Listen to sport riders talk about a corner on the track, or maybe their favorite road, and you’ll hear things like “I come in hard on the brakes, bang a couple of downshifts, and then bend it into the corner.” Let’s just focus on the word “bang” here. Riders are broken into a couple of different categories when it comes to downshifting technique. On opposite ends of the spectrum, you’ll find the ones who flex their ankle, precisely snicking each shift with the toe of their boot, and then there are the stompers who use their whole leg. Most of us are somewhere in between, neither babying nor beating our motorcycle’s transmission. No matter how strong modern transmissions are, they still contain parts that you can bend or break if you abuse them. That’s what Rottweiler Perfomance’s Transaver is supposed to prevent.
Rottweiler Performance is a Southern California-based aftermarket design and development company for products that owner Chris Parker says helps riders modify their bikes “beyond what the factory engineers have set for their target audience.” With access to a full machine shop and armed with a creative bent for making KTMs go fast, Parker looks for areas where he can design products that other companies have overlooked. How’s it working out for him? The KTM 790 Adventure R he built was piloted by rider Wes VanNieuwenhuise to a mere 9 seconds off the overall podium after the six days of the 2020 Sonora Rally. Think of that, an adventure bike scrapping it out with pure race bikes weighing significantly less than it. Oh, and it ran a Transaver, too.
In its most basic form, the Transaver is a gas strut, which replaces the stock shifter linkage and prevents you from over-stressing the transmission. Up to a certain pressure, the shifter linkage functions completely normally, and you’ll never know that it’s there. Exceed that pressure threshold, and the strut compresses, making your shift lever feel like a noodle, well before the pressure could damage your shift fork. (It’ll surprise you the first time it happens to you out on the road.)
Installing the Transaver is a 15- minute affair. After all, you’re just swapping out the bar on your shifter linkage and retorquing everything back in place. You’ll use one of the heim joints on the stock linkage, but Rottweiler supplies the appropriate spacer for that heim joint and the gear shift lever. In fact, there are versions of the kit for the stock footpeg, the PowerParts rearset, and the Woodcraft rearset.
This is the position my foot is in when the slack is taken up and the transmission is in first gear.
My time riding with the Transaver on my KTM 790 Duke has taught me a couple of things. First, I don’t downshift overly hard when riding on winding roads – even coming from a high-speed straight to a second gear corner. When the coronavirus lockdown is over, and trackdays resume, I’ll learn if I use the same technique on a closed course. Around town, however, I do subconsciously press down an extra time to make sure the transmission is in first gear. How do I know this if it is subconscious? About 40% of the time, I press hard enough to cause the Transaver to release, turning the shift lever into mush. So, I learned a little bit about how I ride.
I’m sure that this product will spark a debate over whether such an accessory is really necessary. In all my years of riding, I’ve never had a transmission fail. Still, I can see a place for the Transaver. To me, the natural market is off-road riders. The big, heavy boots they wear lack the feel of road-going gear. Plus the rider is frequently standing. All of these conspire to make stomping on the shifter a more common event.
For riders who know (or suspect) that they are downshift stompers, Rottweiler’s Transaver provides insurance that they can never damage their transmission in this way. Is it worth $70? Only you can say, but it is certainly cheaper than replacing a bent shift fork. Personally, I like having the Transaver in place, and the awareness it’s given me of my around-town shifting habits will probably make me a bit kinder to my future bikes, too. The Transaver is available for both the KTM 790 Duke and 790 Adventure (other applications are in the works) from Rottweiler Performance’s website.