How Much RPM Should You Use to Change Gears On A Motorcycle?

back in the day, I used to watch my dad come out on his Kawasaki Ninja 900 (oldskool green on black), down the side of the house and onto the road that ran in front. I’d be sitting there with my friends like “Dude! how is my dad so cool?”

Every weekend we would spend a few hours just cleaning the bike up, and making sure that she was running in tip-top shape. But it wasn’t until a few years later that I put my finger on why the guy looked so good on the bike…

It just kind of it e out of the blue! It was not that he was the best rider on the planet after all, instead, it was more that’ll he looked confident as ever riding it. One thing that the old man knew well was ow to push the bike to its absolute maximum limits and boundaries.

And he was ready to take it up a notch every time he jumped on.

From riding with him for so many years, I managed to pick up a heap of tips on RPM, redlining and everything there is around it. Today, I’m gonna share all of that with you, so stick around and continue reading to find out.

Revolutions per minute or RPM of the engine is a signal’ in simple language to tell you to change gears. You should change gears around 2000 to 2500 RPM. 

Before you hop on to some really interesting and just rocket science seeming paragraphs, understand some basics that will be discussed later on. This is for your convenience.

Tachometer-This is an instrument that measures the working speed of an engine, typically in revolution per minute. Upshift of gear is changing the gear from neutral to 1st, 1st to 2nd and so on. Downshift of gear is changing the gear from highest gear to lower say from 5th to 4th or from 4th to 3rd. 

Now you have done some basics let’s move back to RPM as discussed before around what RPM you should change the gears, that just not end there. This is not a hard and fast rule that the gear shift has to be in the required RPM. There are several aspects. Let’s take 2 aspects for example.

Example 1
Fuel efficiency or economic driving- Shift gears at lower RPM say 2000-3000 or 2-3.
Example 2
For performance and to drive with full advantage- Shift gears at higher RPM say 4000 and above. 

And in case of hilly areas or steep climbs, drive in low gears say 1st or 2nd according to the steep, so that you can get enough acceleration to move forward. See, not rocket science!

NOTE: The tachometer which displays the RPM on the dashboard has an analogue dial with numbers either in one’s unit or in thousand’s, i.e. RPM can either be 1’ instead of 1000’ or 4’ instead of 4000’ and so on. 

Moving on to some more interesting information that my father’s diary unfolded, he was always like, “Treat your vehicle as your own personal belonging and take absolute care of it”. So keeping that in mind, here is how you can be really soft and caring while changing the gears.

What's In This Guide?

      How To Get A Smooth Gear Change Every Time

      The master key is inserted and the motorcycle is ready to move. All eyes are on you and then there comes a time to upshift the gears, but due to some incomplete knowledge and research, as soon as you change the gear from 1st-2nd your bike gives you a jerk that looks like a cowboy riding a bull at a show.

      Whilst it’s no big deal, it’s certainly something that you’ll want to iron out. So below is a paragraph that tells you how to smoothly upshift or downshift the gears.

      Let’s understand how to smoothly downshift the gears, that is from a higher gear to lower gear. Remember that the wheel’s speed should match the engine’s speed for the gear that you are in and when you go down a gear (from 4th to 3rd) you are suddenly requiring the engine to be spinning at a higher RPM.

      So when you go from like 3rd gear to 2nd, your engine now needs to be spinning a couple of thousand RPM faster and if you let the clutch out suddenly, it is going to be really jerky which is number one and number two you can lose control. 

      And to smoothly upshift the gear, that is from lower to higher gear let’s just say from neutral to 1st gear. Hit the 1st gear while pressing the clutch and as the clutch starts engaging give some fuel through your throttle and look in the tachometer.

      Give up to 2000-2500 RPM and let the clutch slip slowly while maintaining the fuel from your right hand.

      While moving it’s easier than switching from neutral to 1st gear just keep on moving and squeeze the clutch let go the fuel for a second lift up the toe and slowly do the same thing again. Just make sure not to quickly release the clutch or else your motorcycle might flip over.

      Now you know how to smoothly change the gears, but some curious minds out there need to be fed and so here is another paragraph covering:

      Do You Need To Use Clutch To Change Gears Every Time On A Motorcycle

      Yes, a clutch is needed to change the gears every time on a motorcycle. The clutch is a very important part of a motorcycle here below is written why it is important.

      The clutch is a mechanical part on your left handlebar responsible for the transfer of the engine’s power to the transmission system (gearbox that provides torque and speed) to the motorcycle. Clutch is used often for changing the gears and stopping the motorcycle without switching OFF’ the engine.

      Clutch, also helps to avoid stalling the motorcycle without giving jerks. For manoeuvre, squeeze the clutch provide some fuel through throttle then quickly release the clutch for a successful wheelie.

      Remember to keep the clutch in good condition many drivers come up with the issue of slipping, binding, cross shaft, sticking and other common clutch problems. A clutch in a poor condition can cause a series of issues, so it is the responsibility of the driver to take action, as soon as possible.

      Some other interesting lines are written below to teach you a little more about gears and their uses on a motorcycle.

      Can You Skip Gears On a Gear Change?

      Skipping gears is fun, but there are a few pros and cons to this!

      For one, the ride is amazing, especially as a beginner rider, for him\her every gear engagement is sacred, it means you enjoy and love the click sound of the gear and every little finger and leg movement involved in changing the gear.

      But that doesn’t last forever, as you’ll quickly come to a realisation that the fun wears out (fast). And your essentially building up some bad habits that will need rinsing out later on too.

      I’ve heard of people skipping right through from 1st to 3rd gears and so on, but it doesn’t do any good as you’ll be moving along like snail by jumping the gin this way. Not only that but you’re always causing a lot more stress on the gearbox and gears which will lead to an expensive trip to the workshop.

      The point is that you can skip the gear, but problems may occur. For example, If the downshift of gears is too much infrequent say from 5th gear to 2nd gear, this can seriously create an issue with the engine, as well as compromising the driver’s safety. 

      What RPM Gives You The Most Speed On A Gear Change

      RPM is responsible to measure the speed of the engine spinning. A high RPM means that the engine is spinning faster and producing more torque speed, and lower RPM means the rate of engine spinning is slower thus it is producing less torque and speed.

      Also note, that when the RPM is high the consumption of fuel is also higher for an obvious reason (to produce more power). So to experience speed and save fuel shift up at 2000 RPM. 

      Keep the RPM limit in check, the RPM limit is a red area, in the tachometer display or simply known as redline’. The engine can be damaged if the red line is crossed. So to maintain the efficiency of the motorcycle shift at lower RPM.

      How Do You Know When You’ve Made An Incorrect Gear Change?

      In most cases, you’ll get a big jerk and hear an absurd sound of metal clashing and grinding. It’s quite embarrassing for the most part as you may find that you’re also over-revving your bike too. Thats if you haven’t changed the gears in time.

      On the opposite end, if you change the gears too early, then you’ll experience a lack of power and it’ll take forever to get up to a decent speed.

      Heres a video on a guy stalling his friend’s bike after riding for the first time:

      Here are some ways to find out that you have changed the gear incorrectly.

      1. The smooth click sound is absent.
      2. Jerking motion start which causes the motorcycle to ultimately stop.
      3. Imbalance if the vehicle is at high speed.
      4. A sudden release of the clutch can lift up the front wheel off the ground causing a wheelie.
      5. Sudden change in the weight of the vehicle.

      Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

      Is it possible to switch from 5th to 1st gear on my bike?

      You can switch but it will be too much risk because there will be a sudden change in the speed. In 5th gear the bike will be obviously in too much speed and, as soon as you change it to 1st or even 2nd, the speed will fluctuate to a high degree, making the motorcycle difficult to control.

      If your bike is in slope while in neutral, can you skip the gear and go directly to the 2nd instead of 1st?

      Yes, you can skip. It is suggested to drive in gear even you are in a slope as the gear will restrict the motion and can be used as breaks.

      Should I go down the hill in neutral or in gear? If in gear, which one is the best option?

      The gear that is used or should be used to climb that particular hill, use that gear. If you drive in neutral you have to use breaks which can cause overheating.

      What is the best gear I should use if I’m learning to drive a two-wheeled vehicle?

      There are no best or worst gears. Different situations and roads require different gears. For instance, in order to start a vehicle and move it forward 1st gear is used and for speed and covering straight long-distance road quickly 3rd, 4th or 5th is used.

      If you are a person with good control, you can easily drive in 3rd or 4th gear, but if your controls are weak, have a spotter and try to drive in 2nd or even 1st, there is no issue.


      See, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. If you have a motorcycle make sure you know it’s functioning well or at least be aware of the above-mentioned information. That way, you can save the engine’s life and fuel and, acquire the basic information about changing the gears smoothly and quickly.

      Having said that, the hunger for information is always present and, as long as there are people there will be questioned. Just saying that people always crave for more information and can never be content. Thanks to the communication sectors for filling up the blanks and answering the questions. 

      A wise man knows that there is something to be learned from everyone, so here are some frequently asked questions and answers that you should check out and learn some more.

      Leon Angus

      Leon Angus

      I'm a 28-year-old train driver based in London UK. In my free time, I love riding off-road dirtbikes locally on track. I've always wanted to have a community of people that share the same love for bikes that I do. Which is why I put this site together, so people like you (and I) can connect and learn from one another.

      1 thought on “How Much RPM Should You Use to Change Gears On A Motorcycle?”

      1. Thanks man, good article. It’s good to know I change gears about where I should be right now. Mostly by feel and how the engine sounds. Shifting gears at a high RPM I guess is only good for racing, and racing will eventually cause your engine to go from peak to below average over time. But part of the fun of driving/riding is to go fast a few times to get it out of your system and then stay alive.


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      Leon Angus

      Leon Angus

      I'm a 28-year-old train driver based in London UK. In my free time, I love riding off-road dirtbikes locally on track. I've always wanted to have a community of people that share the same love for bikes that I do. Which is why I put this site together, so people like you (and I) can connect and learn from one another.

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