Accurately named manufacturer

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Accurately named manufacturer

Post by jvan1954 » Wed Jan 06, 2021 9:47 am

OK, I'm pretty out of touch so maybe I'm the last to see this. An add just popped up for a kit to convert your bike to a "jockey" (pronounced sue-eh-side) shift. As crazy as that is the best part by far is the manufacturers name, WIDOW MAKER INDUSTRIES. Fellas you cannot make this $#!+ up.
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Re: Accurately named manufacturer

Post by Oko » Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:09 am

Great name, IMHO. I put Ural of New England's tank shifter for reverse and 2WD on mine both for ease in shifting and the tank shifter look. I always wanted one.
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Re: Accurately named manufacturer

Post by chaos2 » Wed Jan 06, 2021 11:50 am

A friend of mine has a collection of vintage (1920-1960) Indians and Harleys with mind bending variations in levers for shifting and brakes. He rides all of them and I have no idea how can jump from one bike to another and not kill himself. I get screwed up trying to use the blinkers on my K bike after riding the Ural :D
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Re: Accurately named manufacturer

Post by rd.king » Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:40 pm

This makes me laugh every time I hear it.
There is no such thing as a suicide shift this is a misnomer perpetuated by rubs and posers and TV personalities.
The motorcycle term is suicide clutch and refers to an old style Indian moco foot clutch
or a poorly adjust Harley rocker foot clutch.
There's nothing inherently dangerous about hand shifting a bike.
The danger is when you at a red light and the bike is idling in gear, your foot slips of the clutch peddle and it springs up
and launches you into oncoming traffic hence suicide clutch.
Oh and a jockey shift is a gear lever attached directly to the top of the transmission.
It is generally located on the left side of the bike below the seat.
When the rider shifts gears he reaches down and back to do so and resembles a jockey whipping his horse.
OK now that I've gotten that of my chest.
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Re: Accurately named manufacturer

Post by Lmo » Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:36 pm

There's nothing inherently dangerous about hand shifting a bike.
The danger is when you at a red light and the bike is idling in gear, your foot slips of the clutch peddle and it springs up
and launches you into oncoming traffic hence suicide clutch.
The OEM foot pedal set up on the HD had an over-center spring and a friction disk arrangement that allowed you to tighten the mechanism so it would stay 'locked'; this allowed you to hold the bike on a hill while stopped. Many folks either didn't replace the friction pad, or didn't use the OEM set up.

My old '47FL

Not my old '47FL; but the clutch/shifter arrangement is more clearly visible.
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Re: Accurately named manufacturer

Post by Snakeoil » Wed Jan 06, 2021 4:58 pm

Yup, foot clutch is the "suicide" feature and only if improperly adjusted as others have mentioned or if modified to be like the stock foot clutch on an Indian Four. On a Four, the clutch works exactly like it does in a car. So if your foot slips off the clutch, the bike is leaving, with or without you.

I'm not old enough to have been around when the term started. I'm only 68. But I suspect that a partial contributor is the totally opposite design between a Harley and Indian rocker clutch. On a Harley, it is toe to go, meaning you rock the pedal forward with your toe to engage the clutch. Rock it back to disengage. On and Indian, it is heel to go. So, imagine a bunch of guys coming out of a bar with a half a load on and the HD rider asks the Indian rider if he wants to switch bikes for the ride home. Forget that there is about a 99% chance that the Indian will have the throttle on the left and spark on the right, also reverse of HD (although both Indian and HD had the ability to swap the sides). I did know a few guys that were friends of my Dad's when I was a kid and listened to the stories about HD guys wrecking Indians and vice versa. One guy, Eddie said every time he let an HD rider ride his Indian, it would get crashed. Made me wonder how many times it had to happen before Eddie would have wised up. But given that most of these guys were hard core drinkers when they were young, I suspect a lifetime would not have been enough time.

I have Brits with right hand shifter, other bikes with left. I have a HD with a toe to go foot clutch and and Indian Four with a true suicide, spring loaded foot clutch. When your arse hits the saddle, there must be a micro switch that is tripped because you immediately adjust. The only caveat is if you are daydreaming as you come up to a light or stop sight, you might downshift by accident if you rode an opposite side foot shift bike recently.
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Re: Accurately named manufacturer

Post by tgtrotter » Wed Jan 06, 2021 9:21 pm

I thought the clutch only became " a suicide clutch " in combination when the front brake was eliminated. My experience is in 1979 with a couple of 1964 FLH Harley Panheads two guys from "the block" mildly extended and raked, chopped fenders and customized parts galore. Hard tail frame, paint , chrome , leather etc. Identical, but one Root Beer Brown Metal Flake Gloss, the other Turquoise Metal Flake Gloss.

Back to the "suicide". Beer keg Tap handle shifter on the left side under your thigh. Foot clutch on the left, a foot brake on the right. NO front brake. No bar levers. Right hand throttle.

You're stopped completely at a light. BOTH feet on the ground. Light green. You lift up your left leg push down the clutch, engage first gear with your left hand and throtlle up while releasing the clutch with your leftfoot and lifting your right foot off the ground and your off. Easy peasy. Your rolling after that so shifts are just foot clutch.

BUT now you're stopped at a light on a hill. Uphill worse/ downhill better. SINCE you only have one brake your right foot is holding the bike and your left is balancing it, or you got both feet on the ground and you've braced your legs forwards or backwards to hold the bike from rolling but let's stick with right leg on brake/ left foot on ground. Light turns green. You QUICKLY lift left foot over to clutch, push down , hand slap into gear and throttle up and release clutch. VERY QUICKLY, if you hadn't dropped your right foot to hold the bike, there will still be a pause where your right leg has the grunt of the whole bike balanced and chocked. Not a feat for the weak knee'd. There's tricks to this by throwing your weight forward on an uphill or backwards and letting it roll enough on a downhill. That is why uphill is worse. Your fighting rolling backwards. AND through all of this you have zero front hand brake to hold the bike on a hill with rear brake released. Hence Suicide.

San Francisco, Oakland, LA, Portland. Seattle all hilly cities. I'd be curious to know where suicide started. Also it goes to support bikers rolling to lights very slowly and not to put feet down. Cyclist excluded. I recall Jeff and Luis also put very low creeper gear in their 4spd. And I have heard since , 1978 what Lew (LMO) has said about the friction brake, these bikes weren't OEM and had no friction lock Lew. was that friction lock on the brake pedal Right ? . If so its a quicker sequence of balancing. Still no front brake eitherHence "suicide" clutch aka shifter. If this set-up did not have a hand jockey shifter but had a foot shifter either side, It would be beyond suicide. Impossible.

How do I know this ? We were all from the block. I'm always the youngest. Our mutual friend from the block, Danny borrowed Jeff's bike and my house for an afternoon "rendezvous ". He left the bike at my house. I came home from work and said "cool". I found the kill switch and off I went. ( yeah I appropriated it momentarily ) Rode it around the Foothills 15 mins like it was stolen. Eventually hit that one hill and escaped alive. So so glad I listened to all the talk about how to ride, what was unique, etc when Jeff and Luis pulled up on them. These bikes were really a badass wet dream. Even back then. Danny Jeff sold his for $3500.00. Luis lost his to cocaine.

So does no front brake come into play with suicide clutch ?
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Re: Accurately named manufacturer

Post by Geno89074 » Thu Jan 07, 2021 1:30 am

My 1st street bike was a 1966 xlch 900 sportster
no front fender or brake
no gauges, turn signals or battery-magneto ran headlight, brake/tail light
gear shift on the right side
rear drum brake and 6" over springer front is a wonder I survived but i loved every minute of riding it as a 17 year old...
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