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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Aight,

This is a total newbie question.

I have about 18 years experience of driving a stick shift car, and 1 month of riding a motorcycle.

When I drive my car, I am fully aware of what gear I am in, mostly based on the gear shift position. I dont even have to look down, just feeling where the gear shift is lets me know where I am at. I have found that this is different for a motorcycle. Of course, I realize what gear I am in as I accelerate, I can count to 5. However, sometimes I am cruising for a couple of miles in 4th gear...or, was it 5th gear, then I want to slow and make a 2nd gear turn. Sometimes, I cannot remember if I am to shift down 2 gears or 3 to hit 2nd gear. Ending up in 3rd gear for the turn wouldnt be bad, however, I really dont want to end up in 1st for a turn I am anticipating taking in 2nd gear.

How do most riders manage this? Its not a problem when I come to a stop, because I just click all the way down, and usually I can feel when I hit 1st, it feels a little different. Also, it wont go down anymore, so I know I am in first when I come to a stop, so it really doesnt matter what gear I was in when before I started slowing down for a stop. Also, I can downshift one gear at a time, release the clutch, and feel if that gear is appropriate with my speed. But when I drive my car, I could be in 4th, break hard while downshifting right from 4th to 2nd, let out the clutch, make the turn, and be on the gas. I also do this from 5th to 3rd in my car as well, depending on the situation.

I know my MSF instructor said that if you ever forget what gear you are in and need to find out, no matter your speed, you can shift all the way down to 1st, then back up and count the gears, but you need to end up in a gear that matches your speed before you let out the clutch. Is that how riders figure this out? I dont think my bike likes hitting 1st gear at speeds over 30mph, even without letting out the clutch.

Anyway, it would be nice to be able to have a repeatable method for doing this. I guess also if I had a tachometer, I could learn at what speeds matched with what gears at certain rpm's, as I have a good feel for this in my car as I drive.

Finally, I could increase my awareness of what gear I am in, and repeat that gear in my head for miles, so I didnt forget, and although that sounds easy and logical, it doesnt sound practical.

Any suggestions or methods you guys use for this would be welcomed.
 

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The Toad
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Practice
Practice
Practice
Practice
Practice
Practice
Practice
It'll come to you pretty soon. You just need more hours on the road.
 

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Super Duper Mod Man
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There is a pretty simple way of doing this. I memorize the RPM at normal cruising speed for each gear. Example: 1st at 3000 rpm = 20 mph, 2nd at 3000 rpm = 30, 3rd at 3000 = 40. That was you can glance quickly and see if you are going 40 and you are at 3000 rpm, you know you are in 3rd gear. That way you don't have to repeat it to yourself 100 times a ride to remember.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
There is a pretty simple way of doing this. I memorize the RPM at normal cruising speed for each gear. Example: 1st at 3000 rpm = 20 mph, 2nd at 3000 rpm = 30, 3rd at 3000 = 40. That was you can glance quickly and see if you are going 40 and you are at 3000 rpm, you know you are in 3rd gear. That way you don't have to repeat it to yourself 100 times a ride to remember.
Yeah, I can do that in my car as well. However, my 2006 Suzuki Boulevard M50 does not have a tachometer, so its more of an estimate as to what rpm I am at. Also, after about 50mph, I cant really hear my pipes (yeah, they are stock) so I dont get much audible feedback as to my rpm's. Installing an aftermarket tach would be beneficial, although it would also invite me to look down more often, rather than having my eyes and chin up.
 

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Not enough power? Downshift

Sounds like she's going to blow? Upshift.
The simplified version of what I was going to post. If the revs are too high on the freeway grab another gear (though I try and shift into my imaginary 7th gear now and then and I have a gear indicator on the dash). Then run down through the gears engine braking while decelerating. You'll get used to the sound at speed and eventually learn what gear your in. But at least engine braking you can easily pick the right gear as you downshift.
 

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MODERATOR X
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Get a Bridgestone 250 Scrambler with the "rotary shift" option. Then you be sure you'll never know what gear you're in except the right one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The simplified version of what I was going to post. If the revs are too high on the freeway grab another gear (though I try and shift into my imaginary 7th gear now and then and I have a gear indicator on the dash). Then run down through the gears engine braking while decelerating. You'll get used to the sound at speed and eventually learn what gear your in. But at least engine braking you can easily pick the right gear as you downshift.
I have tried to hit the 6th gear on my 5 speed as well.

I think I will stick with the engine braking 1 gear at a time as a way to get the gear/speed matched up before the turn. Hopefully, with practice, I will be able to have more confidence in getting into the gear I need, especially if I need to go from 4th to 2nd to set up for a turn.

I have recognized that when I let out the clutch lever to use enging braking in 4th and 3rd gear, its pretty smooth and the bike settles nicely, however, I have to be extreemly careful how I let out the clutch in 2nd gear, as the bike easily lurches forward. Its like the friction zone is shorter. Its almost like as soon as I begin to feel the engine braking, I have to hold the lever there, cause even letting it out a little more fully re-engages the clutch. Guess its about really knowing your bike.

Thanks for the advice and encouragement.

I have recently acquired "Proficient Motorcycling" and "More Proficient Motorcycling" and they provide a wealth of riding information. I would highly recommend these two books to anyone who is learining to ride.
 

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That's not "engine braking." That's called shredding your clutch. The way to use engine braking on downshifting is to pull in the clutch lever, rev your engine up a bit (which takes just a little bit of gas because at this point there's no load on the engine), and let the clutch out. If you do it right, the engine rpms will match the trans rpms and there will be no lurching. And then, after the clutch is fully engaged, let off the gas. THAT is when you get "engine braking."
 

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MODERATOR X
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Like "blipping" the throttle on an old English sports car, when downshifting, yes we get it...
 
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