this is on a 600rr. when i used to have a 10r with an slipper, i just banged the gears down quickly releasing the clutch without blipping and it worked well.

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I finally got the streetbike back on the roads after the winter period, and I played a little with doing clutchless downshifts on it today. I must say that I was surprised to find how easy it was in the taller gears (3->2 could get a bit rough), even here the first day into trying it.

 

Thanks to all for sharing and discussing it,

 

Kai

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Paul Dean wrote a piece on this in the latest issue of Cycle World. He had basically the same concerns as has been voiced by some of us earlier.

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Just to beat a dead horse some more...

 

... here's a video of our mechanic Will at vegas last weekend. Now if you know Will, you know he is not prone to doing stuff that is going to hurt HIS bikes. He is the one that is going to have to fix them after all. And yet he never uses the clutch to downshift, is smooth as silk and one of the fastest riders I know.

 

 

Sorry the angle isn't that great, but it is only a couple minutes long to bare with it.

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Just to beat a dead horse some more...

 

... here's a video of our mechanic Will at vegas last weekend. Now if you know Will, you know he is not prone to doing stuff that is going to hurt HIS bikes. He is the one that is going to have to fix them after all. And yet he never uses the clutch to downshift, is smooth as silk and one of the fastest riders I know.

 

 

Sorry the angle isn't that great, but it is only a couple minutes long to bare with it.

 

Nice vid. I recall I did it by accident a few times, and I was like....wtf just happened... :blink::lol:

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Just to beat a dead horse some more...

 

... here's a video of our mechanic Will at vegas last weekend. Now if you know Will, you know he is not prone to doing stuff that is going to hurt HIS bikes. He is the one that is going to have to fix them after all. And yet he never uses the clutch to downshift, is smooth as silk and one of the fastest riders I know.

 

 

Sorry the angle isn't that great, but it is only a couple minutes long to bare with it.

 

Nice vid. I recall I did it by accident a few times, and I was like....wtf just happened... :blink::lol:

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Just to beat a dead horse some more...

 

... here's a video of our mechanic Will at vegas last weekend. Now if you know Will, you know he is not prone to doing stuff that is going to hurt HIS bikes. He is the one that is going to have to fix them after all. And yet he never uses the clutch to downshift, is smooth as silk and one of the fastest riders I know.

 

 

Sorry the angle isn't that great, but it is only a couple minutes long to bare with it.

 

 

Man, forget that; Did anyone notice how loose his grip was on the left bar, even under braking!!! There were a couple shots of daylight there.

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