Ask MO Anything: Is Clutchless Shifting Bad For My Transmission? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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Old 10-03-2017, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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Ask MO Anything: Is Clutchless Shifting Bad For My Transmission?

Yes, it’s all true. Well, it kind of depends on your bike. Some motorcycles with great big flywheels and big gears, like many Harleys and some BMW Boxers, need the clutch – or at least a little clutch – for nearly every shift. Most sportbikes only need you to use the clutch to pull away from stops and for the shift from first to second gear.

At slow, around-town speeds, we mostly use at least a little clutch to shift anyway; you don’t need to pull the lever all the way in every time you use it. But if you’re steadily accelerating, and especially at WOT (wide open throttle), you’ll find that after second gear, if you roll the throttle closed just enough to unload the driveline, for just a split second, with your toe pressing on the lever, then third gear will slip right in without using the clutch at all. Fourth, 5th and 6th will slip in even easier since the gaps between them are increasingly smaller. Done smoothly, it’s no harder on your gearbox than using the clutch.
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Old 10-03-2017, 01:35 PM
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At some point I discovered that I could stop a motorcycle by dragging my feet on the ground.
Call me "old school" but I still use the brakes.
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Old 10-03-2017, 02:42 PM
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Given that there are a fair number of reports of dogs breaking off in the KLR's transmission (with considerable mayhem as a result) I have to turn the question around.

"Is clutchless shifting good for my transmission?"
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Old 10-03-2017, 02:55 PM
3rd Gear
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If you can shift without the clutch and gears click in without trama, all the power to ya. I’ve been trying for years on several older bikes and I just ain’t got the touch for it.

Clutch for me.

2016 KLR 650
2017 BMW S1000RR (traded in for
2018 Ducati V4S
1983 GL1100 Goldwing
2017 Yamaha R1
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:45 PM
5th Gear
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When I was offroad racing, I'd often shift without the clutch......sometimes my hand was doing more important hanging on! LOL On the KLR, I tend to use the clutch every time; the race bike's lifespan was measured in hours whereas the KLR's is measured in decades (and 100,000 mile intervals) so I take greater pains to go a bit easy on it....well that and I'm not in such a rush! ;-)

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Old 10-05-2017, 02:39 PM
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I'll answer / suggest Yes to the opening question.

Race teams spend lots of money to attempt to out run the next competitor.
I have read of the shift drum guide-ways becoming worn on bikes used that way on the race tracks, as well as broken gears.
We all "Pay to Play" in one form or another for our recreation. But most of the general public does not care to or can afford to rebuild their engine or transmission every few races or even once a year or once every 5-25 years on our personal transportation.

Clutch levers, cables or friction plates are a whole lot less labor intensive than a transmission re-build.
So I will suggest that the author of that article should not encourage the general public to clutch-less shift their personal bike on a normal basis.

I'll discourage clutch-less shifting of a normal motorcycle transmission at every opportunity.
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Modify at "YOUR OWN RISK"!

Still riding my 1987 KL650-A1. 85,000+ miles & counting
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