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Yesterday my 2015 650 was delivered....you can imagine my excitement after spending months trolling the internet, sitting on every bike I got the chance to, taking the MSF course and feeling pretty confident after passing that. I am a total noob when it comes to motorcycle riding, and the MSF course hardly covers shifting at all. I've read through almost every gear shifting post on this forum but I figured I'd put this out there before I go try anything else. Ive gone for a few rides the past few day and I am having a lot of trouble matching ground speed to the gear I am in. I've read the manual and is city riding just a nightmare with this bike? having to shift through every gear by 35mph? and back down again? I tend to overthink things and at times I am not just feeling the bike, mainly because I dont want to let the clutch out in the wrong gear on the way down and crash my first week of having it. Also, is pulling the clutch in and downshifting into first without releasing it a bad habit? Should I shift individually? I upshift well (jerky with first-second)

I'm sure its easy to tell that I am a little overwhelmed and I need some practice tips specifically for this bike. At 25mph I feel like I can be in 3-5th gear and be fine. Also, I should mention that I am in the break-in period so I've heard high rpms are a no no. Any help would be appreciated.
 

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I think your overthinking it. You will shift constantly, but you get used to it. There is no issue with downshifting into first and holding the clutch, but if when you are downshifting just let the clutch out very slowly so you don't lock the rear wheel. I usually only go down to 2nd gear for corners and only drop to 1st at stop signs or red lights.
 
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If you think the bike sucks in the city, most def don't get a super sport lol. I personally like the 650 for the city. You can take that first gear all the way to about 40mph. Sounds like maybe you just don't want to rev up to around red line? The bike will be ok.

I would not recommend 6th-1st gar down shifts lol. Can it be done? Sure but by the time you went down to first you would have lost so much engine rom that if you aren't correctly rev matching you will hear that rear chirp.

That p-win engine has a lot of grunt. You can short shift the crap out of it but again you can do 40 in first gear so I don't see why you said that part about shifting all the way to 6th doing 35.
 

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If you think the bike sucks in the city, most def don't get a super sport lol. I personally like the 650 for the city. You can take that first gear all the way to about 40mph. Sounds like maybe you just don't want to rev up to around red line? The bike will be ok.

I would not recommend 6th-1st gar down shifts lol. Can it be done? Sure but by the time you went down to first you would have lost so much engine rom that if you aren't correctly rev matching you will hear that rear chirp.

That p-win engine has a lot of grunt. You can short shift the crap out of it but again you can do 40 in first gear so I don't see why you said that part about shifting all the way to 6th doing 35.

Thanks for the advice.

I say shifting all they way to 6th in part because of the "break in period" and keeping the rpms low also the manual has a recommended shifting speed and it says to shift into 6th at 35mph. I realize I sound pretty stupid but this is my first bike and the downshifting is something I have not gotten the hang of I keep jerking or reving higher than the recommended rpms. Practice I know but just looking for any help I can get.
:D
 

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I prefer to down shift individually. If the situation changes, you'll be in the right gear if you do this. For example, I'll be approaching a stoplight anticipating coming to a complete stop but the light changes and I'm able to keep going without stopping. If I've gone down several gears without matching speed, I'll be in the wrong gear to carry on smoothly.
 

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I will say I did not follow the manufacturer break in. Some people are in that camp and others will say follow the manual. My bike had no problems after 13k miles. I can't tell you how to break in your bike but like I said some people don't follow that method. Go rad about hard break ins for engines. Down shifting, or shifting for that matter gets better with practice. For me, and specifically for the 650 I found you down shift a gear and not have to worry too much about blipping / super precise rev matching and the bike will be fine.
 

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Ive gone for a few rides the past few day and I am having a lot of trouble matching ground speed to the gear I am in. I've read the manual and is city riding just a nightmare with this bike? having to shift through every gear by 35mph? and back down again? I tend to overthink things and at times I am not just feeling the bike, mainly because I dont want to let the clutch out in the wrong gear on the way down and crash my first week of having it. Also, is pulling the clutch in and downshifting into first without releasing it a bad habit? Should I shift individually? I upshift well (jerky with first-second)

I'm sure its easy to tell that I am a little overwhelmed and I need some practice tips specifically for this bike. At 25mph I feel like I can be in 3-5th gear and be fine. Also, I should mention that I am in the break-in period so I've heard high rpms are a no no. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks for the advice.

I say shifting all they way to 6th in part because of the "break in period" and keeping the rpms low also the manual has a recommended shifting speed and it says to shift into 6th at 35mph. I realize I sound pretty stupid but this is my first bike and the downshifting is something I have not gotten the hang of I keep jerking or reving higher than the recommended rpms. Practice I know but just looking for any help I can get.
:D
Congrats! You are shifting a lot because you are trying to keep the rpms low. Once you are past the break-in period and able to go to redline, you won't be shifting as much. On group rides, I usually see the person in front of me shifting a lot while I tend to just stay in one gear (since we have good torque). I followed the break-in period instructions, but now I have sort of switched philosophies. Some dealers will say off the record that the recommended break-in procedure is exactly the same for every bike (sports bike, cruiser, etc), that long ago the procedures were applicable but are no longer necessary, and that Kawasaki just puts it in the manual for liability purposes. I followed it since I was an engineer and figured the engineers who built the engine would know the engine intimately...but if they are using the same instructions for every engine model, then it loses credibility with me.

Some people believe that the way to break in an engine is to ride it hard in the first mile or so so that the rings are seated, and then change the oil within 20 miles. You're already too late to try this approach. I have never tried it though since I tend to keep things forever and I prefer reliability. People who do this break-in method are all about performance and I hear that they trade in their vehicles often enough that if anything did go wrong, it wouldn't be their problem anymore.

City riding is fine with this bike. It's a lot easier than, say, a supersport that needs to slip the clutch. I remember shifting a lot during the break-in period, but now I only shift when I either get close to redline or if I am slowing too much for the gear I am in.

Remember that our clutches are wet so that you can hold onto that lever for as long as you want. It's not like a car where keeping the clutch pedal depressed is bad for the dry clutch. Slowly release the clutch lever if you're unsure (and letting the clutch slip) and be ready to grab the clutch in case you downshifted too much and the engine screams out. Don't forget about what you learned in MSF regarding the friction zone.

As for downshifting several gears and skipping them, it's up to your riding style. Some people will go down a single gear at a time to maintain control of their engine and keep it in the upper rpm band (and to take advantage of engine braking). Some people may prefer to just drop down to first and coast to a stop. Skipping gears should be fine as long as you know your engine and can rev-match. If you mess up, you may cause the rear tire to skid out. Even though I sometimes coast, it's a bad habit and it's always better to be in gear so that you can take off quickly in an emergency.

I think if you are following the break-in procedure, though, you might not be able to downshift gear by gear. Since you are trying to avoid having the engine pass a certain rpm after a downshift, you will have to let the rpms drop low enough so that when it blips up it's still under the break-in recommended rpm limit (4k rpms?). Maybe dropping a couple of gears at a time would be good enough?

By the way, while you are riding and learning your way around your new and first bike, keep in mind that going downhill may be hard for you without engine braking (I learned this the hard way in my very first ride through the canyons while my bike was still in a break-in period and I refused to let my engine pass 4k rpms). MSF teaches a lot, but they don't tell you that some of their techniques are for slow speed maneuvers only. Once you gain some speed, some things change a little. For example, MSF teaches you to never use your brakes in a corner, but in real life people do use them. You will need to use the brakes a lot to control your speed downhill. If you use your brakes during a corner, remember to release it gradually and not all at once. You can also use the rear brakes to bleed away some speed. Once you can let your rpm go beyond 6k and engine brake, downhill riding will become easy.
 

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Welcome to the forum! :)

Get frame sliders. Practice, practice, practice. When new, survival reactions (SRs) is your greatest enemy (bike break-in is the least of your problems). Relax and just enjoy the ride. Get good gear (helmet, gloves, jacket, pants, boots, armor, the works) -- it'll make you more confident (and more relaxed). And get frame sliders. hehe
 

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When I am stopping, I will hold the clutch in until I stop, even from 6th to 1st. I click down gears at every MPH equivalent to gear so 60 in 6th, 50 in 5th and so on down. That way, if the situation changes just ease out the clutch and you should be good to go.

As for break in, I did it by the book with the 250 and 650 but with the 636, I just ended up riding it like normal but didn't beat on it and made sure it was up to temp before really having fun with it. I am still under 1000 miles and it has been to the track and seems to be taking it just fine. I haven't had it long enough to know if it is good or bad but if you read enough stories, any way seems to be working for most people.

As for shifting up, you don't need to stick to the book. That makes sense for break in, if you follow it, but for normal everyday riding, you will probably be shifting around 5-6K. I don't ride them like I stole them though.
 
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At first I thought, if riding is always going to feel this complicated I don't know if I'm going to like it, about a week later it was better, another week twice as good, after a month or two you will hardly notice it, a year and the shifting-breaking and general mechanics of the bike are as simple as operating a automatic car.
It may feel a little awkward at first, and it feels like there is a lot going on. I rode backroad routes so I could make sure to stay within break-in RPM's, this also helped me work on other things a new rider needs to see/realize like breaking technique and leaning etc.
I know the manual says shift down to first at 9 mph, which is fine but you are really going to feel the engine break, so use your clutch to feather. The clutch is your friend. Remember to do your shifting and braking before the corner, then accelerate out of the turn. For now, until you feel it (rev range), try to remember the suggested rpm's from the book, they will give you a good safe range to operate in-you'll get it!
As far as up or downshifting you just need to ride, the more you ride the more you will feel it and the more you will figure it out.

If you practice the techniques they taught you in MSF class it will help, go find a big parking lot (church-closed business-etc). Shift up and shift down.

I also recommend getting frame sliders and installing them immediately, nothing worse than dropping your new bike and getting a scratch, ask me how I know;)

We've all been right where you are, I was there just over a year ago, now I'm like Nicky Hayden (slight exaggeration). :) have faith in yourself, we will be glad to help where we can. Congratulations on the new bike, your gonna live it! Get those frame sliders!!!!!
 
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I almost bought a gear indicator when I first started riding, I already had it paid for and everything but it was backordered. I started thinking just like you, about the process of shifting, I thought: all the pro's do it with no indicator (maybe maybe not but that was my thinking). I wanted to learn how to do it just like you are so far, learning by feel and by ear, so I canceled my order. Now I'm glad I did, now I know where I am and where the bike needs to be.

I agree with Sarge and XPyron about downshifting while holding the clutch in, that is an efficient way. I like using the engine braking though, but usually I go down to third while engine braking, but downshift while holding in the clutch like Sarge mentioned until completly stopped. I usually don't shift down to first until I'm practically stopped (5mph or less) just before I put down my foot. Hope that makes sense.
 
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The shifting will get better with experience. I'm surprised that the manual suggests 6th gear at 35 mph, I'm usually in 3d or 4th at 35 depending on whether I'm anticipating going faster or slower In the near future. Give it some time, because the Ninja 650's are good city bikes.

I'm guessing that a manual transmission is new to you based on your questions. The advice above all sounds good, especially remember the friction zone will keep you out of trouble. You're really learning two new skills at the same time, shifting and operating a motorcycle. I know someone who failed the MSF only because she was new to a manual transmission (unfortunately I don't have a manual car to teach her shifting in a setting that would be more comfortable for her). So congrats on passing the MSF!

Like any new skills, practice will make riding become second nature. Just give it some time and effort, and you will be surprised when you realize that you are riding naturally.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Thank you all this has been more than helpful. Leanit I was actually thinking the exact same thing I pulled up gear indicators earlier today and was looking over the options lol. you guys have given me a little added confidence that I'll be ok. Went for a ride tonight and was approaching a stoplight downshifting...turned green...and I made it through the intersection nice and smooth accelerating. I can't explain how exciting that was lol I think I am just going to say to hell with the break in and just practice and feel it out. Stalled at a stoplight earlier today...great feeling:laugh:. Noob out:dance:

Edit: frame sliders were on backorder but are coming soon next week
 

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Coming from a former noob mysel, actually we all were former noobs at one time. LOL First off, congrats on your new bike. Below are some suggestions.

1) Make sure your gear up, especially as a new rider. Do not hesitate to get the protection you need. Gloves, Jackets, Helmets, Pants, Boots.
2) Take your time, Start on small rides (sounds like you are doing this already) Don't be in a hurry to get on the highway. Once you master the neighborhoods slowly increase your speeds to faster roads.
3) Master the throttle and the shifting. This will come with time. Soon you won't even think about it. ( Smooth roll on, roll offs of the throttle, and slow clutching.)
4) Understand counter steering (like, really get it) This will come with time too. (This is not meant to start a detour into counter-steering so lets keep on topic folks LOL)
5) Watch this video - Twist of the Wrist II
6) I agree with the frame sliders. Put the bike down twice already and just now installed a set of Woodcraft sliders.
7) Learn your bike before worrying about MODS right now. Believe me, the mods will come and it will drain your wallet :)
8) Shy away from huge group rides right now. Learn your bike, then ride with 1 or 2 others before venturing into the huge groups. I waited a couple years before I rode with 5 or more at the same time.

Go out and enjoy the bike and good luck.
 

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I prefer to down shift individually.
And that IS the recommended method.

"The book" with every bike I've ever seen "recommends" shifting way too low.......and if you get into the habit of doing that, then it messes with your head when it's time to start downshifting.

You actually should be paying more attention to the tach than to the speedo.
What's the redline on the 650 ? Let's say it is 8K just as an example.
You should be able to make good shifts without giving it a lot of thought if you do it at half redline; in my example,about 4,000 RPMs or maybe 5.
If you get used to that, then it will be more natural to let the engine slow the bike down a bit before downshifting to the next lower gear.

And as others have said, don't overthink it.
 

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Some people believe that the way to break in an engine is to ride it hard in the first mile or so so that the rings are seated, and then change the oil within 20 miles. You're already too late to try this approach. I have never tried it though since I tend to keep things forever and I prefer reliability. People who do this break-in method are all about performance and I hear that they trade in their vehicles often enough that if anything did go wrong, it wouldn't be their problem anymore.
The window is probably wider than the very first mile. It's been a long time since I went through the motoman stuff but I think it was more like 50-100?? This is how I broke in my bike. I still have it 8 years later. I'm not all about performance but I did want the benefits of this type of break in.

When I am stopping, I will hold the clutch in until I stop, even from 6th to 1st. I click down gears at every MPH equivalent to gear so 60 in 6th, 50 in 5th and so on down. That way, if the situation changes just ease out the clutch and you should be good to go.
I do about the same. Pull in the clutch and slowly click down through the gears until I stop. I don't go into first unless I'm definitely stopping. If I'm going to keep moving at all I'll keep it in second.

As for shifting up, you don't need to stick to the book. That makes sense for break in, if you follow it, but for normal everyday riding, you will probably be shifting around 5-6K. I don't ride them like I stole them though.
Again, I do about the same; especially in town. It really starts to growl above 6k. If I'm really trying to move and don't mind the noise I'll shift at 9k-ish.
 

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It's interesting reading about how different experienced riders downshift. I tend to use the engine breaking that downshifting gives. I blip the throttle and shift down while braking. the 650 only 'likes' this at high revs, at low revs she's still a clunky old lady. By the time I hit the traffic lights I'm already in first with the clutch in and rolling to a stop...then I will snick it into neutral if I have to wait any length of time. Not saying that this is the correct way - just my way.
 

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It's interesting reading about how different experienced riders downshift. I tend to use the engine breaking that downshifting gives. I blip the throttle and shift down while braking. the 650 only 'likes' this at high revs, at low revs she's still a clunky old lady. By the time I hit the traffic lights I'm already in first with the clutch in and rolling to a stop...then I will snick it into neutral if I have to wait any length of time. Not saying that this is the correct way - just my way.
That is the benefit to these conversations. People will realize there are many ways to accomplish the same thing and just to do what is comfortable to them. The biggest reason I do it my way is because I can modulate braking more precisely with just the brakes. As for clutching, coasting and downshifting, I attribute it to my laziness but maybe someone else has a good reason.
 

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For me it's because brakes have a purpose so I let them serve it. I'd much rather put the stress on them than through powertrain.
 

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Coming from a former noob mysel, actually we all were former noobs at one time. LOL First off, congrats on your new bike. Below are some suggestions.

1) Make sure your gear up, especially as a new rider. Do not hesitate to get the protection you need. Gloves, Jackets, Helmets, Pants, Boots.
2) Take your time, Start on small rides (sounds like you are doing this already) Don't be in a hurry to get on the highway. Once you master the neighborhoods slowly increase your speeds to faster roads.
3) Master the throttle and the shifting. This will come with time. Soon you won't even think about it. ( Smooth roll on, roll offs of the throttle, and slow clutching.)
4) Understand counter steering (like, really get it) This will come with time too. (This is not meant to start a detour into counter-steering so lets keep on topic folks LOL)
5) Watch this video - Twist of the Wrist II
6) I agree with the frame sliders. Put the bike down twice already and just now installed a set of Woodcraft sliders.
7) Learn your bike before worrying about MODS right now. Believe me, the mods will come and it will drain your wallet :)
8) Shy away from huge group rides right now. Learn your bike, then ride with 1 or 2 others before venturing into the huge groups. I waited a couple years before I rode with 5 or more at the same time.

Go out and enjoy the bike and good luck.
Absolutely fantastic advice!
 
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