Ministry of Transportation / Ministère des Transports
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Using clutch controls and shifting gears (if applicable)

If your motorcycle is equipped with a clutch and gears, shift gears as you increase and decrease engine speed — shift up when driving faster and shift down when slowing down.

The purpose of the gears in a motorcycle transmission is to match the engine’s speed (measured by the tachometer) with the motorcycle’s speed (measured by the speedome­ter). The proper gear will also provide power for the motorcycle to accelerate if necessary.

Learning to co-ordinate the movements of the clutch and throttle to change gears smoothly is a critically important part of driving. Make sure you can accelerate and decelerate smoothly before you attempt to drive in traffic.

To shift up, twist the throttle as you pull in the clutch. Move the shift lever up with your toe until it stops. When you can hear and feel the gear engage, ease off on the clutch and slowly twist the throttle back up to speed.

It is more difficult to downshift smoothly than to shift up. You must twist the throttle slightly to increase engine speed as you downshift with the clutch pulled in. If you do not apply enough throttle, the motor­cycle may jerk when you release the clutch. To avoid a rear-wheel skid, downshift when the engine speed is lower than the motorcycle’s speed.

Do not shift gears while you are turning. A rough, jerky downshift can cause the rear wheel to lock, resulting in a skid. Applying too much power can cause the rear tire to lose traction, also resulting in a skid. It is best to shift gears before entering a turn.

Remember: You shift up when the engine is turning too fast for the motorcycle’s speed or to increase speed, and you downshift when the engine is turning too slowly or you want to slow down.