Do i Clutch when downshift?

This thread has proved to be very entertaining. :smirk:

For dirt, I use the clutch to take off, then to cross the neutral gate from 1st to 2nd, then never again. Street bikes I will use it to get to the afore mentioned 2nd gear, and on downshifts. Since the middle '70's (bought my first bike in late 1975), I've never had a transmission failure due to not using the clutch.

Just my experience. Some people can tear up a steel ball with a rubber hammer, so do whatever you're comfortable with.. :thumbsup:

I tell people to always use the clutch and not to 'ride it'. A time will come when experience and ability will modify this.

When I ride a bike or drive a car, I never ever think about it. Use or lack of is second nature and the details of the moment dictate what is the right technique to use. Though I do use it 98% of the time.

So the simple rule is, if you have to ask if you should use the clutch, the answer is 'yes'.

I always used to use the clutch for shifting. Then a few years ago I took a lesson with Sebastian Tortelli and he told me not to use the clutch when downshifting. He said if you are upshifting while hard on the throttle you could make the argument to stab the clutch but it's not a big deal if you don't.

I've been riding for 20+ years, both on and off road, and some of the more experienced riders I tell to practice going up/down in the gearbox without a clutch.  Reason I tell them to practice it, is what happens if you break a clutch cable in the middle of nowhere with no cell signal... Do you walk/push out, or ride out..?  I can tell you now for a FACT, I'll be riding out.
 

General Rules to follow;

-From a stop use your clutch.  IF your clutch is inoperative, and your left with no other choice.  Have the motor running in neutral, now push the bike forward from a dead stop and then  engage either 1st or 2nd gear dependant on how fast you get the bike moving while pushing (slow = 1st, faster = 2nd).  To come to a stop, click it into neutral while the bike is coasting to a stop.  If you miss that slow speed shift, shut the motor off (which should happen naturally if the clutch system is inoperative), put the motor into neutral and restart.  Repeat step above to get moving again.

 

-To up-shift (1st -> 2nd, 2nd -> 3rd, etc), all you have to do is momentarily roll off the throttle to unload the transmission as you engage the next gear, which is EXACTLY what a "quick shifter" kit does.. it cuts the ignition momentarily to unload the transmission.  If you try to shit and the shift arm feels "locked" or "wooden", it's because you never rolled off the throttle enough so the crankshaft is still applying too much torque to the transmission thereby preventing the transmission dogs from releasing (which might possibly bend a shift fork).

 

-To down-shift (5th -> 4th, 4th -> 3rd, etc), all you have to do is blip (add throttle) to engage the next gear at the exact same moment you engage the gear change.  Essentially all your doing is rev matching the crank rotation speed to the final drive output speed in the next gear.  You'll be surprised that you do this naturally even using the clutch to maintain speed in the next gear.

 

These techniques do take some time to get right.  Biggest concern if your new to shifting clutch-less is causing damage to shift forks because your overpowering or forcing the gear into the next one because your rev-matching wasn't correct.   Second biggest concern is if your not shifting fast enough or doing whats known as a lazy shift (with or without a clutch) is rounding gear dogs.

By FAR, the biggest killer on dog-box (constant mesh) transmissions is a lazy shifting by not applying enough instantaneous shift force or shifting slowly (with or without the clutch).  Have you ever had a false neutral between 3rd & 4th, maybe 4th & 5th, etc?   Then what did you do..? You pulled the clutch in, only to hear your transmission grind away as you engaged the next gear...  The reason why the clutch didn't make a lick of difference is because the rear tire has become the driving force of the transmission, not the crankshaft thus making it extremely difficult to match the two speeds.  If you're clutch-less shifting (and paying attention), then chances of you having a false neutral will be significantly reduced.  

My Ducati Hyper 821 are known to have false neutral prone transmissions if you're a lazy shifter while using the clutch.  But I tell you what.. I've NEVER once had a false neutral while clutch-less shifting on that bike.  With using the clutch, I've had multiple because it slows the whole process down between gears.

Edited by zibbit u2
I've been riding for 20+ years, both on and off road, and some of the more experienced riders I tell to practice going up/down in the gearbox without a clutch.  Reason I tell them to practice it, is what happens if you break a clutch cable in the middle of nowhere with no cell signal... Do you walk/push out, or ride out..?  I can tell you now for a FACT, I'll be riding out.
 
General Rules to follow;
-From a stop use your clutch.  IF your clutch is inoperative, and your left with no other choice.  Have the motor running in neutral, now push the bike forward from a dead stop and then  engage either 1st or 2nd gear dependant on how fast you get the bike moving while pushing (slow = 1st, faster = 2nd).  To come to a stop, click it into the neutral while the bike is coasting to a stop.  If you miss that slow speed shift, shut the motor off (which should happen naturally if the clutch system is inoperative), put the motor into neutral and restart.  Repeat step above to get moving again.
 
-To up-shift (1st -> 2nd, 2nd -> 3rd, etc), all you have to do is momentarily roll off the throttle to unload the transmission as you engage the next gear, which is EXACTLY what a "quick shifter" kit does.. it cuts the ignition momentarily to unload the transmission.  If you try to shit and the shift arm feels "locked" or "wooden", it's because you never rolled off the throttle enough so the crankshaft is still applying too much torque to the transmission thereby preventing the transmission dogs from releasing (which might possibly bend a shift fork).
 
-To down-shift (5th -> 4th, 4th -> 3rd, etc), all you have to do is blip (add throttle) to engage the next gear at the exact same moment you engage the gear change.  Essentially all your doing is rev matching the crank rotation speed to the final drive output speed in the next gear.  You'll be surprised that you do this naturally even using the clutch to maintain speed in the next gear.
 
These techniques do take some time to get right.  Biggest concern if your new to shifting clutch-less is causing damage to shift forks because your overpowering or forcing the gear into the next one because your rev-matching wasn't correct.   Second biggest concern is if your not shifting fast enough or doing whats known as a lazy shift (with or without a clutch) is rounding gear dogs.

By FAR, the biggest killer on dog-box (constant mesh) transmissions is a lazy shifting by not applying enough instantaneous shift force or shifting slowly (with or without the clutch).  Have you ever had a false neutral between 3rd & 4th, maybe 4th & 5th, etc?   Then what did you do..? You pulled the clutch in, only to hear your transmission grind away as you engaged the next gear...  The reason why the clutch didn't make a lick of difference is because the rear tire has become the driving force of the transmission, not the crankshaft thus making it extremely difficult to match the two speeds.  If you're clutch-less shifting (and paying attention), then chances of you having a false neutral will be significantly reduced.  

My Ducati Hyper 821 are known to have false neutral prone transmissions if you're a lazy shifter while using the clutch.  But I tell you what.. I've NEVER once had a false neutral while clutch-less shifting on that bike.  With using the clutch, I've had multiple because it slows the whole process down between gears.

Sometimes you're stuck in a place where the clutch is needed. My cable snapped right here, there was no getting out.IMG_20150205_154538.jpg

oh gawd.. obviously there's going to be situations like that, but I feel for ya.  I bet you had to work to get the bike out.

oh gawd.. obviously there's going to be situations like that, but I feel for ya.  I bet you had to work to get the bike out.

Ha ha, oh man...I call it a "character building experience" ....

This happen in February around 4:30pm. My dad went on ahead to get the truck. We agreed to meet at a specific location which is as far as the truck could get. He rode off, I began my hike. I hiked maybe 5 miles, by this time it was 7:30pm and it had gotten dark at 6pm. My dad was nowhere to be found.

I hiked another 3 miles at least before I came to a cabin with lights on, got there around 9:30-10pm. The guy there took me in and had a satellite phone. I called someone who could ring my parents non stop till they got ahold of them and explain where I was. In the meantime I had sat my chest protector up at the main rode in case someone came looking for me. At midnight on the dot I heard a horn honking in the distance, was my step-mom's Lexus with my dad in shot gun. Turned out he ran out of gas, which was a shock because we're usually very on top of our fuel calculations. He had some hiking of his own, roughly 13 miles from what we can tell.

Bike broke on a Wednesday, we found a local dealer in the nearest town for a cable and we found a guy in a jeep that could take us as close to the bike as possible on a Thursday. Drove up, hiked in, and made the repair on a Friday.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.....I honestly don't think I'd change a damn thing. It makes for a cool story I think.

You're right, that is a pretty cool story.  If I was in the same situation, and the bike was too heavy to push up the hill, I'd be taking everything off the bike to save weight and push like hell.  I'd remove the tank, seat, subframe/airbox, heck even the triple and/or swingarm using the underseat tool bag and carrying everything one by one, then re-assembling at the top of the hill.  That's one thing the military taught me, don't give up.. keep trying.

Edited by zibbit u2

I think it comes down to knowing the mechanics of it. If you have to ask the question, you should probably just use the clutch to shift. But if you know why and how it works, then you'll know how to do it properly without stressing the parts in the transmission.

If you're some newbie just banging away on the shift lever at the wrong time, then you will more than likely be hard on (damaging) parts. But if you're timing it correctly, then you won't be putting any extra stress on the parts at all.

An old wise man once said "He who doesn't clutch has never ridden a 2 stroke".

 

Seriously, I'd say if you don't clutch, it's because you lack proper clutch control and just gave up.  I guess if you have money to waste on internal parts, then slam your gears away.  But, if you plan on doing any kind of serious trail riding, you need to learn clutch control.

Clutch control has absolutely nothing to do with clutchless shifting.

True.  But racing techniques also have zero relevance to everyday riding, like earlier mentioned.  Race bikes get rebuilt with ALL new internals after every weekend.  They don't use the clutch because: A-They are trying to shave as much time off their laps as possible.  And B-They don't have to worry about spending money on repairs.  So absolutely yes, racers don't use the clutch and roll off the throttle to slightly reduce the amount of impact on internals.  That doesn't mean it isn't causing damage to your internals.  But to each their own. 

@ High on Octane put our opinion down perfectly, couldn't of said it better. Whoever can afford a very frequent rebuild, go ahead and do as you please, but using your clutch is healthier when shifting

10 hours ago, Mr.mudman112 said:

@ High on Octane put our opinion down perfectly, couldn't of said it better. Whoever can afford a very frequent rebuild, go ahead and do as you please, but using your clutch is healthier when shifting

You compared a motorcycle transmission with a truck transmission earlier so you lost any credibility in this conversation... clutchless shifting will absolutely not harm your bike if done correctly.  But keep on thinking otherwise.  "very frequent rebuild"  lol. 

I always clutch my upshifts because powershifting is faster than letting off the gas, and always on downshifts unless i like have to downshift really fast or unexpectedly.  If your hard on the back brake your gonna want to pull your clutch.

 

Almost anyone with speed is gonna be power-clutch upshifting or whatever the hell you call it and clutching when downshifting.  not that I have any speed im just saying

On 7/26/2017 at 6:52 PM, High On Octane said:

  Race bikes get rebuilt with ALL new internals after every weekend.

Not MotoGP bikes, and they get an allotment of sealed engines that must last the entire season. They shift clutch-less both up and down. :smirk:

On 7/8/2017 at 3:50 PM, Jason76 said:

Personally I stab the clutch a small amount when upshifting out of habit, but never downshifting.  I ride strictly trails though, not mx

I clutch to upshift only when I'm riding slow; it's a habit from when I first leaned to ride. :D

I clutch to upshift only when I'm riding slow; it's a habit from when I first leaned to ride.


Lol yup, I'm not even sure if I'm actually timing or pulling the lever in far enough to disengage. I think it's more just my finger moving from memory.


Lol yup, I'm not even sure if I'm actually timing or pulling the lever in far enough to disengage. I think it's more just my finger moving from memory.

That is so true. You learn to do it so fast you don't even know you are doing it.
18 hours ago, yz125rider447 said:

I always clutch my upshifts because powershifting is faster than letting off the gas, and always on downshifts unless i like have to downshift really fast or unexpectedly.  If your hard on the back brake your gonna want to pull your clutch.

 

Almost anyone with speed is gonna be power-clutch upshifting or whatever the hell you call it and clutching when downshifting.  not that I have any speed im just saying

I believe they are called Race Changes:

 

 

On July 10, 2017 at 10:58 AM, GoneDirtBikeN said:

So now that you read through all the posts and know the in's-n-out's of needing or not needing the clutch to shift...

I would say a beginner (I'm at a stage not much past beginner) should use the clutch on downshift. You'll be decelerating more so, and for a longer period of time, than the "fast guys" (going into corners) so you will have pressure on the gear cogs and if that is so a good nip of the clutch will take the stress off the gears while shifting. I nip the clutch downshifting as at my stage, not doing so doesn't really buy me anything speed wise. Way too much other stuff going on while riding the MX track for me to remember if I'm upshifting or downshifting and when or when not to use the clutch. Much better for me to just always nip the clutch when shifting and worry about other stuff.

Do you want or need to be the "fast guy" and don't mind putting a bit more wear-n-tear on your dirt bike - then learn to not use the clutch when downshifting. 

Edit: Oh, I now see William1 already said this...

Seems to me on the track you're only downshifting headed into corners.. For me, skipping the clutch on downshifting is one LESS thing to think about. I don't get mixed up cause it's the same situation over and over.  

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