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CLUTCHLESS UPSHIFTS - The key to silky smooth gear changes


Changing gear without using the clutch….. that will wreck the gearbox!

Well actually no, you can change up without using the clutch, if you know what to do, but ALWAYS use the clutch for down-shifts, if you don’t you risk locking the back wheel and being thrown off the bike…. You have been warned!

Generally I use the clutch for first to second, as, on my Honda CBR this was always a clunky gear change at best, the R1 is better, but you have to have your timing spot on to make a smooth first to second clutch-less change, so as a rule, I always use the clutch for the first up-shift, after that, unless I’m riding in traffic, I don’t use the clutch on the way up the box.

So why should I not use the clutch for up-shifts?

Clutch-less up-shifts, if carried out correctly, can be smoother than when you use the clutch, it also provided for quicker gear changes, so if you are on a track, you can accelerate quicker using clutch-less up-shifts. But we are giving riding tips for road riders, not would be racers, so what benefit could this technique provide on the road? Well the answer is obvious, if a clutch-less up-shift means smoother gear changes, it will make you a smoother rider, that’s handy in the wet, on slippery roads or if you carry a pillion.

How do I do a clutch-less up-shift?

Place the toe of your boot below the gear shift so that it is just touching the lever, now close the throttle slightly for a second, and as the revs drop shift up a gear, as the gear clicks into place open the throttle back to the same position as before, hay presto you have just performed a clutch-less up-shift! By closing the throttle, you have taken the pressure off the gearbox, thus allowing you to engage the next gear.

As you practice this technique, it will become smoother, however a badly adjusted chain or a chain in need of lubrication will result in clunky clutch-less up-shifts, so make sure your chain is adjusted correctly and lubed.

REMEMBER – Always use the clutch for down-shifts… you don’t want to lock the back wheel, and don’t perform clutch-less up-shifts whilst riding in heavy traffic, where you need to slip the clutch to maintain control.

BMF - Clutchless Upshifts