How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all...


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Sempai
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How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all...

Postby Sempai » Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:56 pm



A fellow rider in an other forum I belong to was experiencing clutch cable problems while out on a trip. I had, several times in the past, preached to the riders in that forum that they should attempt to familiarize themselves with riding their bike without using the clutch. Generally, most people know they can upshift without the clutch, few people know that it is possible to downshift as well...and even fewer people realize that you can get your bike going from a dead stop, WITHOUT the clutch and WITHOUT grinding any gears. After explaining and explaining and explaining, I decided to make an impromptu video. In this video, I'm using a bike that will not start unless the neutral light is on, with the Goldwings, this is not an issue. But for the sake of clarity, I'll start anew:

Please note that for this to work, your CLUTCH must be functioning, this is a tutorial on how to move along when your clutch cable, hydraulic line, master cylinder, or slave cylinder has failed and left you without the use of your clutch. This is a handy ability that all bikers should at least try, perhaps even do it regularly (well, the shifting anyway.)

Consider this, you're out on an adventure ride, 100's of miles from home, perhaps even 100's of miles from the nearest town. Your clutch system fails. You now have a coupla options. Hope you have reception on your cellphone AND that you can contact someone to come pick you and your bike up, sit and wait for them....OR, ride your bike on to your destination, or back home, or to a shop. Take your pick, I will tell you that you can ride your bike, even from a dead stop, shifting up and down through all the gears, without so much as a single grind.

Ensure the bike's engine is well warmed up, to the point where once it's shut off, it starts without effort. If your bike will start regardless of the neutral light being on, put it in 1st and hit the start button, the bike will chug along on the starter motor until the engine is fired up and you'll ride along almost as normal. If the bike doesn't start when the neutral light is off, but will if you have the clutch disengaged, then put the bike in 1st, pull the lever all the way in (to activate its neutral safety switch,) and hit the start button...at this point, the bike will chug along on the starter until the engine fires up and you can ride on down the road.

Upshifting is easy, ride as normal and when it's time to shift, let off the throttle and toe the shifter up to the next gear. Ease back into the throttle and you'll have a smooth upshift with zero grinding. Downshifting may take some practice, but you'll want to get proficient with it. Off the throttle, slowing down, rest your foot on the shifter, slight downward pressure will suffice. As the engine RPM and the tranny's synchronizers' RPM approach a happy medium, the shifter will give way under you and the transmission will slip right into the next lower gear, without any grinding. If you burp the throttle on your way down through the gears, you'll be able to do this quicker.

Stopping. Should you find yourself in a traffic congestion that will require you to stop, like a red light over which you have no control, try slowing down and finding your way into 1st again. In this gear, at idle, the bike can literally come to a crawl. However, at some point, it is likely that you will have to stop...when that time comes, get the bike into NEUTRAL and leave it running. This will help keep you from draining the battery off from a lot of cranking of the starter motor. When the congestion has cleared and it's about time for you to go again (red light turns green,) turn the bike off, put it in 1st, start her up and ride on down the road.

There are some bikes that absolutely will not start unless the neutral light is on. This is not easily overcome when you're out in the middle of nowhere, but it is easily skirted. In this case, start the bike up, in neutral obviously. When you're ready to ride, simply walk the bike forward. It doesn't take much to get the pace up to the aforementioned crawl speed. At this point, step on the shifter and she'll go right into gear without any grinding, and away you go.

Here is a short, impromptu video I made just a few days ago:




Keep the rubber side down.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby heidebill » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:30 am

When I was about 20, I was riding a 400 Honda, At work I cut my right arm really bad and could hardly use my right hand, What I did was get the bike rolling with my right hand, buckled over the tank to reach the throttle, once I was rolling I switched and used my left hand on the throttle, No cluthch hand, shifted up and down and rode all over the place, including Vancouver B.C. until my right hand would function again about 2 weeks. Riding with the left hand on the throttle can be done, but I would not recomend it unles you are prepared to drop your bike, It is tricky, and the clutch thing, Well you are right it can be done without any real extra wear on the transmission, Done It. Put about 100,000 miles on that 400 Honda
Bill

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby speedy1 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:58 am

Other than my Goldwing, I have a 2007 Honda 750 Aero and I up shift thru the gears without the using the clutch a lot while riding it. Always been a little scared to try the downshifting. I think I will try doing that now. Thinks for the video.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby barnaclebill » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:26 am

A great post. I have been able to follow this procedure - many years ago - on a Honda Supersports, out of necessity!

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby vtxcandyred » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:50 am

I can remember back when and doing this in my old sixty one Plymouth Belvedere. My dad would do it too but he was a truck driver so that was common place.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:38 am

It should be mentioned that while this is a great procedure to know in case of clutch failure...you shouldn't make a habit of riding every day without using the clutch. Unless you are extremely proficient at matching engine/transmission speeds precisely, it's a really great way to wear out your shift forks and shift dogs - and that is a really expensive and time-consuming thing to fix.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby liljack » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:56 am

Did that out of necessity some years ago on my 78 GL1000. Out on a ride when the clutch cable broke, dry shifted back to the event where a friend and I managed to rig a make shift clutch to get me home. Will say, had I known the proper way to downshift I wouldn't have clunked the gears that day :(

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby Sempai » Tue May 01, 2012 7:02 pm

WingAdmin wrote:It should be mentioned that while this is a great procedure to know in case of clutch failure...you shouldn't make a habit of riding every day without using the clutch. Unless you are extremely proficient at matching engine/transmission speeds precisely, it's a really great way to wear out your syncros - and that is a really expensive and time-consuming thing to fix.

The text I highlighted in W.Admin's quote is important. But don't be discouraged, this technique can be mastered within minutes of trying it and you'll not grind a single gear. My advice: get out there and try it. Many of you will find yourselves adjusting your riding habits to NOT USING the clutch at all when you're upshifting, and your clutch will, invariably, last longer than it would with 'regular' use. Happy trails...
Keep the rubber side down.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby FM-USA » Wed May 02, 2012 9:33 pm

I can see doing this ONLY in an emergence otherwise there is a lot of stressful wear on the shift forks. Those forks are rather difficult to fix.
"OIL CHANGE?" _FM 07-2009
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Taste testing as the miles flow, souring as that acid grows.
And don't flirt with dirt or darkened oil, all the faster your engine will spoil.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby Sempai » Wed May 02, 2012 9:45 pm

FM-USA wrote:I can see doing this ONLY in an emergence otherwise there is a lot of stressful wear on the shift forks. Those forks are rather difficult to fix.

I whole-heartedly disagree. Once you get the hang of doing this, and it doesn't take long, you won't be causing any more stress to the forks than you do when you use the clutch as normal. There will be no undo stress, or wear to the gears or the syncros. Slip shifting is a technique that's been in use almost since the dawn of multi-gear transmissions. I've been doing this for years and have never caused any damage to any of my bikes', or cars' transmissions.
Keep the rubber side down.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby barnaclebill » Thu May 03, 2012 5:46 am

I do agree with Sempai. I used the technique regularly on my cars way back in the 60's and 70's, started when I had a Mini Cooper and it fell naturally to do so. None were ever damaged in any way. As mentioned before, I did use it on my m/c in the 80's but have not yet tried it with my GL.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby Kiwi2 » Sat May 12, 2012 6:45 am

I suppose that after a while when you have worn all the teeth off the gears by not using the clutch, then gear change will be a lot smoother.

Honda spent millions of dollars designing the wing and all the parts that go with and are fitted to it (engine, gear box etc) so why try and not use them. If you want an automatic bike then get a Moto Guzzi Convert.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby Sempai » Sat May 12, 2012 7:40 am

Kiwi2 wrote:I suppose that after a while when you have worn all the teeth off the gears by not using the clutch, then gear change will be a lot smoother.

Honda spent millions of dollars designing the wing and all the parts that go with and are fitted to it (engine, gear box etc) so why try and not use them. If you want an automatic bike then get a Moto Guzzi Convert.

At the risk of starting an argument (which I will NOT drag along in here) I have to rebut the quoted post. Go back and read this opening post, watch the video, too. You'll see in the post and can visually see, and HEAR in the video, that not a single shift resulted in any grinding of any gears, not while upshifting or downshifting...which leads me to my rebuttal:
Firstly, if you are not grinding any components of the transmission, the parts are not going to wear any more than is normally expected while still using the clutch. In fact, the clutch itself will last longer than normally expected.
Second, yeah, lots of money has been spent in the mechanical field of auto-propulsion. The manually shifted 5-speed, sequential gearbox was NOT invented by Honda for the GoldWing, it had been used by car, truck, and motorcycle companies for many years before the GW hit the market. Honda simply adapted the preexisting technology to work for the GW. Please consider this, manually shifted transmissions have been engineered to be able to shift them without a clutch..IN THE EVENT THAT ITS CLUTCH SYSTEM FAILS (as mentioned in the opening post.)
Your comment about getting an 'automatic bike,' is just childish. You are clearly missing the point of thread. Nowhere in here did I suggest you should STOP using your clutch. The intent here was to educate my fellow motorcyclists that it is very possible to continue riding when applying your clutch has become impossible. This thread is about teaching people to get out on their bike and TRY shifting it w/o their clutch so that should they have the unfortunate happenstance in which they can't use the clutch (cable broke, hydraulic leak, broke your clutch hand in a fist-fight at the strip joint, whatever) they would still be able to ride their bike to their destination. Get out there and try it, you'll find it's quite easy. And, by the way, I have seen/heard plenty of people grinding gears while USING their clutch...these are the people that need to get automatics.
Keep the rubber side down.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby Kiwi2 » Sat May 12, 2012 4:49 pm

My reply was meant with tongue in cheek. A bit of kiwi humor. I did not mean to offend. Sorry.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby FM-USA » Sat May 12, 2012 5:39 pm

Sempai, you have to understand ALL mfg's build their equipment for the "less than average joe" to be able to use, and in this forum item, the clutch is the buffer zone for everyone to be "generally compatible in using" said equipment.
There are a select few who can understand the mechanics of a transmission to the extreme point of "properly" not using the clutch to change gears. I'm a past general rebuilder, and I know the inner workings of the manual transmission and what you can do and not do but gear changing really needs the disengagement of gears to change gears reliably. Key work, reliably.

I whole heartedly agree with your point of knowing how to change gears in a clutchless EMERGENCY but the (as I said) "general joe" JUST will not know how to do it reasonably correct without damage and there are many threads where folks talk about bent forks. HOW? Basically improper shifting.
Not a professional race driver knows from birth how to shift without using the clutch. As you said, between the lines, practice or try it.
Everyone has there quirks and quarks in writing and understand the written words. We all did not learn from the same book or the same school for if we did there'd fewer misunderstandings.

I was going to drop continue reading this post but with the following quote... this is "A" real sour apple of this thread...
[Sempai quote] "At the risk of starting an argument (which I will NOT drag along in here)" then "Your comment about getting an 'automatic bike,' is just childish."[/quote]
.
Childish? Did you really need to belittle others whom have a different point of view?
.
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Know its new taste and be loyal, you'll know when to change that oil.
Taste testing as the miles flow, souring as that acid grows.
And don't flirt with dirt or darkened oil, all the faster your engine will spoil.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby HiltnerMD » Mon May 21, 2012 9:28 am

This is a very interesting post. I slip-shift my truck all the time, without even thinking it can be accomplished on a M/C! With the aide of your video, I can get the impression that I'm on the bike, and feel my left foot applying pressure to the carpet under my foot (simulating a shift) as I watch the video play on!

I'll watch it a few more times just for the RPM's, but I think it will be more impressed once I roll the bike down the road and slip-shift it into gear for the first time. The downshift, I know will be the challenge, but with added care and attention (and heeding your advice), it's worth the risk... And don't forget, I'll be close by the clutch handle if need be!

Thanks for taking your time to post this thread and the video. My only complaint (minor) would be the video may have been made better with a windscreen on the bike, just to cut down on the rushing wind noise blowing by, but most times you can hear what your saying. It just may have helped with listening to the engine better for the RPM's and when you are shifting.

Wonderful concept.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all..

Postby thirdstorybase » Tue May 29, 2012 9:51 am

i shift without my clutch all the time. especially when im drinking my coffee or eating a sandwich on the way to work. it works great. :lol:

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all...

Postby urbanmadness » Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:56 pm

I used to do this in my s-10 all the time... I would just get lazy, especially with 3 and 4th. The funny part is, my Dad who owned the truck before me, was the same way.... use the clutch for 1-2 2-3... but almost never for 3-4th and only sometimes for 5th... Must of worked ok, because when I gave the truck to my brother with 222,000 miles on it, he drove it for another 100k, before the motor went. We never replaced the clutch or had any trans problems with it.... That ol' borg warner was bullet proof.

I was able to bump shift my 1100 without any problems, I haven't tried it with the 1500. Mostly because it's a high mileage bike (107k) and I don't want to put any more stress on the 4th shift fork. Although if it fails... I guess it will be time for a 1800... LOL (that's my reasoning... my wife opinion is a bit different)

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all...

Postby WingAdmin » Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:31 pm

Have a read through the post I made here which explains why it really isn't a great idea: Shifting Without Clutch

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all...

Postby Sempai » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:31 am

Bikers, please feel this out for yourselves. And keep this in mind before you go shooting anyone down in this thread...

My intent for this post is simply to show y'all a very feasible way to get your bike home, or to the shop, or whatever, in the event that you find yourself experiencing difficulty actuating your clutch!!

I'm thoroughly certain that any rider can do this technique, but if you don't at least TRY it, even if your clutch is working just fine, you may not have the guts to DO it if situation arises that you'd have a need for it. If you try it every now and again, you'll be much more apt to try it, and succeed, if you find yourself needing to do it out on the road somewhere.

Now then....get out and ride.
Keep the rubber side down.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all...

Postby urbanmadness » Thu Jan 21, 2016 10:37 am

I didn't say not to try it. Just keep in mind many of us are pretty protective of the trans in our bikes. If you break it, it's a pull the engine and split case to fix it(or buy a new motor). Personally, I lose the clutch, I'm having it towed. I might use this if I need to get to a place with cell coverage, but I'm gonna have it towed if I have the choice. Can I do it? I'm sure I could. Little upward pressure on the shifter, let off the throttle, and it's there. As a kid, I had a VW that had a nasty clutch cable habit. I got pretty good at getting it home.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all...

Postby Sempai » Thu Jan 21, 2016 10:50 am

urbanmadness wrote:I didn't say not to try it. Just keep in mind many of us are pretty protective of the trans in our bikes. If you break it, it's a pull the engine and split case to fix it(or buy a new motor). Personally, I lose the clutch, I'm having it towed. I might use this if I need to get to a place with cell coverage, but I'm gonna have it towed if I have the choice. Can I do it? I'm sure I could. Little upward pressure on the shifter, let off the throttle, and it's there. As a kid, I had a VW that had a nasty clutch cable habit. I got pretty good at getting it home.


This is precisely my reasoning for creating this post. If the need arises, it'd be better if you'd had at least some kinda trial experience prior to finding yourself in a position where you "NEED" to do it.
Keep the rubber side down.

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Re: How to: ride your bike without using the clutch at all...

Postby Wingsconsin » Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:50 pm

The GL1500 clutch is one of the most reliable in the industry. Hydraulically driven with no cable there is little to go wrong.
Keeping the hydraulic fluids flushed and clean every other year makes them near bullet proof.
Learning this technique ; while it CAN be done, seems to be less productive than good general maintenance habits.
Change the oil regularly, keep the fluids current, and ride the bike to 200,000 miles easy !
I only rode mine for 130,000 miles before trading up to a GL1800 ; but the others I had in the garage all operated the same way.
The GL1200; the GL1100; 2 other GL1500's -- reliable as a hammer if you do the maintenance.



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