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Motorcycle Gear Changes & Doing Them Smoothly

If you are a novice rider, changing to another motorcycle gear can be a challenge, especially if we are used to driving automatic cars that change the ratios for us. Even if we have been driving a manual car or ute, shifting gears on a bike takes some hand / foot co-ordination.

The Fine Art of Making Motorcycle Gear Changes Smoothly

Since we cannot look down at our controls while riding safely, we have to learn to feel where the controls are, and operate them intuitively. These three controls are the clutch, the motorcycle gear selector, and the throttle for speeding up and slowing down. The clutch temporarily disengages the gearbox from the engine, so we can choose another gear without fighting the power.

Knowing How to Test the Clutch and Operate It Safely

KTM, Triumph, BMW and Suzuki motorcycles have different breed characteristics. Within each brand, each model sports a different clutch to handle the interface between the motorbike and engine. To find the point at which your clutch lever starts to bite, or separate the two of them

  • Start your motorcycle off the stand sitting with feet firmly on either side
  • Pull the clutch handle all the way in and engage the lowest gear
  • Slowly release the clutch until the motorbike starts moving forward

You now know the point at which the clutch starts to release its bite. Experiment with moving the clutch handle out and in towards you, until you intuitively know the point at which it disconnects the engine.

The Basic Procedure for Changing Motorcycle Gear

If riding the motorbike for the first time, go down on your haunches and examine the lever. Typically, it should shift from first via neutral to the higher gears. All motorcycle gear boxes work in this sequence:

  • Disengage the clutch by pulling the lever all the way towards you
  • Tap the foot lever up or down while slightly revving the engine
  • After you feel the gearbox change gently release the clutch
  • Apply a moderate amount of power to continue on your journey

Learning most things, including riding motorbikes and changing motorcycle gears requires some practice until you get it right. You will of course. It just takes a little time to get it perfect.

How to Fine Tune the Clutch for Even Smoother Gear Changes

Motorbike manufacturers set their machines up to suit average riders. If you have big hands, or very small ones you may find the point at which the clutch bites an awkward position to hold. Motorcycle design provides adjustment by screwing the cable stop in and out on the handlebar. Please don’t attempt this on your own unless you are very sure of what you are doing.

There is a lot more to learn about motorcycling techniques. It can be a good idea to join a motorcycle club and share ideas. When you get your bike at Procycles, we’ll do our best to make sure you know what you are doing before you ride away. This includes tips for changing motorcycle gear on the bike you set your heart on.