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As long as I'm using the clutch for my shifting, is there any immediate danger that I pose to my bike while learning through these mishaps? I mean can it take a little abuse during my first few days?

Q: Do you generally find yourself dropping back down into first all all during a ride? What's the highest gear you'd recommend being at a stop light at? I don't mean for quick take offs; I mean what would you downshift to as you approach a stop light?
 

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As long as I'm using the clutch for my shifting, is there any immediate danger that I pose to my bike while learning through these mishaps? I mean can it take a little abuse during my first few days?

Q: Do you generally find yourself dropping back down into first all all during a ride? What's the highest gear you'd recommend being at a stop light at? I don't mean for quick take offs; I mean what would you downshift to as you approach a stop light?
When you are stopped at a traffic light, your bike should be in first gear. For me, it's a simultaneous process of downshifting while coming to a stop.

As far as bikes go, most can take a little abuse -- some can take a lot. You should be fine. Learn away.
 

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Thanks for your help man! Looks like it's going to be a clear weekend so I know what I'll be doing. I hope I figure out how to come out of a stop without stalling the bike, because that's what's keeping me from even attempting town riding.

Supposed to rain tomorrow but if it hasn't started yet in the morning I'll probably take her for another spin and try your advice on downshifting.
Going to spend most of the night researching gear shifting in general.
 

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Thanks for your help man! Looks like it's going to be a clear weekend so I know what I'll be doing. I hope I figure out how to come out of a stop without stalling the bike, because that's what's keeping me from even attempting town riding.

Supposed to rain tomorrow but if it hasn't started yet in the morning I'll probably take her for another spin and try your advice on downshifting.
Going to spend most of the night researching gear shifting in general.
Did you bike come with an owner's manual? Most owner's manuals have suggestions for shift points (at what speed to upshift and downshift er gear).
 

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Yeah but it's confusing... (EDIT, no, not the original. I downloaded one in pdf. Thanks for reminding me about it though, going to read the section on shifting again. This down shift point chart makes no sense though)

SHIFT UP POINTS
1ST->2ND: 9.9mi/h
2ND->3RD: 14.9mi/h
3RD->4TH: 19.9mi/h
4TH->5TH: 24.9mi/h

SHIFT DOWN POINTS
5TH->4TH: 12.5mi/h
4TH->3RD: 12.5mi/h
3RD->2ND: 12.5mi/h
2ND-1ST: 12.5mi/h

So it says:

TO DECELERATE:
1. apply both the front and the rear brakes to slow the motorcycle.
2. shift the transmission into first gear when the motorcycle reaches 12.5mi/h. If the engine is about to stall or runs very roughly, pull the clutch lever in and use the brakes to stop the motorcycle.
3. shift the transmission into the neutral position when the motorcycle is almost completely stopped. the neutral indicator light should come on.

It makes it seem like you can shift down to first from any gear. Can you do multiple downshifts with a single clutch disengagement?
 

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Yeah but it's confusing... (EDIT, no, not the original. I downloaded one in pdf. Thanks for reminding me about it though, going to read the section on shifting again. This down shift point chart makes no sense though)

SHIFT UP POINTS
1ST->2ND: 9.9mi/h
2ND->3RD: 14.9mi/h
3RD->4TH: 19.9mi/h
4TH->5TH: 24.9mi/h

SHIFT DOWN POINTS
5TH->4TH: 12.5mi/h
4TH->3RD: 12.5mi/h
3RD->2ND: 12.5mi/h
2ND-1ST: 12.5mi/h
Yeah. The downshift chart is bogus. One option is to turn the upshift chart on its head (i.e. downshift from 5th to 4th at 24 mph). I don't recommend that.

Usually, you would downshift from a higher gear to a lower gear at a slower speed than you would upshift. For example, if you upshift from 4th to 5th at 25 mph, then you would downshift from 5th to 4th around 18-20mph, 4th to 3rd at around 15-17 mph, etc. However, I'm not sure how this would work for your bike, because your numbers seem messed up.
 

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upshifting, I'm sure you can safely take the revs a little higher, downshifting you'll just have to feel the deceleration and know when your "drag" is fading & then drop another gear. I usually drop gears as I'm decelerating too, but if speed wasn't high or if braking uphill, I'll just use the brakes but don't forget prepare for 1st gear for takeoff regardless.
 

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Enlightenment?: (Thanks 13Mordeth video and Dr Sprocket)

Okay, I've been watching youtube videos trying to grasp Dr Sprocket's advice on downshifting, and came across a 13M video (not my first, he's great, and actually have seen this one before) where he talks about upshifting dropping his rpms around 1k and downshifting raising them about 1k.

It seems so simple in retrospect, that if you upshift when your rpm's are getting too high, that you'd downshift when they get too low. I wasn't doing that. I was treating the downshift as if it was required for slowing down.

I can't wait to get to try downshifting again now that I understand what you were saying. Thanks man, I really appreciate your posts and for helping me out =)

If I can put that concept into practice and it works, then the only basic operational problem I will need to overcome is taking off from a stopped position.

When I was stalling, I wasn't trying to give any throttle until I THOUGHT I felt myself entering the friction zone. That was harder to feel when I had my rear brake engaged. I got to the point where I refused to use my brake while engaging the clutch which sometimes lead to me doing it fast because I'd start to roll backwards.

I'm starting to feel confident that the fixes to my two biggest problems encountered today are within reach of being solved =)
 

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Yeah. The downshift chart is bogus. One option is to turn the upshift chart on its head (i.e. downshift from 5th to 4th at 24 mph). I don't recommend that.

Usually, you would downshift from a higher gear to a lower gear at a slower speed than you would upshift. For example, if you upshift from 4th to 5th at 25 mph, then you would downshift from 5th to 4th around 18-20mph, 4th to 3rd at around 15-17 mph, etc. However, I'm not sure how this would work for your bike, because your numbers seem messed up.
Yeah it's odd isn't it? The manual seems legit. It's 96 pages and all the info sounds right. It'd be ridiculous for someone to put out a bogus manual for this specific motorcycle though...

I know what you mean, as there's a rev range from low to high, so you wouldn't drop at the same number. I think I'll go by what you said earlier and when my engine sounds too low, that's when I'll switch gears. Today I was switching entirely because I felt I should have been because I was slowing down. But third gear (I think thats where I was) felt and sounded perfectly fine for crawling past a Yield sign. But I felt I was doing it wrong and downshifted into second and that was like suddenly riding through six inches of syrup.
 

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Today I was switching entirely because I felt I should have been because I was slowing down. But third gear (I think thats where I was) felt and sounded perfectly fine for crawling past a Yield sign. But I felt I was doing it wrong and downshifted into second and that was like suddenly riding through six inches of syrup.
That's the joy of "learning" your bike. You gut told you third gear was wrong. Your gut was right. Stay safe out there!
 

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If the clutch was a foreign language, then today I discovered the Rosetta Stone. I finally started to "get it" practicing in the driveway after work today. Instead of increasing the throttle as I let off the clutch, I gave it the throttle I wanted to be once the clutch would be released, and then worked my way into that by very slowly releasing the clutch. It was almost like once you hit the friction zone the throttle and clutch switch jobs for a second.

I still can only do it very slowly with quite a bit of attention being paid, but now that I "get it" it feels like I should have the basics down within another day or two and feel comfortable enough to hit some roads with traffic by the weekend.

Thanks to everyone's suggestions and advice. It's amazing how much progress I've made since Sunday =)
 

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Well, I've come no where near "mastering" that service road, but I've done pretty much all I can on it. Time to start getting some real world experience. If the weather is good, I'm going to venture out into town tomorrow. I feel confident enough to take it slow and calculated.

Question; as you know I'm very nervous about hurting my bike with all this trial and error. What kind of mistakes would cause real issues, and how would I know there was an issue? One thing that concerns me is how the higher gears sound. I don't know if they sound normal and I'm just now noticing it because as I become comfortable with the other aspects, I'm opening my senses up to more and more. Say, for example, I DID hurt my transmission at some point. Would I hear a problem first, or would I experience it?

Thanks again to all the help and advice. It's because of this conversation that I've progressed as much as I have.
 

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Question; as you know I'm very nervous about hurting my bike with all this trial and error. What kind of mistakes would cause real issues, and how would I know there was an issue? One thing that concerns me is how the higher gears sound.
What would really hurt your bike is downshifting at too high a speed and having the engine seize up. Again, a good reason to bleed speed with the brakes and with the engine until the just before the bike begins to lug, and then downshift.
 

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I deleted the rest of the post. It's the same rant that I've posted here before. Blah blah blah, gearing is insanely low, blah blah blah, I'm starting to hate the bike. I'll get over it. I just don't see how this gearing makes sense in anyone's eyes.

I mean come on, when the light turns green I have to be in third gear by the time I'm riding under it or I have no power and it sounds like I'm on a race track. It's just starting to feel like one of two things is coming down the road; either I'm going to start despising the bike or I'm going to destroy it. Or both I guess is also an option.
 

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I deleted the rest of the post. It's the same rant that I've posted here before. Blah blah blah, gearing is insanely low, blah blah blah, I'm starting to hate the bike. I'll get over it. I just don't see how this gearing makes sense in anyone's eyes.

I mean come on, when the light turns green I have to be in third gear by the time I'm riding under it or I have no power and it sounds like I'm on a race track. It's just starting to feel like one of two things is coming down the road; either I'm going to start despising the bike or I'm going to destroy it. Or both I guess is also an option.
Don't sweat it. There are training suggestions that the MSF offer, but then again, they are only suggestions. If you bike is geared that low, and it were my bike, I would just shift up through gears as appropriate -- even if it means upshifting while accelerating through an intersection.
 

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I just found a website dedicated to this particular model and registered so I can bug the right people. It's selfish of me to continuously rant and dominate the past few pages of this thread, especially since most people here are riding much larger displacement bikes. I'm not going anywhere, I just think it's more appropriate to bug a room full of people riding the same bike.

That said, it looks like a very common upgrade that nearly everyone there has done is to change their gearing ratio to make more sense of the spread, so I guess it's not just me after all =P

Thanks Dr for all your help and I plan to be here quite often once I get my sheet together.
 

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I just found a website dedicated to this particular model and registered so I can bug the right people. It's selfish of me to continuously rant and dominate the past few pages of this thread, especially since most people here are riding much larger displacement bikes. I'm not going anywhere, I just think it's more appropriate to bug a room full of people riding the same bike.

That said, it looks like a very common upgrade that nearly everyone there has done is to change their gearing ratio to make more sense of the spread, so I guess it's not just me after all =P

Thanks Dr for all your help and I plan to be here quite often once I get my sheet together.
Sure thing! Also, as new problems or questions crop up, feel free to start a new thread in the appropriate forum. Looking forward to more posts!
 

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Definitely, and I feel a bit like a dope for starting out here with my little b****fest. I'm just frustrated with myself. I've been on two wheels (moped) for a year now exactly, and will be 2 wheels for life. My moped is now my bad weather vehicle. I do love my Virago. I think I'm just frustrated with myself that the learning curve is so much higher than I thought it'd be. I really wish I had the money and opportunity to take the beginners class before ever even hopping on my new bike. It really pains me to be putting it through so much needless unintended abuse.

I'll be here often once I've gotten myself dried off behind the ears.
 

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I mean come on, when the light turns green I have to be in third gear by the time I'm riding under it or I have no power and it sounds like I'm on a race track. It's just starting to feel like one of two things is coming down the road; either I'm going to start despising the bike or I'm going to destroy it. Or both I guess is also an option.
Most any bike would need to shift while crossing an average intersection. I ride a 1300 v-4 and often in 3rd gear by time I get across some of the larger ones, but sure, I could hang on 1st gear through it, roaring & revving, but I usually shift early anyway unless I forsee needing the power.

Also most any manual tranny car, you'd shift before getting to the far side of the intersection. And your bike should have a rev limiter, I'd say shifting 5-8 MPH before letting it kick in aint too bad.
 

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Most any bike would need to shift while crossing an average intersection. I ride a 1300 v-4 and often in 3rd gear by time I get across some of the larger ones, but sure, I could hang on 1st gear through it, roaring & revving, but I usually shift early anyway unless I forsee needing the power.

Also most any manual tranny car, you'd shift before getting to the far side of the intersection. And your bike should have a rev limiter, I'd say shifting 5-8 MPH before letting it kick in aint too bad.
well hell, maybe it's just a splash of cold water in my face in the middle of December. I'll be 29 in a few weeks and this is my first standard vehicle. I just never considered the concept of 1st gear being such a starting block instead of having it's own useful range. Guy at work says his Harley can take him to 90 in 2nd gear (to be honest this guy is a yarn spinner and I don' believe that for a second) but i should say that Dr's advice in the previous posts made me go and push my bike today instead of babying it and I had a phenomenally easier and smoother range transition throughout the day.

It's so weird how doing things that are so contradictory to what feels right, is the right way to do things on a motorcycle. Want to turn left? Push with your left arm. Want to slow down? Hit the throttle for a second. Want to ease into a higher gear with a lower rev? Rev up on the previous gear.
 
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