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SPLIT SECONDS

by SPEEDSLUG

It seems like the more miles one puts on, the more important split seconds become. Due to you or someone else's 'situation', split seconds on two wheels can become very important in literally a heartbeat. One of the advantages of a motorcycle is it's ability to brake, accelerate, turn, and provide a platform of wide visibility for the rider. This first part is going to cover the acceleration part. You speedy racers can move on to the next topic.

Some of you are on sufficiently powered bikes, i.e.250 and above, but don't have the initial torque and horsepower found in bigger engines. From a stop sign, turning into traffic, or a freeway onramp, the poor engine is wheezing for all it's worth while that Kenworth radiator gets shinier and shinier in your mirror. So what will give you an extra second more? Lets talk about speed shifting.

Powerband, the meat of the motor, rev's up, all refer to the most efficient rpm range of your motor. It's the sweet spot where no matter what gear you are in, when you turn the throttle, the bike 'goes'. No bog, no stumble, no lug. The smaller the motor the smaller that range is and the more important it is to be in the proper gear for your situation. Turn the throttle at 20mph in high gear and booogggg, the motor almost drowns itself in too much fuel and too little rpm's. Do the same in first gear you better be holding onto the handlebars.

How do we apply this on a onramp, or merging into traffic? Basically we are taught, or learned on a car, to back off the throttle when we depress the clutch and shift into the next higher gear. We carry this unconscious chain of movements onto shifting a bike. But it's not always necessary on a two wheeler to do it that way.

From a start get yourself going in first gear. As you approach your shift point, lightly press upward on the shifter with your toe. When you hit your shift point, back off the throttle for just a second and at the same time finish shifting into the next gear. No clutch, no backing off the throttle and losing precious rpm's. Just a quick 'blip' of the throttle, from back off to back on, a light toe pressure on the shifter and wham, he next shift.

Get real smooth in the parking lot going up the first two or three gears. You don't have to be at max throttle in the beginning to practice this. With each shift remember to completely release the shifter, then apply light toe pressure for the next shift. When you blip the throttle, you 'unload' the pressure on the clutch and by moving the shifter upward into that unpressurized moment, the next shift is smooth and in the powerband of the motor. Minimizing lost 'seconds'.

Get in the habit of leaning forward a bit, clamping the gas tank with your legs to hold you on the bike. This will allow you to relax your shoulders and arms and use your controls like you're playing the piano. The hands must be free to move, not holding onto the bars while your arms are pulled out their sockets.
Just give it a try, see if works for you.

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SPEEDSLUG is a frequent contributor to the Women Riders International (WRI) Forum and has generously allowed us to post his tips at here at RideMyOwn.com

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