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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a first time rider 37 yr old daddy and got his first moto sickle. A used 2007 1600 even. I've putted around the neighborhood in first gear. Plaid with second. (Book said first gear was good to 15mph) learning to make turns. Was real wide a lot of times. Haha close Throttle, break, then downshift to first. Haha

Just took MSF class. Stuck my fat butt on some small honda bike. But passed the class. Still felt a little to quick. But learned about the whole head turn stuff . Kinda neat how that's saposed to work and help with turns.

So I rode around the neighborhood again. Felt better about my turns. But not sure when to hit the main road outside our housing track. Wife says I'm probably over thinking it. But the first thought that comes to mind is....

Downshifting when traffic comes to a stop light or sign. And how or when to downshift? Even in the 3 day MSF class. Second gear is all we used... or what I used.

So I'm a little apprehensive with hitting the main road.

When traffic is slowing down from 45mph. I'm guessing that's 3rd gear. Can I just close the throttle, break, and when I hear the motors tone change, pull in the clutch and gear down to first. And just leave the clutch in until we take off again?

I read about ppl says to always be in the correct gear. But if I'm in say forth, when I down shift, it's like a engine break and the motor revs up a bit a d I'm guessing I won't be able to clutch into each gear by the time the car in front of me is stopped.

Or I feel I'll be downshifting letting out the clutch through each gear as I'm down shifting. And I'd think that would make me ride really slow as I make my way down to first gear and stop.

A part of me is thinking about taking a late night or real early morning ride and memories what speeds the books says second is. And no matter what gear I'm in. Close the throttle, slowly breaking, pull in the clutch, and when I reach that speed the book says second gear is for. Then maybe let it out and then pull it back in before I come to that stop.

I wish the MSF classes were longer. Imo...

If you read my post down this far. I really do thank you for your time and understanding of my questions and conserns.
 

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Hi DDW

When I first read this title my initial wise guy response was, "When the roads from NH end". Yeah I know, pretty lame. Anyway after reading you post and not seeing any replies yet, I thought I would throw in my two cents. If you know someone who has motorcycle experience and can give you a ride go for it and pay attention on the drivers shifting, braking, etc. if no one is available see if the class instructor can give you some one on one time or recommend someone who can.

Your comments and questions give me some concern to recommend you take to the roads unless it's deserted. After getting some more instruction You should find an empty parking lot and try out the new information. I also would recommend you make sure you have good protective gear, boots, armored jacket and pants, gloves, and of course a real helmet, full face or modular. Being a Dad you have some additional responsibilities to come home in one piece after riding IMHO.

Good luck and be careful out their.

WEG
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Oh ya, I got the full face. Wont go Half helmet for a while. I even thought it would be funny for a sticker on the back of it saying "student driver" haha

Other then the Apex and BOX we did in the MSF class. I see im doing everything everything in the class in my neighborhood.

Its just thinking about downshifting on the main road that I had questions about. Ways of downshifting. OR what others do when they downshift.

In my neighborhood I get up to 2nd gear. Its just looking for tips to getting to the main road. And traffic coming to a stop.

A part of me is thinking id even just wait till the motors sound starts to bog down a little, then pull in the clutch and coast to a stop, as im pressing down on the gears as the clutch stays in.
And if I have 3rd and 2nd memorized (the speed ratings in the manual) then I "think" I should be good to let out the clutch in them gears if traffic picks up all a sudden. ?

Sound good?
 

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Hi DDW

As for down shifting and not down shifting, don't go crazy with thinking it must be perfect or even done. You can use your brakes with clutch in to come to a stop. Most of us, we'll me anyway, shift pretty much by sound and feel of our bikes. There is quite a bit of RPM range per gear and each person probably shifts at a different RPM. My bike doesn't have a tach, so I use my ears and ass to tell me when to shift ?.

If you can't or don't wish to get some more instruction, or have a friend to ride with, then find yourself an empty parking lot and run through the gears, then slow down by down shifting. You will soon get a feel for just about how fast per gear feels and sou ds right. You also will make some mistakes and the engine will let you know it doesn't like that gear at that speed. So have at it. Practice practice then practice some more. And good choice on helmets, your chin will thank you for being able to stay on your face and not becoming part of the road ?

WEG
 

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If you have to ask then it's not time man. Like previous poster mentioned
Find an empty parking lot and practice some and get used to it. You don't need to be thinking about gears while in traffic. That should come naturally with a bit more practice.
 

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Hey DDW! I was 55 when I got my first bike and license. I can relate to what you are going thru. I dropped it twice the first weekend I was out practicing. The first time I got on a road outside of my neighborhood and got up to 50 mph, I almost $#!t a brick, smiling for ear to ear the whole time. What a rush!

You do not have to engage after each downshift, but you do want to learn when to downshift, so, as you said, you will be in the correct gear if you need to execute an escape route. You will only get that thru practice. Try to find some time when you can ride on streets with higher speed limits, but a minimum of traffic. Practice slowing down, engaging each gear to see how it feels. Practice emergency stopping downshifting as you go, but not engaging, and downshifting to a particular gear then engaging and accelerating. Knowing how to do that has saved my butt a couple of times.

It's a catch 22; you can't learn it if you don't do it, but you have to work within your skill set and confidence level. You will be surprised how quickly some skills become natural while others you have to continually work on to keep from developing bad habits.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
When I downshift too soon. And I slowly let off the clutch. Engines rpms go up as the motor is slowing the bike. (Aka engine breaking) does that harm a bikes tranny or motor?
 

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Depending on where he lives, and where he can practice, he may have to get on the road in order to run thru higher gears. That was the case for me. I tried to find a parking lot real close to home, but they turned out to be more dangerous than being on the road. I had to go several miles to find a suitable parking lot for slow maneuvers practice. Practicing in the neighborhood will only get you so far.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Depending on where he lives, and where he can practice, he may have to get on the road in order to run thru higher gears. That was the case for me. I tried to find a parking lot real close to home, but they turned out to be more dangerous than being on the road. I had to go several miles to find a suitable parking lot for slow maneuvers practice. Practicing in the neighborhood will only get you so far.
Haha, that is my issue. Unless I'm a night rider and I go, maybe after 2am (bars closing)
 

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When I downshift too soon. And I slowly let off the clutch. Engines rpms go up as the motor is slowing the bike. (Aka engine breaking) does that harm a bikes tranny or motor?
When you downshift then engage, you need to give it some gas to get the engine speed more closely matched with the road speed. Then you can let the engine slow you down. Doing it correctly will not harm the engine or tranny, but engaging with the engine at too low revs or doing it over and over without matching the speeds will do damage over time. It should not feel jerky when you engage, but rather should be as smooth as controlled braking. Again, practice, practice, practice.
 

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Do you have a straight road that doesn't have much traffic? Like an outer road? Engine breaking is ok. Won't hurt anything really. Just be careful downshifting in a turn. That's where it can get a bit dangerous. There only 5 gears. In town you will be in 2nd to 4th while rolling 90% of the time. So you will only be downshifting from 4th to 3rd to 2nd most of the time. Have you ever driven a manual car? It's very similar.

I don't engine break often. I want my brake lights on so people can see I'm slowing. Even if i engine brake down a hill I will still apply enough brake to illuminate the lights. It's really a lot of feel. Hard to put numbers on it. Even on a slow turn the bike can lug it out in third gear and you will feel that. Most slow turns need 2nd gear. And when your coming to a complete stop it's similar. I might down shift to second right before I stop in case I need to bolt out of there. if I'm just slowing down maybe 3rd. The bike will let you know your mistakes.

Just don't be going 45 into a turn and try to slam it in 2nd. Back tire will brake loose. Slow before you get to a turn and accelerate out.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Do you have a straight road that doesn't have much traffic? Like an outer road? Engine breaking is ok. Won't hurt anything really. Just be careful downshifting in a turn. That's where it can get a bit dangerous. There only 5 gears. In town you will be in 2nd to 4th while rolling 90% of the time. So you will only be downshifting from 4th to 3rd to 2nd most of the time. Have you ever driven a manual car? It's very similar.
I've driven everything with wheels. but even with my brothers sporty forget short shifter car. I guess big rigs made me a lazy. I float everything. So without me letting myself over think anything and everything online. I won't touch floating gears as I learn to ride. The MSF class tough me a lot. From my gripping issue with the break and throttle (I think I forgot about squeezing, LoL) to looking into a turn. But the rest of the class is the same first and second gears I play with in my neighborhood.

So I think I need to plan maybe a 3 am morning bike ride.
 

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Hi DDW

Try early morning on the weekends. Just don't wake your neighbors if possible ��.

For me the key is keeping the revs at a comfortable place for my ears and other parts, downshifting shouldn't be abrupt so you slide into the tank.. That's for emergency braking. Downshifting is to keep a nice constant rpm for the speed and if. Going down in speed it also helps slow you down.
Now get your butt out of bed early tomorrow morning before the wife and kids wake up and get out there and try it out. Worst you will do is probably make too much noise yelling "Woo Hoo" as you see how much fun you are having... Don't forget the safety gear!

WEG
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Our MSF instructors said when up shifting you let out the clutch quick. But down shifting you let it our slow. I'm thinking if I'm going 45mph in 4th gear and coming to a stop sign. I could apply the breaks and pull in the clutch, down shift to second (with the clutch pulled in the entire time) and if I come to a stop. Then just down shift into first and stop (with the clutch always held in) and take off from their. Or if as I'm slowing down.... as long as I'm not over 25mph. If traffic starts to move before my full stop... I'm thinking I can slowly release the clutch (listen to the motor) and give it some Gass as I'm releasing the clutch?

Does that sound right?

OR

Does that sound ok to do?
 

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You're getting good advice in this thread.

I'm not an engine-braker myself. It's extra complication, extra wear on the clutch, and the motorcycles brakes do a fine job. I do, however, always stay in the right gear. Granted, the only way to know that is with experience and a little engine braking, but you eventually get to know what gear for what speed. The reason is two fold. One, it means at any moment, without needing to change gears, you can simply let out the clutch and accelerate. Two, if you were to accidentally let out the clutch, a cable snap or hydraulic line fail, or anything else; you won't end up in a huge mess. I once witnessed a guy on a large touring bike on a 4 lane divided state highway. 60mph speed limit, he was probably doing 65. Flat, straight. Off in the distance you can see the lights turn yellow, so he did what every other driver does, just starts coasting. No need to brake all at once in the end when you know what's coming. I was in the right lane, he was ahead of me; but only a little, in the left lane. I distinctly heard him clunk through all of his gears in rapid succession, then a moment later release the clutch; I don't know if by accident or if maybe he thought he was neutral; but here he was at 60mph releasing the clutch in first gear. White smoke from the rear tire, that poor V-Twin engine screeching and screaming. Thankfully, he didn't wreck and it seemed his engine survived it. But what an ordeal. Had he been downshifting at the appropriate times, he'd have been fine.

So that's my opinion! I think engine braking is a little over-rated. One comment I hear a lot is that people want to use "all the brakes they can". But that assumes the engine is some sort of invisible third wheel. It isn't, it's attached to the rear wheel. Engine braking doesn't do anything the rear brake can't already do and the rear brake can lock the rear tire up easily. I prefer the linear control of the rear brake over releasing the clutch and letting the engine kick in. There are two situations where engine braking IS helpful in the rear world; the first is going downhill. Rather than riding the brakes, holding it one gear lower than you might normally be is a great alternative. For example, I live down a 20mph road after a steep downhill. Leaving my bike in first and just a crack of throttle and it'll go down that hill at 20mph without any brakes. The other is in high performance riding. another misconception is that racers engine brake to improve braking, which also isn't true. They aren't really 'engine braking' so much as keeping their engine in the power band 100% of the time. Likewise, for spirited riding the same techniques help. Downshifting while braking before a corner leaves you in the power band to power through the corner and out of it. (Brake before the corner, apply power at and after the apex). Otherwise, it's not doing much but making noise and adding complication.

Good luck!
 
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Discussion Starter #18
I have not been meaning to engine break when around the neighborhood in first and second. But it appears when I downshift as I'm breaking. I hear and feel the motor retard and slow itself down faster then I'm breaking. I just know of it from driving big trucks. When I'm engine breaking obviously I'm downshifting too soon as I let out the clutch slowly.

But I agree with the whole break light issue when ppl do engine break. As for being in the right gear. I guess from what you are telling me. That will just take time to learn. According to the 1600 classic's owners book. First gear is from 0-15 and second is from 15 to (I forgot). Haha

My only real conserns is the slowing down in traffic. It's like a big rig truck. Anyone can hold a wheel and drive. But it's the backing that takes practice. And to me... a bike is the whole down shifting.
 

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Hi DDW

OK one more from me then it's all up to you..

Romans usually gives great advice (never use a sentenxpce when a paragraph will suffice �� ), but his statement ,

"Off in the distance you can see the lights turn yellow, so he did what every other driver does, just starts coasting. No need to brake all at once in the end when you know what's coming."

In my humble opinion it is NOT good Advice nor good driving habits whether on two wheels or four, manual transmission or automatic. And not something 'every other driver does". Your vehicle should not be coasting in neutral (or with clutch in) but in the proper gear for the speed and conditions. Down shifting properly one gear at a time then clutch out smoothly repeat as bike slows down is the right way to operate your bike. Others may differ but I'm pretty sure they were not trained to do that by any bike instructor or auto or truck driver instructor.
Good luck and be safe out there DDW and again, the best advice I can leave you with is get some professional instruction if possible and wear your safety gear.

WEG
 

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Hi DDW

OK one more from me then it's all up to you..

Romans usually gives great advice (never use a sentenxpce when a paragraph will suffice �� ), but his statement ,

"Off in the distance you can see the lights turn yellow, so he did what every other driver does, just starts coasting. No need to brake all at once in the end when you know what's coming."

In my humble opinion it is NOT good Advice nor good driving habits whether on two wheels or four, manual transmission or automatic. And not something 'every other driver does". Your vehicle should not be coasting in neutral (or with clutch in) but in the proper gear for the speed and conditions. Down shifting properly one gear at a time then clutch out smoothly repeat as bike slows down is the right way to operate your bike. Others may differ but I'm pretty sure they were not trained to do that by any bike instructor or auto or truck driver instructor.
Good luck and be safe out there DDW and again, the best advice I can leave you with is get some professional instruction if possible and wear your safety gear.

WEG
I thought my statement was pretty clearly demonstrating the ills of doing exactly that.

I didn't say that's what I was doing, I said that's what this and every other driver on this road does. And the result of doing that was almost really nasty. Most of the other drivers are in cars with automatic transmissions so they simply let off the gas when the light turns yellow and coast up to it, instead of going full speed and braking at the end. Pretty common on this particular stretch of road because it's flat and straight for a couple of miles, and the light stays red for a while when it turns red.

I keep my bike in the appropriate gear at all times, as I suggested for OP. Though I don't think it's necessary to engine brake, linear control comes from the brakes. We should always be in the right gear but it's not necessary to keep the rev's way up or even release the clutch for each gear. While coming to a stop, pulling the clutch in and downshifting at appropriate times without releasing the clutch is reasonable if you know what gear you need to be in. The MSF instructors manual, and my own MSF instructor, says that releasing the clutch during downshifting is a disciplinary thing, not something that your bike needs for the best control. In other words, it prevents the situation I described; being in far too low of a gear. So, in that sense, you're absolutely right. Releasing the clutch is good discipline to ensure you're always in the right gear. I did it a lot more on a bike with a speedometer on the tank and a transmission I had to count. Now that I have a speedometer and tach right up in plain view on a fairing and a gauge indicator, it's trivial to match gear to speed as I decelerate to a stop without needing to engage each gear.

Though EVERY rider should be very proficient in engine braking, it's also a good way to know the bike.
 
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