Downshifting & Clutch Wear Question

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Michael, May 31, 2013.

  1. Michael

    Michael Been here awhile

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    When downshifting I find it hard to precisely match the RPMs to the new lower gear. I have a 2008 BMW K1200S and I just can't seem to get the downshifts smooth. So, I developed the habit of pulling in the clutch, downshifting while holding RPMs steady, then letting in the clutch to get the RPMs up without making the bike jerk.

    My question is - will this put too much wear on the clutch? Should I expect a drastically shorter clutch life? The bike has 33,000 miles on it now.

    BTW I can smoothly upshift without using the clutch and do this most of the time.
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  2. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

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    Downshifting should be easy and natural, I do it all the time on my 94 BMW R1100RS (which has a dry clutch by the way). I get usual clutch life of 80,000 to 100,000 miles even though it is a single plate clutch.

    Are you trying to downshift at lower rpms? That may make it more difficult. I have ridden many BMW K12 and K13 models and I've not had any issues with downshifting.

    Your bike has a multi-plate wet clutch, which is hydraulically actuated. Any chance the clutch fluid is really low, air in the line, never bled/flushed? Those issues would all contribute to hard downshifting. Since you say you can upshift without the clutch, that can be done even if there is no fluid in the clutch master cylinder. But downshifting, especially on a shaft drive bike, does require clutch actuation.

    I would first have the clutch master and slave cylinder circuit flushed and then properly filled/bled with new fluid. My bet is your shifting issues will dissappear.
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  3. Michael

    Michael Been here awhile

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    Andy, thanks for the tip - The fluid level is fine but I have no idea if there is air in there. Good idea about flushing it out.
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  4. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

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    The clutch on the K12 and K13 BMWs should be plenty durable and sustain a lot miles, depending on the use/abuse factor.

    Given your bike has 33k on it I would definitely have the clutch circuit flushed, new fluid put in and properly bled. What you describe is not at all normal for any K bike I have ridden. Most issues of shifting relate to clutch drag, and most clutch drag is caused by an improperly setup clutch. Since your bike has hyd clutch actuation it automatically adjusts for clutch wear. But 33k on a K12 is nothing. The other factor "may" be the clutch basket fingers have developed grooves which can tend to hold the plates in place. Clutch basket grooves can happen on a clutch that is abused regularly with full throttle launches, like drag racing launches.
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  5. opmike

    opmike Choosing to be here.

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    If ever you find it "hard" to do something (assuming you're using quality and mechanically sound equipment), it's probably a sign of needing more practice.

    When I first started riding, it took me a bit of time getting smooth rev-matches. I made a point to practice it whenever possible and it became a non-issue.
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  6. univibe88

    univibe88 Slidell4Life

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    Key word being "should" but the clutch on the K12/K13 is a known weak point. There are tons of accounts of them shitting out at unacceptably low miles. Mine went out at 58k miles which is okay. But lots and lots of people had them burn out <20k miles. The K12/13 bikes have three well known weak points - clutch, FD and cam chain.
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  7. lnewqban

    lnewqban Ninjetter

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    That is a bad habit, you need to blip the throttle in order to increase engine's rpms' before shifting down.

    This video explains it much better:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ABNrYzqJgI
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  8. RockinTheRVA

    RockinTheRVA Been here awhile

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    I once had an 07 K1200R. I found the bike in general to be much more difficult to cleanly shift(up or down) than every other bike I've had. My current Honda 919, my previous ZX6R, FZ6, Ninja250's, etc were all very easy to smoothly upshift and downshift. The K12 with its shaft drive never quite felt natural when shifting. I'm sure many people can shift them smoothly, but I got frustrated that it wasn't second nature as with my other bikes. Your experiences sound very similar to mine.

    For what it's worth, in my opinion, not meant to be offensive, I think part of your frustration comes from the nature of that bike.

    *thinking back, I do remember that bike behaving much better at higher RPMs...even though you could easily ride it under 5K rpms all day
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  9. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

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    You got that right and especially on a BMW, you kind of have to preload the whole drivetrain, all of them have a fair amount of "lash". Holding steady or decreasing the RPMs too much and you'll pick up the lash. Makes things......unsmooth.:wink:

    Altough I know that some of the K1200s slant do have shifting problems.:eek1 Some have gone the long and rather expensive way of having the transmission rebuilt and all the gears undercut for smoother shifts.That's something BMW seems to have cheapened out on.....undercutting the gears.:wink:

    Blip UP!:clap
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  10. 74C5

    74C5 Long timer

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    Maybe try not completely dis-engaging the clutch and blipping just a bit.
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  11. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

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    And that also, BMW levers are adjustable. Don't know about the wet clutches but on the dry ones, I just blip the clutch.Shifts much better than bringing the lever all the way back to the grip. Just for the kick yesterday I did a few things I don't usually do......definitely unsmooth.Not a big fan of hydraulic clutches, always liked more feedback at the lever from a clutch cable.

    I was also playing with the suspension setups, wrong compression and rebound dampening will also affect the shifting to some extent.Again don't know much about them newfangled wet clutches on BMWs but over 30 years met way too many complaining about the BMW clunkiness, never really had that problem. Preload the shifter....blip clutch and throttle keeping the drivetrain loaded....away we go, up or down.:wink:
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  12. Michael

    Michael Been here awhile

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    Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. I have been practicing the techniques yall recommend - am not real smooth yet but at least it gives me something to do while riding in dense DC traffic........
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  13. PT Rider

    PT Rider Been here awhile

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    Adjust your throttle cable for the minimum slack. That'll make the blipping work well with less wasted wrist movement and the associated wasted time.
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  14. car94

    car94 What's this Box for?

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    Never ever short shift!:deal
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  15. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

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    And that....I know the BMW tolerances for cable play, there shouldn't be much of that 2mm I think on my bike altough I do it by feel, no need for a feeler gauge. And 2 cables, push and pull for the cruise equipped bikes. If not adjusted exactly the same makes the cruise engagement iffy sometimes. But sure jerks them bikes on accell/decell, no smoothness there. Ouch my first ride in the curves on my used K was painful just because of that. Couple that with their infamous slippery seat.....painful for the "package" that is.:evil

    I checked about 15 bikes at a shop a couple years back, not one of them were adjusted correctly or even the same and looks like quite a few escaped a proper pre-delivery inspection and were delivered to a customer that way.:huh

    All the Ducatis/Triumphs and others at that shop were well adjusted, probably right at the factory.:wink:
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  16. bradluke0

    bradluke0 Been here awhile

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    Hi all ! I have found the smoothest way to downshift is to hold the throttle steady , pull the clutch in , downshift and let clutch back out . Holding the throttle steady the whole time . Blipping the throttle and trying to time all that stuff , especially on a "non-smooth" bike is tough . Try it you'll like it .
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  17. ttpete

    ttpete Rectum Non Bustibus

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    It can be done, and I do it on occasion, but not when setting up for a corner where I need engine braking quickly. Blipping isn't difficult, but it requires practice to do it smoothly. It becomes automatic after awhile.
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  18. chorizo

    chorizo Been here awhile

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    You think Im blowing it not using the clutch much at all? Times when not pushing my Uly it'll shift real smooth up or down without the clutch. Except 1st. If its not grinding, no harm right? BTW the clutch on the uly is not hydraulic.
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  19. univibe88

    univibe88 Slidell4Life

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    I am no expert by any means, but I don't see how downshifting without the clutch can be a good thing.

    Upshifting, sure. If you are at the right shift point the transmission will easily slide into the next gear. But when you downshift the engine is immediately going to rev up and engine brake. Seems that you want/need to either blip while the clutch is pulled in, or slip the clutch after shifting.
    #19
  20. bradluke0

    bradluke0 Been here awhile

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    Hi all ! The problem is downshifting should not be used to slow down . Downshifting is done to match the engine and road speed . Slowing down is the brakes job, speeding up is the engines job . I am obviously in the engine for go ....brakes for whoa camp .
    #20