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Thread: Shifting without a clutch

  1. #1
    Kbiker BCKRider's Avatar
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    Shifting without a clutch

    Not sure where I picked up this information - and not sure it applies to all bikes - so I invite your corrections and additions. But the info, and any exceptions, need to be widely known.

    YOU CAN upshift or downshift a TRAVELLING motorcycle with a broken clutch cable. (I understand that some racers, using maximum RPM, prefer not to use the clutch for upshifts.) The important thing to know, for most of us, is that firm pressure on the gear lever with a roll-off on the throttle will allow you to make a gear change in either direction. It will be a bit jerky but not damaging to your transmission.

    This happened to me a number of years ago not too far from home. I was on a backroad, got down to first gear, and had almost a mile to contemplate what I was going to do when I encountered the stop sign on the busy two lane hiway I wanted to turn left on.

    I eased up slowly feathering both clutch and rear brake. Though traffic from the right was solid, I did find a gap in the right lane and headed away from home, hugging the shoulder in low gear. When I got a break in traffic in both directions, I made a U-turn across the road. After that, I knew I had to run three stop signs to get to and up my driveway, and I did just that.

    My feeling at the time (and still is) that if I had ever been forced to come to a complete stop, that bike wasn't going home under it's own power. (This was a 87K75.) Anyone push- started any bikes on level ground with no clutch?

    Or is there some way I could have revved it up in neutral, pounded the lever into first, and gotten underway?

    Broken clutch cables are not that unusual. And there are some great minds here. Fire away.
    Doug
    1992 K100RS

  2. #2
    1-2-3-Kick It criminaldesign's Avatar
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    I was riding Dad's ZX12 Kaw the other day and I UPSHIFTED at times without the clutch, before the upshift, slightly roll off throttle and in gear she went. Downshifting I don't attempt without the clutch, I'm guessing it could be reversed but I'm for the most part in the dark and it's not my gearbox. Matching RPM's and the respected gearing is what I gather from it.

    The assisted clutch-less upshifts on the S1000RR is pretty cool, super smooth. I messed with it a few times but naturally went back to using the clutch.

    I stick with the clutch, just experimenting really.

    Additionally, I do blip the throttle downshifting on all bikes.
    Houston Mac
    '88 R100RS Saboteur
    MOA# 144652 | Airhead# 11105
    www.hhmcreative.com

  3. #3
    Registered User MAYLETT's Avatar
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    Upshifting without a clutch is often called a speed shift or a power shift.

    Long ago, in another lifetime, I used to drag race 750cc two-stroke triples. Using a clutch during upshifts meant having to back off the throttle too much and for too long, with that fraction of a second, of course, lacking forward acceleration. The solution was to simply not use the clutch ÔÇö hit just the right RPMs, very slightly back off the throttle while simultaneously kicking in the higher gear. With a little practice, it feels like a knife cutting through butter ÔÇö very smooth and fast.

    My RT is a bit picky when it comes to speed shifting, so I don't often do it. Even today, though, while riding my Yamaha, I always speed shift into the higher gears, and have done so for some 100,000 miles (on it and other bikes) with no mechanical issues. It's become 30 year's worth of second nature and is just smoother, easier and feels more natural. I've sometimes wondered how many other motorcycle riders routinely do this.

    As for downshifting without the clutch, hmmm, I wouldn't do that on a regular basis. In emergencies maybe, but when I've tried it, it's almost always been accompanied by gnashing of metal, painfully loud thuds and a bit of tire left on the pavement. And I have no practical suggestions at all on how you'd start out without a clutch.
    '09 BMW R1200RT, '81 Yamaha XS1100 Special

  4. #4
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    I shift without the clutch a lot, but don't really think about it.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014!

    -Tom (KA1TOX)

  5. #5
    3 Red Bricks
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    I don't know which BMW transmissions share the internal design of the early K-bike Getrag transmission, anyone who shifts an early K-bike without using the clutch is asking for a large repair bill eventually. DO NOT SHIFT AN EARLY K-BIKE TRANNY WITHOUT USING THE CLUTCH!!!!

    It will work ----FOR AWHILE.

    The Getrag transmission is NOT like most Japanese bike trannys.

    All it takes is to slightly round off the shift dogs (clutchless shifting WILL lead to this on these transmissions) and instead of sucking together the gears it will push them apart bending the shift fork ($273 ea.) and putting a dent in the shift drum ($372). Just replacing these parts will not fix the problem. You also must replace the gears that have the rounded off dogs (Avg. $250 ea, min. 2 req.) You are looking at a MINIMUM of $1000 in parts (not including labor).

    If you don't give a s**t about your bike, shift it any way you want. If you don't want it to let you down, don't abuse it. (sort of like neutral dropping your dad's automatic back in the day. It will do it, but it sure wasn't good for it. Or so I hear.) USE THE CLUTCH.

    In an emergency situation (i.e. broken cable) you must do a risk/reward assessment. If you NEED to do it, take great care in matching rpm and keep shifting to the absolute minimum.



    LONG MAY YOUR BRICK FLY!

    Ride Safe, Ride Far, Ride Often

    Lee Fulton Forum Moderator
    3 Marakesh Red K75Ss
    Mine, Hers, Spare

  6. #6
    I'm from M.A.R.S. From MARS's Avatar
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    While I've never experienced it with the BMW's, I did have to shift without a clutch on my old Harley when I lost a cable 50 miles from home. Going up is pretty easy; simply apply pressure and slowly roll off the throttle. Going down is a little harder since there is no nuetral to slide into while you match RPM's. To downshift, you have to wait until the engine is almost being braked in the higher gear before rather quickly pushing the lever into the next lower gear while gently rolling on the throttle. This is not a recommendation; just my experience.

    As for starting from a stop, first get the bike rolling, then drop it in gear.

    YMMV

    Tom
    "Everything is something."
    '88 K75C, '03 K12RS, '93 R100GSPD '02 F650GS (all gone, but not forgotten)
    '93 R100R
    http://frommars.smugmug.com/

  7. #7
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 98lee View Post
    If you don't give a s**t about your bike, shift it any way you want.
    If you match the revs, I don't see what the problem is. I don't have a whole lotta miles on old K bikes, but I do have a whole lotta miles under my wheels.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014!

    -Tom (KA1TOX)

  8. #8
    3 Red Bricks
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommcgee View Post
    If you match the revs, I don't see what the problem is.
    I explained what the problem is. It probably isn't a problem on your Vstrom, but I sure wouldn't want to buy your K75.




    but I do have a whole lotta miles under my wheels.
    What does that mean?



    Again, if you don't give a s**t about your bike, shift it any way you want.



    LONG MAY YOUR BRICK FLY!

    Ride Safe, Ride Far, Ride Often

    Lee Fulton Forum Moderator
    3 Marakesh Red K75Ss
    Mine, Hers, Spare

  9. #9
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 98lee View Post
    Again, if you don't give a s**t about your bike, shift it any way you want.
    I've never had an emotional attachment to my chariots. I also don't damage anything intentionally or do clutchless shifting intentionally. It just happens sometimes.

    To me, all vehicles are consumables. When they wear out or break, you either fix them or replace them.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014!

    -Tom (KA1TOX)

  10. #10
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    If you do it right, clutchless upshifts are smoother then using the clutch on oilheads.

    When I carry a passenger I frequently do it this way, almost CVT smooth, no helmet bobbing at all. Harder to do when accelerating with more zeal, but it does work then too.

    Downshifts are possible, but a little harder to be smooth.

  11. #11
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Heck, the even encourage clutchless upshifting on the K13S and the S1000RR...it's an electronic shifting assist in the shift linkage...
    Steve Henson
    SABMWRA MOA Club#62's Flat Fixer/ current forum moderator
    It's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away-D.Dillon/G. Strait

  12. #12
    Still plays with trains. tinytrains's Avatar
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    My K75 clutch cable broke awhile ago. 1st gear, pull in the lever and hit the starter. Off I went, very gently shifted to second and stayed there until I got home.

    I would not do it often, but you can get home.

    Scott
    1988 K75 Low Seat
    2009 R1200R Roadster

  13. #13
    God? What god? roborider's Avatar
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    You can clutchless shift the RT both up and down, but as mentioned, down is a bit tricky and I only did it to see if I could.

    I have an R75/5 that broke a clutch cable. My buddy would get me rolling and I'd clutchless shift to 2d and did my best to avoid red lights and rolled through stops until I made it home.
    Rob C. , Raleigh, NC
    '05 R12RT, R90/6
    2007 CBR600RR & 09 V-Star
    Suzuki DR 350

  14. #14
    IBA #44567 Ken F's Avatar
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    As mentioned earlier, to start the bike from a stop, push it as fast as you can and stab it into first & jump on.

    460
    IBA #44567
    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."
    -Albert Eienstein

  15. #15
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 460Jetboat View Post
    As mentioned earlier, to start the bike from a stop, push it as fast as you can and stab it into first & jump on.

    460
    Jump stating is usually easier using 2nd or even 3rd.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014!

    -Tom (KA1TOX)

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