Downshifting in emergency - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 09:17 AM Thread Starter
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Downshifting in emergency

According to the manual

For emergency braking, disregard downshifting, and concentrate on applying the brakes as hard as possible without skidding.

Why would that be? I thought downshifting gives extra braking power. Is it to do with the ABS? Is it because it is better to leave it in gear and have engine braking rather than lose braking power as you change gears?

I generally don't downshift. I leave it in gear to allow engine braking then shift to the gear I want to use when I am about to use the throttle. Is that correct technique?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 10:29 AM
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JMO...BUT, I feel that I can maintain more control if I only have the front & rear brakes to contend with. If I toss in engine braking & get too far ahead I now have to worry about modulating the clutch. There is a finite amount of input that my brain can deal with.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 11:24 AM
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ABS will give you maximum stopping power, but only if you are not using a lot of engine braking. Downshifting under hard braking could cause the rear tire to skid despite ABS. The ABS will keep the rear tire at the edge of skidding where the maximum stopping power is. If you toss in more braking via engine braking it would take you over the edge into a skid.

Even if you don't skid, the ABS will release the brakes to compensate for the engine braking (if you are at max braking). So you won't get more braking power.

For non-emergency stops you won't be at the edge of skid with the ABS modulating brake pressure, so it is fine to use engine braking under normal circumstances.

There are some good videos on YouTube about practicing emergency stops. One of the keys is to not jam on the brakes hard, but to firmly and quickly apply pressure all the way to max. This short period of time allows the bike to shift weight to the front wheel before you get to max braking pressure, which avoids the front wheel starting to skid and activating ABS. Especially in a turn since we don't have traction control, you could lock the front wheel and dump the bike if you just jam on the front brake instantly. ABS won't have time to save you. But once you get the weight shifted forward the front wheel will have more traction and you'll get more braking.

So, the bottom line is to firmly and quickly apply max braking in an emergency but don't jam them on. Let the ABS do its thing, so don't back off the brakes when you hear/feel the ABS kick in. Pull in the clutch when you get to it, and then start clicking down the gears in preparation for driving away or for coming to a complete stop.



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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 12:34 PM
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The answer is actually very simple: the brakes are much more powerful than the engine (assuming the brakes are in proper order of course). That's true for just about any conventional motor vehicle other than some dragsters. Don't believe me? Clamp on the brakes and try to accelerate away. It's also much easier to modulate the braking power of the wheel brakes rather than the braking force of the engine. Finally, engine braking acts only on the rear, making it easier to inadvertently lock up the rear tire.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Lee View Post
According to the manual

For emergency braking, disregard downshifting, and concentrate on applying the brakes as hard as possible without skidding.

Why would that be? I thought downshifting gives extra braking power. Is it to do with the ABS? Is it because it is better to leave it in gear and have engine braking rather than lose braking power as you change gears?

I generally don't downshift. I leave it in gear to allow engine braking then shift to the gear I want to use when I am about to use the throttle. Is that correct technique?
The term EMERGENCY refers to a situation that comes up very suddenly when you just need to avoid becoming part of that situation so you don't have excess time to do OTHER things like down-shifting.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your replies.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-24-2019, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
The term EMERGENCY refers to a situation that comes up very suddenly when you just need to avoid becoming part of that situation so you don't have excess time to do OTHER things like down-shifting.
Or hit the horn which is why I no longer bother installing a louder horn on my bikes. I found it only useful on multi lane crowded roads which I avoid these days.

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-24-2019, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
The term EMERGENCY refers to a situation that comes up very suddenly when you just need to avoid becoming part of that situation so you don't have excess time to do OTHER things like down-shifting.
I agree wholeheartedly with Eddie. To expand a little, the second most important thing to focus on is, are there any viable escape routes that may lead to less damage to me and my machine than striking whatever resulted in the emergency situation in the first place.

Regarding adding down shifting to the equation, unless you're an extremely skilled rider (think world class GP racer skilled) there are way too many variables in any emergency that need to be dealt with RIGHT NOW to add thinking about down shifting. Such as what gear you happen to be in when the emergency occurs which then leads to considering how many gears to down shift to make any meaningful difference, and then with what level of finesse to release the clutch lever so the rear wheel doesn't lose traction slinging you off in some unexpected direction.

By the time these considerations have navigated the neurons of ones brain, the probability is likely that the only thought that will be lingering is will I still be alive when EMT vehicle arrives.

Regarding your question about the correct technique, I believe there is rarely one single correct technique but rather the proper technique is often situationally-dependent, meaning what works in one situation may not work well at all in another situation.

And thank you for not asking about the old, "laying it down" myth. In over 50 years of riding, I've never been able to understand why any rider would intentionally give up control and elect to become an unguided passenger. Yep, I qualify as a full fledged geezer but I still ride and over that period of time I've only suffered four accidents, only one of which resulted in broken bones.

Well, rats. As usual, I've used up too many words, but they're my thoughts regarding your very sensible question.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-24-2019, 11:04 AM
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Or hit the horn which is why I no longer bother installing a louder horn on my bikes. I found it only useful on multi lane crowded roads which I avoid these days.
I find it useful for the idiots driving along looking at their phones. Or stopped looking at their phones long after the traffic light turns green. I give them a nice honk to wake them up.

Since it isn't a little meep-meep horn any longer, they usually end up looking all around trying to figure out which car honked at them. Hey, at least they are now heads-up looking around!
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-24-2019, 11:48 AM
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...Since it isn't a little meep-meep horn any longer, they usually end up looking all around trying to figure out which car honked at them....
When MY horn goes off, they look around for the Kenworth or Peterbilt that's bearing down on them!

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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-26-2019, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Fly-Sig View Post
I find it useful for the idiots driving along looking at their phones. Or stopped looking at their phones long after the traffic light turns green. I give them a nice honk to wake them up.

Since it isn't a little meep-meep horn any longer, they usually end up looking all around trying to figure out which car honked at them. Hey, at least they are now heads-up looking around!
Quote:
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When MY horn goes off, they look around for the Kenworth or Peterbilt that's bearing down on them!

It is so rare that I am in that kind of situation these days. Thankfully.

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-26-2019, 12:49 PM
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Excellent Forum

Once again, wisdom on this forum, truly at 69 I am still learning. As to braking, sometimes my what would be called a near miss in the electrical trade , has occurred because I am partially focused on what could potentially be a accident waiting to happen, and not paying as close attention to what I am doing, twice this year I dropped down too many gears and engine braked too hard, in that process, I broke traction on the rear wheel ( bike skidded sideways possibly 6 inches, it could have been the start of a crash), this was in a curve, fortunately I had already transferred load to the front wheel and brake, yes in my mind it was a oops . The post by @quexpress about slipper clutch got my attention, I have one on the way. Is it needed, well one needs to ask why Kawasaki is installing them on the 2017Ninja and newer bikes. Yes just making myself aware to never do that again, well everyone reacts differently , which is many times the root cause of accidents, oops missed my turn, instead of carrying on and turning around, sure slam on the brakes and cut across 3 lanes of traffic.
Many things I have are one off, no one has anything like it, understands how to or is remotely interested, just how my brain works.
Right now I am in the process of switching my ultraviolet light on my 11 filter RO system using a class 2 power supply switching a 24 VDC NC water solenoid with 1/4 quick connect .( UV is visible on the 90' fittings, plus recommended changing the UV lamp after 9 months, actual water production is about 3 hours per day or less, so my concern of the fittings failing is secondary to lamp life) In any case it is from China ( water solenoid ) some comments about running hot, I did some testing and found the valve will pull in using 14VDC, many experiments later and several class 2 power transformers and rectifier bridges, I found a power supply that is 18 VDC under load, this reduces the wattage by 1.6 Watts over the 24 VDC, instead of 4.8 watts it is 3.2 watts, instead of hot it is just warm after a hour. So I will be getting about 8 times the life out of my UV lamp and possibly reduce / eliminate any breakdown in the two fittings.

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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-26-2019, 04:37 PM
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I have always dropped a gear anytime I had to grab a handful of brake....just a habit I have gotten into. Never have I hit anything with a bike so I guess my technique has worked.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-26-2019, 07:27 PM
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I've taken the MSF advanced rider course a few times and they teach pulling in the clutch and downshifting during emergency braking. Yes, it's a lot of things to be doing at once, but that's how it's taught, and with practice it can become habit. The reason being is if you are emergency braking, there is a chance the person behind you is doing the same thing. And being in 1st gear can get you out of a bad situation if the person behind isn't stopping.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-27-2019, 01:17 PM
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...And being in 1st gear can get you out of a bad situation if the person behind isn't stopping....
ALWAYS keep an eye on your rear-view mirrors, ESPECIALLY during a "panic-stop"!
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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-28-2019, 09:56 PM
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I get very uncomfortable when being tailgated. I will either speed up to increase the distance - or low down so that they pass me. Occasionally I have even pulled over. You do not know who is behind you, or if they are paying attention. In cities I will pump the brakes to highlight my brake light.

I must try my ABS one day. 53 years without ABS has taught me not to rely on such modern doo-dads.
In a panic situation I concentrate initially on maximum braking while looking for an escape route. If I see an escape route I'll release the brakes and take it. So far I have avoided my most feared situation - impact with another vehicle.
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-29-2019, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Joseph Lee View Post
According to the manual

For emergency braking, disregard downshifting, and concentrate on applying the brakes as hard as possible without skidding.

Why would that be? I thought downshifting gives extra braking power. Is it to do with the ABS? Is it because it is better to leave it in gear and have engine braking rather than lose braking power as you change gears?

I generally don't downshift. I leave it in gear to allow engine braking then shift to the gear I want to use when I am about to use the throttle. Is that the correct technique?
Your brakes can apply enough resistance to lock the wheel therefore the force of engine drag is immaterial to the task of braking.

Ideally, we want to apply as much braking force as we can WITHOUT causing the wheel to lock, at least when panic braking. Applying too much though will cause the wheel to lock, assuming no ABS, and cause the bike to possibly crash. If you have ABS it is easier, just nail the brakes and pull as hard as you can, the electronics will release them just enough to keep the wheels spinning.

It is imperative to not lock up the front wheel as this is the wheel that balances the bike and keeps it upright. A skidding rear tire is not as urgent as the rider has more time to ease up on the pedal and keep from losing control.

Practice panic braking as much as possible in a parking lot. When you need to actually use it, it has to be an instinctive muscle memory thing as you will not have time to consciously think about technique.

Downshifting serves no purpose when you are coming to a complete stop. It is easier to pull the clutch in a situation like this and then just shift down to first when coasting to a stop with the clutch still pulled. Downshifting is for when you are slowing but staying in motion and later want to be in the right gear to accelerate, like slowing for a tight corner.

Hope this helps. For further reference see Twist of the Wrist or other motorcycling books. There are also many how-to videos on YouTube.

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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-29-2019, 12:37 PM
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...I get very uncomfortable when being tailgated. I will either speed up to increase the distance - or slow down so that they pass me. Occasionally I have even pulled over. You do not know who is behind you, or if they are paying attention....
On my last ride to Dawson City (D2D '16), I entered BC 37 from my campground at Kinaskan Lake, to almost immediately have an idiot tail-gate me (NO other traffic, probably about 0800, and he had NOT been in sight when I entered 37). I was AT or slightly ABOVE the speed limit, so I signaled right, and pulled OFF the road so that douche-bag would go past.

NOT five minutes later I stopped to see IF I could help at the scene of a crash where the SAME douche-bag had gone into a ditch, hit an approach to a turn-off writing his car off as he totaled it - w/ OBVIOUS frame damage but luckily no SERIOUS injuries.

When we finally were able to contact the police, they were about 5.5 hours away so if they'd had any bad injuries, they PROBABLY would have DIED!

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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-29-2019, 02:59 PM
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I've taken the MSF advanced rider course a few times and they teach pulling in the clutch and downshifting during emergency braking. Yes, it's a lot of things to be doing at once, but that's how it's taught, and with practice it can become habit. The reason being is if you are emergency braking, there is a chance the person behind you is doing the same thing. And being in 1st gear can get you out of a bad situation if the person behind isn't stopping.
I drop a gear, but I don't let go of the clutch lever until I am ready to accelerate out of the situation. Always want to be in the proper gear for the ride.
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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-30-2019, 01:48 AM
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I drop a gear(s) if there is time. energy is energy, and the motor can convert some of your inertia... its physics folks. but as always, every situation is different, and everyone's training and how "current" you are with those skills is different

if I'm answering your question I assume the basic points have been addressed, such as: did you do a compression test? is it still on fire?
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