Are there any risks to pulling the clutch in a corner?

Forums ChampU ChampU General Discussion Are there any risks to pulling the clutch in a corner?

  • This topic has 5 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 2 months ago by SJ.
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    mark van Hoeij

    At low speeds, the throttle is quite jerky. Over time, my throttle hand has gotten better, but I’m still sometimes tempted to use my left hand to smoothen out potential mistakes made by the throttle hand.
    Say I enter a sharp turn on a road that is wet and dirty. Are there any drawbacks to putting the clutch in the friction zone, to smooth out throttle mistakes? (It feels like a millimeter turn in the throttle is enough to go between sudden engine braking and acceleration.)
    There are some turns on my daily commute when I decelerate throughout the turn (e.g. a turn from a 45 mph road to a 25 mph road, and also a few low speed downhill turns). But sometimes engine braking slows me down more than I want. Then it’s tempting to just pull the clutch and control the speed with the front brake; it’s very easy to control the speed of the bike this way.

    People told me that it’s bad to have the clutch pulled in because they said that one can’t quickly take off this way, but I don’t quite understand that argument because it takes very little time to put the clutch back into the friction zone; this doesn’t introduce a delay since both hands can operate at the same time.

    But it makes me wonder if there are any other safety downsides to taking a turn with the clutch? (I understand that people don’t win races when coasting, but my question is about safety, not about fast corners).

    John Stickney

    I tend to agree with your friends. Juggling more things to think about and control could add to more issues then fixes.

    What kind of bike do you ride?

    mark van Hoeij

    In the past I had a carburated inline-4, it was quite easy to control that bike at low speeds with the throttle. Now I have a fuel-injected SV650. When I first did parking lot exercises on this bike, e.g. going around in a circle to practice turning, I would sometimes accidentally close the throttle, leading to abrupt unintended engine braking, not something one wants when leaned over, and it’d also be jumpy when trying to slightly reopen the throttle, it’s easy to overdo it.

    Fortunately, these mistakes didn’t cause a crash because I was doing those exercises in a high traction situation (clean surface, warm weather). It’s taken me months to get better with the throttle, but it’s still not always smooth.

    In contrast, the clutch on either motorcycle was easy on day one. I find it very easy to put the clutch in the friction zone (either from clutch-in or from clutch-out). Perhaps this is because I’ve been using clutches since I was 12, but it does seem to me that the clutch requires much less precision to operate than the throttle. When pulling the lever, the force is initially small (say force = f) but once the plates are pulled apart, the force on the lever increases (say force = F). Pulling the lever with a force that is between f and F quickly puts the clutch in the friction zone. Not a lot of precision is required from the left hand, because F is a lot higher than f, and any left-hand force that is higher than f but lower than F will put the bike in the friction zone.

    I understand that the easy way (using the friction zone if I doubt my right hand in a slippery turn, or pulling the clutch completely in a slow downhill turn where all I do is deceleration) is no way to win races, and people tell me that it’s wrong, but it does feel safe, with speed easy to control.


    I used to do the same on a Kawasaki Z 400, for exactly the same reasons. People talked me out of it. In higher gears I started trusting the engine. In lower gears (1st or 2nd) I may still do it because of the throttle jerkiness, but that is at low speed and very little lean angle.

    I guess the best way to fix this, is to flash the ECU so the throttle because smoother. I guess that people who really need to ride fast in 1st or 2nd gears while leaned over already did this, or they crashed. 🙂

    mark van Hoeij

    One thing that helped a little bit was to minimize the slack in the throttle cable. The manual recommends 5 mm of slack, but I think it’s OK to put the slack to near zero as long as one checks that turning the handlebars doesn’t cause a throttle input.
    This reduction in slack makes it a little bit easier to avoid accidentally going from low throttle to no throttle (with sudden engine braking!) in a tight turn.
    I’m also going to try one of the exercises in one of the videos, this exercise is something I can do while waiting a light: practicing slight turns of the throttle and try to raise/reduce the rpm by small amounts, without accidentally closing the throttle. If I can get better at that, and get more confident in the throttle hand, then there’ll be less need for smoothing things out with the clutch in low-traction situations.


    I enter sharp turns the following: roll off throttle, pull in clutch and downshift as needed, keep clutch pulled in and use brakes to slow into turn, continue to trail brake until happy with speed and direction, then ease off front brake and slowly release clutch and accelerate to exit.

    Is that wrong?
    I don’t like engine braking thru turn as I don’t feel as thought I have as much control.

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