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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've never ridden a bike, so pardon my ignorance...but I read on a magazine website (Sport Rider Mag) that clutching while shifting was not necessary when riding agressively, as it damages the clutch plate. It was written that car and bike transmissions are totally different that unlike the car which needs a complete disruption of power to the transmission before shifting, the motorcycle just need slight interruption of power to the transmission before shifting....So obviously I'm confused, TYIA for enlightening me.
 

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Toad 2012,

I cannot answer for power shifting a car, as I have an old dodge truck, but as far as shifting a bike with no clutch this can absolutely be done. Most with money put electronic or air shifters on their bikes. This interupts ignition for a split millisecond while a device shifts the gear. The clutch is never engaged. For those of us not rich enough we experience the same (yet slower) advantage by simply excelerating hard and quickly letting off the gas while shifting and again wide open throttle. This must be done (practiced) quickly and soon can be second nature. I hope this helped and I am sure others with slightly more technical knowledge will chime in but the gist of it is legit. Now go buy a bike and start learning.

Elpato.
 

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You can shift to a higher gear without the clutch with no problem, but you need it when shifting to lower gears.

Personally, I get confused going clutchless one way but not the other, so I just use the clutch all the time. However, I probably don't disengage the clutch completely on upshifts, just quickly hit it as I'm shifting.

And forget about damaging the clutch plates by using the clutch to shift. It causes slightly more wear, but it doesn't damage the clutch. The difference is that I'll probably have to get new clutch plates at 35,000 miles instead of 40,000. Not enough difference to even think about.
 

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you get confused between up-shifting and down shifting? Huh?
 

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Toad2012 said:
It was written that car and bike transmissions are totally different that unlike the car which needs a complete disruption of power to the transmission before shifting, the motorcycle just need slight interruption of power to the transmission before shifting....So obviously I'm confused, TYIA for enlightening me.
Both cars and bike can be shifted without the clutch without damaging anything. It's basically the same principle:

Bike - accelerate, put some light pressure on shifter as if you're ready to upshift, roll off the throttle a bit and it will pop easily into the next gear, get back on the throttle and repeat. It's a good idea to use the clutch on downshifts though.

Car - accelerate, let off the gas, pull shifter into neutral (it will go into neutral no prob without the clutch), lightly hold the shifter at the next gear, once the revs drop to the proper rpm for the next gear it will easily slide in. For downshifting (i.e. 4th to 3rd), again pull the shifter into neutral and then lightly hold the shifter at the lower gear, once in neutral blip the throttle to bring revs up, when it hits the right rpm (rev matching) it will slide into the lower gear.
 

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elpato said:
you get confused between up-shifting and down shifting? Huh?
Only on the clutch part. I don't know about you, but I pull in and release the clutch the same way regardless of whether I'm shifting up or down.
 

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You can do clutchless downshifts in the higher gears, but it can get jerky and doesn't really do anything for you, so I clutch on down, and usually clutch on 1 st to 2nd, then clutchless after that.
 

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Use of the clutch for shifting is BIKE DEPENDENT. Every type of bike is a bit different and behaves a bit differently. It also depends on what the transmission ratio's are.

Wear occurs in two areas: the clutch, and the transmission. The clutch is a wear item: it's designed to wear out over time. Transmissions on the otherhand are made of hardened steel and aren't designed as wear items. When you shift, EVERY TIME you shift, something gets worn every so slightly. It may be the clutch or it may be the shifter dogs in the transmission. But SOMETHING gets worn. Yes, the measurements are extremely small - but the wear is there. It might not be noticable for 20, 30, or 75,000 miles, but it is there.

On a Japanese sport bike (and likely Ducati's, although I can't speak with much experience here), with the exception of getting into first gear and occasionally second, the clutch isn't particularly needed to upshift (ie, go from second to third...third to fourth, etc.). The gear ratio's are very close so the impact on the transmission gears whacking into each other without the benefit of clutch "cushion" is minimized or non-existant. Even under full power loads, "power shifting" between gears won't cause much wear.

Older bikes such as BMW's and Harley's often only have four or five gears and the ratios are widely spaced. Shifting a bike with widely spaced gear ratios without a clutch causes the gears to bang together with significant force. The clutch is an absolute necessity when shifting something like. My R1100RSL is such an animal: shift without the clutch and the bike is not happy at all. And while this won't cause clutch wear, it WILL cause transmission wear.

So wear WILL occur. The real question is: do you want to replace a $400 clutch set or a $2,000 transmission?

For the final comment here: most J4 (Japanese Big 4 manufacturers) sport bikes rarely see 30,000 miles before they are crashed. (Sad but true). My buddy has a Kwak ZX6r with 57,000 miles on the clock: still original clutch & trans. However I can tell the clutch is getting a bit grabby... My RS has 55,000 miles on the original transmission and would have the same on the clutch if I hadn't stupidly fragged it to pieces (rider error).

I can also tell you from personal experience that the Kawasaki ZX11's and ZZR1200's used to eat Second gear. Full power clutchless shifts tended to pound second and third gears to pieces.


So, to fully answer your question: On most current sport bikes you don't need to use the clutch when UP-shifting between gears. You also don't need to use the clutch when DOWN-shifting between upper gears when under a "no-load" situation.

But please don't think this applies to all motorcycles across the board. That's just not true.

Peace!

(PS: forgot to add, yes, if you are rev-matching absolutely perfectly, then a clutch is unnessary in both upshifting and downshifting. Sadly, very few of us are that good. Take a look at the best riders in the world: Nicky Hayden, Valentiono Rossi, Edwards, Melandri - they ALL use the clutch. Might be related to how a GP bike is set up, might be because they likely use the clutch to help control throttle inputs. Nonetheless, they still use the clutch.)
 

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Good point. I never would have tried clutchless shifts on my old R90/6. That thing had a tractor transmission, I swear.
 

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Ash said:
if you're not going to powershift (not releasing the throttle) by using an ignition interrupt like elpato describes, you're not really saving any time, so there's no good reason not to use the clutch. that is to say, there's no performance advantage.
No but you can be much smoother by staying off the clutch on upshifts and you may prolong the life of your clutch. My dealer made the point of telling me to use the clutch on upshifts through break in and then do whatever I want, and I don't care for it. Harder to be smooth, particularly from first to second. It took me a while to adjust back to it, because I get on the gas quick and I was riding the clutch into second at first. It'll be nice to get through break in.

I rarely clutch on upshifts and always blip to match revs on downshifts, even if I'm just driving around town. Good habit to maintain so when you go to the track it's second nature.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Excuse me while I jack my own thread... ;)

What about downshifting...I read somewhere's on this board that downshifting several gears was not a good idea...I'm still a newb on manual transmission cars, and I let my truck coast in neutral from 3rd or 4th gear when I'm coming to a stop...I haven't quite gotten the concept of engine braking as it's a little too jerky for me but I'm working on it..
 

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Toad2012 said:
What about downshifting...I read somewhere's on this board that downshifting several gears was not a good idea...
It all depends on the circumstances. Most of the time, you're better off going one gear at a time and letting the clutch back out.

But if I'm coming to a full stop, like for a stop sign, I'll often hold the clutch in and go from 4th down to 1st.

There are also cases when I need to make a quick pass and will go from 6th down to 4th or 3rd and crank open the throttle as I let the clutch out.

But most of the time it's not a good idea.
 

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Toad2012 said:
...I read somewhere's on this board that downshifting several gears was not a good idea...
I'm pretty sure one of the reasons for this is safety issues, not mechanical issues. If you just pull in the clutch and wait to shift gears you are not in a good position to quickly get back on the throttle. If you shift through all the gears and use engine compression as a break you will always be in the right gear to get the hell outta dodge to avoid someone on their cellphone, etc.

Loren
 

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lorenkb said:
I'm pretty sure one of the reasons for this is safety issues, not mechanical issues. If you just pull in the clutch and wait to shift gears you are not in a good position to quickly get back on the throttle. If you shift through all the gears and use engine compression as a break you will always be in the right gear to get the hell outta dodge to avoid someone on their cellphone, etc.

Loren
In that regard, if you go from 4th to 1st without letting off the clutch, you should still match your gears with your speed. Don't go directly from 4th to 1st. And it also helps to know what gear you are in at all times.
 

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great info. [thumbsup] it will give me something to work on as i get to know my bike. i'm still trying to find the optimal shift points since Ducati left that out of the manual. they refer to it, but left out the actual data for gear shift points, lol. oh well, it's what makes owning a Ducati so much fun. ;D
 
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