How to Shift Gears on a Motorcycle
Whether you’re a new rider or are a longtime motorcyclist, knowing how to shift gears is essential to your ride. Watch as motorcycle enthusiast Matt Bochnak explains how to shift gears on a motorcycle and how to avoid common mistakes.
MATT: Hey, what’s up everyone, it’s Matt from HowToMotorcycleRepair.com. In this video, I’m going to show you how to shift gears on a motorcycle.
MATT: Now before we get into this video, I want to mention that if you have little or no experience riding a motorcycle, it’s a good idea to be supervised by an experienced rider. Or consider looking into a motorcycle safety course. These courses are generally offered through local community colleges, and they teach the basics of how to ride a motorcycle.
MATT: As we get started, I want to point out that the bike I’m using in this video is suitable for advanced riders only. I’m also “off-road” on private property so that I can safely record away from traffic. And before you start riding a motorcycle, please make sure you are wearing the proper safety gear: helmet, riding glasses or visor for eye protection, long sleeves, gloves, long pants and riding boots.
MATT: OK, so let’s familiarize ourselves with all the controls on a motorcycle. The lever on the right side is the front brake. The grip on the right side is the throttle. Twisting the throttle towards you will increase engine speed. The lever on the left side is the clutch, which engages and disengages power from the engine. The foot lever on the right side is the rear brake. The gear shift lever is located on the left side and is operated with your left foot.
MATT: Now, let’s talk about the gear pattern. In order to get into first gear, the shift lever is clicked once in the down position. To get into second gear, the shift lever is clicked up one position. Neutral is located between first and second gear, and can be selected with half a click. You can continue to click up through the gears all the way until fifth gear on this particular model.
MATT: You’ll need to know how to start riding from a stop. With the motorcycle running at idle, pull in the clutch and hold it in. Select first gear, and apply a small amount of throttle. Start releasing the clutch lever very slowly until you feel the engagement point. Once you hit this engagement point, you are beginning to couple the engine and transmission together. You’ll know when you hit this point since the engine tone will change. Also, the motorcycle will begin to move forward. Continue to apply a little more throttle and let the clutch out a little more as well. It is very important to work the throttle and clutch in small increments. Once the motorcycle is moving about 3 to 5 miles per hour, you can slowly release the clutch lever all the way. You can also lift your feet up and place them on the foot pegs.
MATT: At this point, I want to talk about some common mistakes I see on improper clutch and throttle operation. I want to demonstrate what happens when you let the clutch out too fast, but do not attempt this. If you do not apply enough throttle, and let the clutch out too fast, the motorcycle will start to move forward and then the engine will stall. If you apply too much throttle and let the clutch out too fast, then the motorcycle will lunge forward quickly and potentially cause an unsafe condition.
MATT: So, let’s cover a proper start off again. Apply some throttle and start letting the clutch out slowly. Once you hit the engagement point, apply some more throttle and again start releasing the clutch slowly. Be patient and allow three or more seconds for these steps.
MATT: Now you’re riding a motorcycle, and you’ll need to shift into a higher gear as you increase your speed. To shift out of first gear, roll off the throttle, pull in the clutch, select second gear by clicking up on the gear shift lever and, finally, release the clutch lever. You can quickly let go of the clutch lever after the shift has been made. You can also roll onto the throttle now. You will notice that the engine speed will drop, and the motorcycle is able to gain more speed in a higher gear.
MATT: You can continue shifting up into higher gears until you reach the desired speed. When slowing down, pull the clutch in and start to shift back down to first gear. Once stopped, go ahead and do half a click up to locate neutral. Now, you can release the clutch lever and turn off the engine.
MATT: Alright, I hope you enjoyed this video on how to shift gears on a motorcycle.
MATT: If you’d like to see more of my videos, head over to HowToMotorcycleRepair.com, or check out my YouTube channel, MatthewMCrepair. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and see you next time.