What Is the Gear Shift Pattern on a Suzuki Motorcycle?

by Dennis Mayer

Like all motorcycles, Suzuki's production line features a sequential transmission controlled by a gear shift lever on the left side of the bike. Riders can only shift up or down one gear at a time. First gear is located lowest on the transmission, with a neutral gear "between" first and second; thus, a five-speed transmission can be described as "one down, four up." Suzuki makes mostly five- and six-speed motorcycles.

Operating the Transmission

A close-up shot of the left side of the engine; the gear shift lever is a small, round peg visible in the lower center-right portion of the photo.

The rider controls the transmission by either pushing down or lifting up on the gear shift lever. The shift lever rests in the middle of its range of motion; lifting it completely up advances the transmission one gear higher, while pushing completely down moves the transmission one gear lower. Riders can shift through multiple gears at once (for instance, shifting from fourth gear to first gear or neutral when coming to a stop light.) However, the gear shift lever must be released and allowed to return to its resting position before further shifting is possible. The process is almost instantaneous (much like clicking a pen open and shut), so in the event of a sudden stop, a rider can easily shift down from the bike's highest gear to first gear or neutral within a second by simply tapping, then releasing the gear shift lever repeatedly. Just like a car with a manual transmission, the gear shift works in conjunction with the clutch, which is operated by a lever on the left handlebar grip; the rider must pull in the clutch lever before changing gears, then release it before operating the throttle (located on the opposite handlebar grip.)

Neutral­­­­---"Between" Gears

A motorcycle tachometer with a neutral indicator.

On the sequential transmission, neutral gear is located between first and second gears­­­­­­---a natural location, since neutral is typically only used while the bike is stopped, and a rider would conceivably never attempt to start moving from a standstill in anything other than first gear. As stated above, lifting or pressing completely to the top or bottom of the gear shift lever's range of motion advances the transmission up a gear. When shifting up from first gear or down from second gear, moving the gear shift lever only halfway through its range of motion "frees" the transmission and places it in neutral. For beginning motorcycle riders, finding this "middle" gear can be challenging, until the rider develops a feel for the transmission. While only a few Suzuki motorcycles have gear indicators on their instrument panel, they all have a warning light that turns on when the bike is in neutral, alerting the rider that the clutch can be safely released. (This indicator light is standard on virtually all motorcycles.)

Sport Bike Pattern

Suzuki's sport bikes (including the GS500, the SV650, the GSX line and the Hayabusa) are six-speed bikes, so the gear shift pattern is: 6 = 5 = 4 = 3 = 2 = N = 1

Cruiser Gear Pattern

Suzuki's Boulevard series of "cruiser"-style bikes, regardless of engine size, all feature five-speed sequential transmissions with the following gear shift pattern: 5 = 4 = 3 = 2 = N = 1

Other Bikes

Even Suzuki bikes that don't fit the five- or six-speed gear shift pattern employ a similar sequential transmission. For instance, the 67cc DR-Z70 dirt bike, which features a three-speed transmission, has the following gear shift pattern: 3 = 2 = N = 1

About the Author

Dennis Mayer is a Boston-based freelance writer who has been working since 2005. He has worked for MPG Newspapers, MassInvestor Publishing and "Brookline Magazine." He has written extensively about politics, education, real estate and other issues. Mayer graduated with a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Boston University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera blue motorcycle image by Christopher Martin from Fotolia.com