How to Start and Shift a Motorcycle

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 156,869
    Motorcyclist Jeff Thompson demonstrates how to start and shift a motorcycle.

    Jeff Thompson: Hi! I am Jeff Thompson at Motorcycle Riding Concepts and today we are going to show you how to ride a motorcycle. First we are going to show you how to start it, and this is Mark Payton he will be doing the demonstration for us. Okay to start this particular motorcycle, he is going to reach up and turn the key to the ON position. When he does that in your speedometer cluster two lights will illuminate, a green light with an N which is the neutral light, and a red oil pressure light. He will reach up with his thumb and turn the kill button to the ON position.

    And then he'll just pull the clutch in, remember this particular motorcycle has a safety switch for the clutch and now he'll just push the yellow button with his thumb to start the motorcycle. Remember it's important for you to know where all of your buttons and switches are on the motorcycle, so you can keep your chin up and look far way down the ring. Now that the engine is started, that red oil pressure light should go out, if it does than you can release your clutch and just relax your hand a little bit. Remember it's important, when you go to pull the clutch in, in shifting it's important for you to know that when you pull the clutch in and release the clutch it should be a smooth application.

    Remember no abrupt movement then because you will get abrupt movements back out. Now that we have learned how to start the motorcycle, we are going to move on to shifting it. On a motorcycle the shifter is, like I said, on the left side and to shift the motorcycle try to remember to put your feet on the footpeg, where the balls of your feet are back and just the balls of your feet are on the footpeg itself, that way your foot does not interfere with the shift mechanism. As you are riding down the road that would be important, so for him to put it in first gear, let me clarify first by saying this motorcycle is on a jack to keep the rear wheel off the ground, so we can show you how to shift it without moving the motorcycle.

    He is going to reach up with his hand and grab the clutch, pull the clutch in, to press it all the way and he just pushed the shifter down one clicking the first gear. Unlike your car where you have a standard H shift pattern a motorcycle pattern is all linear. So think of your hand as the shift pattern, first gear is all the way down, neutral in between first and second, then you have second gear, third gear, fourth gear and fifth gear.

    So he is already shifted it into first gear, he is going to ease the clutch out, give it a little bit of gap and the rear wheel now should be turning, and it is, as he rides down the road, he will pull the clutch in, put his toe underneath the shifter and bring it all up into second gear. Let the clutch back out and now he is riding in second gear. Now he is going to shift to the third gear by doing the same thing, he is going to pull the clutch in, bring the shifter up to third gear and ease the clutch out in the third gear and he drives down the road just like he would. For this demonstration we are not going to go in the third gear. Now to down shift, he does everything in opposite, he pulls the clutch in, pushes the shifter down in the second gear and eases the clutch back out now he is in the second gear.

    Now he is going to pull the clutch in shift down to first gear and come to a stop, this is the only time really that we want you to look down at the gauge, you can look down at the gauge and just lift it so up in between first and second where the green neutral light comes back on. If that's the case then, he can reach up with his thumb and turn the engine off and that's how you shift the motorcycle. Remember when you are shifting the motorcycle and operating the instruments and the clutch we want you to raise your gauge which means raise your chin up and look farther down the road. We don't want you to get encumbered by looking down at your leverage and your instruments when you are trying to shift, that's a danger situation. Okay now that we have learned how to start, shift the motorcycle we are going to move on to learning how to find your friction zone on your motorcycle.