Left Handlebar Controls

Last Updated: 19th May 2022

CBT Element B Motorcycle Left Handlebar Controls

Clutch lever

This lever operates the clutch. Squeezing the clutch lever towards you with the fingers of your left hand will disengage the clutch and disconnect the engine power from the rear wheel.

Releasing the lever will engage the clutch and provide power to the rear wheel.

You will use the clutch when you

  • select and change gears
  • put the motorcycle into neutral
  • carry out some slow-speed maneuvres

To change or select a gear

  • Pull the clutch lever fully to the handlebar
  • Select the gear you need
  • Release the clutch lever smoothly to engage the clutch

Fully automatic motorcycles – this type of motorcycle has no clutch lever. You select drive or neutral as required. Often the rear brake lever is fitted in place of the clutch.

Semi-automatic motorcycles – these have no clutch lever. The clutch operates automatically when you use the gear-change pedal.

Read about riding the clutch on a motorcycle.


The choke is a device which helps when starting a cold engine. It operates by changing the amount of air in the air/fuel mixture which the engine burns.

When you’re starting a cold engine

  • Move the choke control to ‘on’
  • Start the engine
  • Gradually move the choke control to ‘off’ as the engine warms up

Failure to return the choke to ‘off’ could cause the engine to run faster than normal. This could make it difficult to control the motorcycle, especially when slowing down. Also, it could cause excessive wear to the engine and excessive fuel consumption.

Headlamp dip switch

This is used to switch your headlamp between full beam and dipped beam. You operate it with your left thumb.

On full beam you’ll probably see a blue light on your instrument panel. At night, switch to dipped beam when another vehicle is coming towards you or when you are following another vehicle.

Some people consider it to be good etiquette to dip when you see a pedestrian walking towards you.

Headlamp flasher

This switch lets you flash your headlamp, which means the same as sounding your horn. You would flash your headlamp in a situation where your horn might not be heard, for example on a motorway.


You would sound your horn to warn other road users if you think they haven’t seen you.

You must not sound your horn

  • Between 11.30 pm and 7 am in a built-up area
  • When your motorcycle is stationary, unless a moving vehicle poses a danger


You use the indicators to let other road users know that you intend to change direction. You must make sure that you cancel them after turning. Use your thumb to operate the switch.

Some motorcycle models have the left turn signal on the left handlebar and the right turn signal on the right handlebar

Light switch

This can be found on either the left or right handlebar. It’s usually a 3 position switch

  • off
  • parking lights
  • headlights

You must use dipped headlights when you need to see ahead or if you want others to see you. At night, or in poor visibility, you are legally required to use your headlamp.

Next Section >>  Right Handlebar Controls