Motorcycle gear shift sequence

I've had some inquiries about the the gear (or shift) sequence on the Suzuki Boulevard. The Boulevard has the standard 1 down 4 up shift sequence (5 gears.) Neutral is a half click between 1st and 2nd. This is a very common shift sequence on motorcycles; some motorcycles may have fewer gears (1 down 3 up etc.) and some may also have a low range/high range lever. I'm sure there are some motorcycles that use a different shift sequence but those are exceptions to the common 1 down/x up sequence.

Shifting gears smoothly and easily is a learning process that takes practice. It requires timing, coordination and technique.

With the bike in neutral and the throttle closed, pull the clutch fully in, then give the gear shifter a firm press with the front of your left foot. You should hear a "click". The green light on the instrument panel should go out, and if you very gently and slowly slip the clutch into the friction zone, you should feel the bike begin to pull a little - you're in 1st gear.

To shift back into neutral, with the bike fully stopped, the throttle closed and the clutch pulled in, put the tip of your boot under the gear shift and "gently" lift up part way until you hear a "tic". The green indicator light on the instrument panel "should" come back on, and nothing should happen when you gently and slowly slip the clutch into the friction zone - you're back in neutral.

When the bike is in 1st gear and moving forward, shift from 1st gear into 2nd gear by simultaneously closing the throttle and pulling in the clutch lever, then give the gear shifter a firm lift up with the tip of your left boot. You should hear a "click". When you hear the click, simultaneously roll the throttle back on and ease out the clutch lever. If you do it right you go from 1st gear into 2nd gear passing through neutral. It's the same process to shift from 2nd into 3rd and 4th into 5th but there isn't a neutral to pass through.

It's the same technique to downshift from a higher gear into a lower gear except you press down firmly on the shift lever instead of lifting up. Be careful not to let the clutch lever out too soon or too quickly; give the engine revs time to match the speed of the bike.

A word of caution regarding the green neutral indicator light - don't trust it! You might have gotten the shift lever moved just enough to activate the light but the bike could still be in gear. The light is just an indication that the engine is in neutral but it should be viewed with some skepticism.

Shifting should become a coordinated, smooth, fluid movement that takes practice to develop. I am still learning to develop a smooth fluid technique on my new bike.

This video preview of "Learn To Ride The Easy Way" from Ride Like A Pro shows how to operate the gear shifter.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on motorcycles, engines, automobiles, gears or shifting.

See also:
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I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining! (updated)
Basic Motorcycle Rider Course

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this simple explanation. I'm used to riding a semi automatic motorbike that uses a circular gear sequence (no clutch lever). So you can stop in forth gear and shift through neutral back to first. This shortens the action of getting into first when you stop at a traffic signal. The big "getting used to" difference is it's all down, when in neutral and you push down you go into 1,2,3,4 and then lift to go 3,2,1,N.

I was googling "motorcycle gears sequence" because I forgot by now if you had to go up or down to gear up on normal motorcycles with the sequence you described.

South Africa