Smoother gear Changing, gear shifting on your motorcycle.


Cheryl and I practice this technique as much as we can….do you agree this is a proper way to change gears without using the clutch or is it bad practice?

Forgive me if this sounds a little remedial, but I see a lot of guys out on the road who don’t know how to do this. Works on any bike, be it crotch rocket, assless chaps mobile or two-wheeled Hummer H2.

The benefit is smoother, faster shifts and slightly lower clutch wear. It’s just easier and will better enable you to work shifting into the rest of your riding.

Super easy to do. As you accelerate and are approaching the point where you want to shift up, sneak your toe under the lever and apply a little upwards pressure. Now, quickly close the throttle a little while keeping that upward pressure on the shift liver, feel the gear slip home, and open it back up.

Takes a little practice to make it smooth, but once you’ve nailed it, you’ll be surprised at how little time it took. Doesn’t work so well if you’re cruising along at constant speed or decelerating (then why are you upshifting?), you’ll eventually just learn to get all your shifts out of the way as you increase speed, then be in the right gear for cruising along the highway or whatever. On some bikes, I still use the clutch between 1st and 2nd, just because going through neutral occasionally requires that in order to maintain smoothness. You’ll figure it out.

Is This Corner Tightening Or Opening Up?

You’re in a blind corner, wondering when you can start getting on the throttle. In the absence of other visual references, simply look at the horizon point where the two sides of the road appear to meet. If that point is holding a steady distance from you, the corner is continuing at a constant radius. If it’s moving towards you, the corner is tightening. If it’s moving away from you, the corner opens up and you can begin accelerating. Sound like magic? It works like it too.

7 thoughts on “Smoother gear Changing, gear shifting on your motorcycle.

  1. When I was a child, I had a Yamah125 3 wheeler. It was totally dangerous and its a miracle that I am still here to talk about it. Wow did I love that Yamaha Trike! I had 4 gears and no clutch. You shifted it by doing exactly what you described above. At age 30 when I finally got a motorcycle, I thought of my old 3 wheeler and said, “what is this clutch for”…

  2. This technique can be done on anything with a synchro transmission. Have done it on my Honda Element. We used to call it speed shifting. It can also be done on the down shift but it is a little trickier. My buddy road his KLR from Custer to Rapid city with no clutch and shifted up and down flawlessly.

    I don’t buy the “save wear and tear on the clutch” reasoning. Today’s clutches will take a million proper shifts. I would be more worried about wear and tear on the fine edges of the gears from not performing this procedure just right.

    • Seems in “real” life I hear two sides of this practice. Some are totally against it stating it’s just improper riding technique and others like us who say it’s practical and quicker. I agree if not properly you can do damage to your bikes gears. What I don’t get is those who are totally against shifting like this….

  3. Sorry Leslie I fall into the ‘against’ camp on this one, but as usual I will of course explain why I feel this way, in great gory detail – so I hope you don’t take offence :)

    I’m with Garth on the clutch wear thing – I have never needed to change a clutch on any vehicle I’ve owned (5 cars, 2 of which covered more than 200,000km, and 4 bikes), so clutch wear isn’t a concern to me.

    I learned how to change gears both with and without the clutch (from 2nd gear on) – this is to ensure I can still get home if I come off the bike and snap off the clutch lever – although I always use the clutch in normal riding. I would put this down to the clutch being several orders of magnitude cheaper than the gearbox to replace.

    Even if you’ve mastered the technique and can change gears smoothly/jolt-free without the clutch, just because it **can** be done doesn’t mean it necessarily should be done (and in a car it’s particularly hard on the synchros)… perhaps this is a product of being the mechanic’s son and helping him tear down and rebuilt engines when I was growing up…

    When changing gears without the clutch there is a small chance you could snap a tooth off a gear (granted it’s a very small chance) but do it all the time and you would most certainly find a lot more metal filings stuck to the magnet in the oil drain plug. The majority of bikes (our F800s included) have straight-cut gears which is an inherently weaker design than helical gears, but more cost effective, particularly for sequential transmissions.

    If performance is a consideration, shifting with the clutch probably has the advantage because you **could** keep the throttle pinned (bouncing off the rev limiter) as you snap the clutch in and out while popping into the next gear which would mean you’re taking advantage of full available power (not recommended but still possible) which you cannot do clutchless… although you’d probably end up in a hedge doing this in the lower gears! Not to mention needlessly abuse the poor motor…

    Consider a medical analogy – you could go running in solid soled dress shoes instead of proper trainers with air pockets, special shock dampening soles etc but you’ll get shin splints and wear the cartilage in your joints far more quickly.

    • no need to apologize we all have our opinions and yours are always based on good facts…but I like switching gears like this…been doing it for a long time on many bikes…including our BMW F650GS, Triumph Tiger 800XC and now the F8′s…it’s quick and fun at times. ;-)

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