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When To Shift Gears On Your Motorcycle

When To Shift Gears On Your Motorcycle

Changing gears on your motorcycle is a skill that every rider should master in order to maximize performance and confidently navigate the roads. Although it may seem complex, shifting gears is a straightforward process that involves responding to road conditions and your bike's engine. With practice, it will become a natural part of your riding style. Here, we will provide you with a simplified guide on when to shift gears on your motorcycle.

First Gear: Getting Started

First gear is primarily used to transition your motorcycle from a rest to a start. You'll notice that it is located below the neutral gear. Generally speaking, you should engage first gear when your speed ranges from 0 mph to about 9 or 10 mph unless you're driving up a steep hill. Motorcycles start operating smoothly from the second gear onwards, so you can switch gears comfortably after this initial start.

Second Gear: Proper Driving Begins

Second gear marks the start of proper driving. It is suitable for speeds between 9 or 10 mph to 18 to 20 mph, making it ideal for heavy traffic, crowded roads, or bumpy terrain. In second gear, your motorcycle feels more comfortable, and you'll no longer experience the clunkiness associated with first gear.

Third Gear: Flexibility in Speed

The third gear can be used for speeds between 18 to 20 mph to 25 mph. Although the specific speed range may vary depending on the make and model of your motorcycle, it's important to respond to the feel and sound of your engine rather than strictly adhering to numerical values.

Fourth Gear: Finding a Groove

In fourth gear, you'll experience a smoother ride. The recommended speed range is between 20 mph to 35 mph but remember that this is a guideline rather than an absolute rule. It's important to exercise caution because accidents can still occur even at seemingly lower speeds.

Fifth and Sixth Gears: High-Speed Riding

Fifth and sixth gears are meant for speeds over 35 mph. Although you can shift to fifth gear at around 30 mph, make sure that the road ahead is clear and there is minimal traffic before transitioning to this higher gear. Riding at higher speeds comes with increased risk, so it's important to remain alert and prepared to downshift or apply the brakes as necessary.

Changing Gears in Accordance with Speed

Using speed to determine when to shift gears offers several advantages, including improved maintenance and fuel economy. By following this practice, you can prevent damage to clutch plates, avoid overloading the engine and transmission. You’ll also increase the overall longevity of your motorcycle.

Matching by Sound and Feel

Matching the sound and feel of your engine is an important aspect of shifting gears. As a general rule, if the engine sounds high, shift up a gear; if the engine sounds slow and has a low pitch, shift down a gear. This concept may be challenging for beginners, but with time and experience, you'll develop the muscle memory to make these shifts smoothly.

Beginner Shift Skills

Here's a simplified instructional as to how to smoothly shift gears:

  •  Slowly, disengage the clutch lever.
  • Use the gear shift lever to select the desired gear.
  •  Give the engine a little gas.
  •  The clutch can gradually be released now.
  • Apply throttle slowly while releasing the clutch.
  • Before considering and upshift, gain more speed by revving the engine.

Perfecting these skills takes practice, so it's recommended to practice in an open space such as a parking lot before riding on the roads.

Want to Learn More About Motorcycles? Check out Haynes Motorcycle Manuals

Mastering gear shifting on your motorcycle is important for optimal performance and safety on the roads. If you're interested in learning more about motorcycles and their maintenance, refer to Haynes Manuals. These manuals provide valuable technical data and practical guidance for various areas of interest, including motorcycles. Visit our website or reach out to us now.