Beginner Motorcycling

Information on Motorcycling for Beginners

Month: December 2017

How to Shift a Motorcycle

motorcycle shift paternIn this post we’ll continue our articles on the basics of riding a motorcycle and discuss shifting a motorcycle.  If you missed our recent articles on basic motorcycle controls and how to start a motorcycle you may want to read those before reading this article.

So, you’ve know where the motorcycle controls are and you’ve gotten the motorcycle started.  As stated in our last article, if you’re new to motorcycling or riding a motorcycle that you’re not familiar with, you should do this exercise to feel how the bike throttle and friction zone of the clutch work: (1) sitting on the motorcycle with your gear on, pull the clutch lever all the way in and shift to first gear by pushing the shifter down as many times as it takes to get where it won’t go down any further — this is 1st gear; (2) keeping your feet on the ground, feel the friction zone of the clutch by slowly letting out the clutch a bit (without giving throttle) and then pulling it back in before stalling (if you stall, put in Neutral and re-start); (3) again keep your feet on the ground, and feel the throttle response by doing the same exercise with a small bit of throttle; (4) put the bike back in Neutral (Neutral light should illuminate) with both feet on the ground and start to push forward and check that the front brake will stop the motorcycle, and do a quick check on front and back brakes separately in the first 20 yards or so after starting out on your motorcycle.

O.k., you’re off and running in 1st gear and have tested your brakes a little, so what next?  Once your RPMs go up where you need to shift, then squeeze in the clutch lever while rolling off of the throttle, firmly shift up into 2nd gear with your shifter foot (left foot for most modern motorcycles) and roll back on the throttle.  Doing a firm and full shift is especially important in shifting into 2nd gear, otherwise you might wind up in Neutral by accident (if so, simply quickly repeat the above: clutch, throttle down, shift up, throttle on).

Once you are riding about, you’ll often need to dowshift in traffic, before stopping, before cornering, etc.  The motorcycle downshifing process is similar: squeeze the clutch, blip the throttle, shift down and throttle on.  By “blip the throttle” I mean for a split-second roll on the throttle more (to get RPMs up a bit) then close the throttle before pressing down on the gear change lever with your shifting foot.  When going down from 2nd to 1st, be extra sure to firmly and fully push down on the motorcycle gear change, so that you don’t end up in Neutral.  Again, if you do end up in Neutral don’t panic, just repeat the process above.

So there you have it, basic motorcycle shifting instructions.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section below.  Happy riding!

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How to Start a Motorcycle

motorcycle controls drawing

Basic Motorcycle Controls

In one of our recent articles we explained the basic motorcycle controls for modern motorcycles.  Now, we’ll go over the basics of how to start a motorcycle.

First, you will need to insert the ignition key and turn it clockwise to the ignition position.  Next, you will need to make sure the motorcycle transmission is in Neutral (most modern bikes won’t let you start the bike in gear with the kickstand down).  If you don’t know how to find Neutral, we will cover that in our next article on shifting a motorcycle.

Next, make sure the engine cut-off switch (or “kill switch)  is in the “run” setting, not in the engine “kill” setting.  At this point, if your motorcycle is fuel injected you can start it by pressing the start button.

For motorcycles with carburetors, before you press start you will need to make sure (1) that your fuel supply valve (if you have one) is turned to the on position; and (2) that you adjust your choke/enricher (usually either near the clutch lever, or somewhat near the fuel supply valve) to get extra fuel in the mix to start (many bikes need half-way or none on warm days, full way on cold days, but each one is different).  Once you’ve done all that you can start it by pressing the start button or using the kick starter if you have one.

Let the engine run a bit to warm up. On a carbureted motorcycle, after you’ve let it run with the choke out a bit you’ll want to push it back in before you start riding.  If you start pushing the choke in and the engine sounds like it might die, pull the choke back out and let the engine warm up a little more.  Most fuel injected motorcycles will start out automatically with a richer fuel mix, and will automatically go to a normal mix after warming up — you’ll be able to hear a change in the sound of the idling motorcycle engine.

Now the engine is on and warmed up.  I recommend that on any motorcycle you are not used to that after you sit on the bike you should do this exercise to feel how the bike throttle and friction zone of the clutch work: (1) sitting on the motorcycle with your gear on, pull the clutch lever all the way in and shift to first gear; (2) keeping your feet on the ground, feel the friction zone of the clutch by slowly letting out the clutch a bit (without giving throttle) and then pulling it back in before stalling; (3) again keep your feet on the ground, and feel the throttle response by doing the same exercise with a small bit of throttle; (4) put the bike back in Neutral (Neutral light should illuminate) with both feet on the ground and start to push forward and check that the front brake will stop the motorcycle, and do a quick check on front and back brakes separately in the first 20 yards or so after starting out on your motorcycle.

Hope you find this helpful.  In our next article about how to ride a motorcycle, we’ll cover shifting in more detail.

Harley Davidson Financing for Private Party Used Motorcycle Loans

Used Harely Sportster 48

I recently learned of a pretty cool financing program that Harley Davidson has  for used Harley motorcycle loans.  It’s called the Harley-Davidson Rider-to-Rider Financing Program, and it can make private party used motorcycle sales (like buying a used motorcycle through Craigslist or Autotrader, etc.) a bit more convenient for both the buyer and the seller.

This is different from buying a used Harley being sold by a Harley dealership — as with the Rider-to-Rider program the individual person who owns the used Harley is still the seller.  However, with this program the person buying the used Harley can apply for financing through Harley Davidson.  Harley claims that their used motorcycle loan rates are competitive, and that all buyers will be considered — so they should have some options for bad credit motorcycle loans.  The Rider-to-Rider program allows buyers to add in Harley upgrade accessories, services and clothes into the loan, and also allows buyers the opportunity to have the used Harley inspected by the Harley dealership.

For sellers of used Harleys, this program allows the sellers to advertise that used motorcycle financing is available.  Sellers can even put a link in their Craigslist ad or other ad that the buyers can click on to apply for used motorcycle loans from Harley.  Harley also helps sellers with all of the documents necessary for the sale, and can help process the payoff of any Harley motorcycle loans that you may have also.

The Harley Rider-to-Rider program sounds like it could be pretty helpful to buyers and sellers.  If you’d like to see more details about used Harley motorcycle financing, you can find it here:  Harley Private Party Financing  Or you can check out the latest deals on Harleys here:  Harley Motorcycles for Sale.

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