Ask MO Anything: Is Clutchless Shifting Bad For My Transmission?
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Thread: Ask MO Anything: Is Clutchless Shifting Bad For My Transmission?

  1. #1
    Junior Member Motorcycle.com's Avatar
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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.
    Read more about Ask MO Anything: Is Clutchless Shifting Bad For My Transmission? at Motorcycle.com.

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    Junior Member JohnLouis24's Avatar
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    Hello, new to the forum so sorry if I'm asking this in the completely wrong place, but I purchased a 1973 Honda CB350 Twin recently and am getting ready to put the crankcase back together. I am wondering if their is a specific gear I should put the transmission into before doing so. Would appreciate any help, thank you.

  3. #3
    Senior Member mike in idaho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motorcycle.com View Post
    Seems like a totally lame thing to do on a 40-50 year old motorcycle that has the parts sources drying up a little more every day.
    use2b likes this.
    '65 YG1
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  5. #4
    Junior Member rocket13's Avatar
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    Doesn't damage the tranny at all and, if you think about it, reduces wear on your clutch. Upshifting is simple. Downshifting is trickier and would probably lead to the damage you're concerned about.

  6. #5
    Super Moderator longdistancerider's Avatar
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    As cheap as clutches are and how fast they can be changed I'll opt for using mine. Yes, I've shifted w/o the clutch and if you get close to a match up with engine and gear speeds it's very smooth and easy. Works well when a cable breaks and you need to keep going. The danger is for the uninitiated trying to do it and beating up internal parts or bending shift forks,
    Cal likes this.
    Jim O'Brien
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  7. #6
    Senior Member tbpmusic's Avatar
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    This thread is a mess..........
    Bull****, Mo - that's why Mr. Honda gave us a clutch.
    to answer JohnLouis, always assemble with the gears in neutral.
    Bill Lane
    Honda Twins Founding Member

    No advice, just info

    '75 CB200T, '71 CB450 K4 Half-Breed, '72 CL350 (Sold), '81 CM200T, '72 C70M
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  8. #7
    Super Moderator ancientdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocket13 View Post
    Doesn't damage the tranny at all and, if you think about it, reduces wear on your clutch. Upshifting is simple.
    Simple IF done properly, but not as easy for noobs not used to a motorcycle trans design - and being off even a little with the rev matching can translate into shift fork wear and possible damage on these old transmissions. Reducing wear on the clutch? Shifting anywhere near normally is the least wear on any clutch, it's heavy slipping repeatedly to get moving that causes more clutch wear. Now with an ignition interrupt device in play as in the picture above, there is a significant reduction in risk

    Quote Originally Posted by tbpmusic View Post
    This thread is a mess..........
    Bull****, Mo - that's why Mr. Honda gave us a clutch.
    Agree completely Bill... why people dream up this stuff is beyond me
    Tom

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  9. #8
    Super Moderator frogman79's Avatar
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    I would go on a rant about which vehicle to use this method on and what not, I have plenty of experience doing this in very large trucks as you are more concerned about clutch wear in something that weights a 100+ pounds and the thing that weighs over 1000 when you have to pull and repair it.

    MC engines? Just why? Takes excellent throttle control to do it properly and when done incorrectly it wears many parts of the transmission and the sudden shock of stuffing it into the next gear can break dogs off gears, or shatter the gear the dog slides into.

    Case in point, these came out of the 450 engine I rebuilt.

    Ask MO Anything: Is Clutchless Shifting Bad For My Transmission?-p1020793z.jpg

    Ask MO Anything: Is Clutchless Shifting Bad For My Transmission?-p1020789j.jpg

  10. #9
    Member JDerrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frogman79 View Post
    I.

    MC engines? Just why? Takes excellent throttle control to do it properly and when done incorrectly it wears many parts of the transmission and the sudden shock of stuffing it into the next gear can break dogs off gears, or shatter the gear the dog slides into.

    Case in point, these came out of the 450 engine I rebuilt.
    I did this when I was learning a couple months ago several times. I stopped that habit as soon as possible.
    A seasoned old rider informed me that I was not doing much damage, because it would not go in gear unless it was matched up.
    But I just knew that I was doing damage to it. So now I use my clutch all the time.
    J-T likes this.

  11. #10
    Senior Member HamHock's Avatar
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    Motorcycles have sequential gearboxes with straight cut gears and no synchros. This makes them incredibly robust, if slightly clunky. Shifting without using the clutch is unlikely to do any damage to the gears. Shifting with too much force will certainly bend a shift fork though.

    I use a clutch more often than not. I also ride in heavy San Francisco traffic as a commuter. However if am getting into the twisties I only use the clutch when down shifting for a corner to avoid rear lock ups.

    I've botched shifts using a clutch.

    I've botched shifts not using the clutch.


    Do what feels right when you do it.
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    make it ugly so you don't feel bad about crashing. Ugly bikes are MUCH faster then pretty ones
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