Can You Skip Gears On A Motorcycle?

I. Introduction

Experienced and skilled motorcycle riders and racing riders skip gears while riding. So you may wonder if average motorcycle riders like you and me may also skip gears.

Well, this article will answer questions like “can you skip gears on a motorcycle”, “how to safely skip gears on a motorcycle”, and “is it advisable to skip gears on a motorcycle”, and we have also answered a few frequently asked questions.

II. Can you skip gears on a motorcycle?

The answer is yes, it is possible to skip gears on a motorcycle when you are upshifting or downshifting. However, if you want to attempt skipping gears, two things are very important:
(i) you must be an experienced and skilled rider, and
(ii) you must be very very familiar with the engine speed, and motorcycle speed at each gear.

You must learn and master how to appropriately match the engine speed and the motorcycle speed to the gear you intend to shift. You can put yourself at great risk if you attempt to skip the gears without having the skill for doing it and your motorcycle can suffer damages.

III. How to safely skip gears on a motorcycle?

This is a tricky question since there is nothing safe about skipping gears on a motorcycle. Let us modify this question for our discussion as “How to skip gears on a motorcycle?

The normal pattern of gears on a motorcycle is 6th or 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, neutral, and 1st.  When you are shifting a gear you have to ensure that you are at the appropriate speed, make the throttle to zero, pull the clutch completely towards you, change to the next gear, and release the clutch smoothly while revving the throttle properly. Pulling a clutch disengages the rear wheel from the engine transmission and releasing the clutch engages the engine with the rear wheel once again.

Let us assume your motorcycle speeds are as in the table below:

The typical speed of a motorcycle
First gear15 to 22 MPH.Fourth gear43 to 58 MPH.
Second gear25 to 36 MPH.Fifth gear51 to 80 MPH.
Third gear32 to 48 MPH.Sixth gear60 MPH and more.

When you want to shift from the first gear to the second gear your motorcycle speed will be nearer to 22 MPH and the motorcycle allows for smooth shifting. However, if you want to skip a gear and go from first gear to third gear, it can be difficult since there is quite a difference between the maximum speed of the first gear and the minimum speed for the third gear.

On the other hand, if you are a skilled and experienced rider, you can skip gears and go directly from third to fifth or fourth to sixth since the maximum speed of the third gear is nearer to the minimum speed of the fifth gear and the maximum speed of the fourth gear is nearer to the minimum speed of the sixth gear.

So, if you want to skip gears on your motorcycle, apart from being a skilled rider, you must be thorough with the engine speed, and motorcycle speed at each gear.

Let us consider our question now “How to skip gears on a motorcycle?”

You can skip gears during downshifting as well as upshifting.

Skipping gears during downshifting on a motorcycle

Normally, even in sequential downshifting, we tend to slow down when going down from 6th to 5th or 5th to 4th and so on. If you do not slow down, when the gear is shifted to the lower gear, the engine speed and the wheel speed may not be in sync and the engine applies a brake on the rear wheel. The engine brake can be hard and trouble you. So, when you downshift the gear, you should ensure smooth deceleration by braking without much strain on the engine.

The effect of the engine brake on the rear wheel can be harsher when you skip gears and do not match the motorcycle speed to the gear selected by you for downshifting.

You can go from 6th gear to 4th gear, or 5th gear to 3rd gear or 4th to second, however it is not safe to attempt drastic skipping of gears (like 6th to 1st or 5th to 1st) because the brake applied by the engine on the rear wheel can be harsh and lead to accidents.

You must always ensure that the speed of the engine and the motorcycle are suitable and matching with the gear you are intending to downshift.

Also, you must have the skill of releasing the clutch smoothly and accelerating at the appropriate time. When you release the clutch smoothly the transmission of power from the engine side to the wheel side will be gradual and smooth and this can minimize the effect of the brake applied by the engine on the rear wheel.

Skipping gears during upshifting on a motorcycle

When you are skipping gears during upshifting, you have to ensure that the engine speed and the motorcycle speed are appropriate for the upper gear you want to shift. The releasing of the clutch should be smooth and throttling should be appropriate to ensure smooth transmission from the engine to the rear wheel.

If your motorcycle speed is not appropriate for the upward gear, the motorcycle can stall, and you may struggle to accelerate.

Note: Do not attempt skipping of gears if you do not have the experience and skill for doing it. It can be dangerous to skip gears when you are riding uphill or when the traffic is heavy.

IV. Is it advisable to skip gears on a motorcycle?

The answer is no and the reason for this answer is the consideration of your personal safety. The simple logic is why take a risk placing your safety at stake?

However, if you are experienced, skilled, have excellent knowledge about transmission gears, and recommended speed at each gear, and have the skill to skip the gears, you can go for it. But, do not attempt to skip too many gears, especially during downshifting.

If you are a fresh motorcycle rider, please do not attempt skipping gears. Concentrate on mastering the riding skills.

Skipping gears on your motorcycle may not be wrong if you are having the expertise and skill of doing it. However, it is not considered a good riding habit because there is always an element of risk and your safety can be in danger.

V. Risks involved in skipping gears on a motorcycle

When you want to skip gears, you must know the current gear you are riding. Unless your motorcycle displays the gear, it may be difficult to judge, and you can do a mistake.

If you are down-shifting say from 6th to 3rd or upshifting from 3rd to 5th, there are chances that you can shift into a wrong gear and your motorcycle speed is not appropriate for that gear. This can lead to mishaps. If this happens on a freeway, it can be dangerous. Such mistakes can result in a strong jolt and the motorcycle can skid.

Experienced motorcycle riders may not advise skipping gears.

It is difficult to predict the behavior of your motorcycle when you skip gears and the experience can differ each time. This is because it is not possible to master the procedure of skipping gears and repeat it perfectly every time. The more gears you skip, the more unpredictable your motorcycle may get.

Skipping gears is not a safe practice if you do not have the skill and expertise and you may lose your control over the motorcycle. It may damage the motorcycle engine, gearbox, and rear-wheel sprocket.

Never skip the gears if you are a new motorcycle rider or the motorcycle is new to you.

It is not safe to skip the gears when riding uphill or riding in heavy traffic.

VI. Frequently asked questions FAQ

1Can I skip gears on my motorcycle when going uphill?
Skipping gears on a motorcycle is not safe and the level of risk of doing it on an uphill road is still more. When you skip gears on a motorcycle there are chances that you can end up in a false neutral and on an uphill road, this can make your motorcycle moving backward. Also, it is not easy to maintain a suitable speed for your targeted gear on an uphill road. So, please do not attempt skipping gears on an uphill road.
2Can I shift gears on a motorcycle without using the clutch?
Some experienced motorcycle riders and race motorcycle riders have the skill and do shift gears without using the clutch. However, if you do it wrong it will harm both the motorcycle and its rider. Please do not attempt it.
3What are false neutrals on a motorcycle and why it happens?
False neutral on a motorcycle is a neutral other than between the first and the second gear and it is experienced to happen when shifting for higher gears viz. 4th to 5th or 5th to 6th.

When you shift the gear upwards (say fourth to fifth), the motorcycle transmission disengages from the fourth gear but could not engage the fifth gear properly. This situation results in what is called a ‘false neutral’.

To avoid false neutral you have to ensure pushing up the gear leaver correctly. If you end up in a false neutral, do the gear shifting once again immediately. If the problem persists, contact your mechanic and get it attended to.

4Can I park my motorcycle in neutral gear?
Yes, you can do it if it is level ground. If the ground has a gradient, it is better to park in first gear and this can avoid the motorcycle moving down the gradient on its own.

VII. Conclusion

We have discussed the various aspects of skipping gears on a motorcycle in this article. Now you are aware of the pros and cons of skipping gears on a motorcycle and hopefully, this will help you to decide whether to attempt skipping gears or not. Please keep your safety as a rider on top priority.

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