Have you ever noticed that unlike on street bikes, the MotoGP riders switch gears in the opposite direction? What are the reasons behind this and could it help you as well?
If you have no clue what I’m talking about, see the recordings of the latest MotoGP race in Malaysia that we also covered today. You’ll see the riders push the lever down to make the bike upshift and pull the shift lever up to downshift. Or to be more exact gear 1 is up, then 2, 3, 4, etc. are down. To go from gear 2 -> 1 you shift up and to go from 1 -> 2 you shift down.
Even though the video below is a bit dated with the introduction of the seamless shift gearboxes you can still see the way GP shifter works.
It might seem like a very weird choice, especially if you’re used to the regular shifts, but after a short explanations you’ll see it is literally the only way they can get the most out of their bikes. To be fair, the last MotoGP rider to use street shift was Chris Vermeulen who left the series in 2009.
Imagine yourself in a fast lefthander turn, leaning over 65 degrees. You’re just past the apex and in this moment you start applying throttle and need to upshift. So try to imagine getting your foot under the shift pedal. There is literally no room to wedge your foot between the pedal and the ground.
It is very rare for the riders to have to down shift in the middle of the corner, if that happens they most likely fubared the entry into the turn and will need to level up to keep themselves on two wheels. On the other hand, it is far more common to upshift as you get past the apex and accelerate out of the turn.
Downshifts are also less likely to mess up the racing lines as they are already applying the brakes and is therefore easier to correct the mistake in comparison with a missed upshift, where the guy behind you will literally obliterate you if not hit you straight in the back of the bike.
It is also worth noting it’s not used just in MotoGP, practically every racing series and track day riders have switched the shift pattern. A lot of bikes also enable you to quickly switch the pattern around by switching the linkage around. Check out yours and see if it could help you get that quick upshift out of the corner!