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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
An article I wrote (with video) that I wanted to share:


Clutchless upshifting is one of the easier techniques you can employ on a motorcycle to enable smoother bike control and faster acceleration. If done correctly (and after a small amount of practice, you will), clutchless upshifting will not damage the gearbox – some even argue it reduces wear and tear.

To understand why clutchless shifting works, it’s beneficial to have a crash course on the insides of a motorcycle gearbox. Motorcycle gearboxes generally have a shift drum and shift forks with six different detent (a catch or lever that locks the movement of one part of a mechanism) positions in which the shift drum can reside. On almost all modern bikes, those positions are 1st, Neutral, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th. When shifting from say 3rd to 4th, 3rd gear is disengaged before 4th is engaged – in that period between those two gears, your gearbox is not in any gear. This isn’t true neutral, in effect it’s a ‘no man’s land’ and this differs from a standard manual car gearbox, where you shift through neutral between each and every gear.

To switch between gears then, the drive train must be unloaded, allowing the decoupling and re-coupling to occur. One way to do this is to pull the clutch lever. But the way we want to do it is without the use of the clutch lever. We do this by blipping, or quickly rolling off and then on the throttle. The procedure is this:

1. Put upwards pressure on the gear selector with your foot.
2. Blip the throttle. You don’t need to completely roll off the throttle, but enough to see the engine rotation speed dip for a fraction of a second and then roll back on the throttle.
3. If done correctly, your upwards pressure on the gear lever will engage the next gear.
4. Take pressure off the gear lever until ready to upshift again.

You’ll find that after not too long you’ll have mastered this technique. See this video for a demonstration of how to shift without the clutch:

But what are the benefits of clutchless upshifts?

Firstly, it’s faster than using the clutch lever. Not engaging the clutch lever (which unloads the drive train for as long as you want) means you can upshift faster. More importantly, you’ll lose less engine speed as well. Depending on the gearbox and rider ability, a clutchless upshift may reduce engine speed by around 500rpm, whereas conventionally shifting with the clutch lever may reduce engine speed by 1000rpm. While not a massive difference, over the course of a race, the fractions of a second saved will accumulate.

Another benefit at the track is that not pulling in the clutch lever is just one less thing you need to worry about when riding at your limit. If you’re hanging off the bike on a right hand turn, its much easier to just blip the throttle and upshift, instead of having your left hand in the correct position to engage the clutch, especially when you want to minimize input into the bars. Not engaging the clutch for upshifts just means you have one less piece of motorcycle control that you need to worry about.

Can this be used on the street?

Sure, but obviously the need (and advantages gained from it) are much less than at the track. It is however (in my opinion) far more satisfying to snap the throttle on and off and shift gears rapidly without the clutch. Another advantage for everyday use is that should your clutch lever brake for whatever reason (perhaps from a crash), you’ll be able to get home without it as you can use the same method for downshifting (more on that below).

A couple of other tips when clutchless upshifting:

  • On some bikes, it’s best not to clutchless upshift from 1st to 2nd gear as it sometimes isn’t possible to do this smoothly. This will unsettle the bike, make you uncomfortable and can potentially damage the gearbox.
  • You’ll find shifting without the clutch must smoother (and easier) if you do it when engine speed (revs) are rising fast, not when you’re at a constant speed.
  • Clutchless downshifts aren’t recommended, as they are much harder to get right and the consequences for not doing it properly are worse. Not only is it easier to damage the gearbox, you potentially can overload the rear wheel, causing it to spin and lose traction.
  • What About the Downshifts?

As was briefly mentioned above, you can use this same technique when downshifting. But there’s two reasons you shouldn’t (unless it is to get home with a broken clutch lever). Firstly, unless you do it perfectly you can end up damaging your gearbox doing clutchless downshifts. With the timing of how you change gears and roll off the throttle on a downshift, it’s much harder to do it correctly – you’re generally already dropping engine speed as you downshift, which means it’s more unlikely that the drive train won’t be properly unloaded when you push down on the gear selector.

Secondly, using the clutch lever provides a great deal of control that is highly beneficial when braking. Remember when you slow down you have two forces at work on your bike – the brakes on the wheels and engine braking when you come off the throttle. By not disengaging the clutch with the lever you’re really not properly controlling the engine braking which makes it far harder to be smooth when slowing down.

There’s also more chance of the rear wheel losing traction if you clutchless downshift because without disengaging the clutch, engine speed may be too much for the tire to cope with. For example, if you’re in 5th gear at redline and you clutchless downshift, if your engine speed is too high for 4th gear, that power will feed through to the rear tire and may overwhelm it.
 

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I'll just use the clutch and not beat the transmission up unnecessarily. I'm not interested in saving a few one hundredths off a second of my travel time.
 

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I learned how to do an upshift without a clutch when I was only 20 years old. It did work to slightly cut my times. Here I am at 66 and I refuse to treat my bike that way. I am not going to win any races with my touring bike but that is not why I ride. If I spent lots of time at a drag strip that might be a different story, but for me it is not a thing I will do.
 

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It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye
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I'll just use the clutch and not beat the transmission up unnecessarily. I'm not interested in saving a few one hundredths off a second of my travel time.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^This

I still do in some situations in the woods, but there is zero need for it on our roads if you have a healthy left hand.
 

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Typically I shift up with a quick blip of clutch pull, throttle twist, and toe shift all within maybe two tenths of a second. Why would I need to go faster?

By using the clutch on upshift, I have the habit ingrained so it's not a problem if I change my mind somewhere in the process and realize I wanted to downshift instead for which I will just hold the clutch in longer and move my toe to the other side of the shift lever. Moving my toe from up position to down position usually takes a couple of seconds extra. Thinking about what the heck I'm doing anyway can take another five seconds at my age and mental agility. :biggrin:

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My bike is a big V-twin cruiser, and when it comes to clutch-less upshifting I sometimes do it for relaxation not for speed. Normally i use the clutch. But sometimes for example I'll be plonking along in a higher gear, and depending on the situation I might be unsure if I'm in 5th gear or not.. So I'll just give the shifter a bit of up-pressure with my foot and lightly blip-off the throttle. And voila, the bike pops up to 5th gear (if I wasn't already there). Easy peasy

I know racers will clutchless shift to gain a performance advantage. But I'm also saying easygoing cruiser riders can also clutchess shift with no consequence & no grief to the trans.
 

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My bike is a big V-twin cruiser, and when it comes to clutch-less upshifting I sometimes do it for relaxation not for speed. Normally i use the clutch. But sometimes for example I'll be plonking along in a higher gear, and depending on the situation I might be unsure if I'm in 5th gear or not.. So I'll just give the shifter a bit of up-pressure with my foot and lightly blip-off the throttle. And voila, the bike pops up to 5th gear (if I wasn't already there). Easy peasy

I know racers will clutchless shift to gain a performance advantage. But I'm also saying easygoing cruiser riders can also clutchess shift with no consequence & no grief to the trans.
The Raider does it nice too, almost as easy as using the clutch.
 
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