Don’t be a jerk! Change gear smoothly

Most ma­chines have six gears and they’re there for a rea­son!

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Start off small

The best way to learn to use a gear­box is to ride a low-power 125 on which you will have to work the gear­box ef­fi­ciently to make any re­spectable progress.

What’s hap­pen­ing ahead?

The best gear to use will de­pend partly on your speed but also what you are ap­proach­ing. For ex­am­ple, when plan­ning an over­take, a re­spon­sive (in other words, lower) gear will give you the power and con­trol to com­plete a pass quickly and safely. Like­wise, when en­ter­ing a bend a re­spon­sive gear will give you good con­trol through the throt­tle to fine tune your speed as you ne­go­ti­ate the cor­ner and pro­vide ac­cel­er­a­tion on the exit.

They’re not brakes

Do not, how­ever, use your gears as brakes. Crash­ing down through the gears on the ap­proach to a haz­ard is a very crude way to slow and is harsh on the en­gine and trans­mis­sion. In­stead, slow on the ap­proach by brak­ing or rolling off the throt­tle and then choose a flex­i­ble gear to ne­go­ti­ate the sit­u­a­tion ahead. A flex­i­ble gear is one in the mid­dle of your rev range that al­lows you con­trol through the throt­tle to mod­er­ate the speed se­lected or to ac­cel­er­ate fur­ther.

More miles for your cash

Most large-ca­pac­ity ma­chines nowa­days have such flex­i­ble and pow­er­ful en­gines that they are still very us­able in the higher gears for nor­mal rid­ing. Se­lect­ing a higher gear where pos­si­ble will re­duce your fuel con­sump­tion and will have the added ben­e­fit of giv­ing a smoother ride into the bar­gain.

Smoothly does it

When rid­ing with a pil­lion do you ever get head butted by your pas­sen­ger as you change gear? Try chang­ing up early to smooth the tran­si­tion from one gear to the next. Also, when rid­ing on a wet road chang­ing up early will keep power in­puts smooth and en­hance the smooth­ness and se­cu­rity of your progress.

Give it a blip on the way down

When down­shift­ing, main­tain your throt­tle po­si­tion or blip the throt­tle slightly to drop the gear in smoothly and pre­vent any trans­mis­sion lurch as the lower gear en­gages. Gear in­di­ca­tors are a com­mon fea­ture now on bikes and use­ful for both new and ex­pe­ri­enced riders as a quick dou­ble check and will also pre­vent you from search­ing for that myth­i­cal sev­enth gear!

Change up early for a smoother ride when you are two-up, it can pre­vent you and your pas­sen­ger clash­ing hel­mets. Mov­ing up a gear ear­lier than nor­mal can also make for a safer ride in wet or slip­pery con­di­tions. Pick a re­spon­sive gear on the ap­proach to a bend. It will give you more con­trol and of­fer plenty of drive.

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