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Discussion Starter #1
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!
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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….
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
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:
 

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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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Discussion Starter #11
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 to stop for a steep hill, 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.
You make some very good points and no, I have not priced the rotor for my ride or the cost of pulling the back wheel to replace the drum shoes. Thank you for a very different perspective.
 

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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.
Sort of correct. There is no where NEAR as much wear. No matter what you do when you engage the clutch at any speed you do a small amount of wear. There is ALWAYS a slip. If there was no slip you would be slamming yourself around even with rev matching.

My time is worth something too I can change brakes on the bike in minutes, the clutch not so much. Also bike rotors are made of an awesome alloy that does not wear like car rotors. They do not wear as much.
 

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Exactly, as I've mentioned previously in a thread a while back my clutches last beyond 100K miles so wear is negligible.
I never said a clutch would not last a good amount of time if done correct. I have owned cars that went 300k without changing the clutch.

I do leave my bike in the appropriate gear for the speed I am going (same with my car) so if I do need to take off for whatever reason or suddenly down shift and use engine braking I am in the correct gear for that. I use the 10mph rule that I made up.. lol Same upshifting or down.. second gear 20mph, third 30mph, fourth 40mph and fifth 50mph.. If the bike has a 6th I usually do not use it unless I am going to do a sustained over 60mph. I downshift the same way. This is a choice thing. You can ride your bike however you want it is your bike. He asked opinions and we all gave them. I get 40+MPG on my 113ci Raider and on my 1800 Goldwing this way. I taught my wife this rule of thumb and this last trip she got 50MPG on her Fatboy. So it works for us.
 

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I learned to drive in air cooled VWs. John Muir had the best service manual for beetles, and he listed his shift points that way (shift each gear at the same speed all the time). It was important because the air cooled bugs had a cooling blower on the fan belt, and the faster the engine spun the more cooling air the engine got - so lugging a bug at 25mph in 4th gear with your foot to the floor was creating a lot of heat, with very little air flow.

When I got my first car with an up-shift light I was surprised at how soon it told you to upshift when you are not accelerating quickly - it took a few years to get the hang of shifting for best acceleration and best fuel economy (when driving at a steady speed). The funny thing about those upshift lights, when you are going relatively slow in 5th gear and you need to speed up, it does not tell you to shift down (like an automatic transmission shifts down on hard acceleration).

With an air cooled motorcycle there is no cooling air blower like on the beetle, so overheating the engine by letting it spin too slow is not an issue. If you look at the HP / torque / RPM curves for your bike, it all gets pretty complicated depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

To get the fastest acceleration you rev the engine up to its peak HP or torque speed before you shift up. To get the best fuel economy you shift much sooner. Like I said before, if you are puttering thru town at 30mph you can shift into 5th at 30mph to ride on level ground at a steady speed. I like riding my bike this way, it has a feeling of dignity and class to be riding thru a neighborhood or a village with the engine spinning at 1800 rpm (as opposed to a kid on a sport bike going 30mph in 2nd gear reving 7000 rpm just crying for attention). I know I have 40HP under my seat, and Im only using 1. I also like getting 60mpg on my stock 650.

I always have the option to kick the bike down a gear or two and let those 40 horses loose if I need to. Its also pretty cool to reach the Speed Limit 60 MPH sign, and crack the throttle open and let the bike wind out from 30 to 70 in 5th gear the whole way. You can feel the HP peaking as you get to 70. I usually save that for the open road.

Part of the reason for mentioning all this, if a person is riding aggressively, accelerating as fast as possible, and flying up to red lights and braking hard, they are putting far more wear on the clutch with that full power acceleration and shifting up at the max HP peak, than they would ever do down-shifting.

There is no right way or wrong way to shift and brake, its all a continuum of trade-offs between one thing and another.
 

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I learned to drive in air cooled VWs. John Muir had the best service manual for beetles, and he listed his shift points that way (shift each gear at the same speed all the time). It was important because the air cooled bugs had a cooling blower on the fan belt, and the faster the engine spun the more cooling air the engine got - so lugging a bug at 25mph in 4th gear with your foot to the floor was creating a lot of heat, with very little air flow.

When I got my first car with an up-shift light I was surprised at how soon it told you to upshift when you are not accelerating quickly - it took a few years to get the hang of shifting for best acceleration and best fuel economy (when driving at a steady speed). The funny thing about those upshift lights, when you are going relatively slow in 5th gear and you need to speed up, it does not tell you to shift down (like an automatic transmission shifts down on hard acceleration).

With an air cooled motorcycle there is no cooling air blower like on the beetle, so overheating the engine by letting it spin too slow is not an issue. If you look at the HP / torque / RPM curves for your bike, it all gets pretty complicated depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

To get the fastest acceleration you rev the engine up to its peak HP or torque speed before you shift up. To get the best fuel economy you shift much sooner. Like I said before, if you are puttering thru town at 30mph you can shift into 5th at 30mph to ride on level ground at a steady speed. I like riding my bike this way, it has a feeling of dignity and class to be riding thru a neighborhood or a village with the engine spinning at 1800 rpm (as opposed to a kid on a sport bike going 30mph in 2nd gear reving 7000 rpm just crying for attention). I know I have 40HP under my seat, and Im only using 1. I also like getting 60mpg on my stock 650.

I always have the option to kick the bike down a gear or two and let those 40 horses loose if I need to. Its also pretty cool to reach the Speed Limit 60 MPH sign, and crack the throttle open and let the bike wind out from 30 to 70 in 5th gear the whole way. You can feel the HP peaking as you get to 70. I usually save that for the open road.

Part of the reason for mentioning all this, if a person is riding aggressively, accelerating as fast as possible, and flying up to red lights and braking hard, they are putting far more wear on the clutch with that full power acceleration and shifting up at the max HP peak, than they would ever do down-shifting.
You stated something earlier that slipping the clutch was what wears it. You were 1oo% corect with that. Driving it hard does not wear the clutch that much unless you are slipping it to get more power. IF you speed shift it you get less wear than if you slip it into each gear because there is a lot less slip. Now that being said that is harder on other parts of the trans and bike. Look at it this way. With an automatic you have wet clutches just like most bikes. To get the transmission to last longer you can either tune it for newer vehicles or put in a "shift kit". This allows the transmission to shift into each gear much faster with less slippage. The downside is you feel every shift. This puts more stress on the driveshaft and gears and tires, but the clutches in the transmission and the bands will actually last longer than without the shift kit. My 05 F150 has 210k on it. The transmission went out, but not because of the clutches but the plate between the valve body and the transmission body cracked. When we opened up the transmission there was almost no wear on the clutches. I have had a programmer on it with the shift pressure turned up 25% except OD for the entire time. I pull a car trailer with it. My trans guy was surprised. Anyway that is off topic.

Doing the shifting like I do keeps the RPMs down so it does not sound like I am trying to race everything around me. I just learned a couple days ago that the Raider actually has 2 OD gears. 4th is like .9 and 5th is .8. So 4th gear is quiet up to 70ish.. lol
 

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I almost use down shifting to slow down or stop. How much brake I use depends on surrounding traffic. My front brake level has enough play that I can pull on it and the light comes on but, no engagement of the brake itself. Which I like for when I see braking 5 or 10 cars ahead and I want to warn those behind me.
 

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Is Blipping Necessary?

Some motorcycles benefit from throttle blipping more than others. A big V-twin or single cylinder engine with a lot of engine braking can more easily lock the rear tire if the clutch isn’t released carefully, so blipping makes sense. But, for many bikes, especially ones with in-line 4 cylinder engines, it’s easy enough to quickly but gradually release the clutch between downshifts. With the introduction of slipper clutches on many sportbikes these days, it’s even less necessary to blip the throttle.

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How did blipping become popular for street riders? When some magazine writer decided it was the cool thing to do. In racing blipping the throttle makes since because they are pushing the motorcycle to its limit but on the street blipping the throttle is pretty much all show and not needed. Some fuel injection systems/ECU's can't react fast enough to even allow reliable blipping of the throttle, Victory Motorcycles are a perfect example of that.
 
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