My how stupid am I story...

To all,

Earlier this month I posted a YZ426 Premature Transmission Problem, stating my 2001 426 had lost its fourth gear completely. And I complained about the level of acknowledgement that Yamaha gave me regarding my problem was poor. Well, I had it taken apart and sure enough fourth gear was gone, and so was 3rd and 5th and not too far behind was 1st and 2nd. Ouch!! What was the cause? Was it premature wear, no! Was it neglect in changing oil and care, no! It was my riding style. I am an intermediate rider and I race regularly and I as many have come from a 2-stroke background. With that background I brought in a bad habit. I sometimes shift without the clutch on straigtaways or in the air. Now I am not suggesting that when I did it racing two strokes that it was healthy for the motor, but they were alot more durable. So a word to the wise, that I am sure many have already imbedded into their riding style, but make sure you use the clutch on this bike for every gear change. I didn't and its costing me $1,200. Just thought I would share my, how stupid I am story, for what its worth.

I was almost helping you paddle your no-tranny boat this past weekend. My farorite track just added a whoop section (did I mention I've never done whoops before) and on about my 3rd time through there I some how managed to put the front wheel right in between every whoop... while zipping along in 3rd gear. By the time I got out the other side my kidneys were in my throat, my head was about 3 whoops behind the rest of my body due to the go-go gadget arms effect, and I was standing on the shifter with my left boot. I got through the rest of the day with no shifting trouble so I'm assuming it was OK after that, but that made me nervous about bending a shift fork or something. WHEW..


That is not to bad of a story. I am wanting to confirm that shifting in the air and on straight-aways is what caused this problem. If possible, can you please expand as to why this occured?

I have owned YZ-F's since the end of 97 and do the same shifting that you describe. I have never had any problems with any of my YZ-F's transmissions. I would like to know if I need to change my style of if your problem is unique.

Thanks, Ernie


Life is to short, work hard


A little more history to think about. First my bike is only 2 1/2 months old. I have roughly 40 hours of track riding on it. Mostly practice and one race. I first noticed it popping out of gear (mainly third). On one instance it happened on the ramp of a long jump causing me to come up short and of course crash. At the time I thought I would adjust the shifter thinking I am just not giving it a good enough foot shift therefore causing it to come out of gear. Tried that, no change but during that same ride coming down a down hill at Hangtown I shifted to fourth and heard a sound similar to what a very loose chain would make. You know allot of clanking noise. So I immediately stopped riding. That was the lead up to the problem.

Now, the shop (not Yamaha, but a highly recommended one) took it apart and showed me the parts. I had a bad shift drum, shift fork and three very rounded gears and two others on their way out. What caused it in their opinion it was from not using the clutch. By shifting through the some of the gears without engaging the clutch it caused a massive amount of wear.

My style is simple, I use the clutch for corners and but not in the air or on straightaways. I dont recall using it after taking off the line to for fear of losing momentum.

Now maybe my style affected this bike during the breakin period, maybe in my eagerness to get on it I made these hard shifts to early in its life. I doubt it but I can't recall. Lucky for you you have been able to avoid this problem or maybe the my model is more susceptible to this type of style, or maybe it was my bad luck. But to all those with my style you may want to cut back on the shifts without the clutch.



Yours isn't the first that has been posted here at TT. It seems like it is a fairly rare problem...(hope so!!)

Did you try to get Yamaha to warranty the trans?



Life is too short, work hard

I have had a 99 YZ400, now have a 01YZ426 and a WR250F. I almost never use the clutch except to get started, and I ride 2 or 3 times a week. I have never had any tranny problems.

What's so hard about using the clutch? Isn't that why the bike has one? Just curious.


2000 YZ426F

2001 CR500R

Shifting in the air is the same as pulling in the clutch for all practical purpose. You pull in the clutch to take the load off the trans... there is no load when the tire is in the air.

I work at a Honda car dealer and have to rebuild a lot of transmissions and they all have one thing in common. They all belong to young kids in lowered Civic's who think they are race car drivers and this is their first car (or first stick shift car). Anyway, getting to the point... I always try to talk with them, or better yet go for a ride with them driving and they all have the same habit. They, for some reason, like to rest their hand on the shift lever all the time while they're driving. The trans has detents that keep the shift forks centered in the synchro sliders and when they rest their hand on the lever it puts just enough pressure to wear out the shift forks and synchros. It doesn't take long as most of these cars only have 10-30k miles on them when they start popping out of gear and grinding on shifts. Maybe your boot unknowingly hits the shift lever a lot when you're riding? As far as shifting on a straight-a-way without the clutch, if it takes more pressure on the shift lever than normal then it's bad. It should just glide into gear either by barely fanning the clutch just a little or by rolling off the throttle just for a split second, anything to release the load.


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Umm, sorry being stupid, but this is a racing bike correct? Isn't this machine fully capable and designed for short shifts??? Heaven forbid if Charmichael, McGrath, or LaRocco should have to use the clutch to shift....they'd be dead last.

Sounds like another design flaw in an attempt to save weight by skimping on tranny. If this sucker isn't capable of short shifts, under neutral power, then there is a problem with Yamaha, I'm sorry. Street bikes aren't meant for short shifting (stock), neither are cars, but a RACING dirt bike....come on. Just my opinion I guess, but I'd call it an under-engineered design flaw.


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MotoGreg has an interesting theory. This tranny is not different from a two stroke trans, so I would suspect the extra torque and individual riding/shifting style, more than clutch/no clutch shifting. I rode all my F's just like a two stroke. Shift without clutch, but not under full load. If the trans is heavily loaded, it is best to fan the clutch.


Scott F '02 YZ250F < '01 YZ250F < '00 YZ426F < '99 YZ400F <'98 YZ400F

MotoGreg's "theory" is on the money!

If your boot applies pressure to the shift lever while riding, your transmission will go south in short order. Proper shifter adjustment and riding style (foot placement on the pegs) play a much larger role here than shifting in the air or on straights without the clutch.

I to am a Clutchless shifter...always have been. I have found that my 01 426 will not shift without the clutch at full throttle...I notice it most of the time during a start, shifting up to third or fourth. Back out of the throttle a little and she shifts... does this hurt the tranny?...sure its not good for it, but it is a race bike and I am going to run it as hard as I can...I will probrably break before the bike. If it does, oh well..they're RACE BIKES. That the price we have to pay to PLAY! This is an expensive sport.


I learned to shift with a clutch as a kid, and wouldn't know how to shift without it now. Thankfully!



2000 YZ426F

2001 CR500R

Agreed... just because the pros do it, doesn't mean that the bike is up to the task. Have a look at the world rally cars. They take a standard production car like a WRX, strip the whole damn thing, and fit incredibly expensive parts that are designed for true on the edge racing. The stuff doesn't get any better than what they use. And what happens? heaps of stuff breaks! Blown diffs, engines, driveshafts, GEARBOXES, clutches, you name it. They have a total disrespect for their vehicles and treat them brutally, but they can because they are backed by a team worth millions! back in the early days, the European drives were renound for their clutchless shifting, prefering to smash the gears to save a few seconds. they get paid to trash the things if it means they win. I don't think the pro motocross teams are much different. Im sure they ride them brutally to win, even if it means the bikes are screwed after the event. It doesn't matter, because they just get another one prepped by a whole team of mechanics!

I think i might be better off using the clutch and to do more work on my technique to increase my track speed. This way i don't have to worry about a transmission failure that would send me broke, and will gradually improve my track speed the right way, through correct technique! but, each to their own, so don't take it the wrong way. just my 2 cents (barely!) oh, and i would be happy to abandon the clutch if i get a factory ride (yeah, like that would happen)

World Rally Cars - now there is a sport! I have more respect for WRC drivers that I do for any other type of racing. Those guys can drive. Your right Doc, many things break because they are pushing it to the max.

As for the gearbox in my motorcycle, it does not mind if I shift without the clutch, providing I do it right and not just jam it into gear. Been doing it for many years with all kinds of bikes, and never had a problem. Take the load off and shift. I miss more gears messing with the clutch that I do without it.

Wouldn't you just love a chance to drive one of those WRX's on a rally course?

I know I'll get flamed for saying this, but I think it's pretty naive to assume there isn't a load on the tranny just because you're off the gas (even when you're in the air). This is a high torque 4 stroke we're riding here that has a lot of compression braking. This tranny never experiences a "no load" condition. Sure, the load is much less than when you're on the gas, but there's always a load. Personally, I'd rather spend the time and money figuring out how to get my clutch dialed in so I can use it effectively and make my drivetrain last as long as possible. Just my $0.02.

I agree with you bbeakley! For my 6 grand, I'll use the clutch gladly. Even when I'm shifting off a jump. Riding an expensive motorcycle in a manner that seems destructive to me, sounds like a good way to give Yamaha more money than they deserve. My .02

DOC, if your listening, my best friend lives in Canberra. My wife and I spent a week there last April. What a beautiful place! I wished I could have seen the country on 2 wheels!


Ron in SoCal,

i have been watching the WRC for well over 10 years. Even today, with all that i have seen, it still makes my jaw drop when i see them in action. I might get some abuse, but i reckon it is more amazing to watch than any other form of motorsport, bar none. Those men are truly talented, but when your'e throwing a AUS$300,000+ rally car 220km/h+ through the trees, i guess you have to be! Love to drive a WRX around a rally course, that would be great, but i would swap the chance for a hot lap with Mr. McRae any day!

GLEN T, glad you liked Canberra! Just about to head off for a ride myself. They call Canberra the bush capital, and for good reason. There is heaps of bushland for bikes, and most of what i do is in the pines. We only have one MX track near by, and it isn't that great. Dirtbikes don't get much attention by our goverment. They pulled down the last MX track and are building a golf course on it. Talk about adding insult to injury!

I think the big distinction here is the appropriate use of the throttle when performing clutch-less shifting.

I don't think any tranny could take on consistent full throttle clutch-less up shifting, or smack-style downshifting.

In addition to this, this style of shifting, in any form of racing, (car or moto) disturbs rear wheel traction and can significantly harm lap times.

Too many amateur riders and drivers seldom learn the importance of being smooth with these transactions. They assume that a full-on throttle quick shifting style is fastest.

In road racing, we used switches on the shifters to cut the engines on the up shifts, (were talking fractions of a second here). Clutches were used going into the corners to maintain traction. The smoother this process, the better the lap times and the longer the tires last.

I'm not sure what they do in auto road racing, but I would really have to assume they have similar methods.

I have now logged 214 hours on my 00 426. Although I don't consider myself fast, I use the bike very aggressively. I almost never use the clutch on the up-shift, and only use it on the downshift when the next gear down is going to leave me in the high R's. However, in nearly all shifts, I do appropriately apply the throttle. No tranny concerns to date.


[This message has been edited by DaveJ (edited October 01, 2001).]

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