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Slow Riding - Dry Clutch - Friction Zone


bmurphypdx

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bmurphypdx

Having read the "RT Cones" thread, I'm at a loss. I'm a noob with about 2,500 miles under my belt. I want to become very proficient at slow speed maneuvers. I have a R1200ST with a dry clutch. So should I use the friction zone in practice? Apparently not. If not, what is the proper technique with a dry clutch? Everything I've seen (MSF course, Ride Like a Pro DVD) relies on use of the friction zone. What should I do? frown.gif

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As you're learning you'll be slipping the clutch more than you should... its inevitable. However once you build your skills you'll have very good clutch control and will not be slipping the clutch during slow speed maneuvers.

 

IMO, the best habbit you can get into to develop good clutch control is to pull in the clutch just to the point that there is no friction on the clutch, but no further. That way as you're doing these slow speed maneuvers, when you need power, it'll be right there... just a fraction of an inch of movement in the clutch lever and it will begin to engage.

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bmurphypdx

OK. Just to make sure I understand - you are suggesting that I use the clutch (engaged obviously)for power and sufficient entry speed, then disengage (no friction on the clutch)to begin the maneuver and then re-engage only when needed for power to the rear wheel. Do I have that right? Thanks.

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Don't forget, as mentioned on the cones thread, give the clutch a rest or chance to cool off frequently during practice if you slip it a lot.

 

I ride an RT, so can't help with advice on your bike. But on the RT, you need to have power all the time during a slow speed turn, or it will dive to the ground. I've also found, if you sense it's going down, goose the throttle or let out the clutch a little and it will stand back up again. ( Just don't kill the engine. ) First time I tried this, it was hard to over come the desire to slow it down so there would be less damage in what I thought was a committed fall. It didn't.

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OK. Just to make sure I understand - you are suggesting that I use the clutch (engaged obviously)for power and sufficient entry speed, then disengage (no friction on the clutch)to begin the maneuver and then re-engage only when needed for power to the rear wheel. Do I have that right? Thanks.

 

Keep the clutch in the "friction zone" (slipping) the entire time you are maneuvering at low speed. If you try to keep it either fully "engaged" or fully "disengaged" (i.e. not slipping), you will be very jerky & probably end up dropping it. It is true that dry clutches will heat up and wear more quickly than wet clutches in these conditions so give it a cooling off period more frequently than you would with a wet clutch. But certainly don't baby the clutch at the expense of smooth low-speed handling. It is usually not something you do continuously under normal conditions as compared to when you're practicing the technique. After all, every time you pull off from a stop sign you're slipping the clutch quite a bit---that is it's job!

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bmurphypdx

Thanks. This is the approach I've taken so far but I began to wonder if I was doing more damage to the clutch than was reasonable/acceptable. On the other hand, use of the friction zone is so common, I assume (yeah, I know, stupid assumption)the BMW engineers must have considered that in the design.

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ShovelStrokeEd

You really should explore this a bit more. First off, you don't need the clutch as much as you might think. Second, if you do use it, just don't raise the RPM very much, by keeping the RPM differential as small as possible between the two friction faces, you minimize the severity of the slip.

 

Try this as your primary slow speed maneuver. See how slowly you can ride the bike in a straight line without slipping the clutch at all. Wouldn't be surprised if the bike can't get down to 1200 RPM or so in first gear. Now practice smooth application of throttle from that speed. You need to be really smooth and only pick up a little bit of RPM. All will be clear later. Spend a good deal of time on this as it is critical to all the rest.

 

When you are ready to start practicing turns, forget about radius at first, work on going from that ultra-low speed and adding just a tiny bit of throttle as you start to turn the bike. As you improve at this, you can start tightening up the radii of your turns and applying throttle as needed.

 

You see, a slow speed turn is no different from a high speed turn. They are best handled under conditions of neutral throttle to slight acceleration. Once you have mastered the fine throttle control, you'll find that by starting out at that very minimal speed, a U-turn inside that 18' box requires no clutch at all.

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You really should explore this a bit more. First off, you don't need the clutch as much as you might think....Once you have mastered the fine throttle control, you'll find that by starting out at that very minimal speed, a U-turn inside that 18' box requires no clutch at all.

 

Excellent advice from Ed. I don't think you'll need to worry about the friction zone too much on your ST. It will practically walk itself around a low speed maneuver, such as a figure eight with a little throttle while the clutch stays engaged--in first gear.

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motorman587

All you got to remember that on a dry clutch the clutch will get hotter and slipping should be keep at a min.

 

Those DVD ie.....Ride like Pro, use wet clutches and putting the motor in friction zone is no big deal, but they get hot too.

 

When I teach newbie riders, we do the slow cone weave and the off set with no clutch at all. Just putt-putt through and steer, if had one motor officer do the whole course just steering no clutch no brakes. When it was rodeo time were time is important that motor officer was harder on the clutch because the course was tighter and they had to rethink about clutch throttle control.

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bmurphypdx

Thanks for all of this great input. I'll be giving these techniques a try over the next couple of days. We finally have some sunny weather up here in the Pacific Northwest. grin.gif

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While I don't disagree with what's being voiced about not using the clutch, i.e. do the maneuvers with it fully engaged, I don't think we can totally discount the need for slipping at times either. And to that I'd add a slightly different perspective when dealing with this on a dry clutch bike...

 

First, abandon the idea of slipping it at all. By slipping it I'm (and others of course) are defining it as keeping it in the "friction zone" (a bit of a misnomer as it's all friction), the point between not engaged and fully engaged. Forget that IMHO. On any bike for that matter, not just a dry clutch one.

 

Instead think and do in terms of quick 'excursions' transitions in and out of the friction zone. From not engaged, to partially engaged (just entering the friction zone) and back out again. Your almost micro-pulsing the lever and by extension the clutch plates, as you add or delete more power as need, right on the edge of the start of the friction zone. Your left hand is almost always in motion a tiny bit as you increase, decrease, increase your grip on the clutch lever. This is a very a finesse, fine control of the clutch, and it takes practice (what doesn't?) but in the end it will lead to much better, much more finesse control of the bike too.

 

To say nothing of less mechanical abuse of it.

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bmurphypdx

Thanks, Ken. I'm working today and will not have an empty school parking lot until this evening but I will read through all of this again before heading out. This is really great input from everyone. Thanks again.

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My opinion definitely differs from some of the above opinions on the use of clutch in very tight manuevers. While I don't argue that its possible to make a tight turn with the clutch fully engaged, I thinks its not good practice. If you're turning that bike as tight as it can be turned, you'll need a gentler touch than you can get with only throttle input. You'll need to be softening throttle input with good clutch engagement.

 

I think Ken has a good explanation of clutch use in very tight manuevers.

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JustKrusen

One problem with NOT using the friction zone is the rear tire breaking loose if traction is lost. If you happen to find some gravel, sand or whatever the bike can go down real quick. Especially true if you are also using a little rear brake to control your speed.

 

If you are using the friction zone correctly the rear wheel will not spin if the traction changes.

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My opinion definitely differs from some of the above opinions on the use of clutch in very tight manuevers...If you're turning that bike as tight as it can be turned...

 

One problem with NOT using the friction zone is the rear tire breaking loose if traction is lost. If you happen to find some gravel, sand or whatever...

 

To clarify my remarks, I wasn't advocating never using the friction zone, particularly in an extreme situation--but when conditions warrant such as practicing on clean asphalt. I'm just saying it can be done. wave.gif

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bmurphypdx

Having read and digested all of the above, I went out this evening to my favorite school parking lot. One thing I did a bit differently tonight was to practice for about 15 minutes then went out for a highway jaunt (60 mph) for 15 minutes to cool the clutch. Fortunately, the parking lot is near a wide open highway.

 

As to the particulars of the slow speed drills. I found that while the bike will travel forward at idle (1150 rpm) there is a tad bit of chugging involved - enough that it upsets the sense of balance I need in a tight turn. Having tried it, I agree (at least for me on this bike) that keeping the clutch fully engaged and using the throttle only does not provide the fine control necessary for tight maneuvers.

 

So I do find myself working the clutch and the rear brake (just a bit on both - not excessively) to manage tight turns.

 

On the positive side, I am able to U-turn and circle in under 24 feet with the R1200ST, almost all of the time. So more practice is needed but I feel I am making progress. Motorman, just so you know, I AM going to get to the motor officer level shown on the DVD, just not quite there yet! smile.gif

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I found that while the bike will travel forward at idle (1150 rpm) there is a tad bit of chugging involved
Try doing it all in 2nd grear with a bit of throttle.
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Having read the "RT Cones" thread, I'm at a loss. I'm a noob with about 2,500 miles under my belt. I want to become very proficient at slow speed maneuvers. I have a R1200ST with a dry clutch. So should I use the friction zone in practice? Apparently not. If not, what is the proper technique with a dry clutch? Everything I've seen (MSF course, Ride Like a Pro DVD) relies on use of the friction zone. What should I do? frown.gif

 

Coincidentally, we watched Ride Like A Pro again yesterday and went to the local K-Mart parking lot on our RT's to practice using the friction zone negotiating tight turns ...Getting ready for Streetmasters class on Saturday....

U-turns probably in Motorman's required 24 foot range and did OK swerving with cones about 12 feet apart....It works...

Terminated practice after a few runs through the cones (sawed in half old tennis balls) as I felt it was punishing the clutches too much...Probably, as mentioned, practice to learn how to use the technique and not slip the clutch so much would occur after a while ....But in the mean time... confused.gif

 

Phil...........Redbrick

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