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How to Shift Gears on a Motorcycle

Learn how to shift gears on a motorcycle from professional motorcycle instructor Joonil Park in this Howcast video.


Hi guys! I'm Joonil Park for Howcast and here are some motorcycle shifting basics. Motorcycle shifting is done with the left side of the primary controls. The left hand operates the clutch and your left foot operates the shifter. Never use the shifter without proper application of the clutch. You want to squeeze your clutch in, hold it in while changing gears, and smoothly release the clutch lever, reengaging power after your gear change. When starting from a standstill, of course you want to use first gear. It's aptly named. Make sure you let your clutch out smoothly after engaging it to first gear from a standstill. However, once you're already moving, say for example shifting from second into third, you can let your clutch out a little faster as the bike is already moving and less likely to bog down and stall out.

Most motorcycles have either five or six gears. As mentioned, first gear is on the bottom. Second gear is one full shift up from first. And, so on and so forth, moving your way up through the gears. Neutral setting, where it's a setting in the transmission where the engine is not engaged with the back wheel, is located halfway between one and two. You can bypass neutral and go directly from first to second and vice versa. The shifter does not sit in a separate position for every gear. It always resets to its designated home position. It's like pressing a button. You don't press down and then press down harder to move down two gears. You press down, release letting the shifter re-center itself, and then shift again for repeated shifts.

Practice shifting and soon it'll become second nature. The ultimate goal is to build the muscle memory so you don't have to think about it. Ultimately, through feel and sound and feedback through the motorcycle's chassis, you will know what gear you're in and shift appropriately.

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