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Ian looking for riders from the 50 who used to have tank shifters and suicide shifters. I am thinking of installing them on my Vintage. I ride with a side car (hack) so its less likely to fall over. I am looking for old school thought from riders who would of used them. All thoughts great!
 

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Hand shift bikes are very cool, in my opinion. I mean bikes that were built that way. When foot shift came on the scene, most folks couldn't get rid of the foot clutch quickly enough. There were several different kits available to convert older bikes. This is due to foot shift setups being better than hand shift in almost every way. Recently the "hipster" crowd has latched onto re-creating the past as a way to stand out and be "cool". This includes fake kickers and hand shifters, sometimes with a clutch release lever on the shifter handle. o_O

My opinion is that converting a late model bike to hand shift is trying to make it something that it isn't. Degrading the engineering and function won't really make it cooler, just harder to ride, less fun, and more unsafe. ;)

Before anyone feels the need to call me out as someone against modifications, let me point out that I've spent my life building custom bikes, everything from Bonneville land speed racers and cafe racers, to choppers and bobbers. I understand the fun of modifying and riding modified bikes. My response above is my opinion based on my experiences, and the OP asked for opinions. :p
 

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Howdy @ackhack ,
I wasn't riding in the 50's, but during my 15 years owning a custom shop I restored both Indians and H-D's with tank shifts and rocker clutches. I also built bobbers and choppers with jockey shifts and suicide clutches. I rode 'em all...

Stock H-D tank-shifters have shift-gates screwed to the tank the shift-lever moves in that, if properly adjusted it makes finding the gears easier. Indian didn't use a shift-gate, but there were only three gears anyway. Both used friction adjusted rocker clutches that would, again, if properly adjusted, hold the clutch in the freewheeling position if you took your foot off the pedal. I can ride them, but compared to a hand-clutch/foot-shift set-up I find them slow and cumbersome. I have buddies that swear they can shift gears just as fast and smoothly with the hand-shift, but I never could. And, I have been in situations where I preferred not to take a hand off the bars.

Jockey shifts come in two varieties: early stock tank-shift shifters that have the shift lever moving into a fixed position as each gear is selected, and converted rachet-type shifters where the shift lever functions as a slap-stick. These are usually coupled with a suicide stomper-pedal clutch. In this set-up you step on a spring-loaded pedal to disengage the clutch. It has simplicity in its favor; the down-side is that the clutch is disengaged only so long as you are pressing on it. If you have to take your foot off the pedal for any reason (say, because you're falling over to that side) the idling engine may well launch you into traffic. I have never been a big fan of this set-up, although, if you're going to run it, a sidecar rig would be ideal.

I have set up a couple of bikes with hand-shifters where I have mounted a hand-clutch lever on the shift-lever so that you could shift and clutch with one hand. Both of these were for fellows who were missing or did not have the use of their left leg.

I know these shift set-ups are very stylish right now, but I wouldn't trade a good hand clutch/foot-shift for one. It's entirely doable though.

Let's talk about "mousetrap" clutch boosters next!
--- Randall
 

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Ian looking for riders from the 50 who used to have tank shifters and suicide shifters. I am thinking of installing them on my Vintage. I ride with a side car (hack) so its less likely to fall over. I am looking for old school thought from riders who would of used them. All thoughts great!
I have one on my 99 Chief and ride her daily in Los Angeles. I grew up riding a rocker shifter. My Chief is a suicide clutch meaning I have to keep my foot down on the clutch. They definitely take more concentration to ride and handle. For someone not used to it, it does take practice that shouldn't be done on the streets. Your panic brake habits have to change. As for danger, maybe. Less fun, nope. More fun for me. Harder to ride, not after you learn to ride it correctly. Then again, I also have an old English bike with the brake and shifter on the opposite sides and the shift pattern reversed of American bikes and that's not a big deal to ride either. It's all about situational awareness and your ability to handle your machine.
 

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Please add an open gear drive primary to your list...and drum brakes, oil soaked drum brakes. Spool front hub with no brakes too.
It would be perfect if you could tie it all together under a 2 gallon diamond prism tank with a lace paint job and a 6 foot tall idiot stick with a hand grenade at the top of it.....rigid frame struts.......24 over girder......gawd, I got to quit before I force a flashback.
 

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Please add an open gear drive primary to your list...and drum brakes, oil soaked drum brakes. Spool front hub with no brakes too.
It would be perfect if you could tie it all together under a 2 gallon diamond prism tank with a lace paint job and a 6 foot tall idiot stick with a hand grenade at the top of it.....rigid frame struts.......24 over girder......gawd, I got to quit before I force a flashback.
Seriously, have you been to my house before? I had a bike in the garage a couple of years ago, doing some repairs for a friend, that almost perfectly matches your description. (springer instead of girder and no grenade) Test rode it a few times too, :D. It certainly isn't boring riding one of those.
 
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