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Thread: False neutral...

  1. #1

    False neutral...

    The subject of false neutrals is often brought up at track schools but I rarely hear it discussed elswhere. It came to mind for me because last week I got one on one of my bikes and this morning I was riding my PC800 on rain-soaked streets and it occured to me how serious a mistake with a false neutral could be on a bike with the wide gearing and engine braking power of the PC, particularly in the wet.

    Basically a false neutral (some bikes are much worse than others for this) is the bike being shifted other than between 1st and 2nd but not being in gear. You may have been going from 4th to 5th or 6th to 5th or any shift, but when you let out the clutch you are not in gear and the neutral light is not illuminated. What you do from that point can make the difference in whether you continue on or find yourself sliding down the pavement.

    For clarity let's say you are shifting from 5th to 4th and as you let out the clutch you are in 'false neutral', you twist the throttle, the engine revs but nothing happens. What you have to understand is you may not be between 5th and 4th, you may be between 4th and 3rd, and if you now shift down you may lock up the rear tire due to engine braking.

    Soooo ... the simple answer is ... when and if you get a 'false neutral', always, always shift up.
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

  2. #2
    Flirting With The Redline
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    May 2006
    Good tip, thanks!

  3. #3
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! remy_marathe's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this OBX, I had no idea that that happens. Another contingency plan tucked away...
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  4. #4
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! MotoMan's Avatar
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    Good info OBX. I had heard of a false neutral but didn't know what it is, nor what to do about it.

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  5. #5
    Flirting With The Redline 1000 Posts!
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    In the MSF class, I never had a false neutral... (heck, we never got above 3rd gear), but I sometimes had the dangdest time finding neutral on that Nighthawk I was issued. It was the only really annoying problem I exhibited the whole weekend.

    I'm hoping it was just a factor of a well-used/abused school bike, and not a clod-footed indicator of things to come
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  6. #6
    I had a false neutral once, shifting from 4th to 5th. Confused the heck outta me, but kept my cool, pulled in the clutch, and kicked the shifter harder. I don't remember if I shifted up or down, but just kept on going from there like nothing happened .

  7. #7
    Senior Moderator We've stopped counting... subvetSSN606's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
    Ellettsville, IN
    I've hit false neutrals before, usually due to what I call "lazy foot" (being a bit wimpy with clicking the lever), and always found myself between where I was and where I was trying to go. However, I have no reason to doubt that you could wind up somewhere other than where you think you are, and it's certainly better to find yourself in a higher gear than you want to be, than in a lower gear than you want to be. The lower gear can cause a loss of traction, the higher gear won't. With the higher gear you'll recognize it right away whwn the engine bogs down... so just pull the clutch back in and shift down at that point.

    In the end, regrets rarely come from things done, but from things not even tried.

  8. #8
    Transmissions are pretty good now, i hardly ever hit a false neutral anymore. Thank God for rev limiters though, huh?

  9. #9
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! MarcS's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
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    subvet makes a good point -- often missed shifts and false neutrals are caused by poor shifting, like not fully disengaging the clutch, and/or not fully actuating the shift lever.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by MarcS
    subvet makes a good point -- often missed shifts and false neutrals are caused by poor shifting, like not fully disengaging the clutch, and/or not fully actuating the shift lever.
    Perhaps, but there are bikes I've never gotten a 'false neutral' on (VFR800) and ones that it happens once in a while (SV650, Buell M2), and I still see it in the occasional new bike review and we all know the magazine guys don't make mistakes... .

    It usually happens to me while riding switchbacks or on the track, where there is a lot of shifting going on. My focus then is on speeds, lines, techniques and shifting is on 'automatic' (as it usually is).

    My point is if it only happens to you once, and you go the wrong way, it could put you on your butt when it is so simple to shift up and 'reset'.
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.


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