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When To Shift Gears On A Motorcycle At What RPM

Everyone who rides a motorcycle should be proficient at changing gears if they want to enhance performance and feel like true road kings. It’s much easier than it looks. All you’re doing is reacting to the state of the road and your bike’s engine. Shifting gears will become second nature to you after a bit of training.

That being said, don’t anticipate any precise figures. Most motorcycles can shift smoothly between 5,000 and 7,000 revolutions per minute (RPMs), but the easiest method is to pay attention to how the engine feels and sounds. We’ll go into the details as you read on.

When To Shift Gears On A Motorcycle

1. First Gear

Starting in first gear. First gear isn’t used for driving and is positioned below neutral gear. It is used to start the motorcycle when it has stopped. Generally, the first gear should only be used between 0 and 15 km/h. This only applies when you’re traveling up an extremely steep hill. After the second gear, the motorcycle starts to go smoothly.

2. Second Gear

Proper driving starts in second gear. At 15 to 30 km/h, second is still considered a lower gear and best suited to riding in crowded areas with plenty of traffic or uneven terrain. The bike becomes more comfortable in second gear, the main distinction between first and second gear. The motorcycle no longer has that first-gear clunkiness, so you won’t have any problems sitting in traffic.

3. Third Gear

30 to 40 km/h can be achieved with the third gear. The required speed range is not quite as stringent as it is for the first and second. Consider it more of a suggestion in general. Depending on the type of motorcycle, there may be slight variations in the rpm and rate of the gears, so be mindful of your fellow riders. Recall that the key is to react to the bike rather than imposing your will on it.

4. Fourth Gear

Things get going in fourth gear. The best speed range is 40 to 55 km/h; however, as mentioned before, this is a suggestion rather than a hard and fast rule. While these don’t seem like breakneck speeds, bikers may find things more dangerous in fourth gear.

5. Fifth And Sixth Gear

Go to the fifth and sixth gears while traveling more than 55 km/h. You can shift into fifth gear at 50 km/h, but before you do so, make sure there isn’t much traffic and that the road ahead is smooth. Riding fast carries a lot of risk, so be cautious! When riding high gear, keep your head firmly on your shoulders to be prepared if something unforeseen happens while you’re out and about.

When sitting in the fifth or sixth gear, you should always be ready to drop down a gear. Remain in charge and be prepared to apply the brakes at any time.

Adapting The Gears To The Speed

There are many benefits to changing gears by speed. It aids in the long-term upkeep of the components on your motorcycle, to start with. Because the clutch plates won’t burn or sustain damage, they will remain in good shape. Over an extended period, the gearbox system will function smoothly, and the gears won’t become stuck.

The gears and gearbox won’t put too much strain on the engine. Similarly, the clutch plate is protected from harm and does not burn quickly—your motorcycle’s mileage increases when you shift gears based on speed, which enhances fuel efficiency.

Matching By Sound And Feel

Since this idea is complex for beginners, we will make it simple. This is a simple rule to remember: move up a gear if the engine sounds high and down a gear if the engine sounds low-pitched and slow. Pretty easy, huh?

Naturally, practice and experience are necessary to perfect this, so don’t worry if you don’t get it the first time. As you learn more, don’t be scared to try new things. With time, muscle memory will develop.

How To Shift Gears Smoothly: Shift Skills For Beginners

Here’s a short, detailed tutorial on how to shift gears smoothly:

  • Release the clutch lever gradually.
  • Using the gear shift lever, select the desired gears.
  • Crank the engine a little bit.
  • Release the clutch gently.
  • Release the clutch and progressively increase the throttle.
  • Increase the engine speed until you have enough momentum to shift up a gear.

It takes some time to get the hang of this, but it’s a straightforward process once you do. Before you reach the road, rehearse your maneuvers in a parking lot or other empty, open area.

When You Switch Gears, What Happens?

The clutch, gear, and throttle are the three primary motorbike components that change gears.

Power from the engine is engaged and disengaged from the rear wheel via the clutch lever, which is located on the left side of the handlebar. Even if you roll on the throttle, the motorcycle will not go forward until you squeeze the clutch, which disengages the engine’s power to the back wheel.

You can enter the friction zone by carefully releasing the clutch lever. At this time, the motorbike moves forward as the clutch transfers power to the back wheel. Applying the least amount of throttle is crucial while determining the friction zone.

The motorcycle’s gear lever is located on the lower left side. Shift gears with your left foot. To move up a gear, simply insert your foot beneath the gear lever and lift it higher. Change gears with a single click. From top to bottom, this is how the gears are arranged:

  • Fifth
  • Fourth
  • Third
  • Second
  • Neutral
  • First

The first gear is below neutral at the bottom, as you can see. Therefore, lowering the gear lever to the absolute bottom guarantees you are in first gear. Ensure you stay in first rather than neutral when coming to a halt so you can respond fast if another vehicle is not paying attention—which is sadly often the case when they are among motorcyclists.

And lastly, the throttle. This is situated on the handlebar to the right. Moving the throttle in either direction—away from you or towards you—regulates the amount of gas supplied to the engine.

  • Rolling the throttle in your direction yields more gas.
  • Gas is saved when you roll the throttle away from yourself.

The Difference Between Upshift And Downshift


Once the bike is in first gear, steadily increase the throttle until second gear is reached. This depends on your speed, the state of the road, and the motorcycle itself, as previously mentioned. A motorbike will typically shift quickly between 5,000 and 7,000 rpm, although judging by speed and engine sound is always advisable.

Accelerating increases the engine’s pitch; you can safely upshift when the angle reaches a certain level. You’ll shift too soon and hear the engine struggle during the learning process; take note of this and use it as experience to figure out the right moment.


You’ll have to downshift as soon as you stop. It’s time to shift down a gear when the motorcycle engine struggles and pitch decreases. Release the throttle, squeeze the clutch, and then move the gear lever down one level to downshift. After completing that, release the clutch gradually and roll the throttle to increase engine speed.

To achieve a seamless downshift and prevent rear wheel locking, you must first increase engine speed to match the bottom of the higher gear before allowing it to slow down.

How Can You Identify That You Have Mistakenly Shifted Gears?

The motorbike will usually make a loud, uncomfortable sound to alert you to the situation. You will hear some grinding and an unpleasant crash of steel. Conversely, changing too soon will result in an underwhelming loss of power. Regaining that lost speed usually takes some time from this point on. The following indications suggest that you may have shifted at the incorrect time:

  • The quiet, satisfying click that accompanies a typical gear shift is absent.
  • The motorbike begins to shake and move awkwardly.
  • A very undesirable wheelie can result from releasing the clutch suddenly, lifting the front wheel off the ground.
  • You detect an abrupt change in the bike’s weight.

A Note To Keep In Mind When Shifting Gears

Motorcycles typically show the gear you’re in but don’t rely on that information. It isn’t always dependable. The top motorcyclists all learn their present gear’s speed and sound characteristics. Learning is undoubtedly worthwhile in the long term.

New riders frequently struggle to shift gears when they don’t wear the proper motorcycle shoes. Standard motorcycle gear, such as boots with steel toes or heels that are heavy and sharp, is not recommended.

If you wear shoes like those, you’re more likely to use the edge of your shoe to shift gears rather than correctly placing your foot underneath the lever. This may result in an incomplete shift, and you’ll likely find that you frequently change into neutral.

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