As I mentioned in the comments in my previous post, I love to get people interested in what it's like to ride the R52. Most are quite intimidated, because the controls are so foreign to what a modern rider is used to. Even the clutch and front brake levers, which are in their normal places, pivot the wrong way.
Here's a picture of the most important rider controls:
As mentioned, you have the clutch and front brake in the usual places, but the levers pivot from the outside. This means you have to get used to reaching for them with your index fingers, and I do mean reach.
There are three thumblevers on the handlebars: the spark timing on the left and the choke and throttle ganged together on the right. There's no twist grip, and I find that I must ride with the palms of my hands against the grips so I can manipulate these levers with my thumbs.
This is a hand shift bike with a three speed transmission, and the shift lever is on the right; the same side as the throttle lever. This can complicate downshifting somewhat.
Finally, we have the rear brake, which must be modulated with your right heel. Just to use it, you have to learn to lift your foot and put it down in the right spot to hit the lever with your heel.
Besides these, there's the swing-out kickstarter on the left side, the engine kill button on the left handlebar by the spark lever, and the combination horn button and mechanical high/low beam lever on the right handlebar. There is no key of any sort, the bike is always ready to ride. The headlight and taillight are operated by a big knob on the back of the headlight shell.
Here's a demonstration of how to start the bike:
Actually, that misses a couple things right at the start. First, the petcock must be opened, then the tickler on the carb must be held down until some gas overflows; this is usually about a 15 count. The spark must be fully retarded, the choke opened about 1/3 and the gas opened about 1/2. When the engine fires, the spark needs to be advanced some, the choke opened fully and the gas closed to the stop for idling. Of course, this only applies when the engine is cold.
To first get going, you have to pull the clutch lever and pull the shift lever up into first; if it won't go in, the bike needs to be rolled forward or backward slightly until it does go in. Then some gas is given with the throttle lever and the spark is advanced gradually as the clutch is released and the engine speeds up.
When it's time to shift into 2nd, it really gets busy. You have to understand that, while 1st and 3rd gears on the transmission output shaft are, like any modern motorcycle, always in mesh with their counterparts, the two gears that mesh for 2nd gear are not. This leaves the rider in the position of trying to get them spinning at the same speed so they won't grind badly when they are meshed. The gear on the output shaftwill be turning at a speed relative to the rear wheel, but its counterpart will be spinning at the engine speed, or not at all if the clutch is pulled. This is where double clutching comes in.
First, the clutch has to be pulled and the transmission shifted into neutral, and the throttle lever pushed closed to let the engine begin to fall to idle. At this moment, there are three independent moving parts that need to be synchronized: the engine and clutch, the input shaft, and the output shaft, final drive and rear tire. The way to do that is to let the clutch out, which connects the first two items together to match their speed and then finish the shift by clutching and shifting up (pushing down on the shift lever) into second. Now it is time to open the throttle a bit while releasing the clutch lever.
The upshift into 3rd isn't as bad, because 3rd (and 1st) are always in mesh. So clutch, close the throttle, push the shift lever all the way down, give it some gas and release the clutch.
Downshifting to 2nd is the most work. There's a false neutral position on the shift lever between 2nd and 3rd that needs to be found (no detent for it that you can feel). Once shifted into this neutral and releasing the clutch, the rider must move his right hand from the shifter up to the throttle, "blip" the throttle to bring up the engine and input shaft speed, before returning to the shifter, declutching and making the shift into 2nd. Watch as I do it here: