I had a bit of an awakening today I think. It should have been totally self-evident, but it hasn't been to me. Bit slow sometimes. I rode a couple of steeper, turning sections I have that hinge on maintaining drive through the hillside turn and the immediate climb out of the turn, and also a leafy slippery steep climb. They aren't super slippery surfaces, just enough that traction is key - good body position and smooth acceleration are essential. I'd been mucking about with using 3rd and 4th gear for some splats so decided to stay with that theme and ride these sections in a high gear. Suddenly it twigged that in order to slip the clutch effectively for traction there has to be a really significant difference between the speed you are traveling and the speed you would travel if you let the clutch go. I know, pretty obvious. As soon as I realised this I tried the same section in a gear close to travel speed and a gear well away from it - chalk and cheese. In the past I think I've often been using a gear that is very close to travel speed, so it's really hard to tell when the clutch is locked and when it's slipping. A tiny bit of wheel spin or a slight bike acceleration and the clutch instantly locks up and I'm no longer controlling traction with the clutch, often without realising that's what happened until too late. I think I had it in my head that you used a high gear to reduce the torque at the wheel when it was really slippery, but I hadn't put it together that you also need a gear that is significantly higher than your travel speed, irrespective of just how slippery it is. Of course I could also just rev the bike much harder, but that comes with it's own set of problems. When I do that I too often find that a little imbalance or lack of finesse on the clutch and the wheel's spinning like mad.

Posted by Peter Mack at 2023-02-05 05:22:37 UTC