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Discussion Starter #1
Looking for opinions on keeping the bike in gear at lights or putting it in neutral. I took the BRC2 course a little while ago and one of the instructors mentioned that he likes to keep it in gear in case he has to move quick. My thinking is using neutral to save the clutch some wear. I can think of a few other cons to keeping it in gear but it's not really conclusive to me one way or the other.
 

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If you put it in neutral you are actuating the clutch twice, while if you leave it in gear you are holding the clutch in a disengaged state, not changing anything. The fact there is no drive means that the plates are not rubbing, so no wear. Even if there was, the difference between 100k miles on a clutch instead of 105k before needing to replace the springs and/or plates (not a hard job) and you being sandwiched between two cars because you couldn't get out of the way in time because you were in neutral ... is that such a hard call?
 

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I'm a Rider Coach and that is what I recommend as well. I know of no significant cons. I do not believe that wearing out a clutch is likely. If I need to execute my escape plan fiddling with anything else is time I may not have. I may put it in neutral once traffic around me has stopped if I need my left hand for something but this is seldom the case. In fact, I hardly ever use neutral for anything. Lubing the chain, changing the rear tire, rolling the bike up a incline just about do it for me.


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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the input. It looks like a consensus is forming. I had been out of motorcycling for a while but back in the day, the clutch wear issue was the throw out bearing, not the clutch plates. I guess that isn't a concern anymore. The only real con is your left hand doesn't get a break but I'll rethink this. We all know about the morons out there and if it could save my butt, then there's no question, but I still wonder about the odds that it ever would.
 

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When stopped at a light I always keep my bike in gear, my bike in a position to drive past the person in front of me, and my eyes frequently in the mirror.

It has saved me from being rear ended more than once. While in my car I've been hit at a stop light/toll booth 5 times. Every time I saw it coming.
 

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The only time I put it into neutral is when I am at a set of lights where I know the sequence, and the traffic is already stopped behind me, so I have less danger of being rear ended. I do this occasionally to give my hand a rest in the city when I always seem to be at lights and get fed up with holding the clutch.
 

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I leave it in gear, unless I pull up to a light that just turned red and there is a car behind me. Otherwise, if I am behind someone, I point the bike towards the right lane and leave it in gear, just in case I have to get out of the way.

As for wear and tear...I doubt it makes enough of a difference to worry about.
 

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Neutral if it is a long light. And work the hyperlights
 

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I personally think the tractor tranny the vee is blessed with gets more wear from shifting from neutral to first than most other bikes except maybe Harleys.

I only start mine in neutral when its cold, then give it a push rolling it slightly before pulling the clutch and hitting first. I hate the clunk when shifting straight to first. When the bike is warm, I put it in first, pull clutch in, hit the starter, and let the clutch out.

As for safety, my bike is never in any gear but first when stopped. I could easily live without the neutral position.
 

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I'm usually in neutral before I have even come to a stop. I've never had any problems. But that's just me, a bad boy, living on the edge and breaking all the rules.

I really get the impression that many of you are living in a constant state of terror. I'm not knocking safety, but I wonder how you enjoy riding at all.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion the day I become the meat in a car sandwich.
 

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There are some of us that are old enough to remember the old foot clutch from days of yore. I would bet that the standard practice of putting the bike in neutral at a light dates back to the old "suicide clutch" where the spring pin that held the clutch disengaged without having your foot on it was frequently removed (for more convenient operation). If your bike was stopped and idling in gear and you wobbled enough to require putting your foot down, you surged forward into opposing traffic.

I also remember tales of the old frayed clutch cable breaking and sending you forward to certain death. I guess this could still happen, but equipment has progressed to the point that no one worries much about that anymore. Bottom line, keep current on your routine maintenance and keep your bike in gear at a light.
 

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A V-Strom clutch is not much like the early-generation automotive clutches engaged by a throwout bearing. They still are, I guess. The throwout bearing used to be the weakest link in a clutch system that wasn't used for racing, but I haven't heard of a failure in the last 30 years or so.
 

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I really get the impression that many of you are living in a constant state of terror. I'm not knocking safety, but I wonder how you enjoy riding at all.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion the day I become the meat in a car sandwich.
I don't live in a constant state of terror. I prefer to think of it as a constant state of respect. I got in the habit 41 years ago. I was in the Navy and a friend and I were riding up to San Francisco from Port Hueneme on a Friday night. We were on 101 and the traffic came to a halt. While coasting in neutral I heard skidding tires from behind and I grabbed 1st and squirted up beside the car beside me. The skidding car slid sideways up to the car that was in front of me. I was glad that I was still coasting. Ever since then I have kept it in gear and kept my eyes on the mirror.

I like to keep a few things in reserve. Every now and then things stack up and you run out of reserves. Yesterday I drove up Mt. Washington in NH. They've paved more of the road and it has actually made it narrower. There are several places where two cars can't pass each other now. When coming down I had someone in front of me stop on a blind turn. I had no reserves left. I couldn't go to either side of the car in front of me and I was blind to any car coming down behind me. To me that is on the edge of terror. Further down the mountain there was a Caravan that had gone off the road because it's brakes had failed. Two miles before getting to the Mt Washington auto road I was stuck in traffic because of a fatal car accident where someone had crossed the center line and killed the driver of a car in the other lane. Some things happen because of bad timing, some things because of bad luck. I prefer to do anything to increase my chances of diminishing the window of that bad timing and increasing my luck factor by reducing the need for luck.
 

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Just wait til your clutch cable snaps in two at a stop, when you have the clutch pulled in.........you'll think you're in a rerun of TJ Hooker.
 

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I've had a clutch cable fail on me before. It was very annoying, but it was one clutch cable in seven bikes and over twenty years. In that time I've needed to make a little more room for some fool driver at an intersection many times. Not squealing into the car in front of me, just slower to stop than they should have been from not paying attention. Just as many times I've had some other fool driver not brake because the light had just (barely!) turned green and left me with very little time to get out of their way even though the traffic in front of me was only just starting to move. Fussing about grabbing the clutch, engaging gear and letting out the clutch, instead of just moving off, could have turned any number of those annoying incidents into a prang. Sitting in neutral is just bad technique.
Living in terror? Hardly. That's like saying someone is living in terror because they drink clean water instead of gutter run-off and mud puddles.
 

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I'm usually in neutral before I have even come to a stop. I've never had any problems. But that's just me, a bad boy, living on the edge and breaking all the rules.

I really get the impression that many of you are living in a constant state of terror. I'm not knocking safety, but I wonder how you enjoy riding at all.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion the day I become the meat in a car sandwich.
I don't think it's terror, just a good habit. Kind of like watching the wheels of a car stopped at a side street. Once you get in the habit of at least pointing yourself in a safe direction at a light, it becomes second nature.
 
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