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 Post subject: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:19 pm 
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Motorcycle: Rebel 250 plus a few others
Rebel: 250
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There's a been some discussion lately about problems with gear shifting and finding neutral. There can be a number of causes for poor shifting, and some of them are pretty easy to fix. Damaged shifter forks however, are another story. To fix that requires a complete teardown of the engine and is not something anyone wants to do, particulalry when damaged shifter forks are entirely unnecessary and should never happen in the first place.

Honda shift forks parts 1,2 and 3 in this picture


For those who don't know, shifter forks Have a semi circular part that resembles a fork and which fits into a groove on the transmission gear. The other end of the fork slides back and forth on a polished round shaft. The sliding end has a little roller "pin" that engages a slot on the shifter "drum" such that rotating the drum with the shifter mechanism will move the forks from side to side and slide the gears into positions for the various gear ratios.
This looks like a fairly intricate delicate mechanism, and it is. If the forks get bent or bound up on the polished shaft, they can stick and cause faulty hard shifting.
Just by looking at the parts, you can tell that excessive force can cause damage and should be avoided.
Many newbies do not understand that while the gears can slide easily back and forth on the tranny shafts,they have slots and pegs or "dogs" on their sides that must interlock (dogs go into slots) , to lock free wheeling gears to their fixed neighbours in order to transmit power through the particular pair of gears used for each gear ratio. This is why its sometimes impossible to change gear selection or get neutral while the bike is stopped. The dog is pushing against the side of the gear beside the slot, and no amount of stomping and cursing will force it to engage. If the bike is rolled even a couple of inches forward or backward, the dog will slide in easily with little force.
Thus there is no reason to ever use much force on a shifter. Good shifting technique is is to apply smooth pressure to the pedal rather than a sudden jerk. Similar to pulling a trigger on a gun: Its not a sudden twitch, its a smooth pull or push followed through right to the limit of travel of the shifter rachet mechanism. You finish the shift with gentle pressure being applied at the end of travel of the shift lever. you then release the pressure to be ready for the next shift.
Because the gear dogs are undercut a bit to resist popping out of gear, you can actually apply a little pressure to the shifter just prior to rolling off throttle, and the tranny will not come out of gear until the load is taken off the gears by rolling off throttle.
Thus very little "pre-pressure" just prior to rolling off throttle and pulling in the clutch will ensure a crisp smooth shift.
Smooth work on the throttle to match engine and rear wheel speeds on downshifts (the throttle "blip") and to get power back on smoothly on an upshift will complete the shift like a pro.
Like everything else in riding, smoothness is the objective. One gear should flow smoothly into the next, and gearshift pedal pressure should be gentle but firm.

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2004 Honda Rebel 250
2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
2007 Ducati 1098S
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:10 pm 
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Joined: Mar 19, 2010
Motorcycle: Yamaha Midnight Virago 920
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: MI
City: Near Ann Arbor
I am very glad this was brought up. When I bought my Rebel the dealer would have a tech go over the bike with the buyer.
During the tech briefing, the fellow told me that the Rebel should never be shifted with the engine off. Something about the oil running through. I can't recall exactly, its been 25 years but I have never shifted mine with the engine off. It still has no shifting troubles.

I know anecdotal evidence is not proof and I still don't know if the tech was right but my Rebel has always shifted well.
Duckster, what are your thoughts? Is it possible the guy was right or was he pulling my chain?

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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:24 pm 
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Rebel: 250
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:) Well I dont know about oil running through.. IF the bike has been running within the previous 6 months (and probably a lot longer) all the tranny parts will be coated with oil, so nothing will scratch or wear by moving the gears on the shaft. However, if it happens that the dogs are blocked from engaging the slots by the position they are stopped in, it will not be possible to engage the gear without rolling the bike ever so slightly forward or backward . This will roll the countershaft and allow the gear to snick in easily with a little pressure.

If I am ever forced to park on the sidestand with the bike pointed slightly downhill, I extend the side stand and then press down on the shifter while rolling the bike forward to engage first gear. This effectively locks the rear wheel against engine compression and prevents the bike from rolling any further ahead and thus falling off the side stand. (that was a lesson learned the hard way :nocomment: ).
Anyway, I don't see how gentle operation of the shifter with the engine off can hurt anything.

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2004 BMW R1200GS
2007 Ducati 1098S
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:58 pm 
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I shift mine into neutral all the time before starting it, often with a roll, but generally it just clicks in. If not, I start it and then put it in neutral. My neutral light is broke ON after a bad shift. When I first got the bike running it wouldn't shift at all. Took me a half hour riding around in first to get it to go into second. Shifts lots better now.


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:57 pm 
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Rebel: 250
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I always park mine in neutral, with the exception noted above, and maybe if I had to park on a big hill (I never do) . This habit comes from the days of kickstarters and electric starts that had no interlocks to prevent trying to start in gear.

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2004 Honda Rebel 250
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2004 BMW R1200GS
2007 Ducati 1098S
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:50 pm 
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Joined: Mar 19, 2010
Motorcycle: Yamaha Midnight Virago 920
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: MI
City: Near Ann Arbor
Duckster wrote:
I always park mine in neutral, with the exception noted above, and maybe if I had to park on a big hill (I never do) . This habit comes from the days of kickstarters and electric starts that had no interlocks to prevent trying to start in gear.


You have no idea how relieved I am to hear you say that. I always park in neutral as well with the same proviso for exceptions.
I had seen many of the newer riders talking about being in gear was a method they heard in their BRC.
I didn't remember that from mine and my instructors didn't park in gear either.
I was concerned that sharing my old guy technique on that would contradict a newer safety idea.
:cycle:

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'02 Silver Wing 600
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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:30 pm 
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Guess I'm weird. I like it being in gear so it won't move easily. I generally park in gear and when approaching a bike I assume it is in gear. I then either start it in gear holding the clutch or put it into neutral and then start it. I usually check neutral by rolling forward and back, but then my neutral light is broke.

I'm not sure I qualify as a newbie or not. I've been riding all manner of small bikes since the early 80s. The Rebel is the largest I've ridden yet. I put more than 5k on my SuperCub in two years. I've only changed the oil a few times on the Rebel, I'm thinking I've put 3 or 4k on it.


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:29 am 
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Motorcycle: Rebel 250 plus a few others
Rebel: 250
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State/Province: NB
City: Fredericton
No you're not wierd. but its not a safety thing.. In Canada we teach students neutral for shut down. If you are using the tranny as a sort of parking brake, make sure you roll the bike ahead till the lash is all out of the gears before deploying the stand. Even in gear the bike can roll 3 or 4 inches in some cases before coming up against compression, and this can be enough to fold the sidestand anyway. (Don't ask me how I know that.)

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2004 Honda Rebel 250
2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
2007 Ducati 1098S
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:17 pm 
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Motorcycle: Suzuki Gsf1250
Rebel: 450
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Duckster wrote:
Even in gear the bike can roll 3 or 4 inches in some cases before coming up against compression, and this can be enough to fold the sidestand anyway. (Don't ask me how I know that.)


No kidding. I had a couple of HOnda CB900c bikes, and besides all the transmission lash, there was at least that much lash again in the Hi/Low supplementary transmission that made them a sort of 10 speed, plus even more in the shaft drive. I swear those bikes could roll half a block while in gear! :shock: (heavy brutes to lift up afterward, too :roll: )
brent

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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:42 pm 
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When I'm out, I leave it parked in gear all the time and yes, I make sure it cannot roll forward while resting on the kickstan. I think it is better at preventing rolling.

At home in the garage, its usually in neutral. I can find neutral pretty easily on mine though.


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:33 pm 
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This is one of those things that is personal preference. There is no correct answer IMO. I like neutral around the garage or on level or even uphill parking. I generally avoid downhill parking, but if a little downhill is unavoidable, then for sure bike in first and all lash taken out of drivetrain before it rests on the sidestand.

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2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
2007 Ducati 1098S
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:49 pm 
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Rebel: 250
Country: USA
Thanks for the read. There have been more occassions lately where I end in neutral instead of 2nd (on an upshift) and maybe it's my lack of "smoothness". Good read!

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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:56 pm 
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manong wrote:
Thanks for the read. There have been more occassions lately where I end in neutral instead of 2nd (on an upshift) and maybe it's my lack of "smoothness". Good read!


Probably failure to "pull" the lever all the way up against resistance.. Don't just poke at it. Hook your toe under it and pull all the way up firmly and smoothly.

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2004 Honda Rebel 250
2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
2007 Ducati 1098S
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:10 pm 
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Buickguy wrote:
I am very glad this was brought up. When I bought my Rebel the dealer would have a tech go over the bike with the buyer.
During the tech briefing, the fellow told me that the Rebel should never be shifted with the engine off. Something about the oil running through. I can't recall exactly, its been 25 years but I have never shifted mine with the engine off. It still has no shifting troubles.

I know anecdotal evidence is not proof and I still don't know if the tech was right but my Rebel has always shifted well.
Duckster, what are your thoughts? Is it possible the guy was right or was he pulling my chain?


Just another thought on this.. I have "gently corrected" many students who were sitting at a dead stop stamping on the shift lever of one of our trainer bikes trying to engage first gear. For the reasons noted in my original post, the bike would not slide into first gear without moving ahead or back just a little. Perhaps this is what your tech was trying to say.
However, the explanation for why it won't go into gear without being moved a little is not that hard to understand, and once explained to people, they will generally remember that only gentle pressure is needed IF the right technique is practiced.
Like anything else, once you understand why there is a correct way to do something, you tend to keep doing it right. If I just tell you to do it, or give you some far fetched reason, you rightfully become a skeptic and go back to your previous methods.

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2004 Honda Rebel 250
2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
2007 Ducati 1098S
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:06 pm 
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Motorcycle: Suzuki Gsf1250
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Duckster wrote:
[ If I just tell you to do it, or give you some far fetched reason, you rightfully become a skeptic and go back to your previous methods.


Hey, we don't talk about religion here.... :D
Seriously, of course I agree.
brent

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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:19 pm 
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First of all Duckster got everything right in the first post. Use a little finesse instead of force to shift. One of the reasons I don't like buying a bike that was used by a beginner is the high likelihood of transmission damage. The bike may be spotless and may never have been dropped, but the transmission may have been mangled. Seems shifting is the hardest thing for beginners to learn.

I see no possible way sifting with the engine not running could damage anything, unless the gears are not lined up, and you try to force it. Rock the bike back and forth just a tiny bit, and it should shift through all the gears fine. Main thing is to "let" the gears engage, not try to force them.

I have always parked my bike in gear, and will not shift it into first from neutral with the engine running. I start it up in the morning and warm it up in neutral, then when I get on and ready to take off, I hit the kill switch, shift into first, and restart it. If I accidentally park it in neutral, I will always shift into gear before starting it. When you shift in into first from neutral while it is running, one of the gears will likely be turning, while the other won't. That is what causes the loud "CLUNK" when shifting into gear, as the stationary gear suddenly stops the rest of the transmission from turning. That puts a shock load on the transmission, especially first gear. It could even cause the gear dogs on first gear to eventually break while engaging the slots of the moving gear. I have seen may riders sitting at a redlight, in neutral, hands off the bars, and when the light changes, they grab the bars and stomp on the shifter, making a noise you can here from 1/4 mile away. Mechanical abuse like that just makes me cringe.

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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:40 pm 
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Heel and toe shifters are the biggest offenders here, Jerry.. How much finesse do you think gets used when a simple stomp on one lever or the other will jam whatever gear you need. PLus they weigh 2 or 3 times as much as is necessary. I dislike them a lot.
While I agree with most of what you said, I do not worry too much about the "clunk" you get with certain transmissions dropping into first gear. Some machines are far worse than others in making these noises.
Also with a constant mesh tranny, all gears are turning all the time. its only one set of 2 that are both locked to the shaft at one time however. Thus when you change gears, you change the speed of the input shaft all of a sudden. In Neutral nothing is really moving at all. Also, because there is no real load on the tranny when that gear clunks in, it does no harm to the transmission. I recall the old BMW R75 that you mentioned previously as a bike you liked. These things clunked into just about every gear, not just first, and yet they are perfectly reliable for many many years. You will notice that downshifting on any bike without a throttle "blip" will get you a big "clunk" on the downshift.
You may not like the noise, but clunking into first on bikes that routinely do that, will not hurt anything.

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2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
2007 Ducati 1098S
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 5:05 pm 
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Motorcycle: honda
Rebel: 250
Country: usa
State/Province: nc
City: wilson
Hey im new....n just got a 250 bout a mounth ago. Last week i was riding n tried to shift to 3rd n it didint shift, now its gotten worse,now i have to try to shift 5 n 6 times to get it in 3 n 4 gear. But it shifts fine with the engine off...n nutral is very hard to get too....any help....thx


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 Post subject: Re: Gearshifting Technique
PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 5:25 pm 
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Check your clutch adjustment. The end of the lever should move 1/4 to 1/2 inch before the slack comes out of the cable. More than that, and you are not getting as much clutch travel as you could be. Dragging clutches are the most common cause of hard to find neutrals.

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2007 Ducati 1098S
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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