A fellow rider in an other forum I belong to was experiencing clutch cable problems while out on a trip. I had, several times in the past, preached to the riders in that forum that they should attempt to familiarize themselves with riding their bike without using the clutch. Generally, most people know they can upshift without the clutch, few people know that it is possible to downshift as well...and even fewer people realize that you can get your bike going from a dead stop, WITHOUT the clutch and WITHOUT grinding any gears. After explaining and explaining and explaining, I decided to make an impromptu video. In this video, I'm using a bike that will not start unless the neutral light is on, with the Goldwings, this is not an issue because you can pull the clutch in any gear and the starter will crank. But for the sake of clarity, I'll start anew:
Please note that for this to work, your CLUTCH must be functioning, this is a tutorial on how to move along when your clutch cable, hydraulic line, master cylinder, or slave cylinder has failed and left you without the use of your clutch. This is a handy ability that all bikers should at least try, perhaps even do it regularly (well, the shifting anyway.)
Consider this, you're out on an adventure ride, 100's of miles from home, perhaps even 100's of miles from the nearest town. Your clutch system fails. You now have a coupla options. Hope you have reception on your cellphone AND that you can contact someone to come pick you and your bike up, sit and wait for them....OR, ride your bike on to your destination, or back home, or to a shop. Take your pick, I will tell you that you can ride your bike, even from a dead stop, shifting up and down through all the gears, without so much as a single grind.
Procedure: Ensure the bike's engine is well warmed up, to the point where once it's shut off, it starts without effort. If your bike will crank regardless of the neutral light being on, put it in 1st and hit the start button, the bike will chug along on the starter motor until the engine is fired up and you'll ride along almost as normal. If the bike doesn't start when the neutral light is off, but will if you have the clutch disengaged, then put the bike in 1st, pull the lever all the way in (to activate its neutral safety switch,) and hit the start button...at this point, the bike will chug along on the starter until the engine fires up and you can ride on down the road.
Upshifting is easy, ride as normal and when it's time to shift, let off the throttle and toe the shifter up to the next gear. Ease back into the throttle and you'll have a smooth upshift with zero grinding. Downshifting may take some practice, but you'll want to get proficient with it. Off the throttle, slowing down, rest your foot on the shifter, slight downward pressure will suffice. As the engine RPM and the tranny's synchronizers' RPM approach a happy medium, the shifter will give way under your foot and the transmission will slip right into the next lower gear, without any grinding. If you burp the throttle on your way down through the gears, you'll be able to do this quicker.
Stopping: Should you find yourself in a traffic congestion that will require you to stop, like a red light over which you have no control, try slowing down and finding your way into 1st again. In this gear, at idle, the bike can literally come to a crawl. However, at some point, it is likely that you will have to stop...when that time comes, get the bike into NEUTRAL and leave it running. This will help keep you from draining the battery off from a lot of cranking of the starter motor. When the congestion has cleared and it's about time for you to go again (red light turns green,) turn the bike off, put it in 1st, start her up and ride on down the road.
There are some bikes that absolutely will not start unless the neutral light is on. This is not easily overcome when you're out in the middle of nowhere, but it is easily skirted. In this case, start the bike up, in neutral obviously. When you're ready to ride, simply walk the bike forward. It doesn't take much to get the pace up to the aforementioned crawl speed. At this point, step on the shifter and she'll go right into gear without any grinding, and away you go.
Here's a video I made using a smaller motorcycle...I've done this on my 1500 Goldwing, but I'm awful short and was trying to make an instructional video, not a comedy, so I used a much smaller bike: