suicide shift / suicide blonde

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suicide shift / suicide blonde

Post by Heartburn » Wed Apr 06, 2005 3:39 pm

I am trying to find out any history on the term suicide shift or suicide clutch as it relates to motorcycles. It is a widely known term that probably became popular after the advent of the hand clutch. Any information would be appreciated.
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suicide shift / suicide blonde

Post by dalehileman » Thu Apr 07, 2005 6:55 pm

Go to Google Advanced Search. Enter "motorcycle" in the "all" box and "suicide-shift suicide-clutch" in the "at least one" box
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suicide shift / suicide blonde

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:37 pm

Dan, I couldn’t find this term in any printed sources, but was able to find many hits on the web. The term bears some resemblance to the phrase suicide doors in that it expresses the extreme danger associated with a design aspect of a motor vehicle. Here’s what looks to be a reasonable explanation from a site I can’t vouch for but have no reason to doubt:

http://www.totalmotorcycle.com/dictionary/S.htm

SUICIDE SHIFT - SUICIDE CLUTCH: An early-style gear shift mechanism. Unlike modern motorcycles, early motorcycles used a foot-actuated clutch and the gear shifting was done with the rider's hand via a long gear shift knob that was connected directly to the transmission (much like a manual transmission on a car). Because the rider had to remove one of his hands from the handlebars in order to shift - a dangerous prospect given that most of the thoroughfares of the day were rutted, unpaved dirt roads or brick and cobblestone streets - many people felt that motorcycle riders were literally "taking their lives into their own hands" … hence the term, "suicide shift".
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Ken G – April 11, 2005
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suicide shift / suicide blonde

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:59 am

Oh yes. And then there is the SUICIDE BLONDE (1930s and still in use) with dyed or peroxide blonde hair, especially done rather amateurishly – a wee tacky, but ohh so sexy – who has nothing wrong with her design or construction and who, in fact, some men would die for.
<1942 “Bottle baby . . . peroxide, SUICIDE BLONDE, an artificial blonde.”—‘American Thesaurus of Slang’ by Berrey, §430/4>

<1959 ‘You don't have to whitter on about one little SUICIDE BLONDE.’ ‘She's a real blonde,’ Tom said.”—‘The Vodi’ by J. Braine, vii. page 104>

<1973 “The snow-white hair of a SUICIDE-BLONDE flashed around: ‘Hey up, Margaret!’”—‘Men, Women & Children’ by A. Sillitoe, page 174>

<1990 “The opening track, Suicide Blonde [[by the band INXS]], starts off with a bluesy harmonica, then boots into a dance track that also rocks hard.” —‘Time,’ 17 December>

<2000 “SUICIDE BLONDE”—novel by Darcey Steinke>
(Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, Oxford Dictionary of Slang, Brewer’s Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable, Oxford English Dictionary)
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Ken G — April 11, 2005
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suicide shift / suicide blonde

Post by ichief46 » Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:29 am

Suicide shift is synonymous with suicide clutch. It is the manner in which this type of clutch operates on a motorcycle that makes it inherently dangerous. This type of clutch is a spring-loaded pedal that is foot operated (usually by the left foot) exactly like an automobile clutch. If the foot must be removed from the clutch to hold the bike upright while stopped, the clutch is engaged and the bike will take off. This arrangement is particularly hazardous during low speed maneuvers when balance is difficult and either foot may be needed to avoid a spill, but it may also be necessary to stop to avoid a collision.
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suicide shift / suicide blonde

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Apr 26, 2005 1:05 am

That last posting implicitly raises the question of whether the 'suicide shift' was the automobile-like foot-operated clutch which would engage drive even when the rider needed his feet on the ground to keep his machine stable, or the hand-operated gear lever that left only one hand grasping the handlebars during a gearchange. Or did different people understand something different by the term, depending on what technology they were familiar with?
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