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Old 06-16-2008, 09:12 PM   #1
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1 down / 4 up - why

I was wondering about how 1-down/4-up became the de facto shift pattern for most motorcycles. Back in the 70s (yeah - I'm that old) I had a Kawasaki 2-stroke triple that had neutral at the bottom and all the gears were up. That was an unusual pattern even back then.

I always liked the 5-up pattern because you never had a problem locating neutral (who needs neutral lights) and you never mis-shifted to neutral going from first to second.

I'm just curious if anyone knows why the 1/4 became the standard (aside from GP racing) and what the advantages are (perhaps to prevent people from accidentally downshifting to neutral) ???

Inquiring minds (well me at least) want to know.
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Old 06-16-2008, 09:18 PM   #2
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1d/5u these days, Ancient One. :-)

Reminds me of the time I let mom drive the Cobra... she kept it in 4th on I45. I was like, "you have two more gears..........."
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Old 06-16-2008, 09:22 PM   #3
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As far as I know. The 1 down is for "oh " moments.

You just mash as far down as you can and you know you're in first. As far as the rest, I guess up was the only other way to go.
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Old 06-16-2008, 09:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NASAGeek View Post
1d/5u these days, Ancient One. :-)

Reminds me of the time I let mom drive the Cobra... she kept it in 4th on I45. I was like, "you have two more gears..........."
Um, yeah. Come to think of it mine is 1/5 too. Have to try that overdrive gear...
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Old 06-16-2008, 09:35 PM   #5
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a ways down it talks about motorcycle transmissions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_transmission
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Old 06-16-2008, 09:36 PM   #6
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Don't know for sure, but if you think about it, it makes sense.

Why would you put the least used gear (neutral) in the easiest place to get to (bottom)?

Just my thoughts.........
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Old 06-16-2008, 11:24 PM   #7
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I remember my dirtbikes had neutral at the bottom and it was all shifting up...
late 70's YZ 80......
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:15 AM   #8
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I just took the BRC and the 1-down-4-up makes more sense rather than having neutral at the very bottom. Here's why.

Let's say you have to perform an emergency stop. You pull in the clutch, pull in both brakes and shift down as quickly as possible until you come to a complete stop. What gear are you in? 1st gear. After your stop is complete if you need to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle then your already in 1st gear so you simply get to moving.

Take the same scenario with the 4-up gearing. After you have performed the emergency stop (dropping down to the lowest gear possible) - guess what gear your in? NEUTRAL! I don't know about you, but if I saw a car coming for me after an emergency stop and I had to get out of the way I want to ALREADY be in the gear that will get me moving. That's just my opinion.

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Old 06-19-2008, 10:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shanecrow99 View Post
I just took the BRC and the 1-down-4-up makes more sense rather than having neutral at the very bottom. Here's why.

Let's say you have to perform an emergency stop. You pull in the clutch, pull in both brakes and shift down as quickly as possible until you come to a complete stop. What gear are you in? 1st gear. After your stop is complete if you need to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle then your already in 1st gear so you simply get to moving.

Take the same scenario with the 4-up gearing. After you have performed the emergency stop (dropping down to the lowest gear possible) - guess what gear your in? NEUTRAL! I don't know about you, but if I saw a car coming for me after an emergency stop and I had to get out of the way I want to ALREADY be in the gear that will get me moving. That's just my opinion.

By the way, Challen (and Louis) were my instructors. Your guys are the best!
Bingo! Hit the nail on the head. Much safer to have to hunt for neutral than hunt for a gear.
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:32 AM   #10
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I am curious why the left side of the bike won for shifting. There were a number of bikes that had the rear brake on the left and shifting on the right in the 60's and 70's.
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpatrick87 View Post
a ways down it talks about motorcycle transmissions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_transmission
Quote:
Originally Posted by wikipedia
The reason neutral does not actually have its own spot in the sequence is to make it quicker to shift from first to second when moving. You will not accidentally shift into neutral. The reason for having neutral between the first and second gears instead of at the bottom is that when stopped, the rider can just click down repeatedly and know that they will end up in first and not neutral.

On motorcycles used on race tracks, the shifting pattern is often reversed, that is, the rider clicks down to upshift. This usage pattern increases the ground clearance by placing the riders foot above the shift lever when the rider is most likely to need it, namely when leaning over and exiting a tight turn.
Makes sense. I'd rather just keep clicking down when coming to a stop than have to hit neutral and come back up one.

My Kawi has a "neutral finder". Makes hitting Neutral as easy as shifting into second gear when stopped.
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:37 AM   #12
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I had a BSA Victor 441 that was 4 down. Now that bike was a sh*t shaker.
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mic View Post
Makes sense. I'd rather just keep clicking down when coming to a stop than have to hit neutral and come back up one.

My Kawi has a "neutral finder". Makes hitting Neutral as easy as shifting into second gear when stopped.
who in racing clicks down to shift up? is that standard???
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blends View Post
who in racing clicks down to shift up? is that standard???
Most Pro racers do. The reason being: you can upshift mid corner. Imagine trying to hook your foot under the shifter, and click up when hanging off the bike on the right side? You just about can't.


The only pro racer I know that doesn't have hisw bike setup 1up - 5 down (aka "GP shift") is Matt Mladin. Some ankle injury prevents him from using it very well.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:52 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blends View Post
who in racing clicks down to shift up? is that standard???
This "GP" style of shifting allows a rider to shift up coming out of a corner while still at an angle that doesn't allow their foot to be under the shift lever.

Last edited by dirtyjerzy; 06-19-2008 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skid View Post
I am curious why the left side of the bike won for shifting. There were a number of bikes that had the rear brake on the left and shifting on the right in the 60's and 70's.

I'm guessing that it has something to do with most racetracks being clockwise. However, husqvarna bikes still shift on the right and even have the kickstand over there too.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:02 PM   #17
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if you don't like it, you can always change it. (*at least on a Gixxer)
my boy flipped his... so now he as 1up/5down.
he says it lets him change gears faster.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:13 PM   #18
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mines a 12 speed, 3 up, 6 down, 3 to the side
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:14 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisd View Post
if you don't like it, you can always change it. (*at least on a Gixxer)
my boy flipped his... so now he as 1up/5down.
he says it lets him change gears faster.
Gixxers are the only bikes I know of that make it super-easy. Most other manufacturers require some "engineering" or the purchase of a new $130 lever.
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Old 06-19-2008, 07:25 PM   #20
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Quote:
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mines a 12 speed, 3 up, 6 down, 3 to the side
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