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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All. I'm a new rider of just 2 months. On the whole, my skills and confidence are improving nicely, but lately I've developed a bad habit of tensing up right as I need to shift. Specifically, my arms get more and more tense as I get closer to shifting. This tenseness has made my shifting less smooth, but worst of all it's making me arm weary pretty quickly. Did any one experience the same when they were new to riding? Any hints for getting over this? Thanks!
 

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You have to find out WHY you're tensing up.
Are you afraid of doing harm to the engine? - You cant just shifting up!
Are you afraid of killing it? - Cant if your already moving.
You just need more and more practice, which is a good thing.
Go on shorter rides so that you arm doesn't get stiff.
 

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At least you are aware of your problem. A few ideas: I would seek a long straight road with little traffic and practice doing lots of relaxed gear changes up and down the box. In fact, I would repeat practice the change out of one gear till I got it done relaxed; then move onto the next change. But give youself a bit of riding in between each one. Tension is quite commonly caused by gripping the bars too tightly. If that is happening try relaxing your grip while maintaining control (of course!) as soon as tension starts. And particularly, try to maintain a relaxed (though sufficient) grip while changing gear. You could even start to find the sufficient grip level and relaxation while the bike is stationary and engine is off. Just my suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Over the 2 months I've been riding, my tension level has steadily dropped, so it's weird that this new thing has developed. Currently, I'm way more comfortable on the bike and my fear level is well in check. It's like a twitch in your eye that just suddenly appears.

Gripping the tank my with legs is something I starting doing earlier. It was a big help with reducing arm fatigue - especially when coming to a stop - but that's a great suggestion in general for anyone that hasn't figured that out.

I found some ideas online that I'm going to try. For example, keeping a loose grip, deep breathing, wiggle the arms, and saying "relax" out loud I'm also going to do some static practice as Robble10 suggests - sit on the bike with it off and practice doing the shifting motions while trying to be as loose as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I think I'm onto a solution, so I'm updating this post on the chance that someone else is having (or will have) this sort of issue and might benefit from my experience.

My initial efforts at resolving this tenseness issue were limited in success. Sometimes it helped, but sometimes it was worse. Then I noticed that the problem was pretty much non-existent when accelerating quickly through the gears. The tenseness came primarily when accelerating at a leisurely pace. Based on this observation, I came up with this technique: Just before rolling off the throttle, I roll on the throttle just a smidgen. My best guess about why this works for me is that it I needed some sort of timing cue. It's quite likely that I'm the only one with this bizarre issue, but I'm curious if anyone has experienced anything remotely similar.
 

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Like you, I do find that quick changes of gear work better for me. Slower changes give me too much time to think about it: "will I get this right, or will I scrunch the gears?" So, you are not alone.
 

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Again dont think about "scrunching" the gears.
You obviously know how to shift, dont think about it, just do it.
Once you have moved from a stop you should not have to worry about doing any harm to the bike by changing gears, be it slowly or quickly.

You need to find an empty large parking lot and practice taking off and shifting slowly with a loose grip!!!
AND over-reving the engine because your shifting more slowly WILL NOT harm the engine!
 

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As a new rider decades ago I would worry about “lugging” the engine by shifting up too soon or, “lurching” forward on the bike by downshifting too soon. No worries though! You won’t hurt the engine, you just won’t look cool! Guess what; we’ve ALL done it!! Concentrate on your ears not your arms. Let your hearing of the engine dictate what your hands and arms should do. They can then relax just waiting for the message from above!? It’s why I don’t worry about not having a tachometer. Great for tuning and diagnostics but, you shouldn’t have to check it to know if it’s time to shift! Have fun; you’ll be fine!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks to all for the advice and video with advice. Oddly, I'm not afraid of anything related to shifting. This is a really weird mind game my subconscious is playing on me. Those that mentioned that I'm over thinking it and need to just shift are spot on. I'm absolutely certain this is my problem, but getting over these sorts of issues is usually easier said than done.

I was thinking back to when I learned to drive a stick shift car and I don't recall ever having this sort of problem. Stick shifting in a car is nearly as automatic as breathing, so I fully expect the same will happen on a motorcycle. After just a couple of rides using my mind trick to throttle on just a bit before rolling off and shifting is working pretty well, so I think there's hope for me. Eventually, I'll get past this little bump in the road.
 

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I used to ride a 1940 BSA, it had a pretty worn gear box, so I would think as I was riding along changing gears, "Clutch, 2, 3, shift". It made shifting a lot smoother on that old rascal. After all these years of riding I'm not even aware of shifting, it's just something my body does without me thinking about it. You'll get there, just listen to the engine and do what it says.
 

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That's sweet, here's my '40 BSA M20. It was a dispatch rider bike that served in Burma during WWII.
Lovely. It looks likely to me that the War Dept wrote the bike spec and at least these two companies made the bikes. They are so alike. Royal Enfield did them too.
 

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Royal Enfield, Ariel, BSA, Norton, Triumph and Matchless all had dispatch bikes in the war, probably others were out there too.
 
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