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How To Start a Motorcycle on a Grade or Hill

By Walter F. Kern

One of the hardest things to master for a beginning rider is how to ride up a grade from a standing start. Many motorcycle driving tests require you to demonstrate this skill. It takes practice.

Here's How to Start on a Grade:

  1. Assume you have stopped the bike on an upward grade, that the bike is in first gear, the clutch is pulled in, your left foot is down supporting the bike, and your right foot is depressing the foot brake.
  2. Check the traffic from left to right looking for a sufficiently long window for you to proceed.
  3. Keep your right foot on the brake.
  4. Twist the throttle to get some engine speed.
  5. Gradually release the clutch to the point where you feel the bike wants to go forward and the bike is at the 'power point.'
  6. Slowly release the foot brake and note that the power point is keeping the bike from rolling backwards.
  7. Give one last look both left and right and ahead to make sure you are clear to go.
  8. Give more throttle and release the clutch a little more to gain forward momentum.
  9. Balance the bike and move up the incline in first gear. If you release the clutch too quickly, the engine will die and if you aren't alert, you'll drop the bike.
  10. Once you are moving smoothly, you can proceed through the gears as appropriate.


  1. This procedure should be practiced over and over on a quiet suburban street where you can find a steep incline. It may take a few days of practice to master the skill.
  2. If you release the clutch too quickly and kill the engine, be prepared for how to get the bike started again.
  3. Mastering the power point in this exercise so that you have low-speed control of the bike will save you in numerous other situations.

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