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      09-28-2011, 03:29 PM   #1
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How can I improve my SHIFTING techniques?

I'm a new M3 owner and want to get better at getting the most out of this thing. I'm particularly wondering about going from 1st to 2nd. Whether I am launching from a stop, or just wanting to gradually ease in, I feel I'm not shifting efficiently.

Whenever I try and shift from 1st to 2nd, it gets blocked and has to stop and hang in neutral for a beat before I can fully move on to 2nd. There's a significant loss of momentum there, and I figure there must be something better I can do to improve that.

Even more, sometimes I can take off just wrong and my car does kind of a bouncy, jerky motion for a few seconds before smoothing out.
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      09-28-2011, 03:32 PM   #2
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      09-28-2011, 03:37 PM   #3
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Shifting from 1st to 2nd will always be hard. If you think about it, for smooth operation, you need to depress the clutch right when the revs drop to appropriate level for 2nd gear at that given road speed. The problem is, usually the gear ratios between 1st and 2nd are quite far apart, meaning you have to wait a little longer than any other gear change for 1st to 2nd, hence loosing momentum as you referred.
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      09-28-2011, 03:45 PM   #4
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one thing is that it will never feel like an automatic.
from 1-2 shift,
-i release throttle but not all the way (5% throttle) but dont take my foot off the pedal and clutch in simultaneously
-shift 1-2
-press the throttle more as the clutch engages (10-15% throttle) and it smooths out really well

the tach doesnt bounce or over rev. its a good perfect gear change pitch
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      09-28-2011, 03:52 PM   #5
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Hate to admit it as I have been driving stick for years....but I have trouble in this car getting the revs right when I'm just initiating 1st gear....so from a stop until the clutch is fully let out Im doing a crappy job.

Typically it seems I dont give it enough gas at the onset. Think I'm just used to my E46 or something...maybe I need a driving coach.
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      09-28-2011, 03:55 PM   #6
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Oh also, I have the power button on because the throttle sensitivity when normal isn't sensitive enough for me.
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      09-28-2011, 03:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abehwang View Post
one thing is that it will never feel like an automatic.
from 1-2 shift,
-i release throttle but not all the way (5% throttle) but dont take my foot off the pedal and clutch in simultaneously
-shift 1-2
-press the throttle more as the clutch engages (10-15% throttle) and it smooths out really well

the tach doesnt bounce or over rev. its a good perfect gear change pitch
this is good advice.

Most of the time people are off te clutch too fast and too slow to get on the throttle. I have this problem occassionally to.

Don't worry man, you will improve!
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      09-28-2011, 03:59 PM   #8
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Yes, the 1>2 shift takes time. That's because of the synchro resistance which as erhanh stated above is because first and second gear have very different gear ratios. Yes, that means you lose some momentum and time there but you definitely should NOT try to force that shift to complete faster if you value your synchros.

Fyi that 1>2 shift gets smoother and a bit quicker after about 2500 miles, but it'll always take longer than the other shifts. This car at least in 6MT form isn't a drag racer, but that's not really what this car is about anyway.
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      09-28-2011, 04:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jphughan View Post
Fyi that 1>2 shift gets smoother and a bit quicker after about 2500 miles, but it'll always take longer than the other shifts.
I think that's because higher the revs, more resistance there is so the revs fall faster, hence can depress the clutch sooner for the 2nd gear.
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      09-28-2011, 04:14 PM   #10
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you're not a novice, i think you just need to get use to it. E9X M3 is simply that much different from other cars even E46 M3.

I moved from an Evo 8 to the M3. My Evo's clutch grabbed really high and the throttle sensitivity was similar to the M3 with the "power" button on. I found out from the onset to drive smoothly, I needed to turn the power on and slip the clutch in sooner, and shift at slightly higher rpms from 1-2 than at 2.5k. Then finally after about 2 months, I realized the the power button really made the driving more jerky, so I turned it off, and now my driving is more smooth and I shift usually around 3k from 1-2.

As with 1-2 missed shift, sometimes I noticed the cross gate shift on the M3 is a little notchy. I've missed a few 1-2s but more 2-3s and 4-5s. I'm not sure there's a fix for it, it's a syncros/fluid thing, and I"m not going to mess around with any other fluid than OEM. My gears doesn't grind, and I almost never get a "clunk".
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      09-28-2011, 04:20 PM   #11
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Practice, practice, practice.

I have been driving a manual for 28 years and this is a tricky car to get right in first gear when you are trying to drive slowly. The bouncy, jerky thing happens when the car is cold and you try to drive very slowly. I usually just put the clutch in an let it out again slowly with a little more gas.
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      09-28-2011, 04:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erhanh View Post
I think that's because higher the revs, more resistance there is so the revs fall faster, hence can depress the clutch sooner for the 2nd gear.
I said the shifts gets easier after 2500 MILES, not 2500 RPM. The shift actually takes LONGER at higher revs because higher revs means the RPM difference of a given speed in 1st and 2nd gear increases as you go higher up the rev band, e.g. 15 MPH might only be a 750 RPM difference between 1st and 2nd, whereas 40 MPH would be ~2000 RPM difference in 1st gear compared to 2nd gear. Synchro resistance increases along with that discrepancy, as evidenced by the difference in resistance on a shift at 15 mph compared to a shift at redline.

Revs don't fall appreciably faster at higher RPMs; synchro resistance doesn't matter to the engine while the clutch is in because the tranny is disconnected from the engine at that time.
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Last edited by jphughan; 09-28-2011 at 04:38 PM.
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      09-28-2011, 04:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jphughan View Post
I said the shifts gets easier after 2500 MILES, not 2500 RPM. The shift actually takes LONGER at higher revs because that means there's a larger RPM discrepancy at a given speed between 1st and 2nd. Compare a shift at 15 mph to a shift at redline.
Thanks for the correction.
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      09-28-2011, 05:46 PM   #14
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Yep, add me to the tricky 1st pull away without practise. Sometimes I'm bouncy, sometimes the throttle isn't sensitive enough and I don't give it enough gas.

It's all down to learning the dynamics of any new transmission - part of the fun. It's only crappy when there are other people in the car
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Quote:
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Use the stick like u would a manual. If that doesn't work, put it in D mode and put both hands at 10 and 2. If that doesn't work, just sit on your right hand.
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      09-28-2011, 06:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VVG View Post
I have been driving a manual for 28 years and this is a tricky car to get right in first gear when you are trying to drive slowly.
Same here; driving manuals all my life, and this car is by far the trickiest. Not only in 1st, but 1>2, and clutch engagement in general. This is one car I wish it had something I typically hate: rev hang . It should have a hair more, since engine drops like a rock too quickly IMO. Leisure gear changes are tricky, which is exactly what this car likes and needs, but the above mentioned techniques help with smoothness. What I like about driving manual vehicles is you can ALWAYS be smoother, so I really enjoy the challenge of improving my shifting every time I drive a car or motorcycle. As a comment, I can drive a Porsche with perfect smoothness right off the bat, and I've never owned one. Perfect rev-matching downshifts, perfect upshifts, perfect clutch engagement, etc. I wouldn't trade my M3 for one, but as far as driving position, controls and shifting, it's the best car IMO. But everything else just don't do it for me (maybe the redesign will make the Cayman S more attractive, which is the only Porsche I'd buy). Take care gang.
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      09-28-2011, 06:56 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperJoust View Post
I'm a new M3 owner and want to get better at getting the most out of this thing. I'm particularly wondering about going from 1st to 2nd. Whether I am launching from a stop, or just wanting to gradually ease in, I feel I'm not shifting efficiently.

Whenever I try and shift from 1st to 2nd, it gets blocked and has to stop and hang in neutral for a beat before I can fully move on to 2nd. There's a significant loss of momentum there, and I figure there must be something better I can do to improve that.

Even more, sometimes I can take off just wrong and my car does kind of a bouncy, jerky motion for a few seconds before smoothing out.
Im a newbie to MT with the M3 as well. There were a handful of times i pulled off a smooth 1st to 2nd. I keep thinking it's me but i'm glad to hear seasoned veterans have similar experiences(even if it's less frequent for them).

Advices above are very helpful. I can't wait to try it. And i know i'm not going to master it overnight, but it gives me hope!

This is one of the most useful threads. Thanks OP!
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      09-28-2011, 08:02 PM   #17
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My 16 year old with his learner's permit does just fine on the 1-2 shift. Why? He's gentle with it. We could all take a lesson from that. It can still be quick, just be gentle.

This tranny does not like to be forced. My biggest, most embarrassing missed shift in this car was a 1-2 where I forced it.
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      09-28-2011, 08:23 PM   #18
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Good thread, although this topic has been touched on many times. Few things to add because many have already hit the main points. I find that the shifting definitely improves when the car reaches operating temperature. Also, I typically shift between 4 and 5k RPM. I find that helps the shift speed and rev matching.
I agree 1000% with the post about shifting a Porsche. Upshifting and downshifting instantly falls into place, which makes them an absolute joy to drive. In comparison, the tranny on the M3 is a POS. Sad, but true. If an M3 had a Porsche box, it would truly be nirvana.
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      09-28-2011, 08:34 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elp_jc View Post
Same here; driving manuals all my life, and this car is by far the trickiest. Not only in 1st, but 1>2, and clutch engagement in general. This is one car I wish it had something I typically hate: rev hang . It should have a hair more, since engine drops like a rock too quickly IMO. Leisure gear changes are tricky, which is exactly what this car likes and needs, but the above mentioned techniques help with smoothness. What I like about driving manual vehicles is you can ALWAYS be smoother, so I really enjoy the challenge of improving my shifting every time I drive a car or motorcycle. As a comment, I can drive a Porsche with perfect smoothness right off the bat, and I've never owned one. Perfect rev-matching downshifts, perfect upshifts, perfect clutch engagement, etc. I wouldn't trade my M3 for one, but as far as driving position, controls and shifting, it's the best car IMO. But everything else just don't do it for me (maybe the redesign will make the Cayman S more attractive, which is the only Porsche I'd buy). Take care gang.
It has to do with a high-revving (and fast revving) motor with a decent amount of torque. My previous Audi RS4 was also a little tricky to launch in first when driving slowly, although the clutch was stiffer and more springy, which helped. On the flip side, during fast starts and fast driving in general, the light clutch in the M3 makes "performance" shifting a breeze.

I also agree with another posters comment that the M3's shifter is so light that it can shifted with a very little effort. In fact, it responds much better this way than if you try to man-handle it into gear. When shifting fast, I just gently pull back with pressure from only one or two fingers and it slides like butter. Likewise, upshifts take only slight pressure from between my thumb and first finger.

This is what is so much fun and rewarding with a proper manual....when you learn to work with a particular cars mechanics and master them over time.
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      09-28-2011, 08:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdosu View Post
I realized the the power button really made the driving more jerky

.
This is so funny when power is on and say I hit a little hole or a bump,
the throttle is soooo sensitive that will transfer the vibration from my body to to my leg and the gas pedal!
and the car will kick back and forth from the variation of the RPM's
(say 1500--->2000>1500>2000> within fractions of a second..

has anyone experienced this when they are caught like that by surprise on a bump?
the throttle will go back and forth and I don't think this is so great for the engine..
so I am really carefull when I execute gas, I do it determined and 'surgically'
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      09-28-2011, 09:06 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhoggm3 View Post
My 16 year old with his learner's permit does just fine on the 1-2 shift. Why? He's gentle with it. We could all take a lesson from that. It can still be quick, just be gentle.

This tranny does not like to be forced. My biggest, most embarrassing missed shift in this car was a 1-2 where I forced it.
Lucky kid! My 16 year old has his license and is learning to drive manual, but not on the M3 (and it will be a loooong time before I let him, if ever.)!

I have been driving manual for years, also, and have never had a problem with the 1>2 shift.

However, on 1 occasion, when I was in a hurry, from a stop, I somehow managed to shift into REVERSE, instead of 1st! My manual tran Volvo, which I still drive off & on, has the R to the right and has a more pronounced "lock out", but still not an excuse...
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      09-28-2011, 09:06 PM   #22
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yeah, the only need I can think of for the power and power + feature is for 6MT cars on a track where it aids in a quick rev match downshift. As mentioned, the revs drop really quickly in the M3, so with power on, you can rev it with less pedal travel and therefore quicker and for a better match if you're new to the process.




Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_enthusiasm View Post
This is so funny when power is on and say I hit a little hole or a bump,
the throttle is soooo sensitive that will transfer the vibration from my body to to my leg and the gas pedal!
and the car will kick back and forth from the variation of the RPM's
(say 1500--->2000>1500>2000> within fractions of a second..

has anyone experienced this when they are caught like that by surprise on a bump?
the throttle will go back and forth and I don't think this is so great for the engine..
so I am really carefull when I execute gas, I do it determined and 'surgically'
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