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How To Shift Gears on a Motorcycle

By Walter F. Kern

Shifting gears on a motorcycle is a complex operation. Shifting is done as only one part of operating a bike. All aspects are not covered here. This gives only the basics of motorcycle shifting.

Here's How to Shift Gears on a Motorcycle:

  1. Get on the motorcycle.
  2. Start the engine in neutral.
  3. Squeeze the clutch lever with your left hand all the way to the grip.
  4. Place your left foot on the gear shifter and kick straight down to first gear.
  5. Give a little throttle with your right hand. Don't race the engine.
  6. Slowly release the clutch with your left hand while maintaining engine speed with your right hand on the throttle.
  7. Balance the bike and move off slowly.
  8. After you are moving and balanced, put your left toe under the gear shifter.
  9. Squeeze the clutch and release tension on the throttle a little.
  10. Smartly kick upward with your toe on the bottom of the gear shifter. You are now in second gear.
  11. Release the clutch smoothly and simultaneously apply more throttle.
  12. As you gain more speed, repeat the above steps for third, fourth, and fifth gears.
  13. Downshifting is done similarly except you sharply kick down on the gear shifter to go to the next lower gear.
  14. As you come to a stop, squeeze the clutch and kick down on the gear shifter, one gear at a time, timing it so you are in first gear as you stop.


  1. Practice use of the clutch and throttle together so as not to stall the engine.
  2. If you should stall the engine, make sure you have the front wheel straight ahead. Otherwise, you will fall.
  3. Practice getting the gear shifter into neutral while stopped. Neutral is between first and second gear.

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