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Trouble being smooth R12RT


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I’m having trouble adapting to two characteristics of our new 05 R1200 RT.


Transition from power to engine braking:

When putting along in traffic, or when riding a twisty road at 30 to 40 mph in second gear, I have trouble rolling off the throttle in a smooth manner from power to coasting or engine braking. We usually klonk helmets when I do this. Then the transition back to power produces a jerk. We never had this problem on any of previous (carborated) motorcycles.


Ratio of first gear:

With six gears, why did they make first gear so high?confused.gif Stop and go traffic requires a lot more clutch slipping than I am used to. Also, I find it hard to make a graceful, non-jack rabbit start.


Previous motorcycles:

  • 1984 Goldwing
  • 1998 Honda Transalp
  • 1980 Honda 750F

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I noticed the same thing when I switched from my chain driven Honda cruiser to my shaft driven Meanstreak. I was very jerky at first. I just learned careful throttle control, you can't just close the throttle completely, then whack it back open. It'll jerk. I also learned to just stay on the power. If I was slowing for a left turn, waiting for a hole in traffic, I would just slip the clutch and stay on the throttle, using my back brake to slow myself (to a crawl if necessary) until my hole opened up, then simply release your clutch and brake and scoot around the corner. Rode that bike for 2 years so switching to the RT wasn't a big deal.


Get your revs up when starting and keep them above 2000 and everything will smooth out. Mine definitely doesn't like it below 2000, and seems to be in it's happy place when flying past 6000 as I hang on for dear life! :-)


I find it easiest in stop and go traffic to pretty much keep the clutch fully disengaged and then I just "bump" the clutch to keep myself moving slowly along with traffic.


Just try slipping your clutch a bit and using your back brake, it will smooth out your slow speed maneuvers a lot. Check out the "Ride Like a Pro" dvds, he shows lots of exercises to practice this.

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If I'm not mistaken, all your previous bikes had a wet clutch (mine too BTW). The RT has a dry clutch - and I've noticed its friction zone is MUCH less forgiving than the Hondas'.


Second gear at 30-40 mph, eh? Personally, that sounds a little fast for second unless I'm purposely trying to ride aggressively. If I'm trying to be smooth, I'd probably try that roll-on/roll-off in 3rd. FWIW - I'm usually cruising at 40 mph in 4th (about 3K RPM), so 3rd would only be one downshift from my normal cruising gear at that speed. It doesn't surprise me you're getting the 'quirky jerkies' at ~35 in second gear. JMO


First gear IS much taller than the Hondas too. But you'll get smooth - and it really doesn't take a lot of clutch slipping. What it DOES take is getting the bike rolling as quickly as possible - even if only at 2-3 mph and a light/no touch on the rr brake as soon as you're rolling - if not sooner (as in start off with no trailing/dragging brake). Believe it or not, you CAN idle with the clutch fully let out at 5 mph or less. Practice (solo) in a parking lot to see how quickly you can get the bike rolling with the clutch fully let out - with as minimal engine rpms and as slow a speed as possible. IMHO, if you can get the bike rolling and idling along with the clutch fully let out at 5 mph or so, you're golden. You should then be able to gracefully pull away from virtually any standing start situation you'll encounter.


Go get some practice in and IMHO, your confidence and smoothness will come quickly. Good luck!


'02 R1150 RT

Most recent bike - '99 Honda 1100 Shadow Aero

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Everything Mark just said and a little more.


Go to a hydraulic supply store or your local Caterpillar dealer and get an O-ring, size 320 works on pre-1200 bikes, not sure about yours. Slide said ring up over the bar end weight and between the throttle grip and the weight. Test to be sure you can still close the throttle and adjust the position of the entire assembly as needed until the throttle will close by itself, albeit reluctantly.


You'll be greatly surprised at how much a bit of drag smooths your throttle operation. It will even improve shifting for you. All for about a buck.


As always, be careful when learning how to ride with the new device, you'll have to learn to chop the throttle yourself instead of letting the return spring do it for you. I always run all my bikes with some form of throttle drag, I learned to ride before there were return springs so it's easy for me.

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I followed some good advise from this forum regarding slipping the clutch...Don't do it. Even two up, I rarely exceed 2K rpm when fully releasing the clutch. Let the torque pull you. That doesn't mean you should "lug" the motor, but you'll get the feel soon. thumbsup.gif

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A lot of great comments here. I just got my new RT this past week and right off the bat noticed the same thing you are experiencing. Today things are really starting to smooth out a bit. It just takes some seat time learning the clutch and friction zone. Go to a parking lot or your driveway and go back to one of the first excersises in the BRC course. Just rock back and forth with the clutch getting use to the friction zone.

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I have had my 05 RT for about 2 weeks now. I have found that to ride normal stop and go, 40mph or less, I just shift early (2500-3000) and have learned to be smoother with the throttle and clutch. I also played with the lever adjusters. At first I thought that the closest position for the clutch and brake were the most comfortable, but now have found that the second position is better for control. I also believe that most shaft drives have more "lash" causing that jerking, which would happen when the chain was loose on my old Honda 750. I think that the RT is so strong at the bottom end that it just tempts me to use it too much. The more I ride it the easier it seems to get.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've had my 06 RT for about two months now and the biggest challenge I've had with smoothness has been the strength of the engine braking. On other bikes, I could release the throttle and experience a gradual deceleration. On the RT, if I do that I get a strong deceleration and corresponding lack of smoothness. I'm still working with this, but I think the answer is to manage the throttle in both directions, i.e. use a similar motion when your backing off the throttle as you would if you were gradually accelerating.

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OK, enough whining about too tall first gear and difficult throttle transitions. The root cause is you. Actually everbody who went before you and demanded that the bike provide crisper acceleration and throttle response.


The engineers at BMW listened. What that got you is a motor with very little rotational mass. Nice and crisp when responding to the throttle. Trouble is that it is crisp in both directions. Where is the root cause? Flywheel weight.


First gear to tall? Hardly. The bike will get down and run at 2-3 mph in first. What is lacking is energy storage. A nice heavy flywheel will provide sufficient inertia so the motor revs don't pull down as you are trying to pull away from a stop. Torque multiplication, via gear ratio, can mask this a little bit but you wind up with a first gear that won't get you across an intersection or around a corner from a start.


Take a look at some old traction engines. See that huge round thing on the side? That is a flywheel. It's function is to store rotational energy to allow the motor to tolerate high load without losing speed. It also makes it slower to gain RPM meaning acceleration will suffer. Not important in a traction engine but what you demand in your motorcycle.


I have a feeling that some clever machinest could make himself a nice buck or two building heavier flywheels for the latest series of BMW motors. Both oil and hex head. The old airheads never had the problem.

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Drop it into 1st, slip clutch briefly with added throttle, row it through the gears to 6th, find some really nice big sweepers, keep the r's up where they like it and enjoy thumbsup.gif!!!!



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I have found that holding the bar end as well as the throttle helps me "over" control the throttle. I leave my ring and pinkie around the bar end and use the other two fingers for turning the throttle. It eliminates a jerky throttle for me.

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There is a point there. You don't really need your whole hand on the throttle to ride the bike, nor do you need to control the throttle with your wrist. Big arm motions while cranking on the throttle are better left to drag racers and the movies.


I would say for 90% of my riding, I maintain two fingers over the brake lever and two on the throttle. Even there, rather than moving my arm, or even my wrist, most throttle movement is accomplished with just subtle changes in where/how I am applying pressure with the muscles in my hand.


Once again, a matter of a little practice. As you are rolling along, pull in the clutch and hold the engine at say 3000 RPM. Now try to increase to 3100, no more. See how little movement is needed? See how hard it is to do with your arm and how easy it is to do just by squeezing the grip a little differently? Now go back and do it in gear. Just try not to hit the garbage truck that stopped in front of you while you were watching the tach. dopeslap.gif

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