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M3ti Compact 12-31-2003 07:26 AM

Can you "heel toe" downshift?
I was reading the Bondurant High Performance driving book I got for christmas, and it says that downshifting should not be used for the purposes of slowing down the car (engine braking)- as the downshift will upset the balance. OK.
So, to remedy this, a proper downshift should be using the heel-toe technique. Using the right foot to brake while rev-matching the throttle to the downshift.
I tried this today- and it's EXTREMELY difficult! For me, it's near impossible for me to lift my heel of the floor without my leg bumping into the steering wheel (they are non-adjustable on TI's), and I have to painfully twist my thigh to put my foot on both pedals. If I do somehow manage to get my foot on both pedals, I wouldn't be able to brake hard enough, or I would shoot the RPMs to 5000.

Anyone got some tips on how to pull it off? The photos in the book demonstrate the technique with a car that has a small top hinged gas pedal, and the person is pressing the brake with the ball of the foot, and has the side of the foot on a very small portion of the lower left of the gas pedal. BM pedals and huge, bottom hinged, and span from the floor to the dash.

fabianyee 12-31-2003 07:55 AM

I do heel toe all the time when I downshift.
How I do it? It comes naturally for me, and maybe my average Asian build (5'6") helps.
Brake with your toe, then rotate foot anti-clockwise with toe as the pivot point, tap throttle with your heel. I don't keep heel on the gas pedal, I just tap it once of twice to blip it.

Hope this helps.

moerom 12-31-2003 08:04 AM

If your pedals are close together and your foot is big enough, you can use one foot to cover both pedals. The ball of your foot brakes and the right edge of your foot blips the throttle, while your foot is perpindular (you can adjust for comfort) to the floor.

The Mini is easy to do this in.

elraton16 12-31-2003 08:16 AM

this is one skill that takes time and practice. I used to have a 318i with a magnaflow muffler and for me that made a psychological difference becuz i could hear my engine better and adjust the revs that way. most of us know our cars by heart...

anyways, the 318ti pedals are just like the normal 318i. therefore here are my .02 cents. say your cruising down the road and start to hit some traffic. your in 4th gear around 2,500rpms. if you down shift to third the revs should put you around 3,500rpms(aproxx.) so what you want to do is match the rev. To do this put your braking foot near the right edge of the brake pedal. Use your heel as a pivoting device. You want to blip the throttle so with your outer edge of your foot just pivot it to the accel pedal and blip the throttle. JUst BLIP it. As your revs quickly climb to the desired level, this is the time to simply shift.
careful not to let the revs drop after you blip the throttle.

i dont recommend using big shoes.

ayrton senna called this technique "soel/soel"

thinair 12-31-2003 09:15 AM

I can heel toe half decently now (after lots of practice) and use it all the time on the street, makes downshifting so much smoother and quicker.

That said I never actually use my heel, elraton16 explained the way I do it too. Just use the center of your foot for both pedals, keeping your heel on the floor to pivot on. The ball of your foot controls your brakes, the small toe part of your foot controls the gas. Basically your ankle is what controls the modulation of the brake and gas.

I also have size 12 feet, so I don't think using my heel is even an option. Just becareful with the heel-toe when your shoes/pedals are wet, the last thing you want to do is slip of the brake and mash the gas when you're trying to slow down (as me how I know).

EMPOWERD 12-31-2003 11:44 AM

That's all I do now... it's like 2nd nature.

You need a car with proper pedal placement to do it effectively... I couldn't do it at all in the EGG.

Alezone 12-31-2003 03:06 PM

try doing it the other way... use heel to brake and toe to rev match.

some cars with lower positioned gas pedal require you to adjust your foot this way, otherwise there's noway to do it.

Jon@Bimmersport 12-31-2003 03:56 PM

i am tryin to learn it...but when i press my toe down, my heel goes down ahhhhhhh

Manimillion 12-31-2003 06:09 PM

I'm no pro at it, but my tip would be don't try to hold on to the gas with your heel... Just as some people mentioned BLIP it... Thats the way I do it.

moerom 12-31-2003 06:11 PM

I used to heel and toe every gear when coming to a stop, just to hear the Mini lol.

People would be beside me and and all you would hear from the Mini would be:

6th, vroooom, 5th, vrooom, 4th, vrooom, 3rd, vrooooom, 2nd brake lol

I also do it when coming onto onramps. Its like approaching a tight turn on a track lol:)

85eta 12-31-2003 06:15 PM

It comes naturally to me now, thats all I do.

Clay'87IS 12-31-2003 06:33 PM


try doing it the other way... use heel to brake and toe to rev match.

It comes naturally to me now, thats all I do.
Same here.

GregD 12-31-2003 07:26 PM

Depends on the car/pedal placement.. I could do it easily in my E36, but in Audi TT its quite a bit harder as the gas pedal is too far to the right to easily tap with the toe.
Heres a question for you however.. In cars with big turbos, does heel toe shifting cause unpredictable behaviour if you rev it sufficiently high enough into power band to cause turbo lag? I assume if you did not perform the shift perfectly you could cause the turbo to spool up unnecessarily and get a little burst of power you wouldnt be expecting. I just bring this up as I noticed a little variation in power when attempting to heel toe in the Audi, but the turbo is quite small so there is not too much lag. Any ideas from experienced drivers?

takeshi 12-31-2003 08:04 PM

I do not understand completely. Do you brake, clutch in, blip and THEN shift or brake, clutch in, blip + shift at the same time? Or is this not even the right things to do. hmmm...

SpudBoy 12-31-2003 11:34 PM

"Heel & Toe" or as I like to call it "Big toe/Little toe" has no benefit on the street. But it sure is fun to do:D

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