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How to Ride a Motorcycle - a Step by Step Tutorial on How to Ride a Motorcycle

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Know Your Controls: Shifting
How to Ride a Motorcycle - a Step by Step Tutorial on How to Ride a Motorcycle

The top half of the image reveals how to upshift, using your boot to nudge the shifter upwards. The bottom half of the image depicts a downshift, in which the shifter is pushed towards the pavement.

>>Click here for a detailed article on how to shift a motorcycle

Motorcycles shift differently than cars. While they operate on the same principle, motorcycles shifts are executed by moving a lever up or down with the left foot.

Motorcycle shift patterns are as follows:

  • 6th gear (if applicable)
  • 5th gear
  • 4th gear
  • 3rd gear
  • 2nd gear
  • NEUTRAL
  • 1st gear
A vast majority of motorcycles incorporate this pattern, which is referred to as "1 down, 5 up." Finding neutral with your left foot will take some getting used to, and while clicking the shifter back and forth, you'll be looking for the green "N" to light up on the gauges. While some motorcycles can be shifted without using the clutch, make it a habit of using the clutch every time you shift.

Shifting should be done in the following order:
  1. Disengage clutch (using left hand)
  2. Shift (using left foot)
  3. Engage clutch
Feathering the throttle with the clutch will add smoothness to the shifting process. Be sure not to over-rev in each gear, and shift before the engine starts to work too hard; unless you're on a track, there's no reason to "race" your engine.

If all this seems complicated, don't worry; it's easier than it sounds!

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