Just like most riders, you probably use the clutch each and every time you are shifting gears. Also, you’ve probably heard about clutchless shifting but you have no idea of how it’s done but would love to try it. Clutchless shifting simply means changing gears without using the lever on the left bar of your motorcycle. It is commonly done on upshifts and also works well with downshifts. If done appropriately, it will not harm your transmission.
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How to Shift Without the Clutch
When performing clutchless shifting, timing is the most important element. Primarily, you also need consistent practicing in order to master and get the feel for it. However, bikes are different so the throttle change may be different depending on the type of bike you are using.
Before we get to how to shift without a clutch, it is crucial to first learn about the inner components of a motorcycle’s gearbox. A motorcycle gearbox has a shift drum and shift forks with six different positions into which the shift drum fits. These positions are 1st, neutral, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th in most modern motorcycles.
Now let’s say you want to shift from 2nd to 3rd position, the 2nd gear will be detached before you engage the 3rd. That time when you are shifting between the two gears, your gearbox is not engaged and it is not neutral. That period is in an undefined state which is different from manual gearboxes, where every gear must shift through neutral. Thus, to shift between the gears, you need to discharge the drive train to allow decoupling and recoupling by jerking the clutch lever. However, in our case here we don’t want to use the lever. We will instantly roll off and then turn on the throttle.
So how do you shift gears without a clutch?
- The first principle is to unload the transmission to shift gears and transmit the load to the gear sprockets.
- Then put your toe below the shift lever and apply a firm but small upward pressure to the shift lever.
- Immediately roll off the throttle (you don’t have to totally blip the throttle) to take out the pressure from the sprockets. If done properly, the upward pressure allows the motorcycle to turn to the next gear without using the clutch.
- Once done successfully, gently take the pressure off the gear lever until the motorcycle is back to normal settings so that you can index the next gear.
It’s also important to note that the technique occurs in a split second so it is a prompt action. As such, you need lots of regular practice to be able to execute the aforementioned steps effortlessly. You will also be able to know the perfect time to lift the lever and when to shift the gears.
In addition, clutchless shifting is best done when you want to shift to any gear higher than the previous gear. For example, you can move from the first gear to second gear, second to third, and so forth.
The technique can also come in handy when you have a damaged clutch cable. You will be able to shift gears and get your bike into action so that you don’t get stranded at the middle of nowhere.
How to Do a Clutchless Downshift
.Now that we know how to upshift without a clutch, did you know that you can also shift down too? Yes, you can do it. However, most riders think that it is a crazy thing to do, but it is one of the easiest techniques you can use for faster acceleration and a smoother bike control.
When done appropriately, clutchless downshift will not damage your bike and will not wreck your gearbox. Now, let’s have a look at how it’s done.
- Use your middle and index fingers to front brake and keep the ring and pinky finger firmly on the throttle.
- Once you start to brake, pull in the clutch and get to the next gear as you normally do.
- Then, as you hold the clutch in, use the ring and pinky fingers to gently accelerate the engine.
- Continue braking smoothly still using your middle and index fingers.
- Once the engine is slightly revved up, let out the clutch and engage the next gear.
However, if when you let the clutch out your motorcycle jerks forward, it means that the engine has turned too fast. And if the bike slows down quickly, it means that the engine did not turn fast enough, so next time you need to accelerate it more before you release the clutch.
Will Clutchless Shifting Damage my Motorcycle?
Whenever the question of clutchless shifting arises, you will mostly hear a few riders suggesting that it can harm the transmission of the motorcycle. Others claim that it is harmful to components such as engaging dogs and shifting forks. While others say that it should only be done when necessary, that is during track racing and drag racing.
On the contrary, clutchless shifting does not harm your motorcycle if done right. The technique has been applied for many years by countless number of riders across different types of bikes and on countless laps. I have also used the technique so many times and my gearbox is still intact.
If the technique is done correctly without applying too much pressure on the shift lever for extended periods of time, the shift will be smooth and you will encounter no problems. However, if you grind the gears or force the shift lever, you will definitely cause unwarranted wear and tear on your bike’s transmission.
Clutchless shifting is a skill worth learning that every rider should try. Once you understand its central theory, the task becomes easier and less dramatic. It is pretty easy to learn and you can naturally master the skill in a matter of minutes. And once you get the hang of it, you can clutchless shift without even thinking about it.
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.