How to Shift Gears on a Motorcycle

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Shifting gears on a motorcycle is much more complicated than simply speeding up or slowing down smoothly. Accidents can happen if you downshift, turn, or start on hills incorrectly. Here are a few steps to help you shift gears correctly.

  • Shift down through all the gears as you slow down or stop. Open the throttle a little and let the clutch out at each gear in an effort to slow the bike down and lessen the wear and tear on your brakes.

  • Stay in first gear while you're stopped so you can pull away quickly if you need to.

  • Make sure you've slowed down enough when shifting into a lower gear. If you're moving too fast, the motorcycle will lurch and the rear wheel can skid.

  • Remember motorcycles pick up speed on a downgrade. Begin downshifting smoothly and early.

  • Keep in mind the speed range for first gear on many motorcycles is extremely low. In these cases, use the brakes so you can slow down enough to get into first.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's almost impossible to see around a passenger when you're stopped at the side of the road and you need to see behind you. Have the passenger help out by leaning in the opposite direction so you can tell if there's any oncoming traffic.
  • Downshift before you go into a turn. A sudden shift in power to the rear wheel can cause it to lock up or spin.
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