Shifting gear mid-corner?

Forums Introductions and General Motorcycle Chat New Riders Shifting gear mid-corner?

  • This topic has 1 reply, 2 voices, and was last updated 10 months ago by Brenden C. Anderson.
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    Chris Ducharme

      I’m practicing trail braking. Let’s say, for instance, I enter corner in 3rd gear. Through corner, I reduce speed enough that it would be better to exit corner in 2nd gear, otherwise engine lugs. Is it advisable to shift mid-corner. As I see it, that introduces some risk if engine speed wasn’t matched well to gear and road speed.

      Brenden C. Anderson

        @chris ducharme

        Great question and your spidey sense that risk increases if we shift mid-corner is spot on.

        A key phrase we want to always remember is “I never want to upset the chassis or surprise the tires.” Shifting mid corner is a sure fire way to do one or both, especially the tighter the radius and the greater the lean angle is. And you remember from our ChampU coursework that lean angle = risk.

        So what can we do to avoid a mid-corner shift?

        First, by getting our eyes up to that apex and as far forward as possible we can better gauge and set our desired corner speed. You know that radius = mph so the tighter that radius looks, the more likely 1, 2 or even 3 downshifts will be required. Let’s keep those eyes constantly in the hunt for the next apex so we can gauge it before we’re already inside the approach. By constantly looking ahead, we’re building our plans for how much braking and shifting we’ll need to do. And we use our breaks until we’re happy with speed and direction.

        OK, that’s good for eyes and brakes but what about that shifter?

        Getting our shifting done while in the approach to the corner allows us to get the chassis settled before we really start closing in on the apex and increasing our lean angle.

        As a rule of thumb, I would rather be higher in the rev range going into a corner than low in the rev range. With the gyroscope spun up, we can keep the bike stable and safe through the corner. As we exit and decrease lean angle, it will be much less upsetting to the chassis as we shift up. Because we know to be smooth rolling on our throttle, we will be mindful not to exceed our 100 points of grip.

        If we enter the corner with low revs and then shift as we’re leaned over, we’re asking the bike to go from an already flabby gyroscope to a disengaged gyroscope (clutch pulled in) and then to a tighter gyroscope, all happening in the zone of the corner where the lean angle is greatest. That moment you pull the clutch in dramatically changes the stabilizing effect of the gyroscope. All of this equates to what you wrote above, “introduces some risk if engine speed wasn’t matched well to….road speed.”

        If for some reason we still misjudge the corner and have to downshift, we want the focus muscle between our ears to immediately and directly connect to our left hand to be EXTRA smooth on the clutch release and to our right hand to be EXTRA smooth on opening the throttle. And keep those eyes up and through the corner!

        When you catch up to your pals at the next stop and they ask why you dropped back for a second, you can just tell them you had a bad shift but handled it….like a Champ!

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