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Old 20th February 2016, 08:59   #16
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

The heel-toe gear shift lever (N-1-2-3-4) is common in the 100 cc commuter bikes and was later found in the Unicorn as well, but I think with the one down and four up pattern. For some reason they did away with it in the unicorn for a while but brought it back. The problem with 100cc bikes is, you press with your heel to go from N to top and press with your toes to shift down (Splendor). In some other bikes (Samurai, Shogun) it was the exact reverse, and one must be conscious of what bike he is riding, if he borrows a friend's steed. There is no standardization.

They offer one great advantage if you are an office executive who wears patent, formal leather shoes. They don't mess with the shoe upper,the shoes retain their sheen and look neat for a long time, especially the more expensive ones!

Kick starter is a must as a back-up. They may be done away with in the high capacity bikes or those with very high compression where it will be impossible to use. But not in day to day bikes, just for style.

Last edited by Gansan : 20th February 2016 at 09:05. Reason: Add content.
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Old 20th February 2016, 10:05   #17
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

I personally prefer the the heel-toe shifter. It is more comfortable and does not ruin the shoes. But all modern bike have more racelike seating with rear mounts making heel-toe shifter impossible to use.

Crank start was stopped in cars over 100 years ago - I think the technology and time is ok to stop them on bikes as well
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Old 20th February 2016, 12:13   #18
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

^^ IIRC in India the cars had it till about a decade or so back! In FI cars, you are not even supposed to push start if the battery dies. I suppose it is the same for FI bikes as well. A kick starter will be really helpful, unless a bike will be impossible to kickstart.

The heel-toe shifters of 100 cc commuters had another great advantage. Gears will fall in to place positively and smoothly,without any false neutral. In the Splendor the clutch / gear combination is butter smooth, and the gear shift is more like operating a switch than a lever!

Last edited by ampere : 20th February 2016 at 22:13. Reason: Typo fixed
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Old 20th February 2016, 15:07   #19
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

I think that cost cutting is the major reason for omitting the kick start. A kick start is always better to have in case of situations when your electronic start fails. I used to own a used pulsar 200 and since it was about 2 years old and used only a few days in a month by me, I always had trouble starting and had to get the battery charged whenever I returned home and had to use my bike. This was an important reason due to which I bought the pulsar 150 over the 180 a couple of years later.

As for the gear lever, it's all about what you get used to. I am comfortable with the toe shifter and the heel part in my 150 is a constant hindrance. I am planning to saw off the heel part of the shifter like a few of my friends had done.

Last edited by GTO : 22nd February 2016 at 10:25. Reason: Spacing :)
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Old 20th February 2016, 17:08   #20
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

I believe the heel toe shifter can be a bit unsafe when compared to the toe shifter. Let me explain. Consider a high capacity sports bike, or even a bike making around 40/50 bhp of power. Consider one is riding within the meat of the power band between 6-7 k rpm in 5th/6th gear. The speed would be in excess of 100 kmph even in the smaller bikes. Now if the rider's heel accidentally pushes the gear lever to go into 4th/3rd, consider what can happen? The least would be a wheel lock/fishtail and a big fall to the worst a chain breakage and subsequent thrashing and wrapping around the chassis or wheel.
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Old 20th February 2016, 19:32   #21
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSharan View Post
Recently I got into a debate with one of my friends about these two features. He said that a Heel-Toe based shifter is better
That depends from rider to rider. The guys who drive commuter bikes and cruisers always use heel-toe shifters as it gives convenience. Since high end sport bikes have a sporty riding position where the ankles are backward, it make sense only to use a heel shifter. A person can't possibly apply the effort to shift with his ankles when he's at that position.

Also, it makes packaging easier. The side stand can be brought closer, making space for something like an underbelly exhaust.

Quote:
The absence of kick start only adds to probability of trouble
High end bikes have FI with a pump. So even if you've not been riding for a few days, it'll most probably start in a few cranks.

It's always a problem when battery drains out, but that's the reason we've indicators for everything right? Also, you as a rider can surely keep looking for strange behaviour which might be an indicator to a problem.

Quote:
Another point- why 1 down-4 up shift pattern? Is there a logical/mechanical reason for this? Why not all 5 up or 4 down patterns?
Logical: The Rider must keep tapping the shifter and reach 1st gear so that he can ride off. Indian commuter bikes have N-1-2-3-4 or N-1-2-3-4-5 to save cost. Almost all other bikes have 1-N-2-3-4-5-(6)

When you shift down, you don't need to shift from N to 1 again.
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Old 20th February 2016, 20:09   #22
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

I ride my bike extensively in the hills. I have a Pulsar 220 with just the toe shifter. The universal gear pattern of having Neutral in between 1st and 2nd gear is a god send in the hills. Sometimes while riding up or down steep roads and accidentally going into neutral could be deadly. So with the pattern of 1 N 2 3 4 5, riders are very unlikely to accidentally go into neutral than say with the N 1 2 3 4 5 gear pattern.

Giving real world examples. Due to the sequential nature of bike gears, the rider sometimes forgets what gear the bike is in. Many times when going up steep roads the bike does not pull strongly even when I am in 1st gear, the bike feels like it may be in 2nd (when in fact it is in 1st). So in such a case if I had a N 1 2 3 4 5 sequence gear then I could so easily go into N if I downshifted from 1 (mistakenly thinking I am in 2nd gear). And going into Neutral accidentally when riding up a steep road could be very dangerous.

Same goes for when coming downhill. It can be very dangerous to accidentally go into neutral as engine breaking is a must in bikes to reduce speed. So with the 1 N 2 3 4 5 pattern I know that if I just downshift a few times i will automatically go to 1. As a Bike rider, I would not have it any other way.

I would have been ok with just the toe shifter too , but it has spoilt so many of my favorite pairs of shoes lol.
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Old 20th February 2016, 22:36   #23
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Never knew that there was a safety precaution behind gear patterns in bikes! Never even though about it!

About the heel toe shifters, while the explanation that superbikes need toe shifters due to ergonomics is very true. Why do some of the sporty commuters (for lack of a better word!) that we have in our country don't have one? Isn't it far more comfortable and practical? Or is it just to make one feel like they are riding a bigger bike!!

And is it possible to retrofit a heel toe shifter in bikes that that don't have one without much trouble?
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Old 20th February 2016, 22:39   #24
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Back in those days - RX100 came with the 1D 3U pattern while Hondas had all Up and the Suzukis and Kawasakis had All Down - and I believe it takes some getting used to and each pattern has its own pros n cons. I won't debate on that.

Regd Kick Starters. Just a question - if it was cost related.... then why initially the bikes that came with a self-starter option were priced higher? Maybe having both options added to the price and having ONLY one of the two options helps with the cost.

I own a 47yr old Jawa 250 which I take out once in a year...just needs a short service and a few kicks to get it back to life. Same with my 22yr old KB100.
Agreed that over the years the electricals have improved but I am still biased to the kick starter.
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Old 20th February 2016, 23:16   #25
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

I am not sure why N is placed between 1 and 2, but have read somewhere about the reason for having to "press down" to downshift and "pull up" to upshift: Inertia. When upshifting, you are accelerating and hence the weight of the rider+bike tends to shift backwards, and thus pulling the gear lever in this direction is the most intuitive. Likewise, the need to downshift is when decelerating, during which time the combined weight moves forward, and pressing down on the lever comes naturally "along with the flow". On a side note, this shifting of weight is also the reason why front brakes are bigger and more powerful.
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Old 21st February 2016, 13:29   #26
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by VW2010 View Post
That's why you need the godly neutral lever as in the old bull.
The shift pattern was always 1 UP, 3 down to 4th. Keep riding and if you want to stop just use the neutral lever and from 4th voila to neutral in a small flick.
The most used gears in my bull are 1st and 4th. I love the neutral shifter
Quote:
Originally Posted by navin_v8 View Post
Unless one rides one of them old RE CI Bullets which comes with a heavy duty Albion(same manufacturer which used to make gearboxes for British Battle tanks) gearbox which can take massive beating and still go on.
I can relate to the above. The one-up-three-down + neutral finder is very comfortable to find neutral when you are in high gear. Especially during traffic, it's a Godsend. You can see other riders furiously downshifting to get to the right gear during sudden stops. And the gearbox can sure take a beating.

Also the right side gear placement is great when you want to tow a bike. You usually keep the bike to be towed to your left. If the gear shift is on your left, you need to constantly take your foot off the bike which you push (tow), to upshift or downshift. In the CI bullet, the only time you take your foot off is when u want to apply brakes.

I've always wondered whether you can add an extra gear and make it one-up-four-down.
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Old 21st February 2016, 15:13   #27
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Dear Members,
Thank you for your valuable replies. I'm just trying to summarize the points from discussions & add some inputs from side:

The stance of sports bike matters, hence the Toe-only shifter is provided. But again, is it true for the cruisers (which have very relaxed seating stance) or the tourers (which have relatively upright seating position)?

Case in Point being BMW GS1200 & Triumph Tiger 800
Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?-maxresdefault.jpg

Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?-2011triumphtiger800studio5.jpg

Additionally it spoils the shoes as mentioned by other members. It made my life difficult, when I had to commute in my formal shoes to office. How do other members manage this? May be keep formal shoes in office itself?

That said, I never faced any issues in Toe only shifter and I actually love it. I used to drive an Unicorn sometimes in my college days and I instinctively used the toe shifter, despite the fact that Unicorn has a proper heel toe based shifter.

I've also seen this notion in our country- if a bike is to be positioned as sporty, it needs to have certain features like Toe only shifter. (Remember the First CBZ?) The vice versa also holds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeantownThinker View Post
Here's a thought, why not do away completely with the shifters at the foot but instead have them on the handle like we have paddle shifters in cars?
I honestly think this could be a selling point in the bikes (debatable!!!) in today's market, but given all riders have been used to shifting with legs, they may not accept the omission of Toe/Heel-Toe shifter. May be both could be provided.

On the omission of Kick-starter, I think at least for Entry level bikes (may be till 250CC??), it should be mandatory. Its a huge pain to start the bike by pushing. Cost constraints in this segment do not allow for extremely reliable electricals & mechanicals.

By the way, I've seen this in my Pulsar 220- The bike takes its own sweet time to get heated up in cold mornings, I ride off, and unless it has achieved its optimum temperature, it has a tendency to shut down if I disengage the clutch. Say I'm traveling at a speed of 20-25KMPH, and the engine shuts off. I try to crank the engine by engaging clutch (say in 2nd gear) and the bike never starts. Ultimately, I give up and disengage the clutch and thumb the starter to get going again. Now this gives me a serious doubt if I'll ever be able to start my bike by pushing and engaging clutch if ever its starter motor or battery fails.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban_Nomad View Post
In most street bikes, the neutral is placed between 1 & 2. Reason? Bacause it is the most intuitive place to put it for street bikes; and that it has to be put somewhere

Think about it. You are at a traffic light, right foot on the ground and left on the shift lever. What feels most intuitive to you?
Agreed, it absolutely feels intuitive to shift down for lower gears while stopping, and shift up for accelerating through gears. However, placing neutral between 1st & 2nd poses a huge issue- false neutrals, and this can be hazardous. Now, in our country we have only few bikes which have a gearbox sorted and working like a charm. I'm not ashamed to say that though Bajaj has improved its quality exponentially over years, I still face this issue sometimes in my P220.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
They offer one great advantage if you are an office executive who wears patent, formal leather shoes. They don't mess with the shoe upper,the shoes retain their sheen and look neat for a long time, especially the more expensive ones!

Kick starter is a must as a back-up. They may be done away with in the high capacity bikes or those with very high compression where it will be impossible to use. But not in day to day bikes, just for style.
Agreed. Spoilt some of my shoes due to Toe only shifter and I thought of doing some Jugaad based solution to prevent it from happening (like wrapping a piece of cloth on my left shoe) but didnt work out so well, also not so practical. I think the best way would be to maintain a pair of shoes in office (because I worked mostly in client facing profiles), given that I want to bike to my office for foreseeable future.

And yes, Pls bring back the starter lever for bikes below, say 150K or 250CC. I dont think a mere iron rod would add so much to the cost of the bike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by srinath.s View Post
On a side note, this shifting of weight is also the reason why front brakes are bigger and more powerful.
I think this point is debatable- Front should always contribute more to breaking, I think better front brakes make braking highly effective. But is that the reason?

Will circle back if I can think of something more to add or discuss.

Last edited by LordSharan : 21st February 2016 at 15:25. Reason: fixed spelling mistakes. :)
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Old 21st February 2016, 15:54   #28
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by landcruiser123 View Post
Logical: The Rider must keep tapping the shifter and reach 1st gear so that he can ride off. Indian commuter bikes have N-1-2-3-4 or N-1-2-3-4-5 to save cost. Almost all other bikes have 1-N-2-3-4-5-(6)

When you shift down, you don't need to shift from N to 1 again.
Few years back was searching about this topic and found the possible reason, some of the bikes had our commuter style shift pattern initially, but when slowing down riders shifted to neutral accidentally instead of first which results in zero engine braking and lack of control over the bike(possibility of accident). Having neutral between first and second made sure that the riders could go into neutral by down shifting as many times as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amrisharm View Post
I ride my bike extensively in the hills. I have a Pulsar 220 with just the toe shifter. The universal gear pattern of having Neutral in between 1st and 2nd gear is a god send in the hills. Sometimes while riding up or down steep roads and accidentally going into neutral could be deadly. So with the pattern of 1 N 2 3 4 5, riders are very unlikely to accidentally go into neutral than say with the N 1 2 3 4 5 gear pattern.

Giving real world examples. Due to the sequential nature of bike gears, the rider sometimes forgets what gear the bike is in. Many times when going up steep roads the bike does not pull strongly even when I am in 1st gear, the bike feels like it may be in 2nd (when in fact it is in 1st). So in such a case if I had a N 1 2 3 4 5 sequence gear then I could so easily go into N if I downshifted from 1 (mistakenly thinking I am in 2nd gear). And going into Neutral accidentally when riding up a steep road could be very dangerous.

Same goes for when coming downhill. It can be very dangerous to accidentally go into neutral as engine breaking is a must in bikes to reduce speed. So with the 1 N 2 3 4 5 pattern I know that if I just downshift a few times i will automatically go to 1. As a Bike rider, I would not have it any other way.
Your real world experience seems to be the actual reason for the shift pattern! Good observation bro

Last edited by GTO : 22nd February 2016 at 10:32. Reason: patter = pattern
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Old 21st February 2016, 16:32   #29
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSharan View Post

Additionally it spoils the shoes as mentioned by other members. It made my life difficult, when I had to commute in my formal shoes to office. How do other members manage this? May be keep formal shoes in office itself?
Shoe protector to the rescue....
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Old 21st February 2016, 16:37   #30
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Default Re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

I had a 2nd gen Pulsar 150 which had a toe and heel shifter. Like most of you have mentioned, I always liked / preferred this type of gear shifter as it doesn't mess with the shoes.

Recently, I hired a RE Thunderbird for an early morning ride. To start with, I used to move my leg forward / backward to shift up / down. It was only natural given my extensive driving on the Pulsar. But due to the cold weather outside, I started finding that it was much less effort intensive to shift gears by keeping my heel on the foot peg and using the toe shifter to change gears.

The convenience (or ease) of shifting this way was so profound that apart from the first 20-30 mins, I used the toe shifter for the entire 4 hour ride. I came back convinced that toe shifters reduce rider fatigue over longer rides. At least for me it did! Perhaps this is one of the reasons!

Last edited by naut : 21st February 2016 at 16:38. Reason: Corrected spelling mistake
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