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Old 04-10-2010, 08:58 PM   #1
PristineTone
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Default How do you normally downshift?

This may come off as a stupid question, but is there a correct way to downshift? Whenever I'm going 40, and need to stop, I let off the gas, pull in the clutch, and just rapidly keep tapping down. Is that even right? Am I supposed to give it gas each gear going down? When I don't need to stop very fast, I work my way down each gear giving it gas each time. So, downshifting, if you don't give it gas and downshift rapidly, can that hurt the transmission badly? What are the consequences?
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:06 PM   #2
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Clutch wear. When I know I'm coming to a stop I just hold the clutch in and downshift accordingly but don't engage. It's a lot easier on me and the bike.

Just me though.
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:32 PM   #3
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IT wont hurt anything doing that... a lot of times when I come to a stop I go from 3rd right to 1st with he clutch in the whole time when I stop. You dont need to rev the engine although on some bikes it makes it shift more smoothly. How you use the clutch is actually more important.
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Old 04-11-2010, 05:14 AM   #4
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i llike to blip the throttle on downshifting -
A, because it sounds good,

B, it matches the engine speed in the lower gear, so less engine braking and therefore less wear & tear on the gearbox and engine,

C, it eliminates the nasty noobish clunk you get when just tapping through several gears.

it's a matter of personal opinion and riding style.
also some bikes have smoother boxes than others and don't complain as much when short-shifting.
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:19 AM   #5
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I don't downshift until I stop or just prior to a turn.
The reverse compression of the engine causes unnecessary wear on the cylinder rings and downshifting causes wear on the clutches (Yes, even wet clutches!).

CD
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:38 AM   #6
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Please let me understand what your saying. I almost always use the engine to slow me down. I'm going 40 and need to make a turn at 20. I will down shift from 4th to 2nd feathering the clutch out and using the engine as the brake. Now I'm not saying I don't use a the brakes but your saying using using the engine as the brake is bad for the bike? Sound like I have picked up bad habits from driving standard vehicles my whole life.
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:53 AM   #7
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Most times, I downshift and pull in the clutch....but if a light changes really fast on me...downshift and allow the engine to help me stop a little faster.
Since they worked on my bike...the downshifting is a little different...so I don't want to downshift it down to third too fast and open the clutch...it will drag too much now...
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Old 04-11-2010, 08:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JROBER View Post
Please let me understand what your saying. I almost always use the engine to slow me down. I'm going 40 and need to make a turn at 20. I will down shift from 4th to 2nd feathering the clutch out and using the engine as the brake. Now I'm not saying I don't use a the brakes but your saying using using the engine as the brake is bad for the bike? Sound like I have picked up bad habits from driving standard vehicles my whole life.
I guess I've been doing it wrong too,I was taught that using the engine was a good thing.
I will add that my 650 V-star did say that downshifting was not reccomended because the tranny (gearbox,not dude who looks like a chick) was not designed for it.I downshifted anyways (with a blip of the throttle) and never had a problem.Since I don't have it anymore I can't check the owners manual,anybody out there have one they can ckeck?
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Old 04-11-2010, 09:10 AM   #9
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Down shift to match your speed. For example if you are normally in 3rd gear when going 25mph, then you should be in 3rd gear or so when slowing down and at that speed. Then down shift to 2nd when you hit the speed you would normally be in 2nd for. Etc, etc.

The reason is safety. First, should you let out the clutch for some reason, it would not be a fun experience to be going 45 and have the tire almost lock up because you are in 1st gear. Second, you want to be in the correct gear to get moving fast again should you need to to avoid a car or something else that is not stopping or on a collision path with you.

I also stay in 1st gear at stop lights rather than neutral for the same reason.
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Old 04-11-2010, 10:19 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lurch77 View Post
I also stay in 1st gear at stop lights rather than neutral for the same reason.
OH I am always in 1st gear at stop lights...that way you can take off quicker if there is an emergency...like the person behind you not stopping or slowing down....
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Old 04-11-2010, 12:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lurch77 View Post
Down shift to match your speed. For example if you are normally in 3rd gear when going 25mph, then you should be in 3rd gear or so when slowing down and at that speed. Then down shift to 2nd when you hit the speed you would normally be in 2nd for. Etc, etc.

The reason is safety. First, should you let out the clutch for some reason, it would not be a fun experience to be going 45 and have the tire almost lock up because you are in 1st gear. Second, you want to be in the correct gear to get moving fast again should you need to to avoid a car or something else that is not stopping or on a collision path with you.

I also stay in 1st gear at stop lights rather than neutral for the same reason.
I do this except I never engage the clutch unless it's necessary.
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Old 04-11-2010, 12:40 PM   #12
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Hmm... I always blip the throttle and go down gear by gear, letting the clutch out each time. The only exception to that would be an emergency stopping situation. I seem to remember my owners manual actually stating that it was bad for the gearbox to ever be rolling for extended periods and not engaged in a gear. It didn't define "extended time," but I would think that the time it takes to perform a normal slow and stop from 50mph could be considered extended time? I just always like to be in gear; the correct gear for the speed I'm traveling.
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Old 04-11-2010, 12:58 PM   #13
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I just can't downshift that quickly, and still be really smooth.
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Old 04-11-2010, 01:50 PM   #14
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Just from a personal perspective, when slowing for a light or stop sign, I find it best to be in 1st before stopping. My bike just does not like to shift while sitting still, especially down. So yeah, while coming up to a stoplight, I'll downshift to match my speed, (in case it changes to green and I wanna go) while keeping the clutch in. Best case is to time the light so your in the right gear to proceed.
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:07 PM   #15
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Sorry, but I don't buy that crap that downshifting is hard on the engine. Think about it: if you're in say 4th gear and just cruising and just let off the gas (not downshift) just to slow down a little, you are now using the engine to slow you down. There is nothing wrong with that, all different types of engines stand up to that just fine. It probably stresses the engine less than the acceleration does in all actuality...
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:09 PM   #16
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Oh and if you rev match CORRECTLY, then its not any more stress on the engine or tranny than the acceleration phase of riding is...
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Old 04-11-2010, 08:02 PM   #17
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Blipping and shifting is the way to go. Keeps you smooth in transitions from on gas to off gas.
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Old 04-11-2010, 08:30 PM   #18
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I agree with daniel and lurch.

leaving the clutch in for extended times can cause extended wear. and should you need to accelerate again, it helps to be in the correct gear.
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Old 04-11-2010, 08:33 PM   #19
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I've always down shifted to save my breaks and to be in the correct gear to resume riding if needed, also used as an emergency brake when needed.
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Old 04-11-2010, 10:39 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PristineTone View Post
This may come off as a stupid question, but is there a correct way to downshift? Whenever I'm going 40, and need to stop, I let off the gas, pull in the clutch, and just rapidly keep tapping down. Is that even right? Am I supposed to give it gas each gear going down? When I don't need to stop very fast, I work my way down each gear giving it gas each time. So, downshifting, if you don't give it gas and downshift rapidly, can that hurt the transmission badly? What are the consequences?
sirgilbert357 Sorry, but I don't buy that crap that downshifting is hard on the engine.

Well, well....Where do I start.
First of all the young man's question related to rapid downshifting of his bike and any damage that might be done to the trany.

Secondly, downshifting of virtually any gasoline powered engine in a rapid manner DOES create back pressure on the piston rings and does, when done regularly, cause excessive wear on the piston rings, main bearings, and, of course, the transmission.

In a bike you don't have modulator valves and pressure relief valves as in an automatic transmission. Even with those safety features, the manufacturers recommend against downshifting except in emergency situations or in situations where coasting downhill will burn the brakes up. Downshifting a bike creates a tremendous amount of pressure on the small gears and clutches that makeup your transmission.

Let's for the sake of agreement, say the downshifting on the GX style bike is safe due to the weight of the bike and the construction of the engine. Fine. However in the case of a heavy cruiser like the Intruder 1500 I have that tips the scales at around 900 lbs. plus my 300 lbs, the pressure on the engine and transmission is MUCH greater.

The pressure in the cylinder of my cruiser is so high that the engine has a decompression valve to relieve the cylinder pressure to allow the engine to crank over. That decomp valve is a one way valve, Thus, when you downshift quickly using the engine to slow you, the backpressure on the pistons is so strong that it can pull oil through the piston rings.

Ok, I hope I've explained enough to help you to understand the downshifting routinely, using the engine to slow the bike can and does cause excessive wear to the engine and transmission.

I hope your comment about it being "crap" has been answered.

CD
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Old 04-12-2010, 04:04 AM   #21
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'Hoarses for Coarses' as the saying goes - you wont damage anything although even with the clutch pulled in id match my current gear position to my speed as I used the breaks to slow, this way you are ready to take back off if required at any point through the slow down and as a bonus it stops you from smashing down through the gears so fast!
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Old 04-12-2010, 09:28 AM   #22
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Its better to run through each gear on the way down and you can blip the throttle or not for each gear it depends on what your want to accomplish. If you want max reliablility and comfort from your ride match the engine revs the best you can while down shifting and your clutch will last a lot longer. If you want a little extra rear braking then just ease the clutch out without adding any throttle and the engine compression will aid you in deceleration while giving you the extra rear brakes stopping power in reserve to be added if needed. I have rowed through all the gears without letting the clutch out before but don't make a habit of it as it does seem to be the wrong way to do it. Have difficulty finding first some times when I do this. Some racers do that as well but ussually haave a high dollar slipper clutch to ease the engine braking from two downshifts worth of gearing change or more! Down shifting your bike can damage it but that goes to say about almost anything you do in life. Grabbed two gears I think coming into a hard left sweeper and found my tach dance up to 13k rpm real fast!! Too many rpms had to shift back up right away and only one downshift would have been just fine allowing me more control sooner instead of shifting down twice all wide eyed thinking i was gonna eat marsh grass for a second!
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:39 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clockdaddy View Post
sirgilbert357 Sorry, but I don't buy that crap that downshifting is hard on the engine.

Well, well....Where do I start.
First of all the young man's question related to rapid downshifting of his bike and any damage that might be done to the trany.

Secondly, downshifting of virtually any gasoline powered engine in a rapid manner DOES create back pressure on the piston rings and does, when done regularly, cause excessive wear on the piston rings, main bearings, and, of course, the transmission.

In a bike you don't have modulator valves and pressure relief valves as in an automatic transmission. Even with those safety features, the manufacturers recommend against downshifting except in emergency situations or in situations where coasting downhill will burn the brakes up. Downshifting a bike creates a tremendous amount of pressure on the small gears and clutches that makeup your transmission.

Let's for the sake of agreement, say the downshifting on the GX style bike is safe due to the weight of the bike and the construction of the engine. Fine. However in the case of a heavy cruiser like the Intruder 1500 I have that tips the scales at around 900 lbs. plus my 300 lbs, the pressure on the engine and transmission is MUCH greater.

The pressure in the cylinder of my cruiser is so high that the engine has a decompression valve to relieve the cylinder pressure to allow the engine to crank over. That decomp valve is a one way valve, Thus, when you downshift quickly using the engine to slow you, the backpressure on the pistons is so strong that it can pull oil through the piston rings.

Ok, I hope I've explained enough to help you to understand the downshifting routinely, using the engine to slow the bike can and does cause excessive wear to the engine and transmission.

I hope your comment about it being "crap" has been answered.

CD
First off...

The OP has a Kawasaki Ninja 250R which contains a 2010 inline twin DOHC with a redline of 14K....not a high compression V-twin/tranny designed in the 50's.

Second...
The ninja doesnt like to be clicked through the gears at a dead stop....actually it will pretty much refuse to click just about anything at a dead stop. So you have to downshift it while its rolling...or it wont shift.

Third...
You should ALWAYS be in the appropriate gear to let off the brakes and accelerate. Getting to a corner in the wrong gear, or at a stop light in the wrong gear is a recipe for disaster. Even the V-twin riders should at the very least be clicking down gears with the clutch in as they come to a stop if they lack the skills to downshift under engine braking.

Fourth...
With sportbikes, Downshifting is perfectly acceptable, and recommended provided that you do it correctly, and arent kicking it down with the motor turning 10K.

The key to downshifting is learning how to rev-match.
Rev-matching is when you blip the throttle on the downshift to match the engine RPM's to the appropriate gear. When done correctly, it is no different to the engine than rolling off the throttle.

The goal here is to match the revolutions of the engine to what they need to be to travel the same speed in the lower gear. This smooths the transition between gears and eliminates the need to slip the clutch quite as much.

Also, using the engine braking on downshifts when done correctly is a very VERY efficient way of slowing the bike smoothly, and when combined with brakes, will bleed off speed amazingly quick.
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:25 PM   #24
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"Downshifting a bike creates a tremendous amount of pressure on the small gears and clutches that makeup your transmission."

More than say, WOT at 15,000 rpms in 2nd gear on a 124 hp inline 4 supersport? Yeah, likely not...

Sorry, your explanation sounds great and all, but my stepdad has over 300,000 miles on his standard Ford F-150, has never replaced the clutch and the engine is still running strong. He downshifts. If it were SO bad for engines across the board, then they wouldn't be holding up like they do. My fiance's automatic 2009 Honda Civic downshifts when coasting to a stop OR using the brakes. Pretty sure its not near as bad as you make it out to be...I stand by my opinion, that if done right and rev matched accordingly, theres no more harm to the engine than if you are accelerating. I can assure you my bike's acceleration puts WAAAYYY more stress on the engine than downshifting and coasting without giving it gas does...
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:27 PM   #25
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Well...crap. Shoulda just quoted Bdavidson, as he pretty much sums it up in the above post. Meh, didn't read all the way to the bottom before replying...
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:43 PM   #26
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sirgilbert357 Sorry, but I don't buy that crap that downshifting is hard on the engine.

Well, well....Where do I start.
First of all the young man's question related to rapid downshifting of his bike and any damage that might be done to the trany.
And actually, if you read his post that you quoted, you'll see he isn't releasing the clutch between shifts...he said he keeps the clutch pulled in and just rapidly clicks down the through the gears from say 6th to 1st without ever releasing the clutch...thus, the engine is sitting at idle this whole time regardless of the speed of the actual bike on the road because the clutch is disengaged from the engine. Only in releasing the clutch without rev matching accordingly will there be extra stress on the engine that wouldn't already be there.

Your explanation of backpressure is interesting...You telling me that while in gear on your bike you are ALWAYS accelerating or cruising STEADY? If slowing down with the bike in gear creates all that undue backpressure you're talking about then you should pretty much NEVER slow down with the bike in gear, right? So while on the highway, riding along doing 70 if someone cuts in front of me and I need to slow down, I shouldn't just LET OFF the gas and let the engine slow me down? I should pull in clutch, let the engine relax until the wind slows me down and then...well...wait, we shouldn't rev match the bike to get back into gear either though now should we...so uh...what now? We'd have to come to a full stop and get to first gear and take off again. That's straight crazy talk and no one rides that way. Its perfectly fine to let off the gas and let the engine slow you down via the compression. And let me assure you, your big V-twin likely has a much lower compression than my bike, not to mention that even on the "slowing down" phase and being in gear, your bike is STILL compressing gas and air and I'm willing to bet all this backpressure is still less than the actual compression stress the piston rings go through on acceleration...

<Rant off>
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Old 04-12-2010, 04:45 PM   #27
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Engine builders have an old saying: "Engine braking will cause your engine to BREAK!"

I usually use the binders to slow down, but I click through every gear and let it engage. Even on the track except for the slowest corners that require 2+ gears down in a very short period of time.
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