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.
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:
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)
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.