One of the hardest things a beginning rider has to learn is properly working the clutch while taking off and shifting gears. If you ever hear someone say” I only use my clutch when I take off. I never use the clutch when I shift gears”. Be very cautious when riding near them. Because more than likely their transmission is about to go out. Even if you do use your clutch when shifting, if your not hitting the sweet spot you could wind up with some costly repairs.
In the image below the gear on top is new and the one below is toast. Notice the little square nubs sticking up from the side of the gear? The leading face on the lower one is rounded off. When that happens your gear won’t stay engaged and will jump in and out of gear possibly locking up the transmission. That’s all it takes to ruin a fun day of riding. And all it takes to get your gears in that condition is a few too many missed shifts.
It’s all in how you squeeze, jam, turn it loose and twist it. As long as you do it just right your bike will love you and provide many miles of blissful fun. Do it wrong and she’s going to be a ….. very expensive fix. Getting the feel of the clutch and where and when it is engaging and disengaging is the most important thing you can do to have smooth shifts. Just make sure that whenever you are shifting you have the clutch lever pulled in. And you don’t really want to jam that gear shifter either or it’s not going to be pretty. Smooth and deliberate foot action is a must. Letting out the clutch to the point it starts dragging the engine down and getting on the throttle at the same time is the most difficult part for beginners. Finally, when you do twist that throttle don’t do it too soon or too hard or you may pop a wheelie or something else. Seems easy enough right?
You can read all day on how to shift a bike properly. The only way you’re going to get good at it is to get out and practice. Just remember it’s not a race to get to high gear all the time. Leave the speed shifting to the drag racers. Sometimes you need to slow down and check out the scenery around you and take it all in. And all that requires is some smooth shifting.