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Discussion Starter #1
I feel shy asking these questions since they involve general motorcycle techniques, but seeing how 1) the majority of you are experienced riders and 2) you're all riding the same bike as mine, the TW200, i feel confident I can get some good TW200 specific advice as opposed to someone riding a ninja bike, etc.



I'm a new rider and I've started to get a grip on the basics. I plan on taking the MSF course when I have come up with the money, but for now i'd like to practice something i'm having trouble with, which involves downshifting.



Let's say I've made it up to 5th gear and i'm going around 45mph. There are a few sharp curves where I live to where i'll eventually have to slow down to say 15-20mph. That's around 2nd gear.



-What steps should I take, and in what order, to ensure that I slow down properly and downshift at the same time to not put strain on the bike when I finish the curve at say 15-20mph?

-Do I even downshift when slowing down? Or can I leave it in 5th, slow down & end up on the other side of the curve at around 15-20mph then speed up again while still in 5th? (I don't think I can)



-And if I do downshift when slowing down, when I change gears from 5th to say 2nd, do I release the clutch slowly after doing so or normally as when gearing up? I know it sounds confusing but any advice would be greatly appreciated.



I'm afraid I'm taking too much time after I finish the curve starting back up because of my inexperience. I don't want the bike to jerk. I've heard about matching RPMs to the downshift, but it seems to take some time if i'm just cruising through the curve.
 

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I feel shy asking these questions since they involve general motorcycle techniques, but seeing how 1) the majority of you are experienced riders and 2) you're all riding the same bike as mine, the TW200, i feel confident I can get some good TW200 specific advice as opposed to someone riding a ninja bike, etc.



I'm a new rider and I've started to get a grip on the basics. I plan on taking the MSF course when I have come up with the money, but for now i'd like to practice something i'm having trouble with, which involves downshifting.



Let's say I've made it up to 5th gear and i'm going around 45mph. There are a few sharp curves where I live to where i'll eventually have to slow down to say 15-20mph. That's around 2nd gear.



-What steps should I take, and in what order, to ensure that I slow down properly and downshift at the same time to not put strain on the bike when I finish the curve at say 15-20mph?

-Do I even downshift when slowing down? Or can I leave it in 5th, slow down & end up on the other side of the curve at around 15-20mph then speed up again while still in 5th? (I don't think I can)



-And if I do downshift when slowing down, when I change gears from 5th to say 2nd, do I release the clutch slowly after doing so or normally as when gearing up? I know it sounds confusing but any advice would be greatly appreciated.



I'm afraid I'm taking too much time after I finish the curve starting back up because of my inexperience. I don't want the bike to jerk. I've heard about matching RPMs to the downshift, but it seems to take some time if i'm just cruising through the curve.


I have a stretch of road I ride where there are three unbanked 90 degree turns within half a mile of each other. I think you'll find you don't have to drop to second gear to take your curves. Come off the throttle in 5th as you approach the curve, downshift to 4th and you should have plenty of grunt to take the curve, if, like my road, the next curve is only a few hundred yards from the first, just downshift to 3rd when you're approaching it The manual says the lowest speed in 5th is 25mph so you should be fine. Here's what the manual says:

 

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What I remember of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation class I took is that you want to do most if not all of your slowing and down-shifting before going into the turn.



Being leaned over while applying brake &/or clutch changes the dynamics enough that you can introduce a wobble that will make staying on track harder.



The most stable way to handle corners is to slow before, then power through, accelerating as you are coming out of the turn & straightening up.



And a good tip to remember (and practice occasionally) is "kiss the mirror". I believe I heard it first here on these forums. When you feel you are going to fast for the turn, lean your body toward the inside mirror. Like you are trying to kiss it. That puts your weight forward and inside, stabilizing the bike more.
 

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-And if I do downshift when slowing down, when I change gears from 5th to say 2nd, do I release the clutch slowly after doing so or normally as when gearing up? I know it sounds confusing but any advice would be greatly appreciated.


If you go from 5th to 2nd at 45, the bike will slow suddenly and shock the heck out of you - the T-Dub is quite low geared and if you weren't paying attention with a downshift like that it could throw you forward quite a bit, maybe even over the front wheel. You really don't need to downshift that much, like I said one gear should do you fine and you should be able to accelerate smartly through the curve in fourth - if you need more grunt shift to 3rd just before you enter the corner, and after you've slowed from shifting to fourth, and gas your way through the curve, upshifting when you hit the straight again. Don't shift in a tight corner at speed, do it before the curve or after you come out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the manual photo! Maybe i'm reading it wrong but is it really recommending me to shift from 2nd to 3rd when I hit around 12mph, and so forth? I always do it when I'm around 19 mpg
the shift point table is kind of confusing, especially in the shift down points. From what I'm reading its recommending I shift down every 12 miles. But what if I'm going 65mpg?



The reason I was asking about downshifting is because I believe I tried to leave it at a higher gear through the curve, but the bike wanted to turn off because the speed wasn't matching the gear (too slow for 4th).



I'll try those techniques out you told me, including one srs713 suggested to apply my changes before the curve.



This may sound stupid, but I always pull in the clutch before using the front and back brake. Is that even necessary when just breaking!? Or did someone give me bad breaking advice.
 

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I just completed the MSF course last weekend. I learned a lot and realized I had a lot of bad habits to break.



You should always be at a reduced speed BEFORE the curve begins:



1) LOOK all the way through the curve, head up even with the horizon.

2) PRESS with the hand in the direction you intend to turn. For example, if you are turning right, press with your right hand. This initiates the lean. This seemed totally backwards to me until I tried it. It works!

3) ROLL on the throttle, gradually speeding up through the turn(s).



Look, Press, Roll - this is what the MSF teaches.
 

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Thanks for the manual photo! Maybe i'm reading it wrong but is it really recommending me to shift from 2nd to 3rd when I hit around 12mph, and so forth? I always do it when I'm around 19 mpg
the shift point table is kind of confusing, especially in the shift down points. From what I'm reading its recommending I shift down every 12 miles. But what if I'm going 65mpg?



The reason I was asking about downshifting is because I believe I tried to leave it at a higher gear through the curve, but the bike wanted to turn off because the speed wasn't matching the gear (too slow for 4th).



I'll try those techniques out you told me, including one srs713 suggested to apply my changes before the curve.



This may sound stupid, but I always pull in the clutch before using the front and back brake. Is that even necessary when just breaking!? Or did someone give me bad breaking advice.


Hmm, I have no problem accelerating at 20 mph or so in forth, I'm usually in third at that speed, but forth is still okay. I think the reason Yamaha says 12 mph for all gears is they don't want you downshifting too much at speed. I really don't downshift as I approach a stop (for example) except from fifth to forth - I use the brake. As I see a stop sign/signal ahead, I come off the throttle and apply the brakes lightly to slow to around 20, downshift to forth and use engine compression and brakes to slow me down, then I pull in the clutch just before stopping and downshift to first, leaving the clutch in until I take off again.



Like I said before, and like srs713 said better, all braking/shifting should be done before and after the curve. The only control input you should use IN the curve is the throttle to accelerate your way through the curve smoothly. Also, you should approach the curve on the outside of the curve, cut the curve to the inside, then exit on the outside of the curve. This reduces the severity of the curve allowing a higher speed, and also puts you in away from the centerline before the curve - where you can't see what's coming from the other direction - in case a car is cutting the curve from the other direction, and is crossing into your lane.



Like this:







Yes, bad advice on clutch before braking, use the brakes AND the engine compression to slow you down.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all these good advices. I took the bike out to practice a bit and I noticed a smoother, quicker ride through the curves. I need a lot of practice but this is excellent. The pictures are a great aid as well. It'll lessen my need to slow down.
 

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It's critical that you roll onto the accelerator as you exit the apex of the curve. This loads the suspension and causes the bike to plant harder to the road surface. You should try to do all your slowing prior to entering the curve then roll out of it on the throttle. Downshifting in the middle of the curve makes you more prone to having troubles. If you downshift too aggressively, you a prone to skidding out the rear tire, which you obviously want to avoid at all costs.



Everyone should own and read this book. I can't recommend it enough.



 

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I feel shy asking these questions since they involve general motorcycle techniques,..
Better to ask.





What I remember of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation class I took is that you want to do most if not all of your slowing and down-shifting before going into the turn ... The most stable way to handle corners is to slow before, then power through, accelerating as you are coming out of the turn...
Yes.





It's critical that you roll onto the accelerator as you exit the apex of the curve. This loads the suspension and causes the bike to plant harder to the road surface. You should try to do all your slowing prior to entering the curve then roll out of it on the throttle. Downshifting in the middle of the curve makes you more prone to having troubles. If you downshift too aggressively, you a prone to skidding out the rear tire, which you obviously want to avoid at all costs.



Everyone should own and read this book. I can't recommend it enough.



I cannot agree enough. Even after three weeks of motor training, I still learned things from this book. It is written and illustrated well.



In regards to pulling in the clutch for braking, yes -- but for what some call "panic" or "emergency" braking. It's that braking you do while praying to God not to let you die this horrible, impending death. For example, you're traveling down the highway and an oncoming 1967 Ford F100 pickup that looks like it hasn't been insured in about two decades and probably hasn't had it's brakes serviced in about the same length of time -- it turns left in front of you. You don't have time to downshift while braking. You'll pull in the clutch and (because you practice emergency braking) you progressively squeeze the front brake to maximum braking traction. (You still downshift, by the way, you just don't let the clutch out -- comes in handy for a "brake and escape" or a manuever after braking to avoid a collision.)



OK, maybe that's a little dramatic. Normal slowing/braking, especially for the curves you asked about, that will include downshifting so you can roll on the throttle after the apex of the curve. But even upon a fresh red light (the traffic engineers up here like 3 second yellows for some bizarre reason) you may find yourself without sufficient time to downshift through every gear.
 

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Find an abandoned parking lot: set up "curves" with cones, larger rocks that you can see, etc: Practice.



Practice first without anything like a backpack and then slowly add things you might typically carry with you, so you can feel how the bike responds and how you respond in different riding scenarios.



A few weeks ago I rode the bike out to an acquaintance's ranch to do some shooting with my eberlestock pack and rifle on my back (stuck in the pack). The shoulders were much more rigid, and I could definitely notice a difference in how I had to ride with such a heavy pack. Best to figure those things out away from traffic if you're not comfortable making quick corrections on the fly.
 

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The best thing you can do is to read the book recommended above and take the MSF course before you hurt yourself. It's a whole lot better and safer to learn how to do something correctly the first time instead of trying to unlearn bad habits.
 

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All good advise... I find myself down shifting about every 10mph of lost speed, Until I've reached the desired gear.. I do it very smoothly, so I don't jurk the back wheel...







Oh by the way.......... My wife and I are headed to tenn. to ride the tail of the dragon so I hope I do well and not end up on the tree of "SHAME. 314 turns in 11 miles. WOW. Wish us luck.. OMM.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Great recommendation for that book, i'll definitely be ordering it from amazon. Thanks everyone, and good luck omm, sounds like a hell of a ride!
 

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So when I am slowing to a stop...I go from 5th to 1st...it's not good to jam it into first until stopped completely? Doesn't seem to like it if I do it while moving.
 

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None of my rides like to be shifted down to first gear (with clutch in)when traveling fast. First gear always seem to make a louder "clunking". After a while you get the feel of what gear you should be in for a sensed speed. So under rapid braking, I downshift (with clutch in) accordingly.So I end up engaging 1st gear just before stopping. I think it's something that you just learn after a while. You'll sense that "too fast" point for 1st gear engagement. Clear as mud?
 

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I started riding last year (on the TW200) and I went through the same thing!



I spent a lot of time riding up and down a back road that head a series of turns, one of them being a 5th downshift to 3rd sometimes 2nd. I spent a lot of time on that road, and I still practice from time to time. You will get a lot better just doing it over and over. I took the MSF, but it took months until I was really confident on the street. Now like a car I don't even think about it.



I do "blip" the throttle on a downshift (say from 5th to 3rd), it sounds cool and it really does help.



One small story for anyone reading this later. I had a car pull out infront of me putting me into an emergency stop, but in the act of stopping I only downshifted to 2nd. So the car left and I kept trying to start the bike, and stalling out. Over and over. I was dumbfounded until a homeless guy pointed out I was not in 1st. Needless to say at lights now I double tap to make sure I am in first.
 

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I started riding last year (on the TW200) and I went through the same thing!



I spent a lot of time riding up and down a back road that head a series of turns, one of them being a 5th downshift to 3rd sometimes 2nd. I spent a lot of time on that road, and I still practice from time to time. You will get a lot better just doing it over and over. I took the MSF, but it took months until I was really confident on the street. Now like a car I don't even think about it.



I do "blip" the throttle on a downshift (say from 5th to 3rd), it sounds cool and it really does help.



One small story for anyone reading this later. I had a car pull out infront of me putting me into an emergency stop, but in the act of stopping I only downshifted to 2nd. So the car left and I kept trying to start the bike, and stalling out. Over and over. I was dumbfounded until a homeless guy pointed out I was not in 1st. Needless to say at lights now I double tap to make sure I am in first.


Didn't think the TW could stall even in 2nd.
 
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