Want to Learn How to Shift Gears on a Motorcycle? Take a Look

This post has affiliate links. At no cost to you, we earn a commision for puchases made through links in this post. Read more

Learning how to ride a motorcycle is exciting. When you leave the clutch and rev up the engine with a throttle, that feeling is thrilling. While most beginners look forward to learning how to ride, they are also quite nervous at the start. Some find it hard to balance, while others can’t figure out how to shift gears on a motorcycle.

Believe it or not, all riders face difficulty in shifting gears initially, because they do not understand the motor controls well enough. Knowing how to handle the controls is an essential prerequisite for learning how to change the gears. 

Components Of A Motorcycle

To understand how to shift gears on a motorcycle, you need to know all the components of a bike. There are three motor controls in a motorbike:

  1. The first one is the throttle, which activates the engine. 
  2. The second is the clutch, which transmits power and torque from the engine to the tire’s axle. 
  3. The third is the gear selector, which helps you choose one gear at a time. 

The gear pattern in motorcycles is simple. There are six gears, each of which can be selected by pressing a lever near the left foot of the rider. 

Once you select the gear and draw the clutch towards yourself, the bike will move forward. Similarly, pulling the clutch towards yourself with your left hand while the bike is in neutral will help you activate the engine, but the bike won’t move forward. 

How To Change Gears On A Motorcycle

The process of how to shift gears on a motorcycle involves several steps. Here are some maneuvers that need to be followed smoothly during a ride. 

  1. The first step in this guide will be to release the clutch. For this, pull the clutch towards yourself with your left hand. 
  2. Next, select the gear you want. There are six gears in the motorcycle. Select the gears by pressing the lever on the left side. 
  3. Gently move the throttle of the motorcycle. Do it smoothly to activate the engine, but do not rev up the engine, completely. 
  4. Slowly move the clutch and release it from your hands. It should not pop out of your hand immediately. 
  5. Now, twist the throttle forcefully to activate the engine completely, so that the bike accelerates. 
  6. Gain maximum acceleration of the motorcycle by revving up the engine. Do it by manipulating the throttle. If you need to shift the gear again, repeat the same steps. 

These are the six simple steps you need to follow to learn how to shift gears on a motorcycle.  You will need a lot of practice to master these steps. Before you learn gear shifting, understand, and get a feel of each motor control properly. Use them independently first and then attempt to maneuver all of them together.

Points To Remember

While the steps themselves are easy to follow, operating the three motor controls is a big deal. The function of these motor controls remains the same, but its handling differs on each bike. 

  • Shifting gears depends on your bike as well. Until you know the amount of twisting the throttle requires to give enough acceleration, the amount of force needed to press the lever for changing gears, and the position in which the clutch gets released on your bike, you cannot shift them smoothly. Smooth gear shifting also heavily depends on the engine and the motorcycle oil in use. 
  • Be aware while learning how to ride a motorbike and operate its controls. It will help you to shift the gears in a motorcycle quickly and without much concentration and effort. 
  • See how your bike behaves when you follow the steps to change the gears of your bike. 
  • When you release the clutch, if you feel a jerk near the handlebars of the motorcycle,  you need to release it more slowly. 
  • If you feel that the bike is moving forward, but there is some deviation, then the throttle is being twisted very abruptly. 
  •  When you shift the gears of your motorcycle, notice if it is slowing down between these shifts. If this happens, then the engine has not been activated fully. Since the rev up is not adequate, the bike is losing speed. 
  • Understand how all the three motor controls work in the bike and apply force accordingly,  as smooth changing of gears is crucial in any motorcycle.

When To Change Gears? 

The decision regarding the timing of the shift depends on the experience of riding. While there is no formula or set rules that govern the time of shifting, you should take the roads and the behavior of the controls into account. 

 This means that if the engine’s activation has just started, shifting gears will not be suitable. Similarly, revving up the engine for very high acceleration is of no use on most of the roads. 

 Thus, shifting gears is an instinctive decision. You can change the gears until you find a sweet spot where the motorcycle has optimum acceleration and sufficient torque from the engine. 

Applications Of Gear Shifting

Let’s look at the situations where you need to change gears of a bike. 


1. Slowing The Motorcycle

Shifting the gears becomes more difficult when you have to slow down the bike. 

Even if you want to stop the bike completely, you need to decelerate slowly and not with a knee-jerk response. For this, downshift the gears and keep the force on the throttle low. Gradually disengage the clutch to cut the torque transmission from the engine to the axles of the wheels.

Every gear operates with a particular speed and number of revolutions of the tires. As you downshift, the bike’s speed decreases with each gear, so that you can judge the extent of downshifting accordingly.


2. Finding The ‘Neutral’

Another situation where you need to shift the gears of a motorcycle is when you have to find its neutral position. When the second gear is in place, pull the clutch inwards. Pull the clutch towards yourself completely, till the maximum limit. 

A green indicator on the bike will tell you when you achieve a neutral position. Bringing the bike to a neutral position requires gentle maneuvering of the controls and a lot of patience. 

Most Riders tend to slip into the first gear when they downshift from the second one, in search of a neutral position. 


 This article is for all of you who are learning how to ride and are looking for tips on how to shift gears in a motorcycle

Shifting a motorcycle or shifting its gears is a routine task for riders. You cannot ride a bike smoothly and safely without learning this. 

On the face of it, learning to shift gears seems simple, but in reality, it requires a lot of practice and experience. Remember, the smooth-shifting of gears is essential for safety and proper acceleration while riding. 

Follow these steps, practice them every day, and, soon, you will know how to ride a motorcycle skillfully and effortlessly, for the rest of your life. 

The following two tabs change content below.
Connie Williams

Connie Williams

Williams is an experienced motorist having participated in several biking races and such other events. Her passion for motorcycles as well as for writing drove her to set aside a professional career in engineering to write about bikes.
Connie Williams

Latest posts by Connie Williams (see all)