Changing Gears on Motorcycles without Clutch

I recently found myself completely stranded without any proper clutch. At that point, I started wondering if there is any way to ride without a clutch. It’s funny how quickly you can figure things out when you’re desperate, luckily I managed to get myself home that day. Keep reading to find out exactly how it all panned out.

What's In This Guide?

      Can You Change Gears on A Motorcycle without The Clutch?

      The answer is a resounding yes. Many riders use the clutch-less gear changing method for reducing the time wasted behind changing the gear. This technique is primarily used by avid racers. Alternatively, you can also use it if you’re looking forward to a smooth and glitch-free gear change. Either way, the process doesn’t damage the transmission of your motorcycle if you follow the right techniques.

      That said, the process may not work as well when you are trying to downshift, when you are trying to switch from first to second gear, or if your motorcycle belongs to a specific type. 

      How to Change Gears without Using The Clutch?

      The key to changing gears without the clutch is proper timing. The process only involves some simple steps. So, all you’ll need is patience and plenty of practice to ace it. Your motorcycle won’t shift gears the moment there’s an extra load on your transmission.

      The idea here is to reduce the load on the sprockets of the gear. After you’ve successfully eliminated the load, changing the gear will be a tad easier.

      When you are prepared to shift the gear, try placing your toe right below the lever of the shifter. Next, start applying slight pressure. Make sure the pressure doesn’t cause your vehicle to shift gears; instead, be gentle with it. Once you’re done, immediately start rolling the throttle.

      After the throttle has gone off, it will reduce the pressure from the sprockets of your gear and let you switch the gear of your bike. This usually happens due to the pressure exerted on the lever. Once you’re done, roll the throttle back and allow it to go. 

      NOTE: It will barely take you a second to complete this step. From applying pressure to your lever, rolling the throttle, upshifting and releasing- it can be done in the fraction of a second.

      Although it may not be as convenient in the beginning, with proper practice, you’ll get your sweet spot and understand when exactly you should be lifting the lever. 

      The technique works well if you are looking to upshift to a gear which is higher when compared to the second gear. This is also the reason why you might experience difficulty while switching from the first to second gear.


      Because at this point you will need to bypass the neutral gear. So, will this technique work when you are left with a broken clutch? It most certainly will. If, however, you take the time for getting your bike into neutral and get the bike started in second gear without using the clutch.

      Yeah, it can get a little tricky, but with that said, it isn’t impossible.

      What RPM Is Best to Shift Gears at?

      For the most smooth and glitch-free ride, you should shift your gear between 3000 pm to 5000 RPM. Note that as your bike starts ageing, shifting gear in the mentioned rpm won’t be as productive.

      Over time you’ll want to get used to changing the gears by listening to the sound of your bike over changing at recommended RPM. An aggressive sound indicates a higher RPM, and a deeper less aggressive sounds indicate you have room to ramp up the revs before needing a gear change.

      How Do Clutches Work on Motorcycles?

      Clutch can be best defined as a type of mechanical coupling that lets rotational energy to transmit while also being engaged and disengaged. This way, it keeps the engine isolated from the other components of the driveline.

      The operation of a clutch

      The idea behind this is simple, it allows your engine to spin even when the transmission is still. This usually happens when you pull the lever of the clutch. So, pulling this lever compels both the engine and the transmission to spin simultaneously. 

      In a way, the clutch will function as a mode of contact between the shaft of the gearbox and the driveshaft. You can use it for engaging or even disengaging the transfer of torque from your motorcycle’s engine to its gearbox, which can then be smoothly switched to the wheels. 

      In almost all modern motorcycles, the lever located at the left bar operates via a cable system or hydraulic system for either engaging or disengaging your clutch. Note that like we previously mentioned, your clutch will be engaged if you get the lever out.

      This happens when the engine and transmission keep rotating. When you pull the lever towards yourself, the coil springs in your clutch will compress and cause the stacked plate to independently operate. 

      This stack of plates is perfectly arranged to create an alternating movement between the steel and friction plates. While a specific type of plate will be connected with the splines right up to your crankshaft, the other one will be connected via an outer basket that will drive the interior shaft at the time of transmission. 

      When you pull the lever of the clutch in, the springs will be naturally compressed, and the plates will start spinning freely. Note that at this point both the engine and the transmission will start spinning at a different speed.

      This will make way for switching gears when you’re at speed. Additionally, it’ll also let the motor freely run when it is kept at a standstill.

      Will Changing The Gear Without Clutch Damage The GearBox?

      Clutchless shifting of gear is popular among bike enthusiasts and racers. The process results in smoother mid-turn shifts and better performance. In most cases, it doesn’t damage your gearbox when you do it briefly. The process of upshifting is extremely seamless, so much so, that everything is smooth and glitch-free, even when you’re trying mid-turn upshifts.

      There isn’t much damage to the transmission if you follow the right techniques. The same way, your gearbox to remains completely unaffected. However, despite the benefits do not do this as frequently.

      Since I do not know the model of your bike, I cannot be completely sure about the damage it might lead to your gearbox. In most cases, however, the possibility of damage is minimal. Keeping that in mind, try clutchless shifting only when you need to (read more here). 

      guy shifting gears on motorbike

      How to Downshift Gears on A Motorcycle? 

      Downshifting gears on a motorcycle is fairly simple when you follow the right tips. Here’s what you should know about it. 

      Step 1

      For this step, you need to pull the lever of your clutch inwards. Doing this will result in a better and glitch-free shift, eliminating the possibility of wear and tear both on the transmission and the clutch. 

      Step 2

      Once you’re done with the first step, try to pull the brake almost immediately. Try using both your brakes, while letting your right hand manage the throttle and the lever of the brake. Try to use the index and middle fingers for pulling the brake. 

      Step 3

      For this step, you will need to shift to the new gear. You can downshift to a single gear. Alternatively, you can work your entire way to the first gear. You can also get a middle ground if needed. Since the selection of the gear will depend on your current situation (turns or stop signs) it is important to ensure you’ve chosen the right gear. 

      Step 4

      As you state downshifting, try using your thumb finger, ring finger, and small finger to control the throttle. You might also control the throttle with two fingers while managing the break with the remaining ones. Choose your comfort. Start applying a throttle which is almost 50% of a complete turn.

      This too will depend on the specific situation. As the speed of your engine is likely to be high in a low gear, try applying he required throttle for matching it. If you trying to slow down for stropping, you can immediately close your throttle.

      If, however, you can re-start at a lower ger, try maintaining the throttle before finally releasing the lever and switching the gear. 

      Step 5 

      Release your clutch only after you release your brake. Do this as you manage the application of throttle. The final result will be a smooth downshifting without any damage to your motorcycle’s transmission. 

      How to Power Shift on a Motorcycle?

      The idea behind powershifting is simple. All you need to do is shift gears with the clutch without closing the throttle. But while the process is simple, but it might not have the best impact on your bike. 


      Now that you have a clear insight into how you can change gears without using the clutch, try this trick at home to enjoy maximum speed and a glitch-free performance from your motorcycle. Since the steps I included are simple to follow, it won’t take you much time to master the art of gearless upshifting and downshifting.

      That said, do not try this method as frequently to maintain the optimal performance of your motorcycle. Since we’re now at the end of this article, I hope I could clarify all your doubts about the topic. 

      Leon Angus

      Leon Angus

      I love bikes. All types, but mainly motorbikes (or motorcycles for those in the U.S.). I'm a qualified Motorsport Engineer that currently lives in the UK and drives trains for a living (weird combo, don't ask), I love to cook, into fitness and ride bikes for funsies! This website is my path back into the motor industry where I can share helpful advice for bikers along the way. Learn More about my mission here

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      Leon Angus

      Leon Angus

      I love bikes. All types, but mainly motorbikes (or motorcycles for those in the U.S.). I'm a qualified Motorsport Engineer that currently lives in the UK and drives trains for a living (weird combo, don't ask), I love to cook, into fitness and ride bikes for funsies! This website is my path back into the motor industry where I can share helpful advice for bikers along the way. Learn More about my mission here

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