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Discussion Starter #1
I am teaching an all automatic person (like the GoGo's song) to drive 5spd using the 5spd Insight, and it seems like it is maybe harder than it should be.

I wonder, perhaps I am a sucky teacher?

On the other hand, I also wonder if the tall gearing and wee little 3 cylinders add up to make it harder to learn smooth starts in an Insight vs. some other manual transmission vehicle.

Has anyone else trained someone for the first time with the Insight as the trainer?

figgy

p.s. I did weld on training wheels so we won't tip over. Pics to follow!
 

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Well 1st off, the starts might be a bit harder because of the 3 cylinders. You really have to rev it up to 2k rpm and slowly let off on the clutch (not too easy for a learner...I still remember those days :idea: ). Shifting, on the other hand, should be much easier since the Insight had no torque. This means you can almost completely let off on the clutch before you give it gas. It would buck like crazy if I did that in my MINI. It takes practice, as you know, and if you learn on an Insight, you should be fine with any other car (albeit with a few changes in throttle and clutch position). Maybe you can just work on clutch engaugement for a while - keep it in 1st and have the student slowly lift the clutch to the point that it just begins to catch and repeat. This will let them learn exactly when everything starts happening. Just give it time...in a little while, your student will be able to launch without even using the assist.

One thing to watch out for on the Insight is that the syncros on the gearbox don't seem to be as good as other cars. The gears will grind if you shift too fast. Make sure they shift smooth and not just throwing it into the next gear. Hope that helps.
 

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I've been teaching various friends and family to drive stick for a while and I recently taught my girlfriend on the Insight. I didn't notice much of a difference in her performance in the Insight then anyone else I taught in my old Honda Accord.

A trick I picked up while teaching is to emphasize finding the "sweet spot" when getting the car moving from a standstill. What I do is tell my student to hold the gas as best he/she can and slowly lift the clutch. The instant the smallest amount of accleration is felt, hold the clutch exactly where it is. That's the sweet spot. The car will slowly begin to accelerate for a few seconds (all while holding the clutch at the sweet spot). When the speed has been brought up to a reasonable level, the student should slowly lift the clutch up the rest of the way. If you really emphasize holding the clutch where it is when the car first starts rolling, it tends to work very well for first-timers. Of course, you should let them know that once they become more profficent, they won't need to do everything in slow-motion.
 

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I tried teaching my fiance a few months back. The sweet spot was a bit difficult for her to find at first. Frankly, it took me a few weeks to get it just right myself. It was nice to have the taller gears though. Much more forgiving for a beginner. I found that the clutch does require quite a bit more force than some I've had in the past, but it doesn't need to be pushed down 100% to engage like my dad's old Plymouth Sundance.

I think it's a good idea to learn on a more difficult tranny. That way you learn what to feel for on easier ones.
 

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You didn't use...

...the see-saw analogy, did you? I once taught someone how to drive a manual transmission but had to get her away from that.

I wore out a clutch learning to shift in rush hour Boston traffic in high school; although my driver's ed car was a stick.

I bet the Insight quietness doesn't help.
 

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I think you hit on something regarding the quietness of the engine. I've been driving manual forever and that was probably the hardest thing to get used to as I used to regulate my speed and determine which gear I was in from the sound of the engine!

I remember the cars piling up behind me as I tried and failled to make a smooth start under the watchful eye of my Dad. (3 speed, no horsepower, no synchro rings! graaaatt-graaaaaatt-clunk-erp, erp, erp) :oops: :(
 

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Another good tip for learning the sweetspot and pedal control is have the student drive without their shoes on. Socks or thin house slippers give fantastic feed back to the feet that shoes can't. Have them use their big toe for applying gas to understand throttle control.

Also, with the car off and parked, have the student press on the pedals with their hands while knealing outside of the car. Have them test the clutch, brake and gas pedals separately to get a mental picture of their location and how they feel. This gives them a good mental snap shot of what their feet should do.
 

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Keep in mind that it is actually illegal to drive without shoes in some states. :-D

I think stop-and-gos in parking lots is a good way to practice. Once they're comfortable with that, have them practice shifting while turning the car.

It just occurred to me that it must be weird to start up in first again after the idle stop. The engine kicks back in as soon as you touch the gas, right?
 

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Nah, it starts up as soon as you shift into 1st.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Doh! It should be obvious that one should be able to feel the pedals, but I completely forgot this point! I don't even know what footwear the student pilot is using! I know when I switched from some thin sandals to thick treaded hiking sandals, for a while I felt like a new driver flogging around not knowing where anything was (kind of).

The point of NOT emphasing starting right away, but just holding and smoothly gliding gradually to speed sounds good for getting them to feel the process. I keep thinking of teaching to drive on the roads (having to start in traffic) rather than just learning the zen part of driving first.
 

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You started your student off first time on a road with traffic?! You are far far braver than I, my friend. :D Finding a nice big open parking lot is probably the best way to build up the initial confidence your student will need. Especially for that first time he/she looks in the rearview mirror and sees the fender of a Mack truck 2-inches from the back bumper. And as everyone remembers from learning to drive stick, the steeper the hill you stopped at the top of, the closer the cars will pull up behind you.
 

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Yea, it was double trouble for me because I learned how to drive on a stick; not learned to drive on an autobox then stick. Find a parking lot and practice. Then go onto familiar but mostly deserted backroads. Once their comfortrable with that, start going on main roads and highways.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
We started in the nearby school parking lot, and even though it's on a small hill things were great at first. I figured a hillside parking lot would sort the wheat from the chaff right away, and it sure is conviently located. We did manage to buck like a fresh roped wild mustang, but that soon subsided to quick, firm starts with no clutch burning at all the first day. I figured we were done at the end of the first lesson. Whoops.

Then we went to roads with cars and things became more complicated. It's hard to find deserted backroads up here as every road has 1000 cars per mile except at night when there are instead 30 cop cars per mile and it is kind of dark to see well in the cockpit. Maybe I exaggerate by a factor of 100 for safety in my estimates to make sure I don't come in too low. It's tough because if you are in a small neighborhood where there is low traffic and space, you can oops end up on a big road if you aren't watching out.

Since the first day was all wheat, I was kind of bummed to end up knee deep in so much chaff in the follow on sessions where other cars were about. Maybe there wasn't enough breeze when I was sorting?

Seriously, I think it is all attributable to the stress of driving in traffic which makes the methods vacate the cranium. A few heavy slugs of hard liquor would reduce the stress factor and make the clutching motion smooth and fluid, but it might lead to other problems like death by telephone pole, so I haven't instituted that solution in my driving school.

School is temporarily out, right now, however.
 

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Hmjm, interestingly I found the Insight actually an easy car to drive as a manual. I found that the torque "on-demand" from the IMA made it very forgiving stall-wise.

Edit: And by that I mean, you could easily prevent a stall because of the torque from the IMA.
 

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no way!!

No less than my Driver's Ed teacher told us as much back in 1988. He was 81 then. If he's still alive, think I can get a refund?

just KIDDING! Perhaps it was illegal at one time.
 

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it feels like the insight is using a cable shifting transmission, is this true?. shifting the insight feels as, ummm.., proxied, as it feels in kari's saturn. if i were to try to bring someone into driving a manual transmission, i would not want to do it with something using cable throws, but rather physical direct 1:1 metal rods such as in the '93 and '86 civics and probably billions of other cars.

plus 1st gear in the insight sometimes seems to be shot out of its socket while shifting towards 2nd.

i would indeed have someone drive the insight and then the saturn if i were trying to instruct them on manual transmissions; but only as an example of how different every cars parameters are from an others, i would not start there.
 

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I had a Driver's Ed teacher dispel this urban myth in 1975. Old myth.
 

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lol...I learned to drive on a Saturn :? then we got the Insight :p and then a MINI :twisted: . They definitely have different feels. The Saturn and Insight both have very easy throws but the MINI has a stiff box and uses a heavy knob to offset it. Basically, you have to re-learn on each car you drive but you already know the basic principles.
 

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Teaching 5spd driving with the insight

Jrrs, don't think all cable shifts are as difficult as the Insight for I have driven some really slick ones,a bonus is they also don't transmit as much vibration or sound into the cockpit.What would really be nice is a drive by wire system like in the smart car.
Back to the learner bit...it seems most new drivers when told to let the clutch out slowly,as soon as it bites they then let it pop out the rest of the way resulting in uncontrolled jerks.They should be advised that as soon as the sweet spot is felt they also have the option to push it back down again and alternate between the floor and the sweet spot in order to get accustomed to the clutch and its operation.On a flat surface this can be done to move the Insight in first gear without even touching the gas.
Like others I too advise thin soled trim shoes.
I have a favorit pair of moccasins I use to drive in and find anything else awkward for the Insight seeing as how it is so lite and petite in its driving,a Mack truck would be another story.

Dgate
 
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