False neutrals happen, ideally they shouldn’t and the more experienced you are the less frequently they will occur. Regardless if they should or shouldn’t happen, you should be prepared to deal with them, it’s a good skill to have and it’s actually pretty easy too.
For those that don’t know, a false natural is an incomplete gear change where the gearbox is out of one gear but not properly in the next. The ones that cause problems which can lead to a crash are the ones on downshift. Why?
· Lack of engine braking, bike doesn’t slow down as much as usual
· Catches the rider off guard, the rider freezes mentally and doesn’t focus on riding out of the situation
· Bike can jump back into gear suddenly without warning leading to rear wheel lock up.
While some of these issues may sound intimidating, there is no need for a false neutral to lead to a crash.
So what are the skills that will avoid a crash?
· Very first thing, pull in the clutch
· Lift your vision and focus
· Don’t worry about trying to stay on normal line, let the bike run wide
· You have more track than you think, just lift your vision and focus
· Not trying to stay on line = less lean angle = more brake can be applied
· Focus on just slowing down more than usual using the brakes and using as much track as you need, and the run off if needed and available.
· As you are starting to feel under control, click the gear properly then let the clutch out slowly and gradually.
The key is to accept that you’ve made a mistake. Rather than try keep the lap or position, just accept it an recover control of the bike. That’s all that matters.
The more and more experienced you become, the less time you will lose. Once you are a riding samurai you won’t even lose a position 😊
You can also PRACTICE. Yep when safe to do so on a ride day with no one behind you, in a corner with plenty of run of, why not practice going into the corner with the clutch all the way in? This is will get you used to no engine brake. More you practice this, the less you will freak out when it happens in the heat of battle.
Another great tip, cover your clutch on corner entry, even if you have an auto blipper. The clutch is a really important control to master! Please don’t neglect it.
So what are the main causes that lead to false neutrals?
· The number 1 cause, a gear lever not set properly, normally too high if in race shift, or too low in road shift
· Rider overloading themselves in braking zone.
· Not blipping the throttle on downshift.
· Faulty shift mechanisms or gearbox but this is much rarer than you think.
Obviously try to avoid false neutrals, but practice and be prepared for them. There is no need for a crash caused by a false natural.