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In city traffic, is it safe to downshift into first? This is my first motorcycle... Driving a manual car I rarely would ever downshift past second; well I do it on the FZ. Just want to make sure it's ok on the tranny and engine? It seems to clunk down into first kinda hard, but I only do it at very slow speeds.

Any comments/suggestions?
 

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^^^^ What he said!
 

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In city traffic, is it safe to downshift into first? This is my first motorcycle... Driving a manual car I rarely would ever downshift past second; well I do it on the FZ. Just want to make sure it's ok on the tranny and engine? It seems to clunk down into first kinda hard, but I only do it at very slow speeds.

Any comments/suggestions?
Interesting point. I never gave it much thought, but I don't recall the last time shifting a manual transmission car (currently own a six-speed Miata and a five-speed Civic) into first while moving. My recollection is shifting to first occurs after full stop. But I'll downshift to first on motorcycles including the FZ-09 while decelerating to a stop.
 

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3,

I think I know what sound you're talking about. I had the same worries when I first started riding my 09 in traffic. Two days ago, I rode with several other experienced sport bike riders in some moderate to heavy traffic. All of them used first and, oddly enough, every last one of those bikes made that moderate clunking sound when shifting into first, whether they were moving or not. The bikes were a mix of Hondas, Kawasakis and Yamahas.
 

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How useful is 1st gear on this bike? I imagine you're in 2nd before 30 mph when just cruising normally...

I always thought downshifting into 1st is rough on hard parts, and you shouldn't do it unless you're going like....below 10mph.

Just use 2nd unless you're crawling, there is a clutch.
 

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every last one of those bikes made that moderate clunking sound when shifting into first, whether they were moving or not. The bikes were a mix of Hondas, Kawasakis and Yamahas.
Hearing a Harley shift into 1st will make you think that moderate clunking you speak of feels smooth as butter.

But, I never put my bike into neutral when at a stop for that very reason. It's just unnecessary repetitive wear & tear.
 

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I always thought downshifting into 1st is rough on hard parts, and you shouldn't do it unless you're going like....below 10mph.


This is what I've been taught, you shouldn't do it unless you're going pretty slow to begin with. I catch myself doing it from time to time. Not sure if it's actually detrimental to the engine or not.
 

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One of the things you can do is learn to speed match the engine revs with the gear that the bike is going into. This takes a while to learn and practice, practice, practice is the key here. Also, try to learn it in higher gears and downshift into the next lower gear.....like 4th into 3rd. The process is pretty straight-forward, but takes coordination between your right wrist, clutch hand, and your left foot for shifting. Then, when you get that mastered, add some front braking in the mix while doing it. Basically, as you are slowing down/rolling off the throttle, you blip the throttle for a split second as you are pulling/sweeping in the clutch, and at the instant that the clutch is disengaged, you downshift into the next lower gear and let the clutch back out to engage. Two things will help with this practice. Preload the shifter (light pressure on it, but not enough to cause it to shift yet) and a clutch "sweep" instead of fully disengaging it by pulling it back all the way. I would recommend doing this on a road that there isn't much traffic and again, keep the RPMs down (say 4th gear at 50MPH). Speed matching, when done properly, would even allow you to downshift to the next lower gear without touching the clutch at all. Obviously, if this is done correctly, it will be as smooth as butter and is even less strain on the transmission. Once you master the process, you will be able to downshift into 1st. gear and it will be smooth and you will not hear that "clunk" that you are hearing now.
 

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I don't often use first, but when I do I prefer it only during acceleration. Or idling through parking lots. Hooliganism is also a useful time.
 
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Clarification for earlier remark. None of the guys I rode with used first during downshifting. However, after sitting for 3-5 minutes at a red light, most of them were in neutral before taking off. The moderate clunk I described happened as we all put our bikes in gear at a standstill. I'm assuming this is normal as my previous bike had a very slight version of this. Any way around it when you're not moving (i.e. no rev match)?
 

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One of the things you can do is learn to speed match the engine revs with the gear that the bike is going into.
Definitely something I'm going to learn how to do. I used to do this in a previous performance car I had, but have only owned trucks for the last 10 years, so lost all my skills in it.
 

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Maybe after all these years I don't have it right.....
but at my age I am not likely to change. when coming to a red light, maybe in 3rd, I drop it to 2nd maybe 15 miles per hour. then when still rolling but about to stop in the next 5 feet, I bump it into first gear (maybe doing 5-8 miles per hour). I might keep the clutch in and cost to a stop. I hold in the clutch till I am ready to go. Nice having the gear showing in the gage. If I put it in neutral and wait at a long light, it usually clunks when I put it back in first. I don't like that so I prefer to hold the clutch in.

If I do pull in a parking lot at 10-15mph say in 2nd gear, I will rev up a little and drop in 1st while slowing down. I don't us first to slow me down.
 

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This is an interesting subject. Both my trucks have 5-speed manual transmissions. I admit, I often downshift to slow down out of habit. That's how I was taught 35 years ago. However, the economics of it really don't make sense. Go price brake pads, and price a clutch.

It makes way more sense to wear out the brakes.

On the subject of motorcycles, braking is a little trickier affair. I always tried to avoid dropping in to a gear unless the engine speed was close to where I would normally leave that gear. I never really down shifted to first until I was at a stop. Usually 2nd gear will get you pretty slow.

At least that's how it's worked out on my old bike.
 

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The clunk into 1st gear, which is really no big deal, causes less wear on the bike than a prolonged

period of holding in the clutch.
 

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The clunk into 1st gear, which is really no big deal, causes less wear on the bike than a prolonged

period of holding in the clutch.
Would you care to explain this? I understand the "clunk" into 1st. gear, but what "wear" are you talking about by holding in the clutch for extended periods of time....say 3 to 5 minutes like in the example above.
 

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This is an interesting subject. Both my trucks have 5-speed manual transmissions. I admit, I often downshift to slow down out of habit. That's how I was taught 35 years ago. However, the economics of it really don't make sense. Go price brake pads, and price a clutch.
Everybody's preferences and experiences will be a bit different. My last clutch lasted 135,000 miles, about 15k more than I expected or planned. That's with engine braking with every gear (including first). When we took the clutch out, I found out that the disc itself was still good. Turns out that the mount holding the clutch pedal had become out of round and made it impossible to disengage the clutch fully. I've also only gone through three sets of brake pads in the same time (14 years). Since the clutch only wears until it's fully engaged (assuming everything's working correctly), there's not as much wear on it as you'd think. The brake pads wear from the time your engage them to to the time you stop the vehicle.

Again, personal perference.
 

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I wouldn't exactly compare a wet clutch in the FZ-09 or other motorcycles to a dry clutch in a car or truck. They wear differently and you should be able to use a wet clutch much more liberally as long as you aren't abusing it.

I agree with personal preference on using 1st or not to engine break when coming to a stop. Generally speaking, 1st gear is always more harsh than the other gears due to the 1:1 ratio of the gear. It makes it harder to rev match or smoothly transition into. I, personally, only use 1st gear to start moving or if 2nd gear would lug due to low speed maneuvers.

Turns out that the mount holding the clutch pedal had become out of round and made it impossible to disengage the clutch fully.
Related story. Someone bought a brand new motorcycle at one of the local dealerships. A week later, brought it in because it wasn't working. They took it apart and found that the clutch plates were "welded" together. Apparently the guy adjusted the clutch lever too far and even with the lever completely released, the clutch was always partially engaged. He caused too much friction and the plates melted together. His warranty didn't cover that one.
 
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