When to shift gears on a motorcycle? Gear shifting systems

When to shift gears on a motorcycle? Learning to ride a motorcycle can be a challenging endeavor. You have to learn how to start, steer, and handle your bike safely. But without a doubt, the most difficult aspect is learning how to shift gears.

If you already know how to drive manual transmission vehicles, you may think it would take only seconds to learn. However, shifting gears on a motorcycle is a bit different than it is on an automobile. Both the pattern and controls vary, and they can trip up even the most experienced driver.

For those who have never driven a manual transmission vehicle, this task will be even more challenging. Aside from needing to learn these same controls, you’ll also need to learn the basics of handling a manual transmission.

When To Shift Gears On a Motorcycle?

Many new riders make the easy mistake of trying to figure out exactly when to shift gears on a motorcycle at what rpm. While precise figures are always nice, there is no magic number that will tell you the right time to shift.

The best technique for changing gears is by judging the sound and speed of the engine. It takes time to master how to shift smoothly this way, but your patience will be rewarded.

When to shift gears on a motorcycle

Generally, most motorcycles will comfortably shift at an engine rpm of 5,000-7,000. Here’s a quick guide on the ideal speeds of each gear, to give you a rough idea.

First gear

Kicking off with first gear. You’ll notice that the first gear is located below the neutral gear, and that’s because it’s not actually used for driving. It’s for getting the motorcycle from a rest to a start.

As a rule, the first gear should only be engaged between 0 km/h to 15 km/h. The only exception to this is when you’re driving up a very steep hill. Motorcycles begin to operate smoothly from the second gear onwards.

Second gear

Second gear is where proper driving begins. Second is still considered a lower gear, between 15 to 30 km/h, and it’s best suited for riding in heavy traffic, crowded roads, or bumpy terrain.

The biggest difference between first and second gear is that the bike starts to feel more comfortable. You’ll have no issues sitting in traffic because the motorcycle no longer has that first-gear clunkiness.

Third gear

The third gear can be used for speeds between 30-40 km/h. Unlike the first and second, the required speed range isn’t quite as strict. Think of it more as a general recommendation.

The rpm and rate of the gears can have some small differences depending on the make and model of the motorcycle, so keep in mind what you’re riding with. Remember, it’s all about responding to the bike rather than forcing any particular action.

Fourth gear

Fourth gear is where things start grooving. The ideal speed range is between 40 km/h to 55 km/h, but again this is more of a recommendation than an iron rule.

While these don’t sound like very high speeds, fourth gear is when things can get dicey for riders in an accident.

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Fifth and sixth gears

Step it up into fifth and sixth gears for speeds over 55 km/h.

You can actually move to fifth gear at 50 km/h, but in any case, make sure the road ahead is smooth and there’s minimal traffic when you move up to fifth.

With high speed comes high risk, so ride smart! Keep your head firmly on top of your shoulders while riding on higher gears so that if things go random on the road, you’ll be ready.

You should always be prepared to move down a gear when sitting on the fifth or sixth. Stay in control and be ready to apply the brakes at a moment’s notice.

Motorcycle Gear Shifting Systems

On most motorcycles, shifting is accomplished using three basic components: the throttle, the clutch, and the gear shift lever.

The throttle is located on the right side handgrip, where you hold onto the handlebars. Rotating the handgrip in a backward motion increases the throttle, and returning it closes the throttle. In simple terms, this is how you control the motorcycle’s acceleration.

The clutch is a lever located in front of the left handgrip. When the clutch lever is pulled, it disengages the engine from the rear wheel. When the clutch lever is released, the engine and the wheel are actively connected via the transmission.

The gear shift lever is located near the driver’s left foot. Operating this lever while engaging the clutch will shift gears up or down, respectively.

When to shift gears on a motorcycle

This is the first thing that trips people up who have learned to drive manual transmission cars. Whereas automobile gears are arranged in a grid-shaped pattern, the shifting order on motorcycles is fixed. In other words, you can’t shift directly from first to third gear. You have no choice but to pass through second gear on the way.

Most motorcycles have five gears, although some sportbike models have up to six. And unlike automobiles, there is no reverse gear. If you need to back up, you just push off the ground.

Additionally, the “neutral” on a motorcycle is located between first and second gear. When shifting up from first gear, you’ll actually feel the transmission shift into neutral before it goes into second. This is vastly different from a car, where you can shift from any gear directly into neutral.

Motorcycle Gear Shifting Basics

Shifting is the process of switching your motorcycle from one gear to another. Lower gears have more torque but aren’t capable of achieving high speeds. Higher gears provide more top-end speed but offer little torque. As a result, you start riding in first gear, then shift up as you accelerate.

To begin learning the basics of gear shifting, start by putting your bike in neutral and starting the engine. There’s a neutral light indicator on the dash that lights up when you’re in neutral on most modern motorcycles. On older bikes, you’ll need to feel it out.

Once the motorcycle has started, disengage the clutch by pulling the clutch lever. Next, push down on the gear shift lever to set the transmission into first gear. Now comes the first challenging part. Next, you slowly engage the throttle by twisting it towards you while simultaneously releasing the clutch in one smooth, fluid motion.

As you do this, you’ll feel the clutch start to engage, and the motorcycle will start moving forward. As you begin releasing the clutch more, give it proportionately more gas via the throttle. Eventually, you’ll have released the clutch entirely, and you will be underway.

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If you’ve never driven a manual transmission vehicle, you’ll definitely want to practice this somewhere out-of-the-way, like an empty parking lot. After some time and a bit of trial and error, starting your motorcycle and putting it in gear will become second nature.


Once you’re in first gear, gradually add throttle until the bike is ready to shift to second. As stated above, this will depend on your speed, road conditions, and the motorcycle itself.

In most cases, a motorcycle will shift smoothly at an engine rpm of 5,000-7,000, but judging by speed and the sound of the engine is always a more reliable option.

Moving faster increases the pitch of the engine, and once the pitch is high enough you can safely upshift. In the learning process, you’ll probably shift too soon and hear the engine struggle, so learn from this as you feel out the correct timing.


As you come to a stop you will need to downshift. When the pitch of the engine drops and you can hear it struggling, that’s a sign to move down a gear.

To downshift, release the throttle, squeeze the clutch then shift the gear lever down a level. Once you’ve done that, roll the throttle to bring up the engine speed and slowly release the clutch.

The key to smooth downshifting is to temporarily raise the engine speed to match the bottom of the higher gear, before letting it slow down, thereby achieving a smooth transition and avoiding rear wheel lockup.

Beginner Shift Skills

Here’s a quick, step-by-step guide to shifting gears smoothly:

  • Disengage the clutch lever slowly
  • Choose which gear you want using the gear shift lever
  • Rev the engine just a bit
  • Gently release the clutch
  • Slowly apply throttle as you release the clutch
  • Rev the engine to gain more speed until you can justify going up a gear.

The auto mechanics to move a motorcycle are as easy as these 6 actions, nonetheless to do it smoothly calls for a lot of technique. Know your motorcycle’s Internal and external devices to have a concept of exactly how they function.

When to shift gears on a motorcycle

Technique riding in an open location without transportation. For example, a car park. As well as, most notably, be secure as well as mindful throughout the learning procedure.

You will most likely find that riding a motorcycle is less complicated than it seems. When you obtain the clutch feel, gear matching, and just how much throttle is required to have smooth velocity, the process will certainly be a lot easier and also it will certainly require much less emphasis.

After a lot of practice and riding you’ll feel that gear changing will certainly start to be an automatic reaction. Although this activity is fairly simple as well as repeated in riding, it prevails to see a motorcyclist “scraping gear”.

Can You Skip Gears On A Gear Shift?

Skipping the gear is funny, yet there are a few benefits and drawbacks to this!

For one, the ride is great to feel, specifically as a beginner motorcyclist, for him \ her every gear engagement is meaningful, it implies you take pleasure in as well as love the click audio of the gear and also every little finger and also leg motion involved in changing the gear.

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Yet that does not last forever, as you’ll quickly pertain to an understanding that the fun disappears (quick). And your basically developing some bad habits that will certainly require washing out later as well.

I have actually become aware of people skipping throughout from 1st to 3rd gears and so forth, however it doesn’t do any type of excellent as you’ll be moving along like a snail by leaping the gin this way.

Not just that yet you’re always triggering a whole lot even more anxiety on the transmission and gear which will certainly lead to a costly journey to the workshop.

The point is that you can avoid the gear, but issues might happen.

For example, If the downshift of gears is also infrequent state from fifth gear to second gear, this can seriously create a problem with the engine, along with endangering the chauffeur’s safety.

What Happens When You Shift Gears?

The three main parts of the motorcycle used in a gear change are the clutch lever, gear shift lever, and the throttle.

The clutch lever, which is on the left side of the handlebar, engages and disengages power from the engine to the rear wheel. When you squeeze the clutch it disengages power from the engine to the rear wheel, which stops the motorcycle from moving forward even if you roll on the throttle.

When to shift gears on a motorcycle

Slowly releasing the clutch lever will bring you into something called the friction zone. This is the point where the clutch transfers power to the rear wheel and the motorcycle starts to move forward. While locating the friction zone, it’s important to use the minimal throttle.

The gear shift lever is on the lower left side of the motorcycle. Use your left foot to change gears. Just place your foot under the gear lever and lift it upwards for a higher gear. One-click means one gear change. Here’s how the gears are laid out from top to bottom:

  • Fifth
  • Fourth
  • Third
  • Second
  • Neutral
  • First

As you can see, the first is right at the bottom below neutral. So a sure way of finding first gear is to shift the gear lever down until it’s at the very bottom. At a stop, be sure to stay in first as opposed to neutral so you can react quickly if another driver isn’t paying attention (as they, unfortunately, tend to do around motorcyclists).

Lastly, there’s the throttle. This is located on the right handlebar. The throttle controls the amount of gas being fed into the engine, by rotating it either towards or away from yourself.


When should I change my gears on my motorcycle?

Here’s an easy rule to remember: if the engine sounds high then shift up a gear, if the engine sounds slow and has a low pitch then shift down a gear. Pretty simple, right? Of course, it takes time and experience to get this right, so don’t stress if you don’t nail it straight away.

How fast can you go in first gear on a motorcycle?

As a general rule, on a low capacity bike, 1st gear for up to 10mph, 2nd for up to 20mph. Don’t worry if you miss a gear, modern gear boxes are robust. When buying motorcycle boots check size of top of boot.

What is the best speed to shift gears on a bike?

While the rider should change the gears more in instincts and the ideal speed varies depending on the situation, the approximate speed range are like this: 0 to 15 km/h for first gear, 15 to 30 km/h for second gear, 30 to 40 km/h for third, 40 to 55 km/h for fourth, and 55 km/h and higher for fifth and sixth gears.

Above is information about When to shift gears on a motorcycle? that we have compiled. Hopefully, through the above content, you have a more detailed understanding of Motorcycle gear shifting systems. Thank you for reading our post.

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