Why do bikes need to shift down for first gear?

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3/4/2020 7:23 AM
Edited Date/Time: 3/4/2020 7:23 AM

What is the engineering behind this? Listening to podcasts and hear all the crashes due to false neutral or inability to shift through neutral under power.
Why not neutal all the way up?

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3/4/2020 7:29 AM
Edited Date/Time: 3/4/2020 7:31 AM

It's designed so that you can't just hit neutral by clicking all the way up or down.

A false neutral isn't someone just hitting neutral between 1st and 2nd gear. It's when the transmission get's stuck between a gear that isn't supposed to have a neutral between it.

At any engine speed above idle its almost impossible to actually get the bike in neutral.

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Race Bike: 2018 KTM 350SXF

Other Bikes: 1985 CR80R, 1990 CR250R, 1998 PW80, Specialized Fuse Comp 29.

Sold: 2016 YZ250F, 2012 CRF250R

3/4/2020 7:31 AM

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3/4/2020 7:34 AM

Thanks. Makes sense. Listening to whiskey throttle pod of wil Hahn and got me thinking.

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3/4/2020 7:38 AM

Back in the early 70s I rode with a guy that had a Kawasaki 100. All up, neutral at the bottom. Sometimes he would lose count, downshift coming into a hairpin, grab a handful Coming out only to find he was in neutral. Embarrassing to say the least.

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3/4/2020 7:56 AM

Thanks. Makes sense. Listening to whiskey throttle pod of wil Hahn and got me thinking.

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3/4/2020 9:44 AM
Edited Date/Time: 3/4/2020 9:47 AM

My MR 50 was 3 up. I think trail 70 were 3 down for the auto clutch versions?? Apples to oranges but I think small bikes aren’t held to a set pattern.

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3/4/2020 9:53 AM

Keep in mind MotoGP bikes are 1 up 6 down.

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Greg D.
2018 yz250f

3/4/2020 9:57 AM

^^ yes many street bikes have a shift linkage that can be reversed ( or using aftermarket rear sets) to give a 1 up 5 down pattern. Helps with upshifting out of a left turn . Don’t have to put your toe under the lever as the bike is leaned left. Someone told me when accelerating look up and shift up, when braking look down and shift down.

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3/4/2020 10:03 AM
Edited Date/Time: 3/4/2020 10:04 AM

I don't know about you but I'd rather hit false neutral going the speed I'm trying to hit 1st or 2nd gear than at the speed I'm trying to hit 5th or 6th.

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3/4/2020 10:32 AM

KTM has completely fixed this issue of hitting N unintentionally.





also they have made it equally impossible to hit N intentionally.....

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3/4/2020 10:35 AM

GregDVT wrote:

Keep in mind MotoGP bikes are 1 up 6 down.

Yes, not a good thing to try and put your foot even closer to the ground while leaned deep into a sweeper and needing an upshift LOL.

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Ironman Texas, May 17th, 2014, I became an IRONMAN.

3/4/2020 1:30 PM

I just have 4 gears on my 2013 KTM sxf 450 and I never use 1st gear while on any MX track

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3/4/2020 1:35 PM

Try riding 2 classes on 2 different bikes with one left shifting and the other right side shifting, miss the 70’s 😎

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“If you don’t crash alot, you just ain’t going fast enough” Chandler

3/4/2020 2:08 PM

Back in the early days of MX bikes... Almost every maker had a different shift pattern and even different side locations of the shifter . At some point in time, as a safety thing, all shifter were relocated to the left side and the pattern was standardized.

Paw Paw

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3/4/2020 2:11 PM

I have a 3 speed bike with neutral at the bottom. You only get it wrong once.

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3/4/2020 5:00 PM

I thought it was so you could jam it all the way down to first...without accidentally going too far to neutral...imagine going down the hills of Millville shifting down the gears and ending up in neutral every time...just a thought

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3/4/2020 6:07 PM

US Code of Federal regulations under Title 49

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3/4/2020 6:10 PM

I think back in the old days Bridgestone made a bike where the gears could be cycled from top gear to neutral. Called it rotary shift.

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3/4/2020 7:54 PM

GregDVT wrote:

Keep in mind MotoGP bikes are 1 up 6 down.

Actually, they are all down to shift up through the gears.

Neutral is at the bottom, so it’s N123456. You have to hit a button to get into neutral.

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3/5/2020 1:51 AM

wvumounty wrote:

What is the engineering behind this? Listening to podcasts and hear all the crashes due to false neutral or inability to shift through neutral under power.
Why not neutal all the way up?

Hills and hill climbing. Especially very long and steep ones.

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3/5/2020 2:53 AM

GregDVT wrote:

Keep in mind MotoGP bikes are 1 up 6 down.

RMT wrote:

Actually, they are all down to shift up through the gears.

Neutral is at the bottom, so it’s N123456. You have to hit a button to get into neutral.

I wish MX bikes had such a button!

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3/5/2020 3:04 AM

reynardfan1 wrote:

I thought it was so you could jam it all the way down to first...without accidentally going too far to neutral...imagine going down the hills of Millville shifting down the gears and ending up in neutral every time...just a thought

Who the fuck shifts in to 1st on a MX bike when they're not anywhere but the pits??

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3/5/2020 2:22 PM

Certain Bridgestone dirtbikes in the late 60's and early 70's would shift through all 6 gears, then on the next upshift would revert back to 1st gear. I would imagine that those riders got really good at keeping track of exactly what gear they were in.

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3/5/2020 2:55 PM

backinthesaddleagain wrote:

I think back in the old days Bridgestone made a bike where the gears could be cycled from top gear to neutral. Called it rotary shift.

Wow you are not spring chicken.. lol

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3/5/2020 3:03 PM

Try to race a KLX110 competitively and you’ll find out why

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2017 CRF450r

3/6/2020 12:17 AM

Minarelli engines have 4 or 6 gears, and 20 neutrals.

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3/6/2020 4:37 PM

backinthesaddleagain wrote:

I think back in the old days Bridgestone made a bike where the gears could be cycled from top gear to neutral. Called it rotary shift.

zippytech wrote:

Wow you are not spring chicken.. lol

Haha. True. But I didn’t even know if those bikes existed until I saw one at a gas station in Maine.

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3/6/2020 6:56 PM

backinthesaddleagain wrote:

I think back in the old days Bridgestone made a bike where the gears could be cycled from top gear to neutral. Called it rotary shift.

zippytech wrote:

Wow you are not spring chicken.. lol

backinthesaddleagain wrote:

Haha. True. But I didn’t even know if those bikes existed until I saw one at a gas station in Maine.

My first bike was a 1967 Kawasaki 120 with rotary shift patten. Hitting first from forth is no joke!w00t

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3/6/2020 10:54 PM
Edited Date/Time: 3/6/2020 11:10 PM

1966 Honda CM91 shift pattern was 1 up, then 1 full down for neutral, then down again for second, then down again for 3rd. I restored one for a buddy a few years back and I thought the shift forks or drum was messed up. But that was factory. So you have to double tap going up and down thru the gears. But hey, it was 1966 and it was a Honda. Never seen that before. I think it was "rotary" also. I read on some forum Honda said in the owners manual to ignore 1st unless you had a passenger or needed to go uphill. smile

I had a Rockford Tora back in the day too!! (Or was it a Taka?)

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2 Stroke, Drum Brakes, Finned Cylinders!!!