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It was a nice warm fall day today of 55* so I decided to take the bike out up and down this back road close to the house. I was practicing the 2 finger clutch method for upshifting/ downshifting just to see how it felt compared to clutchless shifting. Well needless to say pinching your fingers between the lever and the grip gets really old after about 2-3 times of doing it.

 

I was practicing some more clutchless downshifting, I have a quick shifter so I don't need to use the clutch anyway for that so I was just focused on the clutchless downshifting. My timing still seems a little off and I am not very smooth at it, this is how I would describe what I am doing because I don't want to get into the habit of doing it wrong.

 

1. start to put pressure on the shifter

2. push down

3. blip throttle

 

I am feeling like the timing is off because sometimes on the downshift it doesn't feel crisp, feels more sloppy and other times it feels a little smoother. I kinda get the feeling that I am downshifting and then blipping the throttle but the bike doesn't jerk so maybe it's just a fraction of a second improvement I need on the timing? I am not putting braking into the mix I am only focusing on the downshifting and blipping itself so I am not distracted with brake lever pressure.

 

I have also anticipated the gear change and have jerked the bike with the throttle blip before I actually downshifted but that is just because it feels weird not using the clutch so it's almost like I am hesitating on putting enough force to the shifter to push it down at times. Hence my reason for thinking my timing is off even when I do downshift.

 

 

Also wanted to add that I was doing this from speeds of 50-60mph going from 3rd to 2nd gear

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Why would you want to downshift without the clutch? What advantage do you feel there is in that? The potential for mechanical damage is pretty high.

 

This has been discussed a lot on this forum, do a search on clutchless downshifting, you'll find a lot of info! Here is a link to on of the threads: http://forums.superbikeschool.com/index.php?showtopic=2115&st=0&p=16613&hl=+clutch%20+downshift&fromsearch=1entry16613.

 

Clutchless downshifting is more common than you might think, most of the coaches at the school do all clutchless downshifts with no ill effects on the bikes. Th advantages are that for most riders, once they learn to do it, it gets the shift done much more quickly than using the clutch, plus it means one less control to worry about. Letting out the clutch on a high speed downshift can take a lot of attention.

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I was practicing some more clutchless downshifting, I have a quick shifter so I don't need to use the clutch anyway for that so I was just focused on the clutchless downshifting. My timing still seems a little off and I am not very smooth at it, this is how I would describe what I am doing because I don't want to get into the habit of doing it wrong.

 

1. start to put pressure on the shifter

2. push down

3. blip throttle

 

 

 

I've always been told that pre- loading the shifter is bad for it. I know for sure the S1000rr's don't like it, it confuses a sensor in the transmission. The idea of the blip to to relieve the load on the gears and match the RPM so the shift is smooth and easy, so you need to do it at the SAME TIME you shift. Getting the timing right is the hardest part.

 

On most bikes, there is a way to practice the timing that you might find easier: if you accelerate, then let off the throttle and downshift (make sure you press the shifter RIGHT when you let off) the bike should drop easily into the lower gear. It can help if you think of the throttle and shifter as connected, so you move them both at the same time. By accelerating (gently is fine) then letting off, you release the load on the gears but shift before the RPMs drop, so you don't have to blip it.

 

This is most easily done in a high gear at low rpm - for example shifting from 4th to 3rd at, say, 4-5000 rpm (this will depend somewhat on what type of bike you ride!).

 

Doing it that way can give you a sense of the timing; once you get the idea you can try it the more typical way, where you are decelerating, then blip the throttle to match RPMs to get the downshift. In high gear with low rpm it only takes a small blip - too much, or too early, will make the bike surge forward. If you don't blip enough or if you are too late, it just won't change gears. Done correctly, a down shift feels remarkably quick and smooth, no drama, it just clicks in.

 

Do not press harder on the shifter to force it to change, if it doesn't shift easily the timing was off and trying to force it will not help.

 

It's easier on some bikes than others, but it's worth learning - once I got it figured out, I started doing it on all my bikes, on and off the track and even on the dirtbike, it's great, quicker and easier.

 

If you can get to a school, we have an off-track drill for this, a coach can work with you one-on-one.

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First off, clutchless downshifting is (in my experience) very dependent on the bike... or should I say gearbox.

 

On my Yamahas, clutchless downshifting requires a lot of attention to rpms and sequence.

On the school BMWs, it was almost effortless to do the same.

 

Here's how I do it:

1) Close the throttle (you are slowing down, right?). This creates a load on the gearbox from the rear wheel.

2) Load the shift lever (down or up, depending on race/street shift pattern)

3) Do a small blip with the throttle. This makes the engine and rear wheel match in speed, and thereby removes the load on the gears that keeps the gear engaged.

 

If there is a large mismatch between the gears, getting the downshifts to be smooth can get difficult. As I said above, in my experience there is a BIG difference between bikes in this area.

 

As I recall, this is not the "Official Superbike School Method" - you have been warned :)

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This is likely a thing where people will split in two groups; pro or con. Not many will sit in between. And the "use the clutch" group is much larger than the "no clutch" group. However, there is no guarantee that the masses are right.

 

Clutchless downshifts can, as HF stated, be very smooth and without any damage done to the drivetrain. If made perfectly, it will inflict less wear on the drivetrain than you can manage using the clutch. The important word here is perfect; done less than perfect and you can inflict a lot of damage. Pre-loading, for instance, will increase wear on the shifting forks. Heavy preloading can even bend them, requiring a teardown to fix.

 

I believe you need several things in order to make clutchless shifting worth while; a close ratio gearbox (a wide ratio four-speed is not ideal), gearbox design made for easy and secure shifts (many designs out there how the gears are moved into contact with each other and how they make contact, although most boxes today are fairly similar), low flywheel effect (you need an engine to alter rpm rapidly, so forget 2-litre cruiser V-twins) and - perhaps most importantly - the talent to do it right. And that's not a given.

 

I find I can do it with great concentration if the clutch cable breaks, but I wouldn't want to stress my brain with it when riding hard. I do not think about using the clutch and blipping the throttle, but I really, really need to focus on clutchless downshifts. Upshifts are easy, though. Oh, and I had one bike that was very easy to downshift w/o the clutch; my XT600. Which is a bit strange due to its heavy-ish flywheel and rather big gaps between gears. But you could just kick the lever and it would downshift smoothly even without closing the throttle as long as the load was light.

 

 

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The shift pressure was very different from my CBR600 to my Daytona 675, I felt the pressure difference between using the clutch and not using the clutch and the pressure was the same. It feels pretty stiff compared to the CBR but that's not always such a bad thing because it could keep you from going into a lower gear then you wanted to a little easier.

 

One thing I didn't do was fully close the throttle, I knew you laid off the throttle but not to fully close it as this would be engine braking if you didn't downshift right as you closed the throttle so I am sure that didn't help my situation. I think things are starting to be a little more clarified now that HF mentioned to think of the throttle and shifter connected together, it puts the timing in a much better perspective to understand because watching videos and even in the Twist 2 video I still wasn't 100% clear on the timing.

 

I didn't practice it a whole lot just a few trials because I didn't want to risk messing something up if I were to continue practicing this the improper way.

 

By any chance does anyone know how to adjust the clutch lever so you don't have to pull it in as far? I thought I heard there is a way you can do this.

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Does your bike have a hydraulically or mechanically operated clutch and does it have an adjustable lever? If hydraulic, only method I know of is to either change the master pump to one with a bigger piston or fit braided lines. If by cable, you can adjust it so that there is just the tiniest hint of slack in the lever when fully released. An adjustable lever can be set to be the farthest from the grip. A two-finger, adjustable lever may be your final answer.

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What's the benefit of the "2 finger clutch method" ?? I totally get the Clutch vs Clutchless arguments (I'm on the clutchless side of that one FYI) and I understand 2 finger braking so you have two fingers and a thumb to modulate the throttle with, but why 2 finger clutching ??

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Does your bike have a hydraulically or mechanically operated clutch and does it have an adjustable lever? If hydraulic, only method I know of is to either change the master pump to one with a bigger piston or fit braided lines. If by cable, you can adjust it so that there is just the tiniest hint of slack in the lever when fully released. An adjustable lever can be set to be the farthest from the grip. A two-finger, adjustable lever may be your final answer.

 

 

 

It's a mechanical operated clutch and it already has adjustable levers but since I have smaller hands I have to play with it a little more to try and find that balance between being able to reach the lever with just 2 fingers and not pinch my other fingers as I pull the lever in.

 

 

 

What's the benefit of the "2 finger clutch method" ?? I totally get the Clutch vs Clutchless arguments (I'm on the clutchless side of that one FYI) and I understand 2 finger braking so you have two fingers and a thumb to modulate the throttle with, but why 2 finger clutching ??

 

 

 

I am not sure why other people do it but for me I like to feel that I am in control and if my palm is the only thing on the grip with aggressive braking it's not the most comfortable feeling. No I am not putting my weight on the bars while braking so it's not me locking my elbows and relying on a death grip to keep me on the bike. It's just one less thing you have to worry about if your grip is already established.....for me it's just one less thing to think about and one less step I have to take before setting up for the next turn. Not saying there is a specific advantage to it but it's one of those things that comes down to rider preference, example Rossi uses all 4 fingers on his clutch and brake levers, some riders use 2 or 3 fingers.

 

 

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What's the benefit of the "2 finger clutch method" ?? I totally get the Clutch vs Clutchless arguments (I'm on the clutchless side of that one FYI) and I understand 2 finger braking so you have two fingers and a thumb to modulate the throttle with, but why 2 finger clutching ??

 

2-finger clutching on downshifts was explained to me at a local instructional riding course like this: You only need 2 fingers to get the clutch lever in just enough to unload the transmission enough to safely and smoothly downshift. That leaves more fingers for holding on to the bars and less total movement from your hand to get down to the correct gear while you're approaching a corner. (This came up at the end of the day, so I haven't practiced it yet.) I suspect that by the time your lever is in close enough to pinch your other fingers, your transmission is unloaded enough to downshift so the pinching is not really a problem. That's just speculation, though.

 

Note that 2-finger clutching would probably not work for holding in the clutch at a red light and easing it out in 1st gear when that light turns green, but that's OK - that's not what it's for.

 

Overall, I fail to see how clutchless downshifting is really going to be worth it for most riders, especially those without a slipper clutch. If you get it wrong, it's hard on the transmission and upsets the bike as you're setting up for the corner. If you get it right, you've saved yourself the very minimal time and attention it takes to pull a lever in and let it out quickly. No real bang for the buck there, unless your bike's slipper and transmission really don't care either way. *shrug*

 

Plus, using a clutch to downshift gives you a little emergency buffer if you screw up the throttle blip. (And no, I'm not talking about intentionally and regularly hiding a lazy blip by letting the throttle back out slowly - that's just a crutch.)

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What's the benefit of the "2 finger clutch method" ?? I totally get the Clutch vs Clutchless arguments (I'm on the clutchless side of that one FYI) and I understand 2 finger braking so you have two fingers and a thumb to modulate the throttle with, but why 2 finger clutching ??

 

2-finger clutching on downshifts was explained to me at a local instructional riding course like this: You only need 2 fingers to get the clutch lever in just enough to unload the transmission enough to safely and smoothly downshift. That leaves more fingers for holding on to the bars and less total movement from your hand to get down to the correct gear while you're approaching a corner. (This came up at the end of the day, so I haven't practiced it yet.) I suspect that by the time your lever is in close enough to pinch your other fingers, your transmission is unloaded enough to downshift so the pinching is not really a problem. That's just speculation, though.

 

Note that 2-finger clutching would probably not work for holding in the clutch at a red light and easing it out in 1st gear when that light turns green, but that's OK - that's not what it's for.

 

Overall, I fail to see how clutchless downshifting is really going to be worth it for most riders, especially those without a slipper clutch. If you get it wrong, it's hard on the transmission and upsets the bike as you're setting up for the corner. If you get it right, you've saved yourself the very minimal time and attention it takes to pull a lever in and let it out quickly. No real bang for the buck there, unless your bike's slipper and transmission really don't care either way. *shrug*

 

Plus, using a clutch to downshift gives you a little emergency buffer if you screw up the throttle blip. (And no, I'm not talking about intentionally and regularly hiding a lazy blip by letting the throttle back out slowly - that's just a crutch.)

 

 

 

 

I like your view on this, I was watching the last GP race in Japan and Lorenzo was pumping the clutch on his fast downshifts. It's your statement about the room for error if you still pull the clutch in because those GP bikes have slipper clutches and they don't need to use the clutch but it seems like most still do. Maybe it's just habit from over the past years of racing and used to older technology? Now that I am starting to see the bigger picture of what a GP bike is I tend to stay within reason of what they do and how I can practice it or apply it to my riding simply because their bike technology is out of this world.

 

I was playing around with some adjustments and may have found the sweet spot where I can 2 finger the clutch without pinching my fingers so badly. Since my hands are smaller it's going to take some conditioning on my left hand/ forearm to pump that clutch quickly without getting tired since I have to reach out a little further to pull the lever in.

 

I guess if you had a slipper clutch and you stayed very dedicated to practicing it you could be a little faster then someone pumping the clutch but in the novice club racing world I find it hard to believe that difference in time between the two will depict a win or loss.

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Remember the video I posted a short while ago, onboard with Stoner? He goes down the gears, I will claim, much quicker because of the clutch than can be done w/o the clutch. And of course much quicker than could be done with a normal clutch; the slipper is working overtime since he goes down gears quicker than the speed drops.

 

Have any world champion, during any era, used clutchless downshifts as the primary method of shifting?

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Remember the video I posted a short while ago, onboard with Stoner? He goes down the gears, I will claim, much quicker because of the clutch than can be done w/o the clutch. And of course much quicker than could be done with a normal clutch; the slipper is working overtime since he goes down gears quicker than the speed drops.

 

Have any world champion, during any era, used clutchless downshifts as the primary method of shifting?

 

 

 

Yea that's the first video that came to mind that you posted, going down gears that fast would be pretty hard to not lock up the rear tire without a slipper clutch if at all possible? Looks like pumping the clutch and a slipper clutch would do more then risking improper clutchless downshifts at hard braking levels.

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When you have a full traction control system modifying your engine braking and back pressure to achieve the utmost of braking power from the entire machine I think the rules change, you can just mash down gears and let the ECU match the engine speed to get the most engine braking possible. Drawing comparisons from MotoGP and even WSBK on this issue is kind of like apples and oranges due to the million dollar electronics systems they employ. Now some video from BSB this year where they are running without the electronics would be much more pertinent to the discussion, or any other series that runs sans TC.

 

The two finger method sounds to me like a attempt at the best of both worlds. You're not quite gaining the full advantage of the clutchless shift, but you're eliminating some of the possible risks such as a missed shift or gearbox damage. I can say I had ridden for about 10 years with only the occasional clutchless upshift and never downshifting, with the exception of that one time my clutch cable broke on me in the middle of nowhere. I have recently started using it quite a bit, both on my street FZ-1 and my track R-6, and when I get it right it definitely feels faster, smoother and less involved than using the clutch.

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I use all four fingers on the clutch, and don't see a lot of reason to change. It's like arguing about whether to use two or four fingers on the brake - even at the MotoGP level you will see both styles applied with success, so learn about the pros and cons, but don't get so hanged up on the details IMHO. Use what works for you, until it is limiting your riding (I'm sure we can find something that is higher on the "riding fix-it" list, like vision and RPs).

 

Kai

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Well, if it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work for you - but personally I am much quicker at clutchless downshifts when racing, on bikes with or without a slipper clutch. I prefer clutchless because I never ever lock up the rear tire, and I've never have any gears grind or get damaged. It's really easy, in race conditions, to lock up the rear tire when releasing the clucth (even when you do it fast or only partially engage it) but going clutchless totally eliminated that problem for me. Once you get the timing, it is quite reliable and also eliminates the possibility of accidentally going down two gears.

 

I'm not sure I understand the logic where someone said there is no way clutchless could be faster - how does adding the clutch motion make it faster than just shifting?

 

If you search the forum on this topic you can find considerable info on this, including where Will chimes in and explains why it isn't hard on the transmission. He's had many years of maintaining fleet bikes and race bikes with and without slipper clutches and he is all for clutchless downshifts - he certainly wouldn't allow/encourage the coaches to do it if it was bad for the transmissions!

 

There is also a video on the website showing him doing lightning fast downshifts without the clutch - and he holds track records, his race experience is nothing to sneeze at. :)

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I said it cannot be done as quickly, and it may be some room of misunderstanding in my statement. You can make each individual shift just as quickly - or quicker - the clutchless way. But I cannot see anyone able to match 4-5 downshifts as rapidly combined sans clutch. If somebody can show me, with a slipper of course, they can go from 200 mph in 6th down to 2nd in well under 2 seconds and way before the speed has come down without using the clutch, I promise to be very impressed B)

 

 

Also, I do not doubt it's a skill that can be learned (by many or even the majority) and done correctly it will cause less harm than using the clutch in the normal manner. However, I'm prone to mistakes and I prefer to safeguard my downshifts by using the clutch. Furthermore, if clutchless had any benefits that would lower laptimes at the peak level, I would expect it to be the norm at the very same peak level. Since it isn't, it seems unlikely to me that it is of general benefit to learn the drill. Call me stubborn if you like :D Although this should of course not prevent those who find the technique beneficial to use clutchless shifting!

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But I cannot see anyone able to match 4-5 downshifts as rapidly combined sans clutch. If somebody can show me, with a slipper of course, they can go from 200 mph in 6th down to 2nd in well under 2 seconds and way before the speed has come down without using the clutch, I promise to be very impressed B)

 

 

2 seconds is a long time. Getting 4 downshifts in 2 seconds, clutchless, should be something a club racer could do. (Maybe not 5, though - first gear can get dicey unless you have a bike with a REALLY tall first gear.)

 

As far as an actual example goes, you can see Will do it in the track demo videos on the Superbike School website. For example in this one at Streets:

http://www.superbikeschool.com/multi-media/video.php?movie=streets-of-willow.m4v&name=Streets of Willow Springs

and the one at VIR (the only place I could think of where you are near 200 mph and downshifting all the way to 2nd)

you can hear Will downshifting 4 gears well within 2 seconds without using the clutch.

 

Getting the engine slowed down between shifts could be a limiting factor, but that is a braking effectiveness issue; I don't see how adding in the clutch would help with that, overrevving the engine is overrevving it, it would be hard on the clutch and can be catastrophic to the engine. And you can overrev the engine and blow it up even if you are using the clutch; I don't know whether or not it is possible to overrev the engine on a clutchless downshift, I think on most bikes it simply would not shift.

 

Maybe in the ultimate top level bikes, they have electronics to protect the engine and gearbox? Or maybe they just have REALLY GREAT brakes. :)

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Either the sound quality or my loudspeakers are too poor, because it was hard to hear, but it sounds like he shifts at much lower rpm compared to the current trend in MotoGP when they just bang down the box the moment they hit the brakes without waiting for speed to match up to the gear. But I'm impressed how quickly it was done by Will sans clutch - I would have expected it to take more time to let the gears and rpm match up between shifts.

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Yea I have watched that video and it is impressive. Hotfoot- Would you say it would be better to use the clutch method until I have a slipper clutch installed to reduce risk of damaging anything?

 

The slipper clutch really kicks in if you hold the clutch in so long that the RPMs really drop, then let the clutch out quickly - it will keep your rear tire from locking up (hypothetically) while the engine speed catches back up to wheel speed. I honestly don't know whether it would make any difference on clutchless shifts at all; I ride bikes with both the slipper clutch and without, I can't tell any difference. The only time I notice the slipper is if I use the clutch to downshift, which I really only do if I've made a gigantic error and I'm trying to recover. :) Before I learned clutchless downshifting I thought the slipper clutch was a godsend but now I am just fine riding a bike without one.

 

The only time I've ever had any grinding or scary shifts was when I tried to lightly feather the clutch, pulling it only partway in, and shifting. You can get some gnarly sounds doing that, if you arent quick enough or screw up the blip. I've also heard of people doing damage by pre-loading the shifter (Will HATES it when people do that) or stomping down hard on the shifter to try to force it - that can bend the lever. But a regular clutchless downshift should just click right in, no drama.

 

On every bike I've ridden (which includes dirt bikes, a cruiser and even my little old YSR) it either shifts, or it doesn't. If you get the timing wrong it just won't change.

 

This is just my opinion and my personal experience but I think the easiest and safest way to to it is the way I described earlier in the thread - in a high gear, at low rpm, accelerate, then left off the throttle and RIGHT when you let off, downshift. It should just drop right into the lower gear. After you get that timing, you can go back and add the blip so you can shift while slowing down.

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