How to Shift Gears on a Goldwing Gl1100


There is a common saying in the motorcycle community that "anyone can ride a motorcycle at 100 miles per hour, but few can ride one at 10." While this saying has its merits, it is impossible to ride a motorcycle to that 100 miles per hour without switching gears to get there. Get your motorcycle safely and effectively up to speed, by learning how to use the clutch and gear shifter.

Getting Started

  • Sit on your motorcycle and put the kickstand up.

  • Look at the handlebars and identify the running gear that you will use to shift and ride: On the left handlebar, the clutch lever; and on the right handlebar, the throttle grip and front brake lever.

  • Shift the motorcycle into neutral by pushing the shift lever down multiple times. When the lever will not move any further, push up softly on the lever until the green neutral light comes on on the motorcycle dashboard.

  • Turn on your motorcycle by turning the ignition to the on position, and pressing the starter button.


  • Pull the clutch lever all the way to the left handlebar. This will disengage the clutch, allowing the bike to idle while you switch gears.

  • Push the shift lever down to shift into first gear. Let the clutch lever out slightly until you feel it "grab"and then pull it back in. Repeat this motion until you have a good feel for when the clutch will engage.

  • To begin riding, give the bike a small amount of throttle and slowly let out the clutch lever until you reach a comfortable riding speed. Maintain forward motion with the throttle grip until you are ready to stop, or shift gears.

  • To shift to second gear, pull in the clutch and push up on the shift lever until it "clicks" into place. Slowly roll on a small amount of throttle and let out the clutch to continue riding. Repeat this motion to shift all the way to fifth gear.

  • When it is necessary to slow down, or shift into a lower gear, pull in the clutch and push down on the shift lever until it "clicks" into place. Slowly let out the clutch. You will hear the engine rev to a higher rpm and the motorcycle will slow down considerably, so use caution when downshifting so as not to throw your body forward on the bike.

Tips & Warnings

  • As you get better at riding and shifting, you will get a better feel for where the clutch activates and deactivates, allowing you to shift without completely pulling in the clutch lever. Do not try this, though, until you are confident in your riding ability and in your ability to successfully shift smoothly.

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