What Are The Causes Of Poor Shifting In Motorcycling?

The use of motorbikes has increased dramatically in recent years. IN fact, between 2010 and 2015 there was an increase of 22.3% in motorbike registrations! Motorbikes are attractive due to their low running costs, the ease in which they can negotiate traffic and the feeling of freedom every time you ride one.

This is why motorbike sales have increased so much and are likely to hit the million mark in the next few years.

Of course, not everything is perfect in the world of motorcycling. You still need to complete basic maintenance tasks yourself. Other issues can actually arise from the way you ride as opposed to a lack of maintenance or an issue with the engine. Shifting, or more accurately, poor shifting, is one of these. There are several common causes:

Shift Pedal

Most motorbikes will allow you to adjust the shift pedal; this is to make it as comfortable as possible when changing gear. However, if you adjust the height of the shifter too dramatically then you’re likely to find that it actually claps against the linkage. This effectively prevents you from shifting gear as the linkage is unable to move into the full release position.

The first step if you have a shifting problem is simply to examine the external shifter.

Clutch Drag

This is most noticeable when your bike is cold. The shift lever will seem very hard and the bike will not want to go into gear. In general this is because the clutch cable needs to be adjusted.

All you need to do is loosen the locking adjustment in your cable and then work the clutch lever a couple of times. Swing the handlebars to full lock in both directions before retightening the locking adjustment. You should be looking to add approximately ¼ cm to your clutch handle play.

The difference should be noticeable!


You might be surprised to realize that your size does matter. If you are trying to ride a bike that is too big for you, or too small, then you’ll not be able to operate the controls effectively. Something as simple as not bringing the clutch leaver in properly will give you shifting problems.

Clutch Lever

Your clutch lever needs to be released slowly to ensure the spines on your gearbox blend together seamlessly. This will create a smooth shift without any noticeable drag or any risk of locking your back wheel.

To aid this you can blip the throttle, this helps the engine revs match the road speed which will give you a much smoother shift.


It is possible that your clutch is worn out, causing you to slip while changing gears. Assuming the clutch cannot be adjusted, this is one situation where you’ll need to change it.

The alternative is that too many bad shifts or just wear and tear have damaged your gearbox; it might need rebuilding or replacing.

In many cases a poor shift is directly related to the way you operate your motorcycle but it is also worth checking out all the possibilities before committing to any one solution.

~ by velofinds on February 1, 2018.