1st Gen Shifting Technique

Discussion in 'Starting Line - New Member Introductions' started by Rigby2011Cooper, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. Rigby2011Cooper

    Rigby2011Cooper New Member

    Dec 21, 2010
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    Hey everyone!

    I was wondering how all of you shifted your MINIs, and if anyone had any insight on how our MINIs react to certain types of shifting.

    Let me start it out ... I have found that my MINI has a bit of a rough shift if I take her up to a higher gear in the 2500RPM range, and it is super smooth when I take her to around 3500RPM. It also seems as though I get a rougher shift if I ease the clutch out after my shift as opposed to smoothly BUT QUICKLY releasing the clutch.

    Has anyone had similar results? Fast and hard shifting VS. Slow and steady shifting?

    Just a side note, I am new to driving a MINI and brand new to driving stick. I actually have only been driving stick for one month, so any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    My take offs are still a bit rough as well. It feels like I am being too easy on the gas.

    I look forward to your comments!
     
  2. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    It's all a matter of practice, that's all.....

    The more you drive, the better you'll get at it. There's no specific RPM that's the "right" time to shift, it depends entirely on you road speed, road conditions, traffic etc. However, what you're experiencing is a mismatch between engine RPM and the next gear up or down's effect on your speed. In other words, when upshifting, try letting the RPMs only drop 1000 or so before letting the clutch back out so that your engine speed is more closely matched to what it will be in the next gear. The closer you can match the speed, the smoother your shifts will be, both up and down.
     
  3. Jason Montague

    Jason Montague New Member
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    :Thumbsup:It'll come. It's just getting your mind/heart/hands and feet in tune/sync with your MINI.

    Jason
    De Oppresso Libre
     
  4. Nitrominis

    Nitrominis Banned

    May 9, 2009
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    All I can tell ya is you can not speed shift a MINI....cable actuated shifters and plastic linkage boxes suck!
     
  5. Michigan Mini

    Michigan Mini New Member

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    Rigby,

    I learned to drive in a '61 Baja Bug. That and my next three vehicles had manual transmissions. I've had my '06 MCS since June and it is by far the most forgiving of any vehicle that I have driven.

    It had been 20 odd years since I owned a stick and I too found my shifts were a bit rough at lower RPMs. I found that if I take it up to 4000 RPM, it is much smoother. I have to be careful as the speed climbs rapidly in 3rd. :D

    Congratulations on the new MINI! Enjoy!

    Cheers!
    Chris
     
  6. Thumper460

    Thumper460 Active Member

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    Keep it to the floor. as you reach 7800 rpm .. hammer the clutch, grab the shifter and yank for all that you are worth..!!
    Wait.. that the other car!! LOL as you get more 'friendly' with the stick shift, it will be like it is all natural!! However pay atten to what the others have said.

    Happy new year.. and enjoy!!

    Just me.....................................

    Thumper
     
  7. Dan@GrassrootsGarage

    [email protected] New Member

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    Nice, Mike. We don't want to sell him a clutch too soon ;) The more you drive, the more comfortable you will get. Use common sense and don't use the clutch as a brake to hold up hills and don't ride it if you don't have to. Make your shifts and take you foot of the pedal. When slowing down, downshift to the next gear when the RPM feels right and don't coast down in neutral. The reason for this is simple, if you need to go (light turns green, someone is going to hit you, etc) you are in the right gear to accelerate, and you're brakes will last longer. At some point, go to the track and take a performance driving class.
    Happy New Year
    --Dan
     
  8. BThayer23

    BThayer23 Well-Known Member

    Jun 12, 2009
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    The revs have to drop a little bit when upshifting (e.g. 3 -> 4), and the revs will drop faster at higher RPMs, so that's why it's easier at 3500. At 2500, bring it out of 3rd, wait half a breath in neutral with pressure gently against 4th, and then pull it into 4th. You'll feel the gearbox gently pull it in when you wait that extra half second.
     
  9. mimini1

    mimini1 New Member

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    Just a little side note, if most MINIs are like mine the engine revs drop much slower than older directly connected throttles. This makes for a slightly longer wait for a rev matched shift than one might expect. The real trick is do drive it until shifting becomes an automatic function in you mind.
     
  10. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    I have to respectfully disagree with Ben here....

    Holding pressure against the gear like this will cause advanced wear on the synchro, shift fork and operating sleeve. Match your RPM's, then shift it smoothly and smartly.
     
  11. BThayer23

    BThayer23 Well-Known Member

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    Not even just the slightest pressure? I can pull it right in with the syncros, or I can use a half-pinkie finger worth of pressure to wait for everything to line up. I was unaware that accelerated transmission wear.
     
  12. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    Sure, what you're doing is pushing the shift fork against the operating sleeve, which is pushing the synchro into the hub - all these parts are wearing the whole time you're doing this.

    If you simply push in the clutch and shove it into the gear the contact time is very limited, and the detent balls hold everything in place once it's there.

    It's kinda like riding the clutch, even lightly it will wear it out sooner - and the pressure you're exerting is magnified by the shift lever's ratio - you're putting a lot of force on those parts without realizing it.

    That's also why it's not a good idea to rest your hand on the shift lever as you drive, without knowing it you could be riding one of the synchros - wearing it out.

    And you all know how expensive it is to repair/replace a tranny in these cars, anything you can do to not do that is good, IMHO.
     
  13. Bigprfed22

    Bigprfed22 New Member

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    :Thumbsup:


    Rev matching during up shift(letting the revs drop) and down shift(blipping the throttle) reduce if not eliminate synchro wear, your doing the synchros work with your foot:ihih:





     
  14. Rigby2011Cooper

    Rigby2011Cooper New Member

    Dec 21, 2010
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    Revisiting this thread with new information (participation encouraged!)

    Well, I've gotten a chance to really get out there and drive. I've taken my MINI to empty parking lots for hours at a time, I've driven to work everyday, took it on day trips, and just drove for the heck of it.

    It has been a little over 4 months since I purchased my new MINI, it has also been a little over 4 months since I began learning how to drive a manual tranny car. I can honestly say that I am 10,000% better than I was. I shift smoothly 85-90% of the time, which I think is pretty good, considering I am still technically 'wet behind the ears'.

    I have really been exploring the details of my MINI ... feeling it out, and tweaking my driving technique. Here are my findings (all comments are welcome! I'd like to continue to hone my driving skills, so throw out suggestions, and things to try ... I'm game):

    1.) When starting at the bottom, or in the middle of a hill, you have to slip the clutch a little bit more than on flat ground ... once started, you have to take the RPM up closer to 5000 RPM from first gear to second gear in order to get a smooth shift. This is probably because you need more momentum, because when you let off the gas on a hill for your shift, the incline will force the car to slow down faster than on a level surface.

    2.) I've tried all different kinds of shift points from first to second in various road conditions. These are my findings ... perhaps I just need to practice other techniques:

    A.) When on level ground and launching slowly and casually, you can immediately take the car into second gear at around 2000 RPM (10 MPH?). I get a smooth shift when I do this, but there isn't a lot of power behind the car at this point ... as I mentioned, this is really for a slow, casual start. Maybe you aren't even going to leave second gear because you're in a parking lot, or driving through a small development.

    B.) When I try to shift from first to second at around 3000-3500 RPM, I have problems with a chunky shift. The car bucks a bit, and I can definitely hear the pressure disks 'bouncing' on each other until they settle. I don't let the clutch up too fast, I do it smoothly and even hold the clutch in the friction zone for a split second before smoothly releasing it the rest of the way. So, I've been experimenting with a slightly higher RPM from first to second, and it is smooth as butter at 4000-4200 RPM. Normally, I'd be thrilled, and I'd say to myself "well, this particular car just isn't smooth at 300-3500 RPM", but this is the range I see everyone saying to shift at. This makes me believe that it must be my driving error causing the crappy shift at this range.

    I'd shift it at 4000-4200 RPM all the time, because this is where I get the best shift, but the engine is screaming at this point. Is this way too high of a shift point for first gear? Forgive my ignorance, but again ... I am still learning, and would like to grow into a good stick shift driver.

    C.) I am smooth in all other gears, second-third, third-fourth, fourth-fifth, etc...

    3.) Let's talk about clutch technique. Who lifts their leg completely, and who pushes the clutch in, and then just uses their ankle to release? I've found a combination to be nice. I suck at launching (from a stop into first) by letting up the clutch with my entire leg, so I'll roll off the clutch using my ankle. The rest of my shifts are done with the entire leg.

    -----------------

    Okay, at this point I really want some participation. Tell your stories, give out techniques, and if you have statistics ... lay 'em on us! This is a great opportunity to help the newbies (I'm included in this category) become better motorists.

    I am very very interested in shift points. Give us details ... RPM and MPH preferred.

    I am also interested in whether 4000-4200 RPM is way too high of a shift point for first-second. And I am doubly interested in whether or not all of you have similar findings, or if you have different experiences.

    My hope is that this section gets detailed enough that we can make it into a sticky post?? What is the likelihood of this happening?

    Take care! I look forward to reading all of your posts.
     
  15. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    All I can say is smooth left foot.

    You shouldn't have to rev that car that hard. You can but unless you are accelerating hard spinning the engine to 5k RPMs then slipping the clutch will wear out your clutch pre-maturely.

    Being that I didn't actually learn to drive stick until 2007 (after almost 10 years of driving) I can relate as a relatively new three pedal driver.

    I can drive without wearing hard on mine. You can too. :) You just have to be smooth and steady with the clutch. Don't ride the pedal and don't sit at lights with your foot on the pedal. You'll wear your throwout bearing pre-maturely.

    The advice you recieved earlier in this thread is very good. The biggest piece given is practice.

    Check this thread for more on hard use of clutch and how driving cleanly can save you $$$ down the road: http://www.motoringalliance.com/forums/cooper-s/6662-clutch-flywheel-wish-me-luck-2.html
     
  16. Michigan Mini

    Michigan Mini New Member

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    Rigby,

    First, i must say that I am impressed with your thoroughness. I do have a couple of observations.

    First, I find that an early shift from first to second is smooth but works against accelerating. As you said, in a parking lot where speed is not a factor, that technique works well. Second, I usually upshift to 2nd between 3500 & 4000. I have to moderate the throttle so as not to gain too much speed.

    One of the club members here has a saying, 'This car is a challenge to drive. It is not a challenge to drive it fast. It is a challenge to drive it not fast.'

    One thing I'd like to add. I have a technique that allows for a quicker shift. The clutch pedal is not needed to take the car out of gear. There only has to be a reduced load; whether it's throttle load or engine load. Since the clutch pedal is only needed to go into gear, I take the car out of gear slightly before pressing the clutch pedal. That puts the pedal at the bottom of it's throw at the moment I am shifting into the next gear.

    Others may have a different take on this. Even after driving a stick for the better part of 30 years, I have found this thread to be quite interesting. Thanks!

    Motor On!
    Chris
     
  17. Justa Jim

    Justa Jim Well-Known Member
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    It almost sounds like you are "thinking about it too hard". Just let it happen and you will get the feel. Also, not EVERY shift will be perfect every time. :frown2:

    Jim
     
  18. BoCRon

    BoCRon Active Member

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    I just recently switched from an R53 to an R56. Most people that drove El Kabong (my R53) had trouble with the clutch. After 5+ years I was accustomed to it and never even thought about it. My new R56, Mozart, has a very different clutch and feel. It it actually a much better and smoother feel, but I looked like a total newb for a week or 3 :D. I still occasionally forget and shift like I'm in El Kabong, very embarrassing. But I'm slowly becoming adjusted to the feel and sound of Mozart and am almost at the point of not having to think about it so much. My husband just got his Countryman about a week before I got Mozart and he was having a horrible time with Reverse and First. I told him to just quit thinking about it so much and suddenly it became a non-issue for him.
    You just need lots of seat time ;).
    Annette
     
  19. Jason Montague

    Jason Montague New Member
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    :cornut: Rigby.

    This morning I tried all of that tach/rpm watching while driving and found myself in dangerous situations because I wasn't watching my surroundings. I on occasion look at the tach but mostly 'drive by ear and feel'. I know the sound and feel of when I need to shift. Maybe it's because I first drove manual transmissions in 1968 and that I'm 59yo but, ear/feel/and long experience is how I do it. I don't guess that this will help but I mean well.:Thumbsup:

    Jason:popcorn::popcorn:
     
  20. Rigby2011Cooper

    Rigby2011Cooper New Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies! I know what you mean about dangerous situations. I should have been clearer ... I don't stare at the tach while driving, I probably would have flown of the road by now. :) I usually go to a nice spot I have found around here (pretty empty road for the most part) and practice techniques and test the differences between shift styles, etc. I bought a manual transmission vehicle in order to be more connected to my vehicle, and I'm having a blast! I am really getting into the mechanics of driving ... and I realize most of you keep saying mot to think, but I enjoy thinking about it. I'm not thinking about it because I don't feel comfortable just driving, I am thinking about it, because I like to perfect the skills that I have and driving a manual is certainly a skill worth perfecting.

    Reasons to perfect my technique:

    1.) Less money spend on clutches
    2.) Able to regulate my MPG by adjusting driving style
    3.) Smoother shifts make for happier passengers (ahem...less terrified they're going to die)
    4.) I'm anal! hehe
    5.) I'm totally geeking out with it :)

    Anyway, you are all correct in saying that it comes in time. You are also all correct in saying that it takes practice. I just like to share the ideas that I've learned, and also benefit from the many years of cumulative experience we all have.

    Take care!
     

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