Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop... - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 27 Old Aug 6th, 2007, 3:20 pm Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

Between the "I had to replace my clutch..." and "you have to up the rpm's to 3,500 to get 'er going..." posts that have littered the forum the last couple months, I thought that maybe sharing some of my admittedly limited knowledge might save someone a couple bucks or a tip-over (or an injury...).

(this comes from police motorcycle training fundamentals, by the way)

First off, some basic discussion on "the clutch."

Alternately called "the friction zone" or "the grey zone," partially-engaging the clutch is a necessary and if done correctly not-harmful practice on a motorcycle, both for parking lot slow speed maneuvers and for smooth take-offs. Yes, this goes completely against automobile thought, where "slipping the clutch" can fry a manual trans, but it's a critical skill.

So what is the friction zone? Simply put, it's when the clutch lever is neither fully out, nor fully in, and the clutch itself is neither fully engaged nor fully disengaged.

Each motorcycle has a different "grey area" meaning that for one bike, the friction zone might start when the clutch lever is, say, 3/4" from the left grip, and another 1 1/4" from the left grip. To find where YOURS begins, bring your rpm's up to about 1,200 or so and SLOWLY let out the clutch until the very point that power begins to be transferred to the rear wheel and the motorcycle wants to move forward in first gear...that is the "bottom" of your friction zone.

The "top" of your friction zone, then, would be the point just before full engagement of the clutch as you further loosen your grip and the clutch lever gets further from the handlebar grip.

Second, optimal position at stop...

There's lots of room for discussion regarding whether to leave your bike in first or to shift into neutral at a stop. For the sake of ultimate rider safety, few would argue that it's best to leave enough room between your front wheel and any vehicle in front of you for an "escape" (5 feet or more, depending on your positioning and skill level), clutch lever all the way in, bike in first gear, eyes on rear mirror for signs of someone coming from behind that cannot stop.

Additionally, if you have only your left foot down, and put pressure on your rear brake with your right foot (also applying the front brake), it will give additional stability to the stopped motorcycle--which you remember is now free to move otherwise because the clutch lever is pulled in.

In this condition, if a soccermom talking on a cell phone isn't paying attention and looks up, screeches towards the stopped traffic, you can release the front brake, look and steer towards your "escape" path, roll on the throttle and ease out the clutch in significantly less time than it would take to "pull in the clutch lever, shift from neutral to first, hope you have enough room to escape, then start off" IF you can remember that you're not in gear to begin with...

now, getting power to the rear wheel...

Lots of training programs talk about the friction zone mentioned above, but many forget to mention that the grey area/friction zone is pretty broad, and has a low end and a top end. In other words, as you start letting the clutch lever out and just start hitting the grey area, and begin transferring power to the rear wheel, that is the bottom end and where you want to be as you start from a dead stop.

Huh?

Well, the "deeper into the clutch" you get (i.e. the more you let the clutch lever out from the left handgrip), the more throttle you have to apply to keep from stalling the engine in response. Put another way, if you're at a complete stop and want to move forward, and your left hand lets the clutch lever go from completely touching the handgrip to 3/4 out, and you only raise the engine rpm's to 300-400 rpm's over idle, yes, the LT will stall, sputter, and die.

But, that's what most motorcyclists do, and they do it in a very jerky, not-smooth manner.

And the only way to compensate for that is to, yes, twist the throttle up to perhaps 3,000 rpm's. And you get two added risks here, accelerated clutch wear and tear, and reduced control (potential hole-shot at every launch).

Instead, find a parking lot without cross-traffic and give this a try:

First, "assume the position" with left foot down, right foot up, toes on the rear brake. In addition to stability, as you begin to move forward, easing pressure on the rear brake (some describe it as using toe pressure inside your boot) will help with balance and transfer of power to the rear wheel, AND in case something goes wrong and you over-apply throttle, you're already COVERING the rear brake which saves you precious fractions of a second getting to it, and stops you sooner.

Keeping your head up, eyes where you want to BE, gently open the throttle and bring the engine rpms up to about 1,200 to maybe 1,500 or so (get a feel for what this feels and sounds like, so you don't have to look at the tach, once you've mastered this).

Slowly loosen your left hand's "fist," letting the clutch lever out until it gets to that bottom part of the friction zone. Not DEEP into the friction zone, mind you, the bottom part, where you practiced before--where it just starts to move the bike forward.

In one smooth process, gently add rpm's as you simultaneously gently ease the clutch lever out (while letting pressure off of the rear brake--you should have already done so with the front lever, of course). As soon as you gain forward movement bring your left foot up on the foot peg, and most important, keep your head up and your eyes where you WANT TO BE.

It's the smooth application of power to the rear wheel that makes all the difference here...you don't want to "dump the clutch" any more than you want to over-rev the engine before loosening your grip and letting the clutch lever out.

Some comments...

"Oh, don't slip a dry clutch, you'll roast it!!!"

True, IF you have too many RPM's and are what they refer to as "too deep in the clutch." If you crack open the throttle to 4,500 and have the clutch in the low end of the grey area, you'll be rewarded with an expensive repair bill for sure. Keep the rpm's low, start at the bottom end of the friction zone, and make a smooth roll-on of throttle as you make an equally smooth release of the clutch lever and you'll be rewarded with silky-smooth take-offs without sputters, ratchety forward momentum, or passenger whiplash/helmet bumping.

(and police departments that use R1200RT's and earlier BMW police bikes slip the clutch like this for slow riding, including "rodeo" competition, and parade riding, and it's not at all unusual for those bikes to go tens of thousands of miles without a clutch replacement...)



So, try it. Practice in a secure, safe area until you are comfortable if you're one of the "wind her up to 4,000rpm and release the clutch to start it off" types--old habits die hard. This one is worth it.

And post after you have...let me know if this helped any.



Pete
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post #2 of 27 Old Aug 6th, 2007, 4:13 pm
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Amplified, considerably, version of exercise 1 and 2 of the BRC. Thanks for the additional considerations!

I teach clutch position from squeezed-in to fully out as 1 - 5; most find the frictione zone somewhere around 2 - 2 1/2 and is particularly useful during low-speed maneuvering.

Thanks again for your thoughts!

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post #3 of 27 Old Aug 6th, 2007, 4:19 pm
 
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I leave at 1K rpm and keep it smooth untill I get the clutch all the way out, never burnt up a clutch in a bike yet.
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post #4 of 27 Old Aug 7th, 2007, 8:50 am
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Yeah afer reading about the 3500 rpm deal, I started paying attention to my method. Nope, not even close to 3500. Even on an uphill. Crackt he throttle a bit as the clutch is let out. I find that about 1500 rpm and one to two seconds and I'm moving along smoothly. For normal takeoffs. I can't see revving to 3500 on an uphill right turn from stop into a 5 lane 45 mph street. All I can see there is potential disaster.

everyone will have a slightly differfnt method, but being able to manipulate that clutch smoothly is very important. I don;t worry so much about the life of the clutch. I worry more about being smooth. I would think that 3500 rpm would be pretty rough on a clutch from a stop.

Just my thoughts.
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post #5 of 27 Old Aug 7th, 2007, 9:27 am
 
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Dry vs. Wet clutch

I still think that the biggest issue is that the LT has a dry clutch. Not that I think there is anything "wrong" with the LT having a dry clutch . . . it's just that it is so very different than a bike with a wet clutch. Newer riders won't be affected as much. In fact, the LT's dry clutch is very forgiving for a newer rider. But I think it's the experienced riders that take issue with the LT's dry clutch. But once you get used to it, or come to know it, it is just fine. Much ado about nothing...so they say.
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post #6 of 27 Old Aug 7th, 2007, 12:48 pm
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practice and feel

When I first started riding my LT I would be above 2,000 rpm to start off. Now I am closer to the 1200 to 1500 range and my starts are much smoother. But thanks for the reminders.

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post #7 of 27 Old Aug 7th, 2007, 5:37 pm
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Request for additional insight

Hey Pete! Awesome writeup. Makes total sense to me. There is a 'touch' involved that needs to be learned for the bike you're riding. That 'touch' may not transfer to another bike, even of the same type, but day after day you get better at it on your own bike(s).

Is it possible to get you to write up a step by step on going up and down the gears? I'm looking for smooth gear changes and I get conflicting suggestions about clutch/no clutch, throttle/no throttle, high RMP/not.

Sorry to burden you with this, but when you do a great job everyone comes to you.

Thanks,
Jer

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post #8 of 27 Old Aug 7th, 2007, 8:08 pm Thread Starter
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now I'm embarassed...but thoughts on up- and down-shifting

Quote:
Originally Posted by jers99lt
Hey Pete! Awesome writeup. Makes total sense to me. There is a 'touch' involved that needs to be learned for the bike you're riding. That 'touch' may not transfer to another bike, even of the same type, but day after day you get better at it on your own bike(s).

Is it possible to get you to write up a step by step on going up and down the gears? I'm looking for smooth gear changes and I get conflicting suggestions about clutch/no clutch, throttle/no throttle, high RMP/not.

Sorry to burden you with this, but when you do a great job everyone comes to you.

Thanks,
Jer

I am no expert rider, two forum members (Rick Humphries and Dick Rothermel) LITERALLY taught me everything I know, I am just sharing for those who somehow have less experience than I...

However, based on personal experience (some of which came from a previously-abused CHP R1150 RT-P with 60,000 miles and a transmission that was fussier than an infant with colic) and what I've read...you might wanna' give this a try:

For upshifting


BMW transmissions most definitely do NOT like lazy shifting. Get lazy with your clutch hand or your left toes and you'll get rewarded with some nasty grinding sounds, a false neutral, missed gear changes, or a combination of the above.

What seems to be exceptionally helpful is what is referred to as "pre-loading" the gearshift before shifting to a higher gear, particularly for 1-2. Pre-loading is essentially lifting up on the gearshift with your foot before squeezing the clutch lever in (placing a good amount of upward pressure on the foot lever, but not so much that it causes a clutchless upshift).

With a Harley Road King, you can roll off the throttle, lazily pull the clutch lever in, take 3-4 seconds as the engine slows, bang the shift lever up or down to change gear, and then release the clutch while cracking open the throttle without much drama at all. Try that on your LT and you'll be an unhappy camper...our bikes do NOT like engine RPMs to drop significantly for up- or down-shifts. (Not to mention, the LT likes to be in the 3,500 to 4,000 rpm range at least before gear changes, which is almost tickling redline on stock harleys...ok slight exaggeration, but not much).

So, to take advantage of the pre-load, give this a try as you practice.

Riding in first gear, preparing for the 1-2 upshift. Preload the shift lever by putting upward pressure on the lever (you'll be able to feel it, as long as you finesse it, no problems or worries about "speed" or "clutchless" shifting it). accelerate until your engine speed is about 3,500 rpm. This is where the pre-load comes into play, and is pretty cool actually.

To make the gear shift, VERY QUICKLY pull in the clutch lever while only rolling off the throttle a tiny bit (in other words, you are NOT closing the throttle completely, just relaxing it a little bit). Since you already have upward pressure on the gearshift lever (the "preload"), at the precise moment that the clutch has disengaged enough, the transmission will "snick" exceptionally quickly and smoothly into second gear. Finish the gear change with a SMOOOOOOTH and deliberate relaxing of the left hand to progressively release the clutch. In other words, you'll QUICKLY pull the lever in, but smoothly let it out...unless you want the motorcycle to jerk forward and your passenger to get whiplash. As you release your grip and let out the clutch lever, simultaneously open the throttle at roughly the same rate = smooth upshift.

Things that will screw up a smooth upshift...

1. rolling off the throttle too much--too much difference between engine and transaxle speed makes the gearchange and clutch engagement/disengagement difficult to accomplish without drama

2. too much time between pulling in the clutch lever and changing gears with the gearshift--same as above

3. cracking open the throttle during the shift--too many RPMs isn't much better than too few...in fact it can be a lot more dangerous and result in rear wheel hop, traction loss (particularly in the wet or on loose surfaces), or a violent surge in forward momentum (think "drag race starts")

4. not being "firm" in your foot motion on the gear shift action--you have to shift fully into the next gear

5. being ham-footed/TOO firm in your foot motion--you can easily bend the gear "forks" if you are too forceful when you change gears, particularly if you stomp on the lever when downshifting...pre-loading and letting the trans shift itself through a fast pull of the clutch lever all but eliminates the chances of this, by the way

We could get into a discussion of "matching RPMs" for upshifts here, but that is better in another thread, the fundamental message is that the LT likes to be run to higher engine speed before being upshifted, likes quick and decisive clutch pulls, firm but not brutal gearshift motions, and very modest "throttle roll-offs" during the gear change process.

Try the pre-loading stuff, you might find some success with it as I did.

(I don't advocate this, but if you wanna' impress the chicks, a clutchless, "speedshift" can be accomplished roughly the same way...pre-load the shift lever, run the engine rpms up to whatever speed you like--preferably above 4,000 on the LT, and a lightning-quick back-forth "roll off, roll on" of the throttle will enable the gear change all by itself without the use of the left hand at all. Nice skill for those of you who insist on official BMW cupholders who are in the middle of a sip of starbucks and need to change gears...but I didn't type this)


Downshifting.

This topic is one in which you'll hear terms like "throttle blip" and "rpm matching" and even "engine braking." Since we don't have "backtorque reducing clutches" (also called "slipper clutches") to keep us out of trouble in case we multi-gear downshift in one motion and pop the clutch, for this discussion, let's leave it at single gear downshifts.

For practice sake, again you should find a nice, protected, wide open area to try this stuff.

Work on 3-2 and 2-1 downshifts. A little different from upshifting, to accomplish a smooth downshift you have to do one of two things. Either a)slip the clutch after shifting or preferably b)increase engine rpms to "match" rpms in the middle of the shift.

What's that mean?

Well, general consensus is that as you pull in the clutch lever, taking power away from the rear wheel and making the engine and the rest of the powertrain separate animals again, and switch to a lower gear, you're going to want to ADD about 500 to perhaps as much as 800 rpm. The smaller gear you've shifted to will "engine brake" the motorcycle without the addition of more engine speed (rpm's), which is what causes most jerky downshifting.

So practice this and see if it works for you.

(again in a safe area, plenty of space) try about 35 mph in 3rd gear. Cover the shift lever with your left foot. In as close to "one motion" as possible, you're going to do three separate things...though riders better than me make it look and sound like only one. 1. Pull the clutch lever in fully 2. open the throttle enough to raise engine rpms by about 500-600 rpm (you'll have to experiment to see how your bike and your riding style responds to determine what rpm increase works best for YOU) AND 3. make a firm but not STOMPING downshift in one solid motion with your left foot. Progressively relax your left hand to let out the clutch lever as you also open the throttle = smooth downshift.

summary...increasing rpms overcomes the gearing difference, makes the shift smooth, as above, make the gear change quick and decisive but not harsh, and pull the clutch lever in FAST, but let back out progressively and deliberately to avoid jerkiness.

things that typically screw up downshifts...

1. not matching rpms/not adding engine speed in the process--creates engine braking effect and jerkiness

2. too much time between pulling in the clutch lever and shifting gears

3. "popping the clutch" after the gear change (instead of a progressive release of the clutch lever and roll on of the throttle)

4. over-revving the engine/adding TOO MANY rpms in the process (can roast the clutch, and can be dangerous)

5. incomplete gear changes--not firmly pressing down on the gearshift

6. bending gear mechanisms by stomping on the gearshift


Again, I am NO expert, and there are literally THOUSANDS of better riders than me on this forum, but I've had really good teachers and I read a lot. Give this a thought, try it, let me know.


Pete

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post #9 of 27 Old Aug 7th, 2007, 9:36 pm
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Yeah, Baby!!!

Very, very cool. When she's treated right she's smooth as glass. WOW!
I had to go right out and try this "preload" stuff. It really works like it's intended to. Your spot on with regard to RPM. Up around 4K she just lets ya slip it to her with a slight touch of the lever. When ya run around town at that RPM, there's not much shifting to do.
Next cool t-shirt I see is coming your way (BTW: I did find a place for the cup holder. Slips under the center console behind the front seat).
Thank you so much. I can't wait to work on this from now on!
Jer

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post #10 of 27 Old Aug 7th, 2007, 9:43 pm Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jers99lt
Very, very cool. When she's treated right she's smooth as glass. WOW!
I had to go right out and try this "preload" stuff. It really works like it's intended to. Your spot on with regard to RPM. Up around 4K she just lets ya slip it to her with a slight touch of the lever. When ya run around town at that RPM, there's not much shifting to do.
Next cool t-shirt I see is coming your way (BTW: I did find a place for the cup holder. Slips under the center console behind the front seat).
Thank you so much. I can't wait to work on this from now on!
Jer

well, hold off a bit before you start the clutchless upshifting stuff!

Glad it helped...again, just sharing what I've read, practiced, and been fortunate enough to have been taught by some riders who on bad days are better than I will ever be!

Pete

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post #11 of 27 Old Aug 7th, 2007, 9:49 pm
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Great stuff Pete. But man, if I had to read and think about all this stuff to ride a bike I would have gave up years ago

John

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post #12 of 27 Old Aug 7th, 2007, 9:51 pm
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Thanks for all the advice, Pete! When I get my bike back out of the shop ( likely clutch replacement) I'll have to try some of your techniques. Maybe I'll get a little more out of the next clutch than 10k.

Kevin
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post #13 of 27 Old Oct 15th, 2007, 10:04 pm
 
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excellent stuff

Very well put. BTW nothing wrong with a dry clutch. Obviously, Ducati and others have "abused" them forever. when I finally (at 33k miles) replaced the slipping clutch on my '02 LT it was in great shape except for the fluid contamination.
Regarding 3500 RPM, maybe if it was a 50cc machine. At 3500 the LT makes a ton of torque. No need for that kind of rev.
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post #14 of 27 Old Oct 16th, 2007, 10:53 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bowlesj
Great stuff Pete. But man, if I had to read and think about all this stuff to ride a bike I would have gave up years ago
Ha Ha! Just what I was thinking, if I had to think it thru each time I'd never get anywhere! Guess it becomes automnomic. after 40 plus years and god only knows how many miles it just happens. I know instinctively when the power is beginning to transfer as I can feel the weight sudden "disappear" and my feet are off the ground in the same split second that it just starts to move forward. Its hard to describe but I can sense that point where just as power just begins to transfer to the rear wheel i don't have to balance it with my feet on the ground a sort of "pre-momentum" point if you will. I know the theroy behind it all (force, momentum, etc) being a big science buff but probably did a poor job of explaining it!
I don't ever look at the RPM's its all done by "feel". having gotten at least 100K on my 78 R100's clutch I figure I must be doing it right. Even the first time riding the LT when we bought it last Nov. I just gone on and took off..

Now stopping the LT smoothly on the other hand did take some time. I felt kinda panicy at times cause you suddenly start to feel its weight at that point just before you come to a full stop. then just last week I got a new tire on the rear, and with the different profile of the 880, (more rounded than squared) that feeling went away. Now I can stop her like I always have my other bikes, keeping the right foot on the rear brake till I'm at a dead stop and just putting down my left foot, then I can put the right one down while waiting to take off again. It kinda surprised me that the problem I was having was due to the tire profile but thats the only thing that has changed. Interesting.

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post #15 of 27 Old May 8th, 2008, 7:41 am
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clutchless shifting

I've been doing clutchless shifting utilizing pre-load on all my bikes for years....so long...that I do it without even thinking about it. Am more likely to do it when riding very agressively in a group. The beauty of a clutchless shift is that it wont happen until the RPMs are perfectly matched,....so whether you are shifting up or down.......when the shift occurs,....the is no upset in the suspension load of the bike or power trasfer....the gear change is instantaneous and more or less seamless....the trick it making it happen quickly and smoothly is all in throttle management and that can only be learned by experimentation.

Downshifts are a bit trickier,...I roll off and on very little and very quickly....again....something that needs to be experimented with .....a lot before you try it while dragging a peg through a corner in the middle of a group.........


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post #16 of 27 Old May 8th, 2008, 8:35 am
 
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

I find the best way to learn how to operate a clutch is to learn without using throttle at all. That's the way I teach all my kids to drive stanard shift vehicles. After you learn the clutch without throttle, you know were to add it when needed. I very seldom use throttle at all until the clutch is all the way out. I never use the clutch upshifting & it's smooth as butter & I never toasted a clutch.
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post #17 of 27 Old May 8th, 2008, 9:03 am
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

My 21 year old daughter is just getting started and this is great stuff. She is in the textbook stage of this process. After years of riding, what you have put together makes perfect sense and is much appreciated.

Diehly

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post #18 of 27 Old May 8th, 2008, 9:49 am
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

Nice write-up Pete.
I had a guy tell me "A good driver is a smooth driver" and it stuck in my head.

Everything you're saying about shifting is part of being a "smooth driver". This same principle applies to starting, stopping, turning, accelerating, etc.

A GOOD DRIVER IS A SMOOTH DRIVER

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post #19 of 27 Old May 8th, 2008, 3:09 pm
 
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

good information. I have always done some slipping the clutch. The zx14 that I have loves it. I drag race it and I don't launch that thing at 4K I could imagine doing that to a fine peice of engineering like the LT, well unless my buddy really wanted to race and I forgot which bike I was on.
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post #20 of 27 Old Jun 9th, 2008, 12:54 pm
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

This is a great discussion. Clutch slipping in the grey area is a skill required for smooth shifting as well as slow speed manuvers. From the police training video I've seen, I've been practicing this and have greatly improved the smoothness of my shifting and I am also feeling much more confident performing slow speed turns or very slow straight line driving.

Learning to comfortably control the grey area clutching and adding in the proper amount of rear braking, slow turns are much more controlled. The technique here for slow turn manuevers is to slow to a comfortable turning speed, apply rear brake while working the grey area of the clutch to pull you through the turn as your rear brake slows you. You will find that the use of the rear brake will also tend to pull the bike upright as you make the turn.

The same technique is ued for very slow speed straight line driving which I find mysef doing often in stop and go traffic. If I know I do not have to come to a full stop, I will apply rear brake and work the grey area to pull ahead very slowly usually timing things just right to eliminate the need to come to a full stop.

Practice these techniques in an open parking lot and this is something you can add to your bag of tricks. Good luck.

< - - - Norm Ruest - - - >

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2000 K1200 LTC Canyon Red
MOA# 145086

“Its unexplained, because they haven’t explained it. Maybe they could explain it, but they've tried and they can't, because it's unexplainable.” - Ruest
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post #21 of 27 Old Mar 15th, 2009, 8:59 am
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

Pete,

Do you have any info on replacing the clutch on K1200LT? any special tools required?

I have to rev to 3500 or higher to get bike to move, downshidting feels like I'm in neutral

suspect clutch is in need of r/r; over 75K miles

I've received replys that dealer is over $1500 to do it
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post #22 of 27 Old Mar 15th, 2009, 9:15 am
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

If you do a search in the Hall of Wisdom, you'll find lots of info on clutch replacement.

Ray Rau
Brewster, NY
'99 LT - Champagne
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post #23 of 27 Old Mar 15th, 2009, 9:54 am
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

A timely post!
Yesterday I had my first ride on my (new-to-me) '99 LT. I put about 30 km on it around town, starting off quite nervously, since I hadn't owned a bike since 1972. My confidence rose quickly as I realized that the LT has very nice manners when moving, and feels surprisingly light.

I only stalled it once on takeoff, and I realize now it was due to low rpm. I love the feel of the clutch- very predictable, very smooth. The biggest surprise for me was the rapidity with which the bike slows down when you back off on the throttle, say at 3000 rpm, in 2nd or 3rd, almost as if brakes have been applied.

I appreciate the description for smooth shifting: that was my biggest concern yesterday (apart from accidentally blowing the horn numerous times when trying to hit the left turn signal. Man, those are nice horns! Far louder than on any vehicle I've owned.). I found it difficult to get consistent smooth upshifts- I was backing off too much while the clutch was pulled in. Some shifts were very smooth, others gave a little lurch, and though I know it takes practice and familiarity with the machine, there seemed no rhyme or reason to smooth shift or not. Pete's post gives a very helpful perspective.

Likewise with downshifting: hard to get just the right amount of 'blip' to make it seamless. But I know it'll come soon. The pre-loading approach to upshifting is something I'll try out this week.

My most anxious moments were when coming to a stop in traffic, and relearning the downshift routine while blipping and applying the front brake- at low speed, using the rear brake and dropping the left foot is exactly what I need to practise.

Clutchless shifting in a car I find easy- both up and down shifting. I never really thought about it on a bike, though I'm sure every rider has had at least one time when their foot beat their clutch hand.

Thanks for a very helpful post!
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post #24 of 27 Old Mar 15th, 2009, 10:09 am
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeJay
A timely post!
Yesterday I had my first ride on my (new-to-me) '99 LT. I put about 30 km on it around town, starting off quite nervously, since I hadn't owned a bike since 1972. My confidence rose quickly as I realized that the LT has very nice manners when moving, and feels surprisingly light.

..snip..
My most anxious moments were when coming to a stop in traffic, and relearning the downshift routine while blipping and applying the front brake- at low speed, using the rear brake and dropping the left foot is exactly what I need to practise.



Thanks for a very helpful post!
One of the best things I did to improve my low speed skills was to get 'Ride Like A Pro" by Jerry "Motorman" Palladino.

Kevin
'06 K1200LT
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post #25 of 27 Old Mar 15th, 2009, 10:55 am
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

Y'all had to dig pretty deep to find this old post started by Pete,
it made me realize we haven't heard much from Pete lately,
do any of you Texas boys know how Pete is doing?


Hans
St. Petersburg FL

2002 K1200LTE
"Silver Buffalo" Totaled 5/06
2005 LT
"Esperanza"
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post #26 of 27 Old Mar 15th, 2009, 12:24 pm
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Re: Take off, 'eh? Starting the LT from stop...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverBuffalo
Y'all had to dig pretty deep to find this old post started by Pete,
it made me realize we haven't heard much from Pete lately,
do any of you Texas boys know how Pete is doing?
Hans - Pete and I exchanged e-mails a coupla months ago, butt nuttin' since. He's been off the list for nearly 4 months, so I'm guessing he still has some health and personal issues he's working on. Could be that Tony and he have chatted, butt I'm clueless on that.
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post #27 of 27 Old May 30th, 2012, 9:48 am
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Re: now I'm embarassed...but thoughts on up- and down-shifting

Quote:
Originally Posted by petevandyke
I am no expert rider, two forum members (Rick Humphries and Dick Rothermel) LITERALLY taught me everything I know, I am just sharing for those who somehow have less experience than I...

However, based on personal experience (some of which came from a previously-abused CHP R1150 RT-P with 60,000 miles and a transmission that was fussier than an infant with colic) and what I've read...you might wanna' give this a try:

For upshifting


BMW transmissions most definitely do NOT like lazy shifting. Get lazy with your clutch hand or your left toes and you'll get rewarded with some nasty grinding sounds, a false neutral, missed gear changes, or a combination of the above.

What seems to be exceptionally helpful is what is referred to as "pre-loading" the gearshift before shifting to a higher gear, particularly for 1-2. Pre-loading is essentially lifting up on the gearshift with your foot before squeezing the clutch lever in (placing a good amount of upward pressure on the foot lever, but not so much that it causes a clutchless upshift).

With a Harley Road King, you can roll off the throttle, lazily pull the clutch lever in, take 3-4 seconds as the engine slows, bang the shift lever up or down to change gear, and then release the clutch while cracking open the throttle without much drama at all. Try that on your LT and you'll be an unhappy camper...our bikes do NOT like engine RPMs to drop significantly for up- or down-shifts. (Not to mention, the LT likes to be in the 3,500 to 4,000 rpm range at least before gear changes, which is almost tickling redline on stock harleys...ok slight exaggeration, but not much).

So, to take advantage of the pre-load, give this a try as you practice.

Riding in first gear, preparing for the 1-2 upshift. Preload the shift lever by putting upward pressure on the lever (you'll be able to feel it, as long as you finesse it, no problems or worries about "speed" or "clutchless" shifting it). accelerate until your engine speed is about 3,500 rpm. This is where the pre-load comes into play, and is pretty cool actually.

To make the gear shift, VERY QUICKLY pull in the clutch lever while only rolling off the throttle a tiny bit (in other words, you are NOT closing the throttle completely, just relaxing it a little bit). Since you already have upward pressure on the gearshift lever (the "preload"), at the precise moment that the clutch has disengaged enough, the transmission will "snick" exceptionally quickly and smoothly into second gear. Finish the gear change with a SMOOOOOOTH and deliberate relaxing of the left hand to progressively release the clutch. In other words, you'll QUICKLY pull the lever in, but smoothly let it out...unless you want the motorcycle to jerk forward and your passenger to get whiplash. As you release your grip and let out the clutch lever, simultaneously open the throttle at roughly the same rate = smooth upshift.

Things that will screw up a smooth upshift...

1. rolling off the throttle too much--too much difference between engine and transaxle speed makes the gearchange and clutch engagement/disengagement difficult to accomplish without drama

2. too much time between pulling in the clutch lever and changing gears with the gearshift--same as above

3. cracking open the throttle during the shift--too many RPMs isn't much better than too few...in fact it can be a lot more dangerous and result in rear wheel hop, traction loss (particularly in the wet or on loose surfaces), or a violent surge in forward momentum (think "drag race starts")

4. not being "firm" in your foot motion on the gear shift action--you have to shift fully into the next gear

5. being ham-footed/TOO firm in your foot motion--you can easily bend the gear "forks" if you are too forceful when you change gears, particularly if you stomp on the lever when downshifting...pre-loading and letting the trans shift itself through a fast pull of the clutch lever all but eliminates the chances of this, by the way

We could get into a discussion of "matching RPMs" for upshifts here, but that is better in another thread, the fundamental message is that the LT likes to be run to higher engine speed before being upshifted, likes quick and decisive clutch pulls, firm but not brutal gearshift motions, and very modest "throttle roll-offs" during the gear change process.

Try the pre-loading stuff, you might find some success with it as I did.

(I don't advocate this, but if you wanna' impress the chicks, a clutchless, "speedshift" can be accomplished roughly the same way...pre-load the shift lever, run the engine rpms up to whatever speed you like--preferably above 4,000 on the LT, and a lightning-quick back-forth "roll off, roll on" of the throttle will enable the gear change all by itself without the use of the left hand at all. Nice skill for those of you who insist on official BMW cupholders who are in the middle of a sip of starbucks and need to change gears...but I didn't type this)


Downshifting.

This topic is one in which you'll hear terms like "throttle blip" and "rpm matching" and even "engine braking." Since we don't have "backtorque reducing clutches" (also called "slipper clutches") to keep us out of trouble in case we multi-gear downshift in one motion and pop the clutch, for this discussion, let's leave it at single gear downshifts.

For practice sake, again you should find a nice, protected, wide open area to try this stuff.

Work on 3-2 and 2-1 downshifts. A little different from upshifting, to accomplish a smooth downshift you have to do one of two things. Either a)slip the clutch after shifting or preferably b)increase engine rpms to "match" rpms in the middle of the shift.

What's that mean?

Well, general consensus is that as you pull in the clutch lever, taking power away from the rear wheel and making the engine and the rest of the powertrain separate animals again, and switch to a lower gear, you're going to want to ADD about 500 to perhaps as much as 800 rpm. The smaller gear you've shifted to will "engine brake" the motorcycle without the addition of more engine speed (rpm's), which is what causes most jerky downshifting.

So practice this and see if it works for you.

(again in a safe area, plenty of space) try about 35 mph in 3rd gear. Cover the shift lever with your left foot. In as close to "one motion" as possible, you're going to do three separate things...though riders better than me make it look and sound like only one. 1. Pull the clutch lever in fully 2. open the throttle enough to raise engine rpms by about 500-600 rpm (you'll have to experiment to see how your bike and your riding style responds to determine what rpm increase works best for YOU) AND 3. make a firm but not STOMPING downshift in one solid motion with your left foot. Progressively relax your left hand to let out the clutch lever as you also open the throttle = smooth downshift.

summary...increasing rpms overcomes the gearing difference, makes the shift smooth, as above, make the gear change quick and decisive but not harsh, and pull the clutch lever in FAST, but let back out progressively and deliberately to avoid jerkiness.

things that typically screw up downshifts...

1. not matching rpms/not adding engine speed in the process--creates engine braking effect and jerkiness

2. too much time between pulling in the clutch lever and shifting gears

3. "popping the clutch" after the gear change (instead of a progressive release of the clutch lever and roll on of the throttle)

4. over-revving the engine/adding TOO MANY rpms in the process (can roast the clutch, and can be dangerous)

5. incomplete gear changes--not firmly pressing down on the gearshift

6. bending gear mechanisms by stomping on the gearshift


Again, I am NO expert, and there are literally THOUSANDS of better riders than me on this forum, but I've had really good teachers and I read a lot. Give this a thought, try it, let me know.


Pete
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It sure sounds like an "expert " write up, don't be so modest. Good subject, Thanlks
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