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Discussion Starter #1
I've got a 98 Vulcan 800A with aftermarket Cobra pipes. Side streets in MN have a 30 mph speed limit. Like a good citizen, I typically only ride 5 mph over that.

I ride 35 mph in 4th gear. It just seems like the engine is revving higher in 3rd gear and, quite frankly, a bit too loud. 4th brings it down to a better rumble and I'm not worried about frustrating the neighbors.

I assume riding 35 mph in 4th gear is fine, right? I'm not creating any engine issues by doing so?

Thanks in advance!
 

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The engine should be running a good chunk above the idle speed, and should not be 'lugging'. Lugging generally produces a 'chugging' sound and sometimes even a metallic 'slap' (piston slap). Lugging is not good for the engine. In fact, running the revs a little high is generally better than lugging. Don't be afraid to let the engine spin!

If the engine feels like it's running as fast as it does when it idles, or you get that lugging/chugging/slapping sound when going up a hill, then you need to go down a gear at that speed!


Here's an example of what it should NOT sound like.
 

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The engine should be running a good chunk above the idle speed, and should not be 'lugging'. Lugging generally produces a 'chugging' sound and sometimes even a metallic 'slap' (piston slap). Lugging is not good for the engine. In fact, running the revs a little high is generally better than lugging. Don't be afraid to let the engine spin!

If the engine feels like it's running as fast as it does when it idles, or you get that lugging/chugging/slapping sound when going up a hill, then you need to go down a gear at that speed!


Here's an example of what it should NOT sound like.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=787Sw2WDOZM

"Spot On" to the above quote.


.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Got it. Thanks! I'll be riding in 3rd from now on then. At 4th it's not as bad as that video for sure, but it borders on nearing chugging (once I get down to 30mph there is definite chugging in 4th) so to avoid any issues I'll just keep it in 3rd.
 

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Another thing to consider is in 3rd gear, at 35 mph should the need arise, you can still twist the throttle to quickly maneuver. I've had dogs come out of nowhere and want a piece of me.
 

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Wow. 5th gear at less than 35 mph. Good way to beat the engine to death.

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Not necessarily. You're on a 1700, OP is on an 800. On my 900, I can be at 35mph in 4th and be running 1300~1400 RPM's or so. 3rd still might be the better gear but on flat ground cruising along, 4th would be "acceptable". Certainly not 'beating the engine to death'

Now a 1700 would be a different story.

Edit: Nevermind, I see you said '5th', were you talking about the video? Yeah, that guy was one of those "It only sounds good if it's idling" kinda guys me thinks.
 

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On mine I will go as low as 35 but any lower calls for a downshift. Any vehicle should accelerate comfortably in whatever gear you are in. I frequently exceed OP's 5 mph good citizenship rule by maybe 5 more, but then the bike is not going as fast as the speedo says.
 

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On mine I will go as low as 35 but any lower calls for a downshift. Any vehicle should accelerate comfortably in whatever gear you are in. I frequently exceed OP's 5 mph good citizenship rule by maybe 5 more, but then the bike is not going as fast as the speedo says.
Another great point from you and Daboo. If you can't accelerate quickly and without lugging, then you're too low.

OP; that may be another good indicator for you. At 35 in fourth, what does it sound like if you give it throttle? A dull roar as it 'spools up', or lots of chugging, pinging, or shuddering? If you can't accelerate, you're in the wrong gear.

I think a lot of guys hear some big displacement twins lumbering along on the highway, and; especially with these smaller metrics (sub 1,000cc like mine and OP's), it just doesn't work like that. They need to spin!
 

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I think a lot of guys hear some big displacement twins lumbering along on the highway, and; especially with these smaller metrics (sub 1,000cc like mine and OP's), it just doesn't work like that. They need to spin!
Even though the big VN2K redline is only 5250 RPM, it's not all that happy at low-ish RPM either. 4th gear at 35 would be chugging and clunking big time.
 

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My rule on the 1500 is whatever MPH range I'm in, that's the gear I use. In other words, 20-30 is second, 30-40 is 3rd gear, 40-50 is 4th, 50 and over is 5th.
 

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Like Romans, I ran my 900 at 35 in 4th gear. 3rd was fine, but it didn't lug out of 4th.

The XR gets 3rd for 35 as that puts me at about 2300 RPM. If I'm working twisties I'm usually a gear lower than I would be if I were cruising.
 

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My rule on the 1500 is whatever MPH range I'm in, that's the gear I use. In other words, 20-30 is second, 30-40 is 3rd gear, 40-50 is 4th, 50 and over is 5th.
I'm the same. Oddly enough, that was also my rule of thumb when I first started driving a car. 1st to 20, 2nd to 30, etc. It wasn't so much that it was intentional, but rather that is just when it "felt" right to shift up.
 

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On the stock 900, 4th and 5th gear ratios are not so far apart. You can comfortably use 4th at a little under 40 on flat roads... that is if your speedo is correct. There are some rare times I may lug just a little because I like the sound effect from my fully debaffled pipes. If I'm riding near a barrier where the sound can bounce off, I'll play a little with the throttle. I just don't think I've ridden long enough to be as mature as some of you. :D
 

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Hey Daboo, no need for name-calling here! :p

"Mature," really? You haven't been reading the posts I've been reading!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Another great point from you and Daboo. If you can't accelerate quickly and without lugging, then you're too low.

OP; that may be another good indicator for you. At 35 in fourth, what does it sound like if you give it throttle? A dull roar as it 'spools up', or lots of chugging, pinging, or shuddering? If you can't accelerate, you're in the wrong gear.
Those are good points. On the 800 at 35mph, I can "giddyup" in 4th fine. 3rd is better no doubt for instant accelaration at that speed, but I am not chugging in 4th either. In fact I retract my comment earlier about chugging at 30mph in 4th. I tried it out again today and it really isn't until it's in the 20-25 mph range that true chugging occurs in 4th on the 800.

My gear change points on the 800 are generally around
15mph 1st to 2nd
25mph 2nd to 3rd
35mph-40mph 3rd to 4th
45mph-50mph 4th to 5th

It varies depending upon the driving circumstances. If I'm at a stop light accelarating quickly, those gear changing spots differ (5mph higher at least). But I tend to ride in a lot of traffic.
 

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for me it depends where im riding. if im coming into my neighborhood i will be a gear lower to keep the noise down, but im not on the throttle and if for any reason i had to accelerate i would change gears. on any other road i am keeping her ready for me to snap the throttle and get out of trouble. plus it keeps the pipes growling and letting the texting/eating/drinking/everythingbut payingattention cagers know that i am on the road. that video made me cringe.
 

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I usually ride 4th at no lower than 40ish, and I dont get any lugging unless I go slower. For me a good indicator is 4th for 40 and 5th for anything over 50-60. I shuffle between 3rd and 4th under 40 and have driven 4th as low as 35 without any lugging. I think it depends on the rider and his or her own "senses" as to the proper gear and of course the bike's engine sound.
 

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Not necessarily. You're on a 1700, OP is on an 800. On my 900, I can be at 35mph in 4th and be running 1300~1400 RPM's or so. 3rd still might be the better gear but on flat ground cruising along, 4th would be "acceptable". Certainly not 'beating the engine to death'

Now a 1700 would be a different story.

Edit: Nevermind, I see you said '5th', were you talking about the video? Yeah, that guy was one of those "It only sounds good if it's idling" kinda guys me thinks.
My 1700 Voyager would be struggling to keep running at 35 in 4th gear. It would be so much happier in 3rd or even 2nd.
 
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