Author Topic: jerky ride and questions about shifting (i.e. general riding technique)  (Read 2903 times)

mouserat

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I took my new Symba out for a nice long ride today and have a few observations/questions since I'm new to the bike and have never ridden anything with manual transmission before.

1) I'm still getting used to shifting gears, especially in traffic.  As a mental crutch, I check my speedo, and generally my gear pattern is as follows: 1st - 0-10mph, 2nd 10-20, 3rd 20-30, 4th 30+.  Does that sound about right?  How do you tell when you're supposed to shift?  What gear are you usually in when you're in stop and go traffic?  I found that I was tootling along in 2nd before I had to stop again and drop back to 1st.

2) What is your shifting technique?  For a while I was upshifting with my toe on the front lever, but my shin started to hurt so I started pushing the back pedal down with the front of my foot.  It seems like it's designed to push with your heel, but I couldn't find a comfortable way to do it.

3) At speed, the bike got kind of jerky whenever the grade changed a bit or I went around a corner, or if I changed speeds a bit.  I stayed in 4th gear, but every once in a while (like at the bottom of a small grade) it would slow suddenly and then jump forward and jerk me back and forth, I don't know how to describe it.  Is this a throttle control issue?  I'm coming off a 50cc scooter, so I think I might not be used to it.  The only other thing I could think of was something with the jets or carb.  The previous owner said he changed the jet, but I can't remember what size he said he put in (I just emailed him to find out).  Any insight about how to achieve a smooth ride (or what to expect in terms of smoothness) would be much appreciated.

4) Hills.  I've read that going up hills you're supposed to shift down.  How do you know when to do that?  Not all hills seem steep or long enough to justify that.  What about down hills?  Are you supposed to gear up?  What if I'm already in 4th?

5) Turns.  Do you downshift going into a turn?  Or should I just hit the brakes a little?  What if it's a turn on a hill?  This seems like a bit of a dark art to me.

6) At the beginning of my ride, the bike stalled out at the first two stop lights.  It was cold last night and about 55 when I started riding, so is this just because the engine was cold?  I assume so because it didn't happen after the first 20 minutes.

Phew.  Thanks for your patience with all the n00b questions.  I love this bike, but I need to get better at riding it!

UK Rob

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Hi, I've owned my Symba since last August and use it a couple of times a week.

It takes a bit of practice to master the gears. I use my heel to change up and toe to change down. I find that I move a little forward and back in the seat to achieve this comfortably. I hardly ever use the first gear and pull away in second. The bike pulls easily.

It's hard to tell you exactly when and what speed to be travelling to change gear. The best advice I can give is listen to the engine and when it is labouring change down at least one gear, and when the revs are high change up at least one gear.

Practice makes perfect and I'm sure you will be riding soon without even thinking about the gear changes.

UK Rob

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P.s my bike doesn't like the cold weather and will usually stall a couple of times until the engine warms up.

The bike will jerk if you are in to high a gear for that speed.

SymbaWal

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1) I'm still getting used to shifting gears, especially in traffic.  As a mental crutch, I check my speedo, and generally my gear pattern is as follows: 1st - 0-10mph, 2nd 10-20, 3rd 20-30, 4th 30+.  Does that sound about right?  How do you tell when you're supposed to shift?  What gear are you usually in when you're in stop and go traffic?  I found that I was tootling along in 2nd before I had to stop again and drop back to 1st.

That sounds about right to me. I shift when the engine is getting to a point where it is not producing all that much power and it is getting closer to straining. Hard to describe when I shift; it just will come naturally to you as you do it. In stop and go, I usually use 2nd. I can pull away from a stop in 2nd without lugging the engine too much.


2) What is your shifting technique?  For a while I was upshifting with my toe on the front lever, but my shin started to hurt so I started pushing the back pedal down with the front of my foot.  It seems like it's designed to push with your heel, but I couldn't find a comfortable way to do it.


Yeah, I do not use my heel either. I move my left foot and bounce my toes from the front lever to the rear lever. Not sure if that's the right way to do it, but I've become accustomed to it. I used to use my toes for all shifting on my Honda without having to move my foot at all, but my Symba doesn't really allow for that. I might need to adjust my lever and experiment a little on that.


3) At speed, the bike got kind of jerky whenever the grade changed a bit or I went around a corner, or if I changed speeds a bit.  I stayed in 4th gear, but every once in a while (like at the bottom of a small grade) it would slow suddenly and then jump forward and jerk me back and forth, I don't know how to describe it.  Is this a throttle control issue?  I'm coming off a 50cc scooter, so I think I might not be used to it.  The only other thing I could think of was something with the jets or carb.  The previous owner said he changed the jet, but I can't remember what size he said he put in (I just emailed him to find out).  Any insight about how to achieve a smooth ride (or what to expect in terms of smoothness) would be much appreciated.

That doesn't sound like a jet or carb issue to me; just seems like you're in the wrong gear.


4) Hills.  I've read that going up hills you're supposed to shift down.  How do you know when to do that?  Not all hills seem steep or long enough to justify that.  What about down hills?  Are you supposed to gear up?  What if I'm already in 4th?

If the engine isn't straining to get up the hill, you're probably in an okay gear. Otherwise, shift down from 4 to 3, and see if that's better. Be careful when you shift down as the bike may lurch or pull back. I actually down shift going down a hill to help the use of my brakes. I'll go from 4 to 3 going downhill and let the engine do some of the braking for me.

5) Turns.  Do you downshift going into a turn?  Or should I just hit the brakes a little?  What if it's a turn on a hill?  This seems like a bit of a dark art to me.

I never shift during a turn, usually either before or after, depending on my power situation. I usually give it some throttle going through the turn for better gyroscopic force (for lack of a better term).

6) At the beginning of my ride, the bike stalled out at the first two stop lights.  It was cold last night and about 55 when I started riding, so is this just because the engine was cold?  I assume so because it didn't happen after the first 20 minutes.

That could be the case. I've never had a stall on my Symba before, so I really don't know.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2015, 02:51:27 PM by SymbaWal »
'10 SYM Symba (light blue)
'06 Tomos Revival
'01 Tomos Targa LX
'77 Garelli SuperSport XL
'72 Honda N600 (the car; 2 cyl. 598cc air-cooled)
(former bikes: '73 Honda CT90, '91 Honda CT70)

mouserat

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Thanks guys!  This is super helpful.  I put a few more miles on it again today, and it seems like it's just a matter of getting to know the bike.  I have a few more 'dates' planned for this long weekend so hopefully we'll be going steady soon.

HelloPitty

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I remember the first day riding my "new to me" Symba. I thought I had made a mistake in purchasing it since I was used to twist-and-go type scooters….either that, or a clutch system motorcycle.
It took me a few rides to get the hang of it.  I still worry that I'm revving it too high before shifting, so then I change to not revving so high…there's a sweet spot for sure, but there are so many variables when riding (slope of rode, etc.), that there's no definitive answer.
I put my gearing worries to rest after I figured out how much fun it is to ride, especially on dirt trails…my preferred road with the Symba.
2015 SYM Symba * 1981 Honda C70
1982 Honda CT110 * 2006 Vespa LX150
2008 Vespa GTS250

SUNSET KID

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    Your speeds seem about right, although I shift much earlier if I'm just slowly looking at the scenery. I find I can ride 5 or 6 miles an hour on a flat road in 4 th gear. No surge unless you try to open it up there. Also to start, you may want to use your toe on the back to shift up. At first you might have to glance down at it but eventually it wii become natural. Time and practice.You'll get better.
Finally got some pictures on of my two Symbas.

GinSnob

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I'll add a general "me too" for what folks said, above.  It took me a while to get used to the Symba's shifting and it's very easy to shift at the wrong time and have it lurch.

1) Shifting every 10mph: that's about where I shift on flat surfaces.  I ride on a lot of hills, so tend to let it rev higher going up those.

2) Heel vs Toe: I could never get my heel to be comfortable shifting so I always use my toe.

3) Possible valve issue: agree with above; give it some more time and make sure it's not you getting used to the gearing before worrying too much about adjusting the valves.

4) Uphill: you can usually tell when you need to shift down going uphill, you'll start to lose some power and the bike might even lug a bit.  Shift before that happens. :)  If you ride on hills with any frequency you'll start to feel it pretty easily.  I don't know for sure, probably at least 5mph difference.

5) Downshifting in turns: Don't do it!  When you're turning you're already putting more tension on the tires.  Ideally I try to be slowly rolling on the throttle during turns and definitely not downshifting.  I really try to downshift before going into the turn or, if needed, straighten out mid-turn (the Symba is so tiny!  Lots of road to play with) and downshift before heading back into the turn.

6) My Symba also hates the cold.  Have to let it warm up for a good long time if it's in the 50's or 40's.  This seems somewhat common although some folks seem just fine so I suspect something is slightly amiss.

Enjoy the ride!  These bikes are tons of fun.

mouserat

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Thanks everyone, I put 100 miles on her this weekend and think I'm getting the hang of it.  Jerky downshifts are becoming much less common.  Can someone please describe to me what lugging the engine sounds like?  I don't think I'm doing it, but it's hard to tell because I don't know what I'm listening for.

Zazu

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Lugging the engine is when the gear is too high for the speed and it sounds like it is cutting out and doesn't have enough power. You need to downshift at this point, for example from 4th to 3rd gear on a steep hill.

Lugging is the opposite of revving the engine. Revving would indicate that it was time to shift up like from 2nd to 3rd gear after a stoplight.

Tommiesatellite

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You can also easily add a tachometer to the Samba which helps to determine if you are over revving or under revving.  They cost about $20 and stick on with a magnet.  You just wrap a wire around the spark plug cable.


agree 100% to do your shifting before or after a turn, never mid turn as you never know what a funky lurch can do to your handling and ability to stay in the turn. 

One rule of thumb about long steep hills is to go down it in the same gear it took to go up it in order to save your brakes.  Although with a Samba, you'll probably be going up hills slower than you need to go down them, so maybe you can go down with one gear higher than it took to go up it. 

SUNSET KID

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     There is a way to keep your momentum in a turn that you can practice. don't suppose there is much racing going on with our bikes, but you can try this, slowly at first. When you dive into a corner in forth gear, push the gear shift down for 3rd gear BUT don't let it up till you are passing the apex then you smoothly let it up to engage the gear and at the same time smoothly open the throttle at the same time. You will find you kep a lot momentum it will put a big smile o your face. :)
Finally got some pictures on of my two Symbas.

richmintz

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Tip: If upshifting with your toe makes your ankle sore, try pushing your foot in a bit more and lifting the lever at a point closer to the middle of your foot.

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