The Downshifting Sequence

The process of slowing a motorcycle to a complete stop is such an everyday occurrence that we rarely analyze it. We just do it. Roll off the throttle, downshift, apply brakes. Repeat as necessary. Stop. Most any clod can do it.

In fact stopping a motorcycle can be far more challenging and satisfying when done the following way.

I call it the Downshifting Sequence. With a series of downshifts, the goal is stopping without using brakes – at all.

Developing skill using the Downshifting Sequence is going to ramp up your overall sensitivity to being seamlessly smooth while operating your motorcycle. So practice it a lot.

Start by getting your mind processing information far ahead of the motorcycle. The sooner you make your decision to stop, the better it is. You have more time and distance to get the job done.

Once you have determined to bring your motorcycle to a stop, immediately begin the downshifting sequence. So downshift, and simultaneously chop the throttle. Feel the bike’s rate of de-acceleration. Judge your distance to the stopping point.

Downshift again. Chop the throttle. Make sure as you downshift, especially into the lower gears, that these shifts are smooth. Remember the shift, the clutch pull, and throttle-roll are all done simultaneously.

Downshift again.

Leave ample distance for 2nd gear. This is the most effective slowing down gear from just north of 35-40 mph.

Work 2nd gear. You’ve got enough torque in 2nd gear that you can modulate the throttle. Roll on some throttle if you’re slowing too quickly. Rolling on checks your rate of slow-down. 2nd is an abrupt gear, so be smooth on the roll on/roll off.

This little exercise will make you to think about your rate of slow-down.

Within roughly 50 feet of the stop point, downshift into 1st gear, and gently release the clutch. Now, within yards of coming to a stop, pull in the clutch for the last time and coast to a complete stop. Viola! No brakes. A+

If you decide to use the brake within the final feet of stopping, simply make application so light that you experience zero abruptness when the wheels stop rolling. A-

If you’re not perfect, no worries; you’re like everybody else with plenty of opportunity ahead.

See you in third gear.