How to Put a Motorcycle in Neutral

by Sandi Stritch

Putting a Motorcycle in neutral is one of the most basic and rudimentary skills any rider can possess. Most anyone can find neutral while standing still or concentrating on it. Trickier is finding neutral while slowing to a stop or while concentrating on something else. This tutorial will teach you to find neutral by feel, so you can better direct your attention towards more pressing matters of the road.

With the Engine Off

Step 1

A typical motorcycle gear shifter

Start with the bike stationary and engine off. Hold your right hand on the front brake, and support the bike with your right leg. If your bike has a center stand, you can do this step while the bike is on the center stand. Depress the clutch with your left hand, and press the gear shifter down to put it in first gear.

Step 2

Keep the clutch depressed with the left hand, and lift gently up on the shifter pedal/lever with your left toe. You should feel a slight click as the transmission finds its way to neutral position between first and second gears. You can repeat this step as many times as necessary to get the feel for it. Remember, that the goal is to find neutral by feel.

Never rely on an indicator light- always verify neutral by slowly letting off the clutch.

Verify that the bike is in neutral by letting out the clutch and trying to roll the bike forward or backward. If the bike rolls, you have found neutral.

With the Engine Running

Step 1

While the bike is still in neutral, start the engine, put it in first gear. Make sure you have plenty of room in front of you, and start the bike moving forward.

Step 2

When the bike is moving fast enough that you can have both feet on the pegs comfortably (usually anything above 5 mph, but shoot for 10 mph or so), depress the clutch and lift slightly on the gear shifter with your toe. You should feel that familiar SLIGHT click. On most bikes, if you hear a heavy "snick" sound, you've overshot neutral and hit second gear.

Verify that you are in neutral by gently letting out the clutch. If the bike is still in gear, either the nose will dip down, or the engine RPM will slow. If this happens, squeeze the clutch to disengage it. Repeat this step as many times as you need.