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Shifting Epiphany


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OK, it may be second nature to all the pros here, but I finally crossed through a very aggrevating barrier on the GS. While much is posted here (very helpfully, I might add) about shifting the Hexhead (preload the shift lever, etc.), I have struggled with my 1st to 2nd shift. Clunky, missed, into neutral, you name it. Drove my nuts!

Finally, I tried changing my timing. With preloading, the other gears can be hit real quick. But, I focused on increasing the time I held in the clutch by about double. Now, it's still an under one second affair, of course, but that extra bit of time makes it all work. I'm not a technician, but it kind of makes sense as the movement is about double: 1st to neutral then on to 2nd. Too bad it took close to 8,000 miles to figger it out! dopeslap.gif




(Roll the crying Miss America tape) "If I can just help one other person shift smoothly, I can go to my Maker knowing I made a difference in my time here."


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I'll bet I can make it smoother and quicker for you such that the 1-2 shift can be acomplished with the nearly the alacrity of the 5-6 and no need to change your timing. Wanna know? Do ya?

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I'll bet I can make it smoother and quicker for you such that the 1-2 shift can be acomplished with the nearly the alacrity of the 5-6 and no need to change your timing. Wanna know? Do ya?

Pleeeeeeeeease? Don't make me beg!


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Faster (quicker) is better, more RPMs is better. Slow, lazy shifts = clunks and lurches.


I can shift my RT 'soundless' with a veeeeeery subtle and YES, lazy movement of my big toe !

When not in a hurry (which is most of the time) I switch to 2nd JUST after getting the RT to move... it will easily and with no problems pull out from there all the way to 210 if need be ! smirk.gif

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OK, but it's gonna take a little work on your part. Actually there are two ways and Francois has let one of the cats out of the bag. Appropriate in light of that pic. Short shifting, like almost as soon as the bike is rolling, works quite well. You do need to run good gas though.


The other is simple in principle, a little tougher to do but has worked for me on all my Beemers and even my Blackbird which, when it comes to a clunky 1-2 shift, is every bit as bad as the BMW's.


The trick lies in RPM matching, in particular, not backing off the gas so much between the gears. Unlike automotive transmissions, which have synchronizers, kinda like little internal clutches that allow the gears to come to a speed match before the shift is accomplished, our transmissions shift by engaging and disengaging 3 dogs on a slider gear with 3 slots on a stationary gear. The result is that speeds need to be more closely matched , but not perfectly, between the shafts to make the shift smooth. Too great a speed differential and the gearbox will clunk, too little and there is a chance the shift will balk due to the dogs missing the slots, about which, more later.


Enough technical stuff, lets get to technique.


In short, do not back off the throttle so much when performing gear changes. There is a second bit to this in that you shouldn't apply so much throttle while in first that the bike is still pulling when you attempt the gear change.


Now for the work part. Start out shifting just like any other gear, do not use your extended delay at the clutch, and just shift 1-2 without backing off the throttle at all. Yes, the bike is gonna lurch when you shift into second, live with it for a bit but do note that the shift is pretty smooth and the faster you are with the clutch and shift lever, the smoother the shift will be. Now, start backing off the throttle just the slightest bit at a time instead of going all the way off, and note that the shift gets smoother and the lurch gets smaller. Keep going till the lurch goes away. You will quickly develop the 'feel' for this and, in a day or so, it will become a smooth and unconcious method.


In aid of doing the work, if you have a Throttle Meister or some such friction device, engage it and set so that the throttle is reluctant to close. It will help you in your new, not backing off, technique. I leave mine on all the time. If you don't have one, pick up a size 320 O-ring and slip it between the bar end weight and the throttle grip, it will do the same thing. Do be aware that you will have to work harder to modulate the throttle while these devices are engaged but that shouldn't take more than a trip or two around the block to get used to it.


Good luck and smooth shifting to you.

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Another little hint to help you along.


Note the throttle position required to maintain a given speed in first gear. Get a good feel for where your wrist and had are.


No go the same speed in second gear and pay attention to that as well.


The position of your wrist in second is all you need move to translate from first to second. You are gonna find yourself amazed at how little difference there really is between the two throttle openings.

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I tried this the other night and what a differance it made. I thought to myself (my inflated ego) this is nearly as smooth an automatic transmission grin.gif NOT!!

I was even waiting for my SO to say something like, "wow, nice shifting" NOT!!! she was more involved with looking at the birds flying out in the fields. Sheeeesh, no one noticed but me.


It was a vast improvement clap.gif and just wanted to say thanks

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  • 1 year later...

What works best for my RT (and, now, all of my other bikes), is to preload the shifter, and use almost no clutch. I actually put one finger on the clutch at the base of the clutch lever, and move it about 1/8" really fast and the trans pops up to the next gear almost effortlessly, even at high RPM's. The key is to shift super fast so that the engine and the trans don't get out of sync, speed-wise. Works well with all of my other bikes too - it's surprising how little clutch that is really needed.

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