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Discussion Starter #1
I've been riding a sport bike for several years and I'm used to down-shifting, sometimes sort of aggressively, as I approach red lights or other times I need to slow down. I find myself doing the same thing with my new (to me) 04 KP. Should I be on the brakes more or is it safe to down-shift through the gears to slow down? (With the 04 KP) As always thanks for the knowledgeable responses!
 

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There's nothing wrong with downshifting. It's wrong not to downshift. You want the engine's RPM to match your speed, so as you're slowing down, do downshift. Letting the motor give you braking power not only saves the brakes, but ensures you're in the correct gear if you need to get on the gas for an emergency move. Just make sure you don't drop down to 1st gear until you're below 10-15mph.
 

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edit: i should start by saying I use this method most of the time... i realize this post made it sound like i was not recommending downshifting to slow down. this is not the case....

Tagging on to what crossroads said, I'd advise that you should rev-match by blipping the throttle to minimize the jerking effect of going down a gear.

More importantly, keep in mind that these big twins have a LOT of engine braking, and can break the rear tire loose on dirty pavement (or worse, gravel). Various conditions can be a poor choice for downshifting to slow down (even when rev-matching).

use good judgement- if you are on a low-traction surface, use your brakes evenly to slow down. Low traction surfaces can be many things in this case: rain, gravel, light sand on surface, GOING DOWNHILL, etc.

be smart, and keep the shiny side up!
 

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Engine breaking can cause oil consumption. I watch friends down shift all the time to slow down or to stop and they add a half a quart to a full quart between oil changes.
 

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"Engine braking" was brought up in our MSF class. I've used it since day one with the exception of wet or sandy roads.

Johnny's post showed up same time as mine... I haven't had an oil loss issue in my experiences on three different bikes.
Anything's possible though, maybe a bike with higher mileage might have some blow-by.
 

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Engine breaking can cause oil consumption. I watch friends down shift all the time to slow down or to stop and they add a half a quart to a full quart between oil changes.
If a bike is chewing that much oil between changes, I'd say the problem is likely more than just engine braking. Probably not broken in well and have a lot of blowby.
 

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I rarely downshift. Just use the brakes. When I come to a stop sign, or red light I use the brakes until I get to about 10 MPH and then just shift to either neutral or first gear. It works fine and brakes are easy to change. I think it is your call, but I can't see adding any additional stress to the engine or transmission:)
 

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isn't going to be a lot more stress than hard acceleration.

Plus I feel it's good to put the cylinders under vacuum every now and then.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the responses, I'm used to rev-matching and what not and being careful on low-traction surfaces so that's not a problem, was more interested to see if the same method is used with these cruisers as is used with the crotch rockets I'm used to - thank you for enlightening me!
 

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As was already covered... yes, engine braking is the proper way to slow down in combination with your brakes.

Do keep in mind though that unlike a sportbike, you do not have a slipper clutch, so aggressive downshifting should be tempered with aggressive throttle manipulation. While of course you know to blip the throttle to rev-match under normal downshifting, you will need to be more on top of this under an aggressive situation. That ass-end will kick out real fast!
 

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agreed on all counts, bandit. If the OP is coming from 4-cyl sportbikes, the increase in engine braking is dramatic. If a ducati or Aprilia (or other v-twin), not as big of an increase but still a change.
 

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downshifting memories

This thread reminds me of the days I learned the hard way to downshift over braking. Mainly due to the bike I was racing had no brakes. You learn fast. Hopefully. For what its worth...... 8)
 

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Downshifting properly is cool....just keep in mind....brake pads are cheaper than clutches.
 

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edit:More importantly, keep in mind that these big twins have a LOT of engine braking, and can break the rear tire loose on dirty pavement (or worse, gravel). Various conditions can be a poor choice for downshifting to slow down (even when rev-matching).

use good judgement- if you are on a low-traction surface, use your brakes evenly to slow down. Low traction surfaces can be many things in this case: rain, gravel, light sand on surface, GOING DOWNHILL, etc.
Ashmostro was not kidding in the above statement! Not long after I got my Kingpin (5 spd) I tried downshifting from 65 MPH on an exit ramp that ended at a red light. Perhaps the newer 6 spd transmissions are more forgiving, but I wouldn't try it. I can't stress this enough - unless you enjoy crapping your pants, make sure your RPMs & gears match! I broke the rear tire loose and found myself in hell trying to keep the bike upright & get it stopped! This was on dry, smooth pavement. I can only imagine what loose gravel or rain would bring to the mix! I was fortunate that there were no cars ahead of me or beside of me and I kept the shiny side up!

That was a true Moment-of-Learning and as well as a Come-to-Jesus experience! I won't do that again and learning definitely took place!:crzy:
 

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I use the brakes until I get to about 10 MPH and then just shift to either neutral or first gear.
That is a very dangerous habit. If something happens (like an idiot coming out of nowhere) you're pretty much screwed.

Even if you don't engine break, you should still downshift and match your gear to your speed. And never ever ride around in neutral. I wouldn't even sit at a red light in neutral.

The only crumple zone on my bike is me. I want to get the hell out of there if I see an accident about to happen. That ain't going to happen if I'm in neutral or in a high gear at low speed.
 

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That is a very dangerous habit. If something happens (like an idiot coming out of nowhere) you're pretty much screwed.

Even if you don't engine break, you should still downshift and match your gear to your speed. And never ever ride around in neutral. I wouldn't even sit at a red light in neutral.

The only crumple zone on my bike is me. I want to get the hell out of there if I see an accident about to happen. That ain't going to happen if I'm in neutral or in a high gear at low speed.
Well, Like they say, "opinions are just like azz holes everyone has one:ltr::ltr:. You can stop and hold in the clutch for three light changes to get your green if you want, I will just leave er in neutral till its time to go. Been doing it for well over 45 years, and might even be over a million miles. Never had a problem yet.cheers
 

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The most common type of accident in my state involving a bike is being rear ended.

No instructor will tell you to sit in neutral.

I only shift into neutral when I have at least 2 cars behind me and the light is going to be exceptionally long.

I'm squeezing and releasing that clutch hundreds of times on every ride, so holding it in at a light for a coulpe minutes doesn't hurt me at all. If I couldn't handle that, I wouldn't ride at all.
 

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The most common type of accident in my state involving a bike is being rear ended.

No instructor will tell you to sit in neutral.

I only shift into neutral when I have at least 2 cars behind me and the light is going to be exceptionally long.

I'm squeezing and releasing that clutch hundreds of times on every ride, so holding it in at a light for a coulpe minutes doesn't hurt me at all. If I couldn't handle that, I wouldn't ride at all.
Well like I said before it is everyone owns decision. And I frankly don't give a rats azz what an instructor says. There may be a slight chance sitting at a light that you could get away from someone rear ending you. But I don't think the .2 seconds it takes to put the bike in gear will make any difference. I do what works for me. And it has for many years and many miles. It would be interesting to find out just how much experience some of the instructors have. I am sure that some have quite allot. However the local instructor (one of them at least) in the Ogden Utah area is a lady that used to live down the street from me. Her longest ride in her career was under 200 miles. I don't think I am going to change my riding habits for any of her suggestions:confused:
 

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Yes, well. all the same arguments can be made for not wearing a helmet too. :rolleyes:

I suppose some folks view safety as an "opinion" and not "common sense". That's cool. No skin off my teeth. Let's argue against safety by questioning random instructors time on the road... :rolleyes::rolleyes:


Anyway, it's not correct to say something like "the .2 seconds" because, well, hell, for someone with 45 years under their belt... Maybe if you are already holding the clutch in with your hands on the bars... oh, right, the .2 is only for folks not sitting in neutral...

I insure with All State. When I moved my bike insurance to them (wow are they cheap compared to the "motorcycle insurance company" I was previously using). They gave me a spill about it as well and according to their stats, as well as instructors, they advised specifically on the red light scenario (they actually talked about a lot of motorcycle stats, not just this - I don't recall if they were 'local' or national stats though)... But whatever. You are bullet proof. I used to be too; I remember what that's like (45 years? really?)

Also, if you are braking without downshifting, you are effectively coasting a lot. This isn't just about sitting at a red light in neutral which seems to have turned into the focus of the responses. It's also about being able to get out of the way when you're approaching the light. Let alone after you are sitting there helplessly. Rolling at 20 in 6th gear, you aren't going to react fast enough if something unexpected happens.

Anyway, everyone is free to do what they want. No helmet and flip flops is fine by me, but you won't catch me doing it.

This reminds me of a time I was going down SH 149. I was coming up on this other biker (helmetless btw) and after a bit some dick pulled out in front of him. It even scared me (for him) and I was back out of harms way.

Next thing I know the biker is flipping off the cage (ok, that's maybe understandable) but then proceeds to cut off the car. Multiple times. What an idiot.

I'm sure he felt it's only an opinion that this is dangerous behavior too.

Long story short, engine breaking is safer than coasting with your brakes. But matching the gear to your engine speed is more the point than actually releasing the clutch and engine breaking...

And, of course, location location location. If I'm all alone on some road (or perhaps in Utah cheers)- that's a totally different story.

Totally agree, dude, you are free to do what you want. But advise should always be safety first in my a-hole's most humble opinion. :ltr:
 

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Yes, well. all the same arguments can be made for not wearing a helmet too. :rolleyes:

I suppose some folks view safety as an "opinion" and not "common sense". That's cool. No skin off my teeth. Let's argue against safety by questioning random instructors time on the road... :rolleyes::rolleyes:


Anyway, it's not correct to say something like "the .2 seconds" because, well, hell, for someone with 45 years under their belt... Maybe if you are already holding the clutch in with your hands on the bars... oh, right, the .2 is only for folks not sitting in neutral...

I insure with All State. When I moved my bike insurance to them (wow are they cheap compared to the "motorcycle insurance company" I was previously using). They gave me a spill about it as well and according to their stats, as well as instructors, they advised specifically on the red light scenario (they actually talked about a lot of motorcycle stats, not just this - I don't recall if they were 'local' or national stats though)... But whatever. You are bullet proof. I used to be too; I remember what that's like (45 years? really?)

Also, if you are braking without downshifting, you are effectively coasting a lot. This isn't just about sitting at a red light in neutral which seems to have turned into the focus of the responses. It's also about being able to get out of the way when you're approaching the light. Let alone after you are sitting there helplessly. Rolling at 20 in 6th gear, you aren't going to react fast enough if something unexpected happens.

Anyway, everyone is free to do what they want. No helmet and flip flops is fine by me, but you won't catch me doing it.

This reminds me of a time I was going down SH 149. I was coming up on this other biker (helmetless btw) and after a bit some dick pulled out in front of him. It even scared me (for him) and I was back out of harms way.

Next thing I know the biker is flipping off the cage (ok, that's maybe understandable) but then proceeds to cut off the car. Multiple times. What an idiot.

I'm sure he felt it's only an opinion that this is dangerous behavior too.

Long story short, engine breaking is safer than coasting with your brakes. But matching the gear to your engine speed is more the point than actually releasing the clutch and engine breaking...

And, of course, location location location. If I'm all alone on some road (or perhaps in Utah cheers)- that's a totally different story.

Totally agree, dude, you are free to do what you want. But advise should always be safety first in my a-hole's most humble opinion. :ltr:
I agree with you. Am I reading correctly that somehow this thread went in the direction that we should be in NEUTRAL when coming to a stop? I don't think that's for me. My point was just reinforcing what Ashmostro was saying about keeping the RPMs matched to your speed and proper gear as we down shift. One time I stopped in "N" and that will never happen again! The light changed & I didn't & nearly got run over trying to figure out why I wasn't moving!

For those that don't release the clutch while coming to a stop - downshift to the proper gear as you slow to that speed. For those that do release the clutch & use the engine to brake, make sure you are not going too fast for the gear selected as was the case for me. Having learned NOT to shift down too far while moving above 40 MPH only makes me more familiar with how my bike reacts to some of my mistakes.
 
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