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I was talking to a Harley friend the other day and we started talking about 'stopping'. I told him I generally down shift through all the gears as I'm approaching a stop sign or red light. He said he pulls in the clutch and coasts/brakes to a stop while shifting into first along the way so that when he stops he knows he's in first. This got me thinking. Is there anything wrong with downshifting through the gears, allowing the engine to slow me down? Do more people do this or use the brakes to come to a stop? I'm rather new to motorcycles but I used to always run through the gears on my old Datsun 310 GX, Mazda 808, and Mazda Protege, before I went 'automatic'.
Thanks for the info.
 

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Brakes are for stopping, and gears are for slowing down.
 

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I downshift and rev out till 2dn. I don't drop it into 1st (no rev out in first) until I'm about to put my left foot down. I think that the MSF class said that is so that you are sure and ready to be in a gear in case you need to gas it and get out of the way of the person on a cell phone.

Revving it out will also help you to save a little brake pad and keep the rotors a tad bit cooler.

It must be a Harley thing to coast and shift, because I got two Harley guys that I ride with every now and then that do that. I think its because the clutch is stiff that their hands would tire out pulling in and releasing the clutch. I guess in a sense you guesstimate what gear you are in so that you can release the clutch and power out if needed.

Neither way is wrong and its just personal taste..
 

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I use the brakes for slowing, but I always "follow" the bike speed with the transmission, downshifting as the bike slows, so that I'm in the correct gear if I need to accelerate suddenly. Your Hardley buddy is setting himself up for a wreck. If he's coming down from top gear, and "coasting" in that gear until he comes to a stop, what's he gonna do if he suddenly needs to slam the throttle in second gear to get out of someone's way? He'll likely miss the shift, end up in neutral or the tranny will hang up and he's toast. Just my worthless opinion.
 

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You doin' right. The idea is that you remain in the appropriate gear to accelerate away if things go wrong.

Brakes are much cheaper than clutches or transmissions, so substituting engine braking for actual brakes doesn't make a lot of sense from that perspective, but it is fun. And being able to downshift smoothly while braking hard is a good skill to practice.
 

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Never put to much thought into it. I always downshift to slow down. Saves on brakes and allows the bike to be in gear to take off if a cage comes up on me.
 

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It's probably a good thing he's holding in the clutch while shifting down on his HD. I'd rather not hear his loud pipes revving high every single downshift.
 

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I have always downshifted to slow down - engine braking is a useful thing, especially on hills. When I got my first automatic car a couple years ago, it took some getting used to. I would never want it on a bike, and if I could get a 6-speed manual tranny on my Monte Carlo SS, I would have it converted in a heartbeat.
And it is a nice added bonus to be in the right gear if you need to take off again. I really can't imagine any other way?!?
 

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It's probably a good thing he's holding in the clutch while shifting down on his HD. I'd rather not hear his loud pipes revving high every single downshift.
Some Harley riders claim they need that sound to warn oncoming traffic that they are coming. If that's the case, shouldn't the pipes lead forward?

I downshift to a stop, but after 37 years of riding I can't say I give it much thought one way or the other. For what it's worth, the Wee owners manual says to coast to a stop with the clutch in at speed under 20kmph (Canada).
 

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Braking - your choice

Depending on the situation or where I'm on the road, I'll downshift but not to brake, rather keep the speed then roll off the throttle. It's easier and cheaper to replace brake pads,
 

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You need to be in the correct gear at any given speed so that you can instantly accelerate away from danger.
Think of it this way.
You are in 6th, you see a red light and pull the clutch in and brake until you are doing less than walking speed and about to put your foot down when you look in the mirror and see a Soccer Mom in an SUV bearing down at warp speed. You are still in 6th gear. What do you think will happen when you grab a big handful of throttle?
 

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shiftin'............

When you ride in the mountains a lot you need to learn to have the bike in the proper gear for the speed you are traveling at all times? You may need to slow for traffic you are coming upon or an animal (large) in the roadway or you may come around a curve and the road heads up drastically and power and gear is essential. Riding the bike to a stop is just another way of practicing control of the machine for me and I try and always have the bike in the gear that is going to give me a chance to continue to slow before selecting another lower gear in the process of slowing to a stop. We all know that a blip on the throttle will assist the engine speed to match up with the bike speed so the next gear reduction is as smooth as can be.

I would have to wonder about slowing from a higher speed and running the tranny down to say, first gear, and then need to power away from something and release the clutch in a panic at a speed that is far to high for the first gear ratio and having the rear tire not be able to rotate fast enough to keep up and maybe dump me? I have always enjoyed the process of moving a vehicle along whether it's a car or truck or motorcycle and using the transmission to get the job done. :cool: Even my Burgman super scooter keeps the CVT transmission engaged as you slow down until you get to about 10 or so and then it finally unlocks and you just freewheel to a stop.

Flint
 

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You need to be in the correct gear at any given speed so that you can instantly accelerate away from danger.
Even when coming to a stop.

I generally try keep the tach near 6,000 RPM in traffic.
 

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Depending on the situation or where I'm on the road, I'll downshift but not to brake, rather keep the speed then roll off the throttle. It's easier and cheaper to replace brake pads,
+1

I've always thought more wear on the breaks and less on the clutch the better. Brakes are much easier/less costly to replace. I drive my car this way as well. I also coast to save gas. Some say you should never coast incase you have to gun it, but as long as you have the gear set so you can just drop the clutch, I don't see a problem with it. (Unless you're talking on the phone and eating a cheese burger while you're at it.)

With the Wee, I've developed the habbit of popping down 2 gears everytime I down shift except if this would land me in first. You don't get much breaking just downshifting 1 gear.

So if you are suppose to be able to speed away from a cell phone user, sitting at a stoplight in neutral is probably a bad thing. Of course there is no where to go. I usually stop near the edge of the car in front of me pointed slightly between lanes, not pointed at the car in front. This way if I get rear ended, I don't get slammed into the car in front of me.

R.I.P. (Retire In Peace, thanks for the great ride.)
 

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Brakes are much cheaper than clutches or transmissions, so substituting engine braking for actual brakes doesn't make a lot of sense from that perspective, but it is fun. And being able to downshift smoothly while braking hard is a good skill to practice.
My thoughts exactly - brake pads are much cheaper and easier to replace than clutch plates. There are times and places to use downshifting, like when heading into some twisties, but as a general rule brakes are there to do the job of slowing the bike. If you only need to slow, er, slowly, then just roll off the throttle, and then downshift to the proper gear once you've achieved the desired speed.
 

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If someone is behind me I'll always use the brakes when slowing down, to light up the brake light. Otherwise for leisurely slowing I'll just downshift from higher gears. Engine braking is very bad for quick stops because you need full control and most of the braking from the front wheel.

As others have already noted, always have a gear selected that is appropriate for your speed.
 

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I downshift to a stop, but after 37 years of riding I can't say I give it much thought one way or the other.
Same here, but my Vee, at least, is definitely not the easiest bike to downshift smoothly that I've ever had. Seems like it doesn't give as much control of the clutch and throttle to me as I'd like to have. I've just taken it as one of the idiosyncracies of the machine and tried to get better at it as I go.
 
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If someone is behind me I'll always use the brakes when slowing down, to light up the brake light.
I'll flash the brake lights a few times even if I'm dumping speed by downshifting.

I use both, but the tranny more when I'm moving, the brakes more when I'm stopping. I also often downshift two gears if I need to stop sooner rather than later. I don't like not being able to power away and would never ride the way your Harley friend does.

I could be wrong (someone correct me if I am) but if I have to stop quickly and rely on brakes alone, I'm risking a skid. Using tranny alone, I'm risking not stopping fast enough. I guess I feel like using both is the best of both worlds: instead of some of all of the force being transmitted to the road via the calipers/disk, some % of it is thru the chain, too.
 

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Here's a thought for your Harley riding friend: What happens if you are coming to a stop and you realize that the guy in the bike truck behind you isn't stopping? By your method, you know you are in the correct gear to react and get out of the way. By you friend's method, he will probably be in either too high or low of a gear to drop the clutch and accelerate out of the way safely. The clutch lever is for changing gears, not for extended coasting. Your friend needs to take a class and learn how to ride properly.
 
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