Down-Shifing to 1st Gear

Discussion in 'General Harley Davidson Topic' started by DDogg, May 1, 2009.

  1. DDogg

    DDogg Junior Member

    O.K. your coming up on a light doing 50. The light changing and now you have to come to a stop. No cages in front of you (this time). Do you...
    1 - down shift to 4th, 3rd, and let the downshifting slow the bike. Or...
    2 - hold the clutch in, coast to a stop, then down shift. I find myself riding the clutch after downshifting to 2nd gear. I don't release the clutch in 1st gear. I'd like to hear what others do in this situation. Now if you had to stop quickly, the the senerio would change, grab the brake and clutch and get that baby under control. But when you have time to stop, do you downshift or coast with the clutch in.
  2. Bait

    Bait Active Member

    Down shift into second gear and after I come to a complete stop go into first gear. I didn't use to; but I cringe everytime I shift through neutral (up or down) with the new 6 speed.
  3. nolafishr

    nolafishr Active Member

    I try to let the Engine slow the Bike down if possible when down shifting, All depends on how fast I have to stop and grab the Brakes and Clutch. I try to go one gear at a Time if I am slowly coming up to a Light/Intersection. I try to keep rolling if possible without coming to a complete stop!
  4. Dr. Dolittle

    Dr. Dolittle Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    I downshift and let the clutch out easy (engine brake) all the way to second. If the light goes green and I'm still rolling, second gear is good to get going again. If I know I'm going to have to come to a complete stop, I then downshift to first while still rolling but keep the clutch disengaged and use the wheel brakes. I stay in first with the clutch disengaged until everything settles down at the intersection and then, if I know I'll be there for a bit, I'll shift into neutral and give my arms and hands a short break. WARNING - at this point you will lose serious cool points if you forget to shift back into first when the light turns green. You really look moronic revving the engine and trying to get your feet up on the boards on a bike that isn't moving!!
  5. mnultra

    mnultra Active Member

    Just curious. Why does it make you cringe? I have my first six speed bike and your comment makes me wonder if I am missing something.

    As far as the actual point of this thread, I like to downshift through the gears much for the reasons that Smitty stated.
  6. SledDog

    SledDog Senior Member Staff Member Moderator

    There's nothing wrong with "braking hard" on compression on the street. We are talking technique. Some have better technique then others. Alot of my technique comes from being on the track. I apply many racing techniques in my day to day ridng. One of then is compression braking.

    Using the engine is assist your deceleration has many advantages. It allows you to slow down quicker. Has the advantage of being in the "right gear for your speed" (in the power band) if you need to accelerate. It allows you to set up for you turns quicker and gives you finer line control.

    It is not hard on your drive line, as long as you are not near the rev limiter when you down shift, or end up lugging your motor is you decide to accelerate. A rev limter will not stop an over-rev situation created by you down shifting into a gear that's too low for your speed.

    I also trail brake in corners. I apply leaning and weight shift techniques I learned from racing when riding on the street.

    I have never had a drive line failure due to compression braking. I have taken all my Harleys, except the Shovelhead, to a track day and ran the snot out of 'em. How else are you really going to know just what your bike will do. (On the soap box) And this is very important when you need to use your emergency procedures that I know everyone practices (off the soap box). (Note to Glider; We need a "on the soap box" smile.)

    I find it kinda amusing to read some of the myths about riding, and riding techniques that get circulated on Harley forums. Read some of the sport bike forums and you will really get a good feel on riding techniques and how they cross over from the track to the street.

    To the question at hand, I down shift and compression brake thru 1st gear. There are other times, mostly on 2 lane roads, coming to a light/stop sign that I will pull in the clutch, hold it in, and down shift thru the gears down shift thru the gears as my speed matches the gear selected. It just depends on the situation.
  7. STEVE07

    STEVE07 Well-Known Member Staff Member Super Moderators

    Well said SledDog .I coudnt agree with you more!:D
  8. maine-e-axe

    maine-e-axe Junior Member

    Do you bring your rpm's up before releasing the clutch down shifting? To help stop cherping the rear tire and easier on the drive train. Oh and yes I do down shift thru the gears coming to a stop, no I don't down shift to 1st until I come to a stop.:nosad
  9. martin14

    martin14 Active Member


    I do, quick twist is usually all it takes.

    Downshift the gears to second, then brake and find neutral.
  10. SledDog

    SledDog Senior Member Staff Member Moderator

    Chirping the rear tire may be an indication that you are in too low of a gear for the speed you are at. A quick rev of the engine may not prevent this. If you rev, shift then let off the throttle (depending on your speed and gear you are going into), you may get the surprise of 1 - and very fast change of weight distribution (more weight being on the front forks) causing a rear brake lock up in addition to the tire chirp from the speed vs trans gear mis-match, 2 - loss of control, 3 - in a real bad situation being tossed from the bike.

    You need to match speed and engine for the gear. A rev will help some, if all else is matched.

    (On the soap box)
    Nothing beats pratice. The more experience you have with the machine, the better. Try some of this stuff in an empty parking lot. Fear of dropping your bike may not allow you to get the most out of your equipment. Of course, there are those that don't worry about it, and are able to get to the outside of the envelope of their abiliites (and the machines). And there are those are comfortable being well inside the envelope. Do what you feel comfortable doing. With pratice, the comfort zone envelope expands.
    (Off the soap box)

    Most newer sport bike have slipper clutches to help with this. But since HD's don't have 'em, you need to prudent when you downshift.
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