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rn2god 06-10-2018 07:30 AM

Stopping - gears or brakes?
A newbie question. For the very experienced riders out there, what is your preferred method of stopping - use the clutch and gears and downshift nearly to a complete stop without hardly touching the brakes at all, or using the brakes entirely and shifting all the way down to first with the clutch in the whole time as you use the brakes to stop completely? Now I understand, that when you need to stop quickly, the brakes are the only way to go, but when you have the option to make a leisurely stop - which way do you prefer and why? Also, from a maintenance perspective which way do you think is better on the bike and why? Obviously using the brakes will make them wear, but so will using the clutch to some degree. It is likely cheaper and easier to repair/replace brake pads/shoes than it is the clutch. Thoughts? Thank you!

NorthernRider 06-10-2018 07:45 AM

I use a combination, but I always make sure to use the brakes even if I'm gearing down so traffic behind me knows I'm slowing down.

KCW 06-10-2018 09:03 AM

the user manual for the 650 gives the minimum shift up speed for all the gears. The lowest speed you can shift up into 5th is 25mph - which is pretty slow. The engine would be spinning at 1500 rpm, which is ok if you are just puttering thru a village flat and level with almost no throttle.

It also lists the min shift down speed for all the gears as 15mph. In other words if you want, you can leave the engine in 5th gear with the clutch still engaged (not coasting with it pulled in), and either idle down or brake down to 15mph, then pull the clutch in and shift 4 3 2 1 all at once.

You do not have to pull the clutch in when using the brakes (MC or in a car) until you come to a stop. The little bit of extra load on the brakes will have almost no effect on the brakes if you have the throttle all the way off.

when it comes to engine rpm the thing you need to do is always keep the engine at or above the idle speed (1200 rpm for the 650). The reason is if you let the engine spin slower the oil pump cannot build enough pressure to push oil to all the bearings, and they will start rubbing metal to metal. 1200 rpm is with no load on the engine at all (throttle all the way off). See your manual for the min speeds in each gear while throttle is being applied(ie 25mph in 5th for the 650)...

As far as wearing out the clutch shifting down, don't worry about it. As long as you burp the throttle just a bit as you down shift, the plates will be spinning at the same speed as the clutch disk and there will not be any load on the clutch surfaces.

So here is the real answer to your question - keep your bike in the gear you need to be in if you need to speed up again. For example when I go around a corner from street to street I shift down to 3rd gear before the turn, let the clutch out and go around the corner in 3rd gear. If I needed to abort the turn and go straight, or speed up half way thru the turn, the bike is in the correct gear for the speed Im going. If I left the bike in 5th gear, pulled the clutch in and coasted thru the corner, then shifted down to 3rd then I would have no throttle/speed control all the way around the corner. You always want your bike engaged in one of the gears unless you are shifting - don't pull the clutch in and let the bike coast. Esp on a corner or a curve, because you need to keep applying power to hold the speed steady in the curve, and if you need to straighten the bike out you apply more power, and if you need to make the turn tighter you apply less power.

BTW, if you really want to take off like a bat outta hell after taking a corner shift down to 2nd, but usually 3rd works better for me.

Also do not stop the bike and then shift down into first - shift all the way down before the bike stops rolling. Nearly all motorcycles have straight cut gears and no synchronizer on 1st, so there are gear positions where they would hit teeth to teeth if the output shaft is not spinning, and you would have to push the motorcycle forward or back to get it to drop into 1st gear.

lesblank 06-10-2018 09:20 AM

It's a very good question. I will normally down shift while dragging brake slightly so brake light is on. So you can say it's a combination of both. I sit in a lot of stop and go traffic. When moving a bike or two at a time I only use brakes. The wear and tear on either brakes or clutch is not a concern. Brakes last me about 20k miles and still have original clutch with over 60k. Just remember when it's wet to make smooth movements with brake or clutch so not to induce a slide. Don't forget to drag brake a little if clutching down so the cars behind you know you are slowing down.

Yamaha Pat 06-10-2018 10:47 AM

I also gear down while tapping my brakes to let people know I'm slowing down.

KCW 06-10-2018 01:01 PM

If you want the brake light to come on while you are compression braking (rolling off the throttle), step on the foot / rear brake a bit.

It would be difficult to burp the throttle to rev the engine to down shift and compression brake while you are also pulling on the front brake with some of your fingers.

Riding a motorcycle is like playing the drums.... esp when both hands and feet are busy, and you nod your head at someone uh huh! uh huh! Ok! I see you! YepYepYepYep….

Diogenes415 06-10-2018 08:22 PM

I shift down into each gear while blipping the throttle to match engine revs and applying brakes... my clutch and brakes are mostly a one finger affair, sometimes two, so it's easy to keep a good firm hold on the bars and throttle.

NGM 06-11-2018 05:02 AM

For me it is a situation thing. I do not use engine braking unless I am slowing down faster than normal. My thought process is brake pads are cheaper and easier to replace than the clutch.

rn2god 06-11-2018 07:12 AM


Originally Posted by NGM (Post 965582)
For me it is a situation thing. I do not use engine braking unless I am slowing down faster than normal. My thought process is brake pads are cheaper and easier to replace than the clutch.

This is kind of my line of thinking as well. No sense in putting any extra wear on the clutch when brakes are cheap and easy. Thanks for all the replies! The insight you folks have from years of riding is invaluable to a newbie. :smile:

KCW 06-11-2018 07:36 AM

To be clear: when you blip the throttle and downshift, then throttle off to compression brake, there is no wear on the clutch.

The clutch only wears when you are slipping it. If you simply throttle down for an approaching stop and stay in the same gear, the compression stroke of the engine is turning all the kinetic energy of your forward motion into a vacuum on the intake stroke, and compressed air on the compression and exhaust strokes, and blowing it out your tailpipe. Since you always need to keep your engine in gear (except when stopped) there is no additional wear on your engine.

If you instead clutch in and freewheel, while using the brakes to stop, then 100% of the kinetic energy of your moving motorcycle is converted into heat and wear on your brakes.

Before you decide to 'sacrifice' your brakes to protect your clutch, google the rotors for you bike and see how much they cost - I think you will be shocked! $$$.$$

One of the great things about a motorcycle is the HP to weight ratio is so hi, the vehicle accelerates like a super-car. The reverse also applies, the compression braking of the engine slows the bike so well, that you rarely need to use the brakes to slow down for a steep hill, to stop for a stop sign or red light, except for the last 15mph to come to a dead stop. Even if you left the bike in 5th or 4th gear and throttle down to 15mph, the bike will slow down just from the compression braking of the engine nicely. You dont have to down shift and clutch in / clutch out thru all 5 gears - just leave it in 5th or 4th.

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