Do you downshift to first???



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Thread: Do you downshift to first???

  1. #1
    wearelopey's Avatar
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    Do you downshift to first???

    Happy Good Friday everyone,

    So I was out with a 'veteran' riding buddy a few days ago and they mentioned that when slowing down, and thus downshifting, that they never actually downshift to first gear. They always just pull in the clutch and shift down as they stop.

    I told him this was a little dodgy but he went on to explain how it was a better way of doing things.

    1/ Its more of a blip to get from 2nd to 1st and thus doesn't help with blipping through the other gears
    2/ something about too much back pressure?

    He told me he always tells people to just keep it in 2nd until they come to a stop, then shift to 1st as you start moving again.

    My main argument would be that in congested, city traffic, the low speeds I can maintain in 1st are more valuable. I like downshifting before stopping, not just coasting from say 15-20km/h to a full stop.

    Is this 2nd gear thing common practise? Are there any benefits one over the other? If it's convincing enough maybe I'll start doing it myself


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  2. #2
    MadPoet's Avatar
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    The rule of the thumb is to stay in the appropriate gear in the event the car behind does not stop and you have to gtfo so if 1-25 km/h stay in first and 25-40 in second and so on. So staying in 2nd gear while stopped, I am not sure how that helps exactly.
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  3. #3
    Griffin's Avatar
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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    I agree with your friend.

    And MadPoet - I don't think his friend is suggesting starting in 2nd, just not going through first to slow you down prior to stopping.
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  4. #4

    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    Quote Originally Posted by Griffin View Post
    I agree with your friend.

    And MadPoet - I don't think his friend is suggesting starting in 2nd, just not going through first to slow you down prior to stopping.
    Yup. Unless I!m really crawling in traffic, I gear down to second, then drop to 1st with the clutch in when appropriate.
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  5. #5
    kiwi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griffin View Post
    I agree with your friend.

    And MadPoet - I don't think his friend is suggesting starting in 2nd, just not going through first to slow you down prior to stopping.
    Ditto, for the past 20+ yrs

  6. #6
    R1Style's Avatar
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    I rev match all my downshifts all the way to first.
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  7. #7

    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    I bring the bike down through the gears all the way to first while still moving just in case I need to get out of the way, and I watch my mirrors until the car behind me stops. I would say I bring it in to first at roughly 15 to 20, but that depends on the situation.

  8. #8

    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    When the engine starts to get unhappy about going too slow in 2nd, clutch in, shift to first.

    At this point I agree that it probably isn't worth trying to rev match and continue engine braking. But as MadPoet said, you should be ready to gtfo; if you do the above you are prepared to stop, gtfo, or creep slowly, in short, ready for anything.

    Some bikes don't like shifting to first while stopped, you have to roll them a bit forward or back to get into gear, doesn't like much of an escape strategy to me.

    I generally take a second to scan my mirrors and plan an escape route while shifting to first, because it is at this point that I am most ready make a sudden course correction. Additionally, I do sometimes let the clutch out and give some gas (usually as the light goes green while I'm arriving) so that when the time comes that I need it, I'll be using muscle memory and a plan instead of panicking and putting myself on a curb to avoid getting intimately acquainted with that Canyonaro's front grill.
    Last edited by Aslan; 04-06-2012 at 08:49 AM.
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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    I go to first, but if your in the 500 or less class and need to pull away just before you stop to get out of trouble (i.e. the car behidn you isn't stopping), you may not have the power you need to get aside until the engine spins up in 2nd gear going 5 kph. If your getting a lot of engine braking going in to first after a blip, your downshifting too early. I like being in the right gear incase I need it.
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  10. #10
    Malks's Avatar
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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    I down shift all the way to first while coming to a stop, always have. This allows me to accelerate away without coming to a full stop, should the traffic signal change to green.

    I also prefer to use first gear when making the sharp uphill right turn that follows the Forks hairpin. That particular turn is slightly off-camber, the asphalt is well polished and quite slippery even when dry, so I take the turn in the 15 to 20km range. I have found if I leave it in second the revs are below 3000 and the engine lugs a bit on the steep part of the turn.

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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    Quote Originally Posted by Malks View Post
    I also prefer to use first gear when making the sharp uphill right turn that follows the Forks hairpin. That particular turn is slightly off-camber, the asphalt is well polished and quite slippery even when dry, so I take the turn in the 15 to 20km range. I have found if I leave it in second the revs are below 3000 and the engine lugs a bit on the steep part of the turn.
    Yes, interesting corner and with too much throttle in 1st you'll get the rear wheel spinning and it will step out to the left a bit. Gets your heart beating faster for a few seconds.
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  12. #12
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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    Quote Originally Posted by R1Style View Post
    I rev match all my downshifts all the way to first.
    Yep, what he said. Always.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aslan View Post
    ...to avoid getting intimately acquainted with that Canyonaro's front grill.
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  13. #13
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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    Quote Originally Posted by wearelopey View Post
    ...
    Is this 2nd gear thing common practise? Are there any benefits one over the other? If it's convincing enough maybe I'll start doing it myself


    Start Debate!
    I find the first gear to be very "powerful" and it can either lock or spin the wheel, which you don't want to happen. (like on the track - if you accidentally downshift to the first - bike becomes very hard to handle)
    I try to slow down on the second almost/until stop then downshift to the first.

  14. #14

    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    sorry to threadjack...but i have a related question

    On the M2 Exit test (booked through the MTO), do the examiners expect you to gear down all the way first gear before coming to a complete stop? I have read through the M2 Exit checklist thread and i don't think i saw a definitive answer. In reality, I don't do this (I gear down to second gear....stop...then back to first gear before i take off).

    Thanks!

  15. #15

    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    ^ I seriously doubt they're counting gears...

    But they do want to see you downshift, and they want to see you stay in gear while stopped at intersections.
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  16. #16
    omnivore's Avatar
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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    Unless crawling along at walking pace, accelerating from a stop, or climbing over curbs or steps, I never use 1st.
    I downshift as far as 2nd....then , with clutch in, just before coming to a complete stop, I will pop it down into 1st, in preparation for the acceleration when light turns green for example. I shift down to 1st while bike is still rolling slowly, as it makes shifting easier with the gears in trans moving, rather than at a dead stop.
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  17. #17
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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    I find it's not really necessary if you're decelerating on the street and can sometimes be dangerous. If you downshift into first and dump the clutch too fast it can cause the back wheel to lock up on low grip surfaces. Even if you blip the throttle the engine braking in first gear could possibly cause the back wheel to lock up if you're in the rain, depending on the bike. As a habit I generally downshift to second when I'm coming to a stop. If you need to accelerate quickly you can just downshift and slip the clutch quickly to take off again.

    If you're just crawling along though, shifting into first won't do any harm.
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  18. #18
    Malks's Avatar
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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    Quote Originally Posted by ReSTored View Post
    Yes, interesting corner and with too much throttle in 1st you'll get the rear wheel spinning and it will step out to the left a bit. Gets your heart beating faster for a few seconds.
    I agree this could be a problem on an SS; however, I am very smooth with my throttle and have never spun up the rear wheel on that corner. Late last fall I was following a couple of cruisers through that turn and one of the guys (who was obviously in second) stalled his bike, which caused his rear wheel to lock and the bike slid out from under him. I was far enough back that I was easily able to avoid both bike and rider and continued up the hill around him.

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  19. #19
    RedDogDarren's Avatar
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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    I just instinctively match my shifting and revs to what's required. I never "blip" the throttle as I always seem to know what revs to be at and engage the clutch smoothly and quickly. Sometimes when coming to a stop light I know isn't going anywhere for a while and I am sure the car behind me is stopping (if there is a car) I drop from 2nd into nuetral until I have to go. No point in squeezing the clutch for 2 minutes.

    When confronted with an idea new to you, try it (unless it seems completely insane, then ask here 1st) and see if you like it better. It's the only way to learn with an open mind.

  20. #20
    RedDogDarren's Avatar
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    Re: Do you downshift to first???

    Quote Originally Posted by Malks View Post
    I am very smooth with my throttle and have never spun up the rear wheel on that corner.
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