Downshifting... help a novice out. - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 09:14 AM Thread Starter
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Downshifting... help a novice out.

I'm a recent motorcycle rider. Rode dirt bikes as a kid and I've ridden about 500 miles on the street.

I'm having problems downshifting. Not the actual act of downshifting, I know how to press the shift lever down. What I'm having problems with is downshifting too hard and locking up the rear tire momentarily. Thus kicking the rear end out slightly.

Went for a ride in some twisties last night and scared the crap outta myself twice doing this. Mainly this happens because I'm getting into 1st or 2nd inadvertently when slowing down from 50-60mph and not remembering if I was in 4th, 5th, or 6th gear. Seems like the turns that you take at around 20mph are the hardest for me.

What advice do you have for a relative newb? Stay up in 3rd and just exit the turn at a low RPM? 2k or so? I'm just not sure what to do.

Thanks for the help.


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Last edited by Zatx; 07-16-2012 at 12:45 PM.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
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My apologizes, meant to put this in the Off-Topic area, now I don't see a delete button to re-post it there. A moderator is welcome to move it please.

Thanks.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 09:37 AM
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The V does have a lot of engine braking. Practice blipping the throttle as you downshift and that should take care of it....


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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 09:55 AM
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3rd and 4th are good to go on twisters. Just beep the throttle and maintain speed. Going down to 1st & 2nd will be for very sharp or inclined climb with corners.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zatx View Post
not remembering if I was in 4th, 5th, or 6th gear.

Thanks for the help.


A gear indicator will help....


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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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So you're blipping the throttle BEFORE pulling in on the clutch or just after?
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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A gear indicator will help....


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Yep that is on my farkle to-do list!
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 10:30 AM
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x

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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 11:49 AM
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It a habit from riding 2 stroke dirt bikes keeping the little bugger screaming to stay in the powerband. When i went from a yz125 to a yz250 it got a little hairy going down to low a gear on the 250.

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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 11:56 AM
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All good advice, and what I'd like to add, is IF you're banked over when shifting down, EITHER DON'T (shift down, at that spot) or remember to 'slip your clutch' to match engine and wheel speeds. Bikes that have 'slipper clutches' are set up that way so your wheel will NOT drive the engine while changing down, but we don't got...!

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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 11:57 AM
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All good advice, and what I'd like to add, is IF you're banked over when shifting down, EITHER DON'T (... don't shift down, at that spot) or remember to 'slip your clutch' to match engine and wheel speeds. Bikes that have 'slipper clutches' are set up that way so your wheel will NOT drive the engine while changing down, but we don't got...!

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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 12:11 PM
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It's going to take sometime for you to get a feel for the speed and gears, but with continue practice of the above advise you'll be fine and before long you want even think about it....

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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
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I took my lunch hour and went out practicing the "blipping", it really did help my downshifting... abruptness. At least in long straight sections without a stoplight. I found that blipping while simultaneously applying front brake was challenging at best, scary at worst. But I'll chock this up to just needing a lot more practice.

I'm also going to practice letting the clutch slip more as I feel I'm probably letting off of it way too quickly.


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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 12:52 PM
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I'm also going to practice letting the clutch slip more as I feel I'm probably letting off of it way too quickly.
Not having the opportunity to observe your technique, that would be my guess. Before you worry too much about manipulating the throttle and brake lever simultaneously, I suggest you focus on developing a smoother action with the clutch lever. E a s e the clutch lever in, e a s e the clutch lever out. That doesn't mean slowly, just smoothly. The difference between an abrupt release and a smooth release is a small fraction of a second but makes all the difference in the world.


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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 07:43 PM
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Zatx, I've never had the problem you describe, and I don't have any dirt bike experience, and I tend to ride a little mellower in the twisties than others, so with all that caveat, I'm wondering if when your "locking" your tire, are you down shifting to a point where your RPMs are pretty high? If so, then maybe you don't need to downshift? I went out for a nice longish ride a couple days ago through some great twisties in the 35 to 50 mph range. I found that I liked having the engine about 4 - 5k RPMs. It's got a nice powerband there, even 3 - 4k RPMs were nice. I don't know what gear I was in mostly, probably 4th.

Some great suggestions here, and I'm sure with a little practice you'll be smooth as butter. Practicing with the clutch and learning the friction zone and how it behaves sounds like a good plan...

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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 10:49 PM
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Adding to the speculative thread. Think about how you are approaching the turn. Think in the order of events, slow down in the approach, which gear should you be to go in slow and throttle through, then accelerate out. You should not need a shift down until you straight the bike out of the turn if at all. Throttle and clutch control is learned at very low speeds. If you can move around the parking lot at walking speeds and look good doing it you will be able to do turns that look and feel good.
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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-17-2012, 12:26 AM
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Downshifting IN a turn? You should be accelerating through a turn; you do all your braking and down-shifting while setting up for the turn.

Pick up Nick Ienatsch's book "Sport Riding Techniques"; there's lots of good stuff in there to practice that comes from racing technique but translates to safer riding on the street (by increasing your skills and ability to react). His section on trail-braking into a corner saved my bacon on my first trip to Deal's Gap.

All that being said, as a 23-year rider (all street), I have momentarily locked the rear wheel of my Versys when downshifting a few times, when I first got it. I was riding it like I rode my VFR, which has tighter gear ratios so the rpms aren't as drastically changed between gears. I nearly bit the pavement on a borrowed Ninja250R during a track day back in 2005, doing just this setting up for a 90-degree left-hander at Carolina Motorsports Park. Luckily, the Ninja was light enough I was able to save it from high-siding on me. Ok, so it was ALL luck.

Set up for your corners earlier, downshifting on the straight. Downshift one gear at a time, blipping the throttle and letting the clutch out through each gear to make sure the engine and wheels are matching as you go. Then accelerate through the corner. Only on a wide-open track - where you have perfect line of sight and nothing is going to cross your path - should you even be trying to brake all the way up to the apex. Again, knowing HOW to do that, though, might save your bacon when a turn tightens up on you unexpectedly, but it shouldn't be the way you hit every curve.

Best bet, though, since you're relatively new to street riding: get with other riders that are more experienced and just follow them. Don't try to keep up, if you're not comfortable with their pace, but let them know you want to follow to learn, and get them to go at a casual pace so you can follow their line, match their corner entry speeds, and basically mimic their technique. Then talk to them about your questions and concerns. Hell, where do you live? I'll ride with ya!

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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-17-2012, 12:53 AM
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Plus, switching the rear sprocket to a 44-tooth might lessen the engine braking abit.

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post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-17-2012, 05:20 AM
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Release the clutch in a controlled manner is what I find the best.

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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-17-2012, 06:37 AM Thread Starter
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Plus, switching the rear sprocket to a 44-tooth might lessen the engine braking abit.
I went with the 43T.

Thanks all for the great advice by the way.


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