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Old 07-24-2013, 01:54 PM   #1
motobene OP
Motoing for 43 years
 
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A Learning Experience With Final Drive Gearing

I've had a lot of bikes and more typical for me is gearing them up. Sometimes way up. I have a KLR650, for example, that I use only for transcontinental riding. It has a 17-tooth front sprocket (versus stock 15) and a 40-tooth rear sprocket (versus the stock 43). It's probably the highest geared KLR on the planet. But it works. I don't shift into 5th until 60 mph, and all day at 80 mph is relaxed, not screaming a big single's head off.

So when I bought my `10 GasGas Econo from Steve Higgs it had this odd 10 front and 48 rear sprocket setup. For those of you familiar with the GasGas Pro machines, that's low geared. I thought it weird but went with it. Over lots of competitions I came to really appreciate lower gearing for my trials bike. And oddly, I ended up riding the vast majority of sections in 1st gear, either creeping along or being aggressive, gutsy and deep with the throttle. Though I rode most of the time in first, I had more possible practical gearing choices. Second, third, etc.

The lowly Econo became a trusted precision machine. I could creep through the very tight stuff precisely without spasms of clutch slipping or being rushed. I'd watch riders with taller geared bikes doing a lot of clutch slipping when forced to slow way down and think, "Why all the added work?"

This experience has changed the way I ride and changed my setup preferences.

Here is a link to my gearing notes (a pdf version of a spreadsheet) on Google Drive. Lots to contemplate in there. No dogma, just another perspective. I'm sharing my experience - yes even to my arch competitors who have watched the lowly Econo and me do our thing. You'll see my 'new' Raga gearing preferences in the notes. Got a 43 rear sprocket coming. The 300 seems to like slightly taller gearing than my former 280, and there are few or no rear sprockets in 44 through 47 available, so I went with 43 instead of 48. Whatever the number, the most important thing is simply the final drive ratio or gear-down factor, which the rear sprocket number of teeth divided by the front sprocket number of teeth. That number is the number of rotations of the final transmission shaft relative to one rotation of the rear wheel.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9eL...it?usp=sharing

A caveat: There are lots of variables that go into the concept of preferred final drive gearing, especially the perception variable between the human ears, so there's no dogma here... just my present perspective.

motobene screwed with this post 07-24-2013 at 02:15 PM
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Old 07-24-2013, 04:06 PM   #2
Twin-shocker
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Lower gearing is a good idea in almost all cases, as is riding sections in 1st gear if this is feasible. Another simple alteration is fitting a slow to ultra fast Xblok throttle tube, which works a lot nicer than the stock Domino white tube parts.
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:11 AM   #3
motobene OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twin-shocker View Post
Lower gearing is a good idea in almost all cases, as is riding sections in 1st gear if this is feasible. Another simple alteration is fitting a slow to ultra fast Xblok throttle tube, which works a lot nicer than the stock Domino white tube parts.
The fellows learning I've helped recently have gotten steered toward lower gearing. Taller (stock) gearing pushes beginning riders into and uncomfortable rate of progress, which leads them toward stop-and-go spasticity of throttle and clutch and away from slow continuous forward progress. More extreme lower gearing really helps through this early learning phase, and they can dial up sprocket teeth when they make it through.

I've long stuck with the Domino throttle's white tube and relied on a gentle hand. But I can see an advantage to a cam ramp. Trying to figure out if I can have Google Drive link to a displayed jpeg. In the meantime, here is the link to that throttle tube, called an X-Pro.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9eL...it?usp=sharing
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Old 07-25-2013, 09:43 AM   #4
lineaway
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Nice idea for new riders to try lower gearing. Learn to ride the bike first, then start learning clutch control will bring more smiles at the events. Nothing worse for a new rider having no control in the sections (which he thought they looked easy) all the while using the clutch and throttle totally out of sync while bull dogging it through.
Lower class riders can get away with the lower gearing and staying away from the clutch. Keeping momentum going all the time (with out worrying about the clutch) will help keep scores lower.
The upper class is just the opposite with large obstacles needing clutch work on modern machines. Low gearing has no place in these sections. Proper clutch technique is almost all there is on the new bikes.(That is why the Europeans push the 125`s so much)
We went from 10 and 42 to 11 and 44. ( Talon makes a 44t). I`m sure I saw a 46 tooth some where, maybe sprocket specialties? This on my son`s Raga as he just stated riding our expert class this year. He still is a first gear rider, while I ride second or higher.
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Old 07-25-2013, 09:43 AM   #5
thegraydog
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Thanks for this topic! Unless I miss my guess, you won your class at Sipapu last month and proved your thesis.

After that conversation I came home and ordered a 48T sprocket, which has gotten lost in the prep for the Arizona Nationals . But as soon as you described the motor pushing the pace I have been aware of it. Sting32 and his dad describe the same strategy, and run in second gear on easier terrain.

Oddly, I expected to use a lower gear to turn uphill in soft dirt. In practice I do better in a higher gear, because the hotter response brings the bike under me as I fall uphill. Maybe...

Gearing down and slowing down certainly avoids a lot of drama in technical trail riding on the bigger bikes.
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:04 AM   #6
motobene OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lineaway View Post
Nice idea for new riders to try lower gearing.
We went from 10 and 42 to 11 and 44. ( Talon makes a 44t). I`m sure I saw a 46 tooth some where, maybe sprocket specialties? This on my son`s Raga as he just stated riding our expert class this year. He still is a first gear rider, while I ride second or higher.
42/10=4.2 and 44/11=4.0, slightly higher geared than 42/10.

I have wondered about the viability of lower gearing in the upper skill levels. So much clutch dumping going on there. I've justified it to myself as being able to retain less clutch creeping in 1st gear, and still having 2nd, 3rd, and 4th for clutch dumping. In other words, I have more choices.

The ideal tradeoff is setting the right precision creeping in 1st, while still being comfortable with the overall gear ratios for clutch dumps in the higher gears. Say you normally do 3rd for splatters. Are you comfortable with where 3rd is? Not too low? Too high? The top riders will probably shift their emphasis to the clutch dumps because they'll just power their way through the super tight stuff. So to them, the lower 1st gear and tighter gear spacing may be irrelevant or even undesired.

I use the clutch like an automatic transmission even in 1st, but it's so subtle you almost can't see and hear it. The idea with the lower 1st is to get away with having to slip more than subtly when you get slowed way down.
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:12 AM   #7
lineaway
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Yeah, I won my class too at Sipapu. But over the 4th at the vintage event. Ironically the Bul I was on broke the clutch cable the first day! Turns out the gearing was too high and needed to be geared down two teeth on the front. I was last the first day(hung over and missed 4 splits, one stall. 30pts total.) I won the second day just from super smooth throttle control. The sections were almost too tight for vintage as most riders had to use the clutch in every turn. I got lucky on my last loop, pulled off a 1 point loop with no clutch.
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:18 AM   #8
lineaway
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To Motobene, back when I rode rev3`s I always dropped the cs sprocket 1 tooth for that reason. Still rode second, but 3rd and 4th were great options. (I also had a super low 1st just in case) Plus side was 5th was great for those occasional wheelies!
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:20 AM   #9
motobene OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegraydog View Post
Thanks for this topic! Unless I miss my guess, you won your class at Sipapu last month and proved your thesis.

After that conversation I came home and ordered a 48T sprocket, which has gotten lost in the prep for the Arizona Nationals . But as soon as you described the motor pushing the pace I have been aware of it. Sting32 and his dad describe the same strategy, and run in second gear on easier terrain.

Oddly, I expected to use a lower gear to turn uphill in soft dirt. In practice I do better in a higher gear, because the hotter response brings the bike under me as I fall uphill. Maybe...

Gearing down and slowing down certainly avoids a lot of drama in technical trail riding on the bigger bikes.
Yeah that was me at Sipapu. I expected to go to Sipapu with my Dell'Orto carbed 280 and be under powered. I guessed on jetting. A 110 versus 118 main jet, no change to 38 pilot, needle clip moved up one (needle lowered, and reduced the percent racing fuel relative to regular E10 to 25% from 50% for faster burn. The bike ran surprisingly awesome!

I think the lower gearing (48/10) complemented the jetting as it provided a little more torque relative to engine power when threading through the tighter stuff. I rode 'throttle aggressive' and was going slow enough to have 1st gear sound like it was lugging. I used 2nd gear only on the steep uphill section down by the river, and on the steep entrance of the section by the road.

I observed AM riders sipping the clutch a lot in tight spots and flailing. my equivalent gear to them was 3rd. Lots of points seen taken.

BTW, I ran out of chain adjustment at 48/10=4.8 (I was at the limit or last slot for a year), so I have the Econo at 48/11=4.36 now. It's still low enough to do creeping work and less busy on the loop, so maybe the best compromise. That's why I chose 43/10=4.3 for the Raga setup.

Trust me the lower gearing will help you on those uphill turns as long as you are throttle gentle and clutch subtle.
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Old 07-25-2013, 03:22 PM   #10
Sting32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motobene View Post
Yeah that was me at Sipapu. I expected to go to Sipapu with my Dell'Orto carbed 280 and be under powered. I guessed on jetting. A 110 versus 118 main jet, no change to 38 pilot, needle clip moved up one (needle lowered, and reduced the percent racing fuel relative to regular E10 to 25% from 50% for faster burn. The bike ran surprisingly awesome!

I think the lower gearing (48/10) complemented the jetting as it provided a little more torque relative to engine power when threading through the tighter stuff. I rode 'throttle aggressive' and was going slow enough to have 1st gear sound like it was lugging. I used 2nd gear only on the steep uphill section down by the river, and on the steep entrance of the section by the road.

I observed AM riders sipping the clutch a lot in tight spots and flailing. my equivalent gear to them was 3rd. Lots of points seen taken.

BTW, I ran out of chain adjustment at 48/10=4.8 (I was at the limit or last slot for a year), so I have the Econo at 48/11=4.36 now. It's still low enough to do creeping work and less busy on the loop, so maybe the best compromise. That's why I chose 43/10=4.3 for the Raga setup.

Trust me the lower gearing will help you on those uphill turns as long as you are throttle gentle and clutch subtle.
Ha! this is where I have a different point of view than you again, at "OUR" skill level. I ride in second with the stock gear in my 11 raga, MOST of the time now. Sure when at Sip, I found my lack of HP/Torque made me use 1st more than I had for over a year. I guess it came down to just knowing that master riders that I talk to, and accepting their word that they rode in 2nd or third.

Plus it has been a long developing battle with my dad, lol. He (you know) had a lot longer curve (hrder to teach old dogs new tricks) to learn to feather that clutch. think of it like trying to "feather granny gear in a pickup" as apposed to first gear in a car. I kept telling him to ride the clutch more, and he's got onto it a helluva lot more in the last 3 years, even after I swore I was going to ziptie his left index finger to the clutch lever, from the very beginning back in 01. I feather the clutch around 99% of everything in you and I's class, if you don't you have TOO MANY instances where the 'engine PLUNKS' one time, an un-opportune time, and your tire is on the wrong side of that tree in your tight turns, or that rock that you aimed for so that your rear tracked in the "best spot". Sure it happens when I get tired and clutch finger is cramping, but I control that, you know.

I love competing against the "on/off" clutch guys on the 4rt's at my club, I know they'll get mid turn on tight ass turn, and try to slip just a little, and the bike dies, or they "spurt" right out of bounds, or at least dab saving it.

Again there are hundreds of better riders than me, given. You probably get this bike all setup and beat the hell out of me for a long time...

But, I just hate not learning the "advantages" better riders have already been using against me. I love watching guys that actually ride a lot better than me in our class across 5 states, make stoopid mistakes in "preparation" or turns or runup to the bigger obstacles. That is where I try to beat you. I cannot beat you at rock jumping, what I usually can do is beat you at "getting lined up for it well enough that the rock or log or combination, isn't an issue.

But it is exactly part of the why I am NOT master nor expert rider! I mean other than fitness. The masters and experts are just that, masters and EXPERTS at getting the bike EXACTLY where it needs to be. Sure I can do 80% of what good experts in AVTA for example, can do as far as obstacles size and shapes... what I cannot do is hop and bounce enough times to feel like I can attempt to "clear" Half of the shit they'll do, from the optimum position, then you add the 20% of the obstacles I won't try if I had the 3 acre run up to them, I am easily beat in expert... then there is more like 80% of master obstacles I wouldnt try on a dare, lol. Yet what is in common other than confidence to make those 6ft undercut obstacles, is being exactly where you want the bike to be, then the bike to "explode" hard into them.

When I rode my dad's bike (I often try it during the year he owns it) I find that I spin the shit out of the rear wheel, PLUS the bike moves 6 inches less far in my "muscle memory/timing" of any "blip" or move that I do on MY BIKE, geared normally. This is so apparent to me, when playing on sections that are practicing putting the bike in the "best possible position" to get over something, then of course jumping up whatever it is (yep Im not jumping 6ft ledges at home, I dont have any. But, I feel like dad's with the 10 tooth, moves at LEAST 6 inches less than mine does, over the 3ft wall or rocks... and that is IF THE REAR WHEEL HAS ABSOLUTELY NO SLIP. I've rationalized it to, putting the pickup in 2nd gear, when in snow. if I let the clutch out in first, 9 of 10 times the first movement is spin_then sideways_then_forward, where as; slipping it out in 2nd is usually forward not spinnig right off bat at least, which helps me keep my balance too... does that make sense? Same on the bike, although when you watch the pro's do this in mud, they've developed the balance and skill to just deal with a rapidly spinning rear wheel, I have not, where I am trying to get any and all traction not spinning in even dry dusty conditions, compared to that lower geared attempts.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:18 AM   #11
motobene OP
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Originally Posted by Sting32 View Post
Ha! this is where I have a different point of view than you again, at "OUR" skill level. I ride in second with the stock gear in my 11 raga, MOST of the time now.

...I feather the clutch around 99% of everything in you and I's class

...I love competing against the "on/off" clutch guys on the 4rt's at my club,

...That is where I try to beat you. I cannot beat you at rock jumping, what I usually can do is beat you at "getting lined up for it well enough that the rock or log or combination, isn't an issue.

...I am NOT master nor expert rider! I mean other than fitness. The masters and experts are just that, masters and EXPERTS at getting the bike EXACTLY where it needs to be.
Gosh, lots of issues.

The gearing thing is where I presently am. It's a very subjective thing, and it's working for me. Some time on the 300 may change my mind. I too feather the clutch a lot, but try to only do so when needed, and to reduce when needed by not riding a gear tall.

You do beat me in line section, or rather, stay on your intended line. My too-busy mind has made that harder for me, which is one reason I think the lower gearing has been working for me. I can slow it down to a speed the brain can better handle.

15 years ago I briefly was an Expert rider in Michigan (their top class then and maybe now). Got #3 that year just from slogging through enough events. But I hated it. They had a minimum 45-section-per-trial rule. Add tightness and bigger stuff and summer heat and it just just hammered my pecker flat. That was tongue-dragging work, not fun.

I settled back into Advanced there, about the same as Senior Expert here. My goal is to acquire the pause-positioning skills to be able to maintain better lines in Expert without getting too hammered and not having fun. Forget the missing foot and fingers, it may not happen simply because of advancing age! I'm 57 in August.

Also, if the stupid new FIM no-pause rules ever infect the national and local events I'll not ever be riding at the Expert level because I'd not be able to do so as safely. No fun at all in rushing to avoid fives, or taking fives only to not get rushed into crashing.
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:45 AM   #12
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Slowing things down at 1st is a good plan, but eventually, you need to learn how to feather the clutch in a tall gear. Its a big advantage in wet, slippery conditions to have this tool in the bag.
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Old 07-27-2013, 07:43 AM   #13
motobene OP
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Originally Posted by laser17 View Post
Slowing things down at 1st is a good plan, but eventually, you need to learn how to feather the clutch in a tall gear. Its a big advantage in wet, slippery conditions to have this tool in the bag.
Is 'you' me? Just curious, because I do know how to feather the clutch... very well. The point of the post was to convey the idea that in first, you don't need to do as much of that to 'precision creep', thus you can concentrate more on lines. And you still have five gears above to feather away to your heart's content.

motobene screwed with this post 07-28-2013 at 07:02 AM
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Old 07-27-2013, 01:12 PM   #14
laser17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motobene View Post
Is 'you' me? Just curious, because I do know how to feather the clutch... very well. The point of the post was to convey the idea that in first, you don't need to do as much of that to 'precision creep', thus you can concentrate more on lines. And you still have five gears above to feather away your heart's content.

Cool.
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Old 07-28-2013, 07:10 AM   #15
motobene OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laser17 View Post
Slowing things down at 1st is a good plan, but eventually, you need to learn how to feather the clutch in a tall gear. Its a big advantage in wet, slippery conditions to have this tool in the bag.
Regarding feathering and slipping, Ryan Young taught me a very awesome technique once on a miserable, greasy hillside when frustrated, I asked, "How the hell do you get going uphill in this stuff!" I could barely stand on hill, much less ride it. he showed me a 'greasy Pennsylvania' technique.

On the pegs to weight the rear wheel, balancing, first gear. Clutch in. Rev the bike wide open. Chop the throttle and immediately and as the rpm falls, let out the clutch part way. It's all flywheel then with no engine pulses to break traction. The rear wheel should bite and just start to gently roll the bike forward. The tricky part, then, is to feather the clutch while reintroducing some throttle to keep going without breaking traction. once you can get going, as you all know, it's easier to get going more.
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