How To Shift A Motorcycle

This was one of my first questions when I knew I wanted to ride a motorcycle.  It may seem silly for anybody who rides, but someone who has never ridden a motorcycle, how would they know?

This shifting parts of a motorcycle is on your left side when you are sitting on a motorcycle.  The clutch, which is what you pull in to shift, is by your left hand. The lever you use to shift, is by your left foot.

How To Shift A Motorcycle

If the side stand is down, usually a motorcycle needs to be in neutral. If you shift it into first gear with the side stand down it will shut down automatically.

So when you are getting ready to start moving, make sure the side stand is up.  Then follow these steps to shift a motorcycle:

  1. Pull in the clutch and push the foot lever down one level. The motorcycle is now in first gear.
  2. Slowly let go of the clutch while giving the motorcycle some gas. It should slowly start moving (depends on how slow you let go and how little gas you give it!)
  3. Once you are going fast enough, you will want to go to second gear. To shift to second gear, pull in the clutch and push the foot lever up.  It should be a strong enough kick that the motorcycle does not go into neutral. If it does go into neutral do not panic, just kick it up a little more to reach second.
  4. Once in second, slowly let go of the clutch and give gas.
  5. To go down a gear, just slow down your motorcycle, then pull in the clutch and kick the lever down a level.

Pretty easy, right?  The best way to learn to ride a motorcycle is taking a course in your local area. They will be able to teach you safely how to shift a motorcycle as well as other riding skills.

How To Shift a Motorcycle with a Broken Clutch Lever

Shifting a motorcycle with a broken clutch is not impossible, but it isn’t that fun either. If you are stopped in a place where you can get help, I recommend you call help and not try to drive with a broken clutch.

If you HAVE to drive with a broken clutch, simply put the motorcycle in neutral and find a hill you can go down. Start the motorcycle engine, and start rolling down the hill. When you are about 5-10 mph, shift the motorcycle into second and then give it some case.  Ride your way home without stopping!

If your clutch breaks in the middle of nowhere or falls off while you are driving (though I doubt that can happen) you can still shift your motorcycle. Simply give the motorcycle some gas, let go of the gas and shift with your foot. Then give it more or less gas.  It should naturally shift.  It doesn’t hurt your engine, and is actually what racers do to save time when shifting!