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Old 19th February 2016, 14:22   #1
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Default Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Dear Members,
This is my first thread on TBHP. I drive a one year old Pulsar 220F. It has only a Toe shift Gear lever (instead of Heel-Toe based shifter) and does not have a kick start.

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 (as it is more convenient compared to Toe based shifter). I tried to argue by saying that all high end sport bikes have the same type of gear lever, but somehow he is not convinced, to some extent even I'm not convinced.

Next point- the absence of kick start only adds to probability of trouble, in case the starter motor or battery breaks down. In fact I've faced this issue with my roommate's Pulsar 200 (now discontinued). Fortunately my flat was on a road which had an incline and we were able to start the bike by rolling down the incline. Thankfully Bajaj has since then improved a lot on the quality issues and I've never faced a single issue in this regard from my Bike. (Touchwood) Now a days, this has become a trend, even new Hero Xtreme omits the kick starter. Does the kick start somehow relate with presence/absence of FI in bike?

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?

Mods: Please merge/delete the thread if these have have been already discussed!

Last edited by GTO : 20th February 2016 at 12:53. Reason: Typos
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Old 19th February 2016, 14:39   #2
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

In higher capacity bikes, riding position is such that it is difficult to use heel for shifting. This is due to foot pegs being set towards rear of the bike, to give a sporty riding position. As a result the ankle position will be tilted, thereby making heel shift difficult.

1down 4up pattern has the advantage that you will have to shift less number of times to neutral if you come to a standstill from 4th or 5th gear.
Also, once you are in neutral, you have flexibility of going to either 1st or 2nd with just one shift.
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Old 19th February 2016, 14:53   #3
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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
Another point- why 1down-4up shift pattern? Is there a logical/mechanical reason for this? Why not all 5up or 4down patterns?

Mods: Please merge/delete the thread if these have have been already discussed!
Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek46 View Post
In higher capacity bikes, riding position is such that it is difficult to use heel for shifting. This is due to foot pegs being set towards rear of the bike, to give a sporty riding position. As a result the ankle position will be tilted, thereby making heel shift difficult.

1down 4up pattern has the advantage that you will have to shift less number of times to neutral if you come to a standstill from 4th or 5th gear.
Also, once you are in neutral, you have flexibility of going to either 1st or 2nd with just one shift.
Found this response on the net, which is what I had heard sometime back as well:

Actually, there is a specific reason why neutral ended up between first and second gear when motorcycle controls were standardized in 1975: SAFETY.
In the 60s and 70s, there was a growing trend toward placing neutral below first gear. My nephew, for example, had a Kawasaki 100 with a "4 up" shift pattern (N,1,2,3,4). As this shift pattern gained popularity, more and more motorcyclists were developing the tendency to instictively shift the bike all the way down into neutral as they slowed, sometimes accidentally, but most times intentionally. The idea was that you could stay in neutral at a light or stop sign, then clutch into gear and start rolling again when right-of-way was established. The habit was obviously flawed, and riders started getting hurt.
The vast majority of injuries were caused when a bike was inadvertently upshifted from neutral into first gear at a fast coast. The resultant engine braking caused instant rear wheel lockups, which in turn caused crashes. The mechanical aspects of neutral's location also caused various runability and logistical problems, as well.
By locating neutral between first and second gears, the severity of engine braking in the event of accidental upshift was reduced, as well as making neutral a relative inconvenience, rather than something riders depended on. It also made first gear the natural first position in the gear box, which is where the transmission should be adjusted whenever the bike is stopped in traffic anyway.—Tim Kreitz Courtesy http://www.volusiariders.com

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 3rd March 2016 at 12:19. Reason: Typo (breaking > braking).
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Old 19th February 2016, 14:58   #4
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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
Dear Members,
This is my first thread on TBHP. I drive a one year old Pulsar 220F. It has only a Toe shift Gear lever (instead of Heel-Toe based shifter) and does not have a kick start.

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 (as it is more convenient compared to Toe based shifter). I tried to argue by saying that all high end sport bikes have the same type of gear lever, but somehow he is not convinced, to some extent even I'm not convinced.
IMO the toe shifter is placed mostly on sporty bikes with the footrest placed tilted a bit backwards, with the sporty posture the heel shift would be a little difficult for faster gear shifts keeping in mind the sporty nature of the bike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSharan View Post
Next point- the absence of kick start only adds to probability of trouble, in case the starter motor or battery breaks down. In fact I've faced this issue with my roommate's Pulsar 200 (now discontinued). Fortunately my flat was on road which had incline and we were able to start the bike by rolling down the incline. Thankfully Bajaj has since then improved a lot on the quality issues and I've never faced a single issue in this regard from my Bike. (Touchwood) Now a days, this has become a trend, even new Hero Xtreme also omits the kick starter. Does the kick start some how relate with presence/absence of FI in bike?
I agree to your point that kick start should be there as a backup option. Since the advent of better electrics, starter motors, batteries etc the kick start is becoming extinct but yet these starter motors and electronics are not up to the mark. Say for eg like the cars (other 4 or more wheelers) and the auto rickshaws still do have the push start lever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSharan View Post
Another point- why 1down-4up shift pattern? Is there a logical/mechanical reason for this? Why not all 5up or 4down patterns?
The Splendors and the older Suzuki bikes still do have these 5 up or 4 down patterns. But IMO neutral between the 1st gear and 2nd gear does make sense. Fast downshifting causes instant rear wheel lockups, which can cause accidents. This is because motorcycles always have a sequential manual transmission, which means that you can only shift in gear order (2nd, 3rd, 4th) unlike most cars where you could randomly shift from 1st to 4th or whatever.

Last edited by The Great : 19th February 2016 at 15:00.
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Old 19th February 2016, 15:14   #5
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Race bikes [not street legal] have just the opposite shift pattern. They have one up & rest down.

I just can't make myself shift with ankle and I am glad, save for the RX, none of the bikes I owned ever had this.

I had a Karizma for ~3 years and I had opened up the kick-lever and kept it away. No issues at all. If the battery died, I of course could push-start it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek46 View Post
Also, once you are in neutral, you have flexibility of going to either 1st or 2nd with just one shift.
Won't shifting from neutral directly to second cause a huge clank in the GB? Unsure if Motorcycles have that short ration in 2nd gear.
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Old 19th February 2016, 15:36   #6
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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 (as it is more convenient compared to Toe based shifter). I tried to argue by saying that all high end sport bikes have the same type of gear lever, but somehow he is not convinced, to some extent even I'm not convinced.
Mate besides the convenience of shifting that a heel toe shifter provides there is no other advantage it holds over a toe based shifter. Yes there is one more advantage that your office leather shoes wont get worn as is the case with toe only shifter. I have motorcycles having both toe only shifter and heel toe shifter and speak from my experience. A heel toe shifter is seen on most of the commuter motorcycles as it is convenient to shift up and down due to the dense traffic conditions these motorcycles face vis a vis toe only shifter. While on sports and performance motorcycles they have a toe only shifter due to reasons mentioned by the members above.
Quote:
Next point- the absence of kick start only adds to probability of trouble, in case the starter motor or battery breaks down. In fact I've faced this issue with my roommate's Pulsar 200 (now discontinued). Fortunately my flat was on road which had incline and we were able to start the bike by rolling down the incline. Thankfully Bajaj has since then improved a lot on the quality issues and I've never faced a single issue in this regard from my Bike. (Touchwood) Now a days, this has become a trend, even new Hero Xtreme also omits the kick starter.
Well times are changing dictating the the transition. Very old cars used to come with a hand cranking system before the advent of electric self start. Today there is virtually no car sporting a hand crank system. A similar thing is happening with the motorcycles now. In fact most of the foreign manufacturers on many of their bikes have stopped offering a kick start. The trend is fast catching up in India too. Technology is changing and so are the electrical components which crank out enough power to start a motorcycle from 150cc in excess of 1000cc. Mate if a battery is down no matter how many kicks, the motorcycle wont start unless it comes with a CDI ignition system. Push starting or jump starting is the technique that comes to my mind. Also by eliminating the kick starter the manufacturer is able to cut cost as there are many components(see kick starter assembly parts) apart from the kick lever itself that is not needed.
Quote:
Does the kick start some how relate with presence/absence of FI in bike?
I don't think so as there are many motorcycles that still have a kick start despite of the presence of an EFi on them. And vice a versa for carburettor bikes as well that do not have a kick starter.
Quote:
Another point- why 1down-4up shift pattern? Is there a logical/mechanical reason for this? Why not all 5up or 4down patterns?
Most of the vintage motorcycles especially British and some European had a 1 up 3 down pattern on their 4 speed motorcycles. This was changed to the existing pattern after the Japanese started manufacturing motorcycles. In the process the placing of the gear and brake lever were also swapped. Where British motorcycles had left side brake and right side gear, the Japanese did just the opposite and came up with a left side gear and right side brake. There is a never ending debate on why and how this was done. But that's another story. Today almost all the motorcycles have left side gear and right side brake. The explanation about the neutral gear position between gears is also well explained by the links shared by our members. Again older British motorcycles used to come with a nifty little separate neutral finder lever. No matter in whatever gear one is in, the moment one slams on that little neutral lever the motorcycle comes into neutral, simple no need to hunt for the neutral gear.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Great View Post
This is because motorcycles always have a sequential manual transmission, which means that you can only shift in gear order (2nd, 3rd, 4th) unlike most cars where you could randomly shift from 1st to 4th or whatever.
Mate the same thing can be replicated on the motorcycle as well. If one wants to shift randomly to any gear, the trick is to pull the clutch lever to disengage the gears and shift to whichever gear one wants to. The only result will be one will be wearing down their engine and transmission quickly. 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.

Last edited by navin_v8 : 19th February 2016 at 15:40.
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Old 19th February 2016, 15:43   #7
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

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?

And with regard to the kick-starter why have a manual crank in this day and age when the reliability of electric starters are proven. Should we also ask for a manual crank starters to be brought back in cars? I feel the kick-start is completely unnecessary.
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Old 19th February 2016, 15:57   #8
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by navin_v8 View Post
Mate the same thing can be replicated on the motorcycle as well. If one wants to shift randomly to any gear, the trick is to pull the clutch lever to disengage the gears and shift to whichever gear one wants to. The only result will be one will be wearing down their engine and transmission quickly. 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.
What I meant was the sequence. Even if you want to directly go to 4th gear engaging the clutch, you will have to pass through the 2nd and 3rd gear. Unlike in cars where you can directly go from 1st to 4th without passing through 2nd and 3rd.

Its the sequence that makes us error prone while decelerating, as many a times one cannot be exactly sure which gear the bike is in.

Last edited by GTO : 20th February 2016 at 12:56. Reason: No SMS language please (thru)
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Old 19th February 2016, 16:01   #9
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Try starting a 4 cylinder with 12:1 compression with your legs and you will never want a kick-starter

Also space and weight is also a concern, a kick-starter means a little more space required in the primary gear end to accommodate for the contraption along with a kick which means unnecessary cost and weight for What if scenario which does not happen these days with good batteries and electronics unless you are person who lets his battery die.
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Old 19th February 2016, 16:05   #10
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

I've ridden both kind of bikes, from 2008 to 2012 i rode a Pulsar 150 (2002 model, the first model of pulsar. Inherited it from my brother )
That had a heel-toe gear shifter and it always helped with the gear shifts.

Then in 2012 i bought a Pulsar 220F for myself, which has only a toe gear shifter. This was a big consideration for me while purchasing my bike, I always wanted one which had the heel-toe gear shifter. As i had been using it for 4 years and had grown comfortable with it. But all high end premium bikes at that time (Apache, CBR, R15 etc.) came with only the toe shifter.

So just made up my mind and went ahead with Pulsar 220.
It did take some practice and time initially to get used to it, but over time I grew comfortable and it's not a problem anymore.
I guess its just a question of habit. Once your get used to it and it becomes a habit, it's fine.
I once happened to visit the TVS factory in Hosur as part of an Industrial visit from college. There, i put this question to one of the design engineers, as to "Is there a particular reason or logic behind almost all manufacturers moving to the toe only gear shift lever. The response wasn't really convincing, he told that it's just for design and looks, no specific reason. Guess we just have to live with it now and get used to it.

As for no kick start, just last month, i switched off my bike at a fairly long red signal, once it turned green, i wasn't able to start my bike. The battery had drained out and the battery icon started to flash. Used the good old technique of pushing the bike in gear and then releasing the clutch to get the engine running again. So that surely isn't convenient. The kick start option would be handy in such situations, can't help it though.
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Old 19th February 2016, 16:34   #11
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by arvind71181 View Post
As this shift pattern gained popularity, more and more motorcyclists were developing the tendency to instictively shift the bike all the way down into neutral as they slowed, sometimes accidentally, but most times intentionally. The idea was that you could stay in neutral at a light or stop sign, then clutch into gear and start rolling again when right-of-way was established. The habit was obviously flawed, and riders started getting hurt.

The vast majority of injuries were caused when a bike was inadvertently upshifted from neutral into first gear at a fast coast. The resultant engine braking caused instant rear wheel lockups, which in turn caused crashes. The mechanical aspects of neutral's location also caused various runability and logistical problems, as well.
A vast majority of injuries can also happen when one downshifts quickly to land up at 1 instead of N. The ensuing rapid engine braking can send the bike rider flying.

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 3rd March 2016 at 12:19. Reason: Quoted post edited.
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Old 19th February 2016, 16:37   #12
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

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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
Paddle type shifters have been available for a while now on bikes like the Honda NC700 and more recently the Africa Twin

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Great View Post
What I meant was the sequence
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? To press down with your heel resting on the peg or pull up with the top of your foot? Also, imagine a panic braking situation. You are hammering down the gears and as you come to a stop, you would want to be in gear so that you are able to move immediately should you need to (think car hurtling down towards you because it could not stop in time). In a panic mode, you simply keep pushing till you cannot go any further; aka 1st gear. In a scenario where neutral is at the lowermost position, thats where you would be after a panic stop as described above; and would then again need to move up a gear and waste valuable time

Race bikes however have the reverse shift pattern; aka GP shift pattern. This however is a different application and serves different purpose. Think ease of downshifting when approaching a corner at nutter speeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepakMenon View Post
Try starting a 4 cylinder with 12:1 compression with your legs and you will never want a kick-starter
+1

Last edited by Urban_Nomad : 19th February 2016 at 16:40.
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Old 20th February 2016, 00:47   #13
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

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Originally Posted by Urban_Nomad View Post
Also, imagine a panic braking situation. You are hammering down the gears and as you come to a stop, you would want to be in gear so that you are able to move immediately should you need to (think car hurtling down towards you because it could not stop in time). In a panic mode, you simply keep pushing till you cannot go any further; aka 1st gear. In a scenario where neutral is at the lowermost position, thats where you would be after a panic stop as described above; and would then again need to move up a gear and waste valuable time
Excellent point. In fact, here in the US, if you happen to take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course (or read the manual), that is exactly what they recommend. Even now when I ride and am stopped at a signal, I am in first gear and frequently scanning RVMs to make sure the vehicle behind me knows that he/she has to stop too. Sometimes, if I know it's a long signal, I would shift to N, but only after making sure there is at-least one big vehicle fully stopped behind me.

My Ninja 650, also has a toe shifter only. And coming from a TVS Apache 150, it took me all of 2 days to adapt, so not a problem at all.
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Old 20th February 2016, 03:05   #14
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

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Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
Race bikes [not street legal] have just the opposite shift pattern. They have one up & rest down.
My Yezdi Roadking had the same pattern - one up and 3 down.
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Old 20th February 2016, 06:35   #15
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Default re: Heel-Toe Gear Shifter & Kick Start not present on high-end bikes. Why?

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
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