Riding, Clutch Control & Gear Changing

Overview

Motorcycle Laws UK

To start Element C you will learn and practice the following:

  • Moving off and stopping under power
  • Clutch control
  • Riding in straight lines, ovals, circles and figures of eight
  • Riding slowly under control
  • Gear changing

Moving off and stopping under power

Moving off

To move off you will

  • Sit astride your machine
  • Apply the front brake and then start the engine
  • Squeeze in the clutch lever. Use all your fingers to get full control
  • Select first gear. Keep the clutch lever held in
  • Put your left foot on the ground and shift the weight of the machine to that foot. Put your right foot on the footrest and then apply the rear brake

You can now release the front brake and work the throttle.

  • Release the clutch lever smoothly, until you feel the engine trying to move the machine. This is called the ‘biting point’. Open the throttle enough to keep the engine running smoothly

You’re now ready to move off.

  • Gradually release the clutch lever and at the same time open the throttle smoothly. As you move off release the rear brake and bring your left foot up onto the footrest

Clutch control

Smooth clutch control is essential to good riding. It’s also one of the most difficult skills for the beginner to acquire.

You must be able to find the biting point easily when releasing the clutch lever. This skill will develop with practice.

Balance

When you’re maneuvering a motorcycle the weight may make it awkward to handle. When you’re riding, however, you should find the weight improves the stability and balance.

Never look down at the front wheel when riding – this can severely upset your balance.

Stopping

To stop, the following sequence will apply to most motorcycles

  • Close the throttle
  • Apply both brakes smoothly until the machine stops
  • Just before the motorcycle stops pull in the clutch lever to avoid stalling the engine
  • As the machine stops put your left foot on the ground to support the weight

When the machine has stopped

  • Keep the front brake applied
  • Release the rear brake and support the motorcycle with your right foot

With the clutch lever still pulled in

  • Use your left foot to move the gear selector to neutral
  • Release the clutch lever
  • Place both feet on the ground

Disengaging the clutch

When stopping from very low speeds pull in the clutch lever just before or just as you brake.

When stopping from higher road speeds always brake first, then pull in the clutch lever just before you stop.

Further riding practice

You will now spend some time practising riding in straight lines, circles, ovals and figures of eight.

Slow riding practice

At about this point during your CBT you’ll be shown how to ride slowly while keeping your balance and not stalling your machine. This is an exercise you’ll have to do in your practical test. It’s also one of the most difficult things to do on a bike.

You will be shown how to travel in first gear, at walking pace, using a combination of clutch, brake and throttle.

Gear changing practice

To change up or down through the gears you need to be able to co-ordinate the

  • Clutch
  • Throttle
  • Gear selector

Changing up

Change gear when you’ve reached the appropriate speed for the next gear.

  • Simultaneously close the throttle and pull in the clutch lever
  • Select the next higher gear by lifting the gear selector with the toe of your boot. Allow the selector to return to its normal position after each gear change
  • Release the clutch lever smoothly and open the throttle at the same time
  • Repeat the sequence for each upward gear change

Always travel in the highest suitable gear. You’ll save fuel and spare your engine.

Changing down

  • Simultaneously close the throttle and pull in the clutch lever
  • Select the next lower gear by pushing down the gear selector with the toe of your boot. Allow the selector to return to its normal position after each gear change
  • At the same time, release the clutch lever smoothly and open the throttle as necessary

When to change

Experience will tell you when to change gear. You’ll be able to hear from the engine sound when a gear change is needed. Never let the engine

  • Race when you could change to a higher gear
  • Labour when you could change to a lower gear
Next Section >>  Braking

 

Further Information

Our thanks to Survival Skills Rider Training and Abbey Rider Training for their contributions to this section.