VIDEO: WTF is double-clutching, and why do you do it?

So if there’s one question I get asked a lot about on my YouTube channel, it’s “WTF are you doing with the pedals?”

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(Yes, I’m ignoring all the other questions that are very rude, obviously)

Mostly, I have to say, I’m double-clutching. To your Grandad and maybe even (depending on your age and his trade) your Dad, double-clutching was the norm. You used the clutch once to get out of gear and ‘in’ to neutral. Then again to get out of neutral and into the next gear. It sounds a lot longer than it takes.

But Engineering Explained have gone ahead and made this great video which explains what it is:

As you can see, theoretically, we don’t even need to use this technique on modern cars, and I get a lot of flak for using it. But now it’s habit for me, and it doesn’t take me much longer than a normal shift. Take a look below:

I learnt to drive fast in shitty old Alfa Romeo 75s, with syncros made of Ferrero Roche wrappers. No double-declutch basically meant no downshift if your revs were over 4000rpm. That’s obviously not the case with my E30 or SEAT Leon, so why do I still use double-clutching on track?

  • Clutch plates are cheaper than syncros, and a good double-clutch downshift doesn’t even wake-up your syncros. Fourth gear syncro is like: “Did we just change gear?” and third-gear syncro is like “I didn’t feel anything, fourth, go back to sleep!”
  • You say you don’t need a double-declutch downshift in a modern car, right until you want to change into second gear super-quick for a ‘park-it-on-the-apex’ block and pass. Then the gear stick is stiff in your hands, it’s not going in as fast as it should… yeah, double-declutch, rev-match and she slides into gear quicker than you can let go of the knob. Oh yes.
  • Even on modern vans and small trucks it can rapidly speed up your downchanges as older and sturdier synchros take a long time to mesh up.
  • Basically if you don’t double clutch you have the whole mass of the engine forcing your syncros together, whereas with a double-clutch you only have the weight of the layshaft pushing into your syncros. So they last longer.

And not to forget:

  • I spent a long time learning it, Ron Simons used to try to hit me when I did it wrong, and now I enjoy doing it. That’s why I bought a ‘stick’ Leon Cupra 280 and not a DSG. Not because it’s better, but because I enjoy it. So screw you PDK, DSG etc…
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