5. Motorcycle: Friction Zone and Shifting

Submitted by ReidMR on Sun, 11/17/2013 - 22:02

Motorcycle: Friction Zone and Shifting

This video covers using the motorcycles friction zone and shifting the gears. If you want to learn how to ride a motorcycle safely, these videos will be a good place to start. This is the fifth video for my learn to ride a motorcycle series.

If you would like to play all of the videos in the series starting with the first video, click here: YouTube Playlist .

I have included links to the other videos in the series and other helpful links at the bottom of this page.

The transcript is below if you prefer reading.


(Sound of pencil scratching.)

(Motorcycle sounds throughout: switches clicking, gears moving, engine starting and running.)

[Use this information at your own risk. By watching these videos you consent to indemnify me, my company, and any employees from all liability for anything.]

This video will cover using the motorcycles friction zone and shifting.

First lets learn about shifting. Motorcycles have specific shift patterns. The lowest position is first, between first and second is neutral, above neutral is second, pulling up another click goes to third, above that is fourth, and at the top is fifth. Most motorcycles stop at fifth, however, some have a sixth gear.

Because I already covered finding neutral in the previous video I will not cover it in detail here. As a reminder, you can go into neutral by slowly lifting up from first one click or slowly pushing down from second one click. We will start our practice from neutral.

With the motorcycle off and the side stand up we will practice properly going through the gears. Squeeze the clutch lever, push down on the shift lever to go into first, release the clutch slowly, release the tension from the shifter, and add a little throttle. Once we accelerate enough we will go into second: reduce throttle, squeeze the clutch lever, lift UP on the shift lever to go into second, release the clutch slowly, release the tension from the shift lever, and add throttle. Lift up on the shift lever for the rest of the gears. You may have to move the motorcycle slightly back and fourth for it to shift into gear because it is not running. In a moment you will see it in a different view. Throttle, clutch, shift, clutch, shifter, throttle. If you are like me and do not keep track of what gear you are in, if you are already in the top or bottom gear the gear shift lever will not give resistance and will smoothly move to an abrupt stop. Like that.

Downshifting is usually much easier because you don't really need to use the throttle on belt and chain driven motorcycles: like this one. On a shaft drive motorcycle you may have to use some throttle. From this view we can see each of the movements together. Here you can see that the steps blend together. They flow seamlessly into each other, at times overlapping. You will have to practice with your motorbike controls to have a smooth shifting experience. I reduced the throttle initially and didn’t move it after. Moving closer up I squeeze the clutch, push the shift lever down, release the clutch, release the tension from the shift lever, and this time we will add throttle. Throttle, clutch, shift, clutch, shifter, throttle. With more practice you can perfect the throttle amount to have a smooth and even shift. You will know the amount is correct when the motorcycle does not jerk by speeding up or slowing down when the clutch is engaged. If you are paying attention like I’m not, you will notice I am already in first. I usually try to shift again if I am unsure, you will feel that it will not shift and will not have any resistance.

The friction zone is between the area in the clutch between when the motorcycle starts moving forward and when the clutch is fully released. Start up the motorcycle using the procedure in the previous video. Put it into first gear and slowly release the clutch. When it starts rolling forward hold the clutch where it is. Fully squeeze the clutch to stop transmitting power to the wheel. It will stop. Then rock back by using your legs. Repeat this motion until you are comfortable with the friction zone and know when the clutch will begin to engage. You may also use the throttle if necessary. If you use the throttle you can modulate it to maintain the engine speed, or you can hold the throttle steady and allow the engine speed to vary. You can see that I add throttle to start, maintain it, and release it right before squeezing the clutch when you want to stop.

If you release the clutch too fast the engine will stall. Release the clutch even slower. If it still stalls add a little bit of throttle and release the clutch slower yet. I don’t recommend deliberately stalling the motorcycle because of unnecessary wear it may cause.

Practice it until you are comfortable shifting and using the friction zone. Stop to rest if you are tired.

Please support what I do by clicking on the link in the description.

The next lesson will cover walking and driving the motorcycle.

/End transcript.

Videos in the Series:

1. Intro to Motorcycling. http://www.reidmr.com/musings/1introtomotorcycling.

2. Motorcycle: Equipment. http://www.reidmr.com/musings/2motorcycleequipment.

3. Motorcycle: Pre-Ride Inspection and Controls. http://www.reidmr.com/musings/3motorcycleprerideinspectionandcontrols.

4. Motorcycle: Engine Start and Checking Oil. http://www.reidmr.com/musings/4motorcycleenginestartandcheckingoil.

5. (This Video.) Motorcycle: Friction Zone and Shifting. http://www.reidmr.com/musings/5motorcyclefrictionzoneandshifting.

Further Resources:

Please note I am in no way affiliated with the MSF and have made these videos on my own. A special thanks goes to Ken at the MSF for sending me a brochure listing many of the lessons.

1. Organization: MSF: Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Page: Homepage. Accessed August 2013 from: http://www.msf-usa.org.

2. Organization: MSF: Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Title: Basic RiderCourse. Rider Handbook. Printing: May 2011. Copyright: 2001 - 2009. Accessed August 2013 from: http://msf-usa.org/CurriculumMaterials/BRCHandbook2011.pdf.

3. Organization: MSF: Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Title: You and Your Motorcycle: Riding Tips!!. Published: July 2010. Accessed August 2013 from: http://msf-usa.org/downloads/Street_Motorcycle_Tips_2010.pdf.

4. Organization: Idaho STAR. Title: Rider's Guide. Copyright: 2013. Accessed September 2013 from: http://idahostar.org/resources/rider%27s-guide.

5. Organization: Idaho STAR. Title: Practice Guide. Copyright: 2013. Accessed September 2013 from: http://idahostar.org/resources/practice-guide.

6. Your state motorcycle manual. Change MN to your state. Organization: DuckDuckGo. Search link: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=mn+motorcycle+manual.