RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
Shifting smoothly between gears might be one of the more tricky things of motorcycling. It sound like such an easy thing to do. And it rather is. Still it’s a strange thing. Beside technique, one has two possible shifting patterns. GP shift vs Road shift. What’s better?
Is there a ‘better’ choice between those two? Or is it mostly a matter of preference? Why would you choose for GP sift, which is also called race shift. We’ll tell you all about it.
In case you are not familiar with the two yet, let us explain what the different shift patterns mean and how they differ. ‘Road shift’ is the normal shifting pattern that is found on most road legal motorcycles. At least, the pattern with which it comes from the factory. This means you move the shifting lever down one time to put it in first gear. To get the bike into higher gears like second gear, third, fourth and so one, you move the shifting lever upwards.
‘GP shift’ (also called race shift) has a reversed shifting pattern. To put a bike which has the GP shifting pattern into first gear, you move the shifting lever up. To put in into higher gears like second gear, third gear etcetera, you move the shifting lever down.
So the difference is in the direction of shifting. When you reverse the shifting pattern into GP shift, this should not affect a blipper or quick shifter, if your bike has one. This is often installed in the shaft of the rear set that’s connected with the shift lever, but the quickshifter or blipper itself is not responsible for the shifting pattern.
Do you want the reversed shifting pattern? Then it depends on your bike whether it is an easy thing to do so or not. Or better said; it depends on the rear set it has. On one bike, like a Honda CB-1, it is quite easy to switch from Road shift to GP shift. With other bikes, like the Aprilia RSV4, it’s not possible with the standard rear set without changing the shift lever for a different one.
It all has to do with the shaft (that often contains the quick shifter) and how it pulls or pushes to get the bike into different gears.
Changing the shift pattern to reversed was an easy job on my Suzuki GSX-R 750 with a PP Tuning rear set. You just had to turn the shifter joint with 180 degrees, and voila. Your shifting pattern went from Road shift to GP shift.
Sorry for the poor quality photo! Didn’t have a better one of the Suzuki with the PP tuning rear set that allows you to change the shifting pattern real quick.
When I wanted to do the same with my Aprilia RSV4, it turned out to be an impossible job with the standard rear set. Which still amazes me. The RSV4 is a race bike in every fiber of its existence. But I had to buy a different shift lever to be able to change the shifting pattern.
On one hand, I’m surprised a racing brand like Aprilia doesn’t take this in account when creating the standard rear set. On the other hand, it’s a fantastic upsell of technical accessories of course. Smart marketing move..
The upper shifting lever is aftermarket, which enables the GP shift pattern. The lower one is the OEM one you get when you buy the RSV4 from the factory. Do you notice the difference between the two levers?
Do you want the reversed shifting pattern? Then start with some research online to find out whether it is an easy job or not. Or ask your local garage. They will be able to tell you straight away.
I can hear you thinking “Why choose for the race shift pattern?” The GP shifting pattern is used a lot by racers. This also explains the name GP shift, which finds its roots in MotoGP. The reversed shifting pattern minimizes risks and provides more efficiency when upshifting when leaning into a turn.
Okay, let’s explain that. Imagine; you are riding a motorcycle on track. That means sporty riding and greater lean angles than we often encounter on the roads.
If you have to move your foot beneath the shifting lever to push the lever upwards to upshift, you can hit the tarmac with your foot. Which can cause nasty friction. It’s also a bit of a hassle. And that means it costs time and focus. A quick downwards tap on the leaver to upshift just costs less time and effort.
The GP shifting pattern is also more convenient when you lean into a long right-hander. We’re going to the right now, so you don’t have to squeeze your foot between the tarmac and the lever to shift gears. So why would it be more efficient?
Let us tell you why. When this right-hander is a long turn with a double apex, you might want to short-shift before the second apex to create more drive on the exit of the turn. So you upshift earlier than you normally would. In this case, you just have to tap the lever down real quick to shift gears. Again, it’s all about less effort and therefore riding more efficient. You could use that effort to lean off that bike as much as you can.
Do you plan to ride on track? Then the reversed shifting pattern definitely comes in handy. Do you already ride on track and are you curious if it really makes such a difference? Then my answer would be; definitely. Upshifting will take less effort. Which is just very pleasant.
The current rearset on my Aprilia is one of Bonamici. Again, this one only allows the GP shifting pattern.
If the reversed shifting pattern is so ideal, then why would one choose for the normal Road shifting pattern? That’s quite simple actually; you’d choose the normal pattern if you don’t find it such a hassle to shift gears normally.
Let’s add some more thought to that. The normal Road shift pattern is a pleasant way of shirting gears on many road bikes. It won’t be an easy thing to reverse the pattern on a chopper, for instance. So you normally only see the reversed pattern on sport bikes and naked bikes.
Do you ride a naked or sport bike and do you not mind the normal shifting pattern at all? Then there really is no reason to change it. And it all comes down to preference.
Do you have the luxury to own multiple motorcycles? And do they all have the normal Road shift pattern? Then it won’t do you any good to change the pattern on one of the bikes. You’d have to switch between patterns every time you get onto another bike, which just makes it messy and easy to make a mistake.
Do you have the feeling shifting gears could me more efficient? Then you could try the reversed GP shift pattern. Personally, I think it feels way more natural. Do you own a track bike and a road bike? And do you plan on putting the track bike on the GP shift pattern and leave the road bike on the Road shift pattern? Then be mindful about it every time you switch rides.
Is there a better choice between the two options? Eventually, it all comes down to personal preference. I know track riders who ride real fast and shift with the normal shifting pattern. And I know road riders who use the GP shift pattern on their road bikes, just because it feels more logical to them.
It won’t be a surprise that most racers ride with the GP shift pattern. It just costs less time and effort to upshift. The downshifting might take a bit more effort. But that’s something that happens during heavy braking, which is something that takes effort anyway. So it becomes more efficient.
Do you often ride on different bikes? Or other peoples bikes? On the roads, most bikes have the normal Road shifting pattern. So it won’t do much good to reverse the pattern of your own bike. You’d easily make mistakes while shifting (no pun intended) between bikes and patterns. Unless taking the hard road is your thing. Then go head, lovely.
Do you think “What’s all that fuzz about. The normal shifting pattern isn’t that much of a hassle anyway”? Then leave it be. We’d fully agree.