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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Took the HD riders safety course and the instructor said that the HD big twins have such high compression that you should just disengage the engine with the clutch and brake to come to a stop. He said downshifting to slow down can cause you too lose control of the bike. What are your thoughts?
 

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If you're loosing control by downshifting, you're downshifting incorrectly (too soon for the speed you're driving). What did he say about keeping your bike in gear in case you need to get out of the way?

I've definitely never heard that before at a motorcycle safety course. I could be wrong but I'd guess he's was adding his own opinion into the course material.
 

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If you downshift into too low a gear for the revs, sure but downshifting normally is proper when slowing..At least thats how I see it.
Banging it into first at 5000 is not good..
 

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I almost always downshift... controllably.

although sometimes, with no traffic, going in a straight line, I do down shift a little early and snap the clutch out to feel a little slide.
 

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Lots of things can cause you to lose control of the bike. I downshift when braking and I'm surprised to read that the instructor advised against it. It would seem to me, that being able to quickly accelerate would be a safety advantage.

Imagine you were slowing down, say, from 60 mph down to 0 mph to make a turn onto a side street. You are half way stopped, traveling about 20 mph. Then you noticed you were about to be run over, (either from the side or the rear)... if you hadn't downshifted, you'd probably be in 5th gear and you'd have to take time to get down to 2nd or 3rd before you could really get out of the way. But if you'd downshifted while braking, you'd just have to jump on the throttle.

Learning how to properly downshift while braking is a fundamental riding technique.
 

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I don't usually downshift as an aid to braking but I do try to maintain the proper gear at all times no matter if I'm shifting up or shifting down. That includes downshifting when coming to a stop. Seems safer that way to me for the reasons already given. I want to be in the proper gear in case I have to get out the way of anything.

I think your instructor was probably referring to more excessive downshifting, though.
 

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I believe you lose a lot of control in stopping with the transmission disengaged, relying solely on the brakes. The compression of the engine slows you in a much more controled fashion; keeping the appropriate gear for each rpm range. Your instructor is doing some adlib which I'm sure is not approved material. I would look suspect at the rest of his curiculam.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You guys make sense. I just got my bike as soon as the weather gets better I will be practicing more. Bike now only has about 25 miles on it so I can't go that fast to get to the roads that I want to practice on. Want to go to the local highschool parking lot but won't be open for practice until the weekend. Weather should be good by mid-week so I will look for another deserted road. I live in a small town out (4000 pop) in the boon docks, but your either on 30 mph roads or 55+ hiways. I don't want to practice the downshifting on a hiway going 60 mph slowing to make a turn. I did well on the Buell's in the class but we never got over 2nd gear. I've gotten into 3rd on my new bike but I guess I have to get over 50 miles on it before I can hit the hiway. I rode a 650 BSA back in the late 60's and dirt bikes in the early 70's. Now I've taken the safety course and have a 2006 Dyna Lowrider. Sometimes I think I'm over thinking everything and trying to "know everything" versus just let it happen. I had great riding skills when I was younger but too many hormones "bad brain skills" :) now I have great "brain skills" and need to develop the riding skills so I don't have to think my way though a ride, what I mean is think about downshifting, braking with both brakes, keeping my head up, looking through a turn, you get the drift :) I guess all that just comes with practice. Just need to find the safest place to practice. I'll keep lookin. Thanks for the responses.
 

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Pitbull, you might want to look into the "Ride Like a Pro" video, or check Harris' thread in this forum where he's offering to share his Motor Cop training lessons. Both good resources.
 

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ALOHA, marooned Doof
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Fundamental riding technique

JamieWG said:
Learning how to properly downshift while braking is a fundamental riding technique.
@gree:

Punky
 

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It's a lot easier, and cheaper, to change brake pads than it is to replace your clutches...

Wes.
 

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Most important thing to understand is the braking capacity of the engine and its link to engine speed. In general, the higher the rpm, the stronger the braking effect will be. But it's a big difference between shifting from 5th into 4th at 4000 rpm or doing it from 2nd to 1st. On a straightaway, high speed downshifting doesn't destabilize the bike all that much because of its inertia, but a low speeds, the rear end may try to pass the front end......Road conditions have a big impact anyway, wet cobblestones being the one of the worst, maybe rail tracks embedded in cobblestones are even worse.
Practice is the key word
 

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Mad Dog said:
It's a lot easier, and cheaper, to change brake pads than it is to replace your clutches...

Wes.
I've heard this sentiment before but I think the idea of engine braking wears out the clutch.

I have a 2002 RK (almost 69,000 miles).

I'm on my third set of brake shoes (installed at 65 K).

When I had my JIMS 120 in motor installed, I swithed to the SE clutch kit.

At 65,000 miles my stock clutch plates looked brand new.

wyo
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Snaps said:
Pitbull, you might want to look into the "Ride Like a Pro" video, or check Harris' thread in this forum where he's offering to share his Motor Cop training lessons. Both good resources.
Thanks, I bought it a couple of weeks ago and watched it twice. I've driven sticks all my life so I should be OK with the downshifts now that you guys filled me in. I was just confused at what the instructor told me about the big twins having so much compression that it would throw you if you weren't careful. 8.9 to 1 is not in my book a high compression ratio. I just need to practice. Got up this morning and snow on the grown. First time its snowed here all year :( What's the deal is this normal? You get a new bike and the weather goes to shat??? :) Thanks guys for answering newbie stupid questions. I am sure I will have more.
 

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I think 8-ball said it best, using the engine to help slow you down. With my 45 I have to downshift rolling up or I'll never get it back into first without rolling the bike back and forth to line em up. Here's a question though. In an emergency stop situation they tell you to pull in the clutch immediately but this also doesn't seem to follow logic. Why not let the engine help slow you and pull the clutch in later? obviously at some point the engine will be doing you more harm than good by trying to pull you forward. Maybe the idea behind teaching that is so you don't have to think as much, but I think that as many emergency stops as you have to do on a motorcycle with the other crazies out there, that they should be teaching the most effective method. any thoughts?
 

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JamieWG said:
Lots of things can cause you to lose control of the bike. I downshift when braking and I'm surprised to read that the instructor advised against it. It would seem to me, that being able to quickly accelerate would be a safety advantage.

Imagine you were slowing down, say, from 60 mph down to 0 mph to make a turn onto a side street. You are half way stopped, traveling about 20 mph. Then you noticed you were about to be run over, (either from the side or the rear)... if you hadn't downshifted, you'd probably be in 5th gear and you'd have to take time to get down to 2nd or 3rd before you could really get out of the way. But if you'd downshifted while braking, you'd just have to jump on the throttle.

Learning how to properly downshift while braking is a fundamental riding technique.

well said...totally agree..from the saftey standpoint i can live with the odd time i downshift at the wrong RPM...
 

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One thing nobody has mentioned yet, primary chain adjuster wear.
Think about it, when using the engine as braking the lower strand of the primary chain becomes under tension. The lower strand is where the adjusting shoe is.

The adjusting shoe is designed to "take up the slack" in the chain, not support the chain under tension. I am not sure how this theory affects the auto adjusting primary chain set ups.

When slowing down, I shift into the gear necessary for me to accelerate smoothly if I had to at that moment.

**disclaimer** IMHO only but I did stay a 2 Holiday Inns last week.


Brad
 

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Hi guys, I'm still lurking and learning, but I was wondering about this topic in particular. Is down shifting as a form of breaking on a bike pretty much the same deal as down shifting in a car (as far as the arguments for and against), with the same pros and cons, or are there other things going on that I'm missing.
 
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