Tips for Shifting Gears on a Motorcycle

Shifting gears on a motorcycle can be a little bit confusing for a new motorcycle operator, but it's not impossible to understand. Motorcycle gearing is somewhat like that of a car, except for the way in which the shifting is done. Here are some tips to help you learn how to shift gears on a motorcycle.

The setup for most motorcycles is the same. The left hand controls the clutch while the left foot controls the shifter. The right hand controls the throttle and the brake while the right foot controls the rear brake.

To control the clutch, pull it in. To control the shifter, push down with the bottom of your foot or pull up with the top of your foot. Twist the throttle towards yourself to go faster and away from you to slow down. Control the front brake by pulling it in. Push the rear brake down with the bottom of your foot.

On a standard motorcycle neutral is in between first and second gear, with first gear being below neutral and second, third, fourth and fifth gear being above. On a sports bike the setup is different with first gear being above neutral and second, third, fourth and fifth gear being below neutral. No matter what type of motorcycle you have, you switch gears by holding in the clutch and clicking the shifter to your desired gear.

Be aware when shifting gears of how much you can let go of the clutch and how much gas you have to give the bike. If you let the clutch out too soon and haven't given the bike enough gas, your engine will stall. Give the bike too much gas and you could pop a wheelie. There's a delicate balance that you need to maintain. Once you get the hang of it, it will be second nature to you.

Never downshift when riding your motorcycle. This is where motorcycles and cars differ. In a car you would downshift to slow down. On a motorcycle you simply brake and then switch the bike into neutral or first once you're stopped.

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