How to Shift a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

by TJ Hinton

The 2014 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy comes equipped with a six-speed transmission. The driver footboards allow for the use of a heel-toe shifter, which allows for much greater comfort over rides that require frequent shifting, such as in city traffic or while negotiating steep grades and turns. Do not shift gears with the engine off or damage can occur to the shifter mechanism.


Start your bike with the transmission in neutral, as indicated by the neutral light on your instrument display. Pull the clutch in fully, and push down on the toe-shifter until it bottoms out and you hear the transmission go into first gear. Release the clutch while rolling on the throttle until you get up to 15 mph. Pull the clutch fully in again while rolling off the throttle. Now you can either lift up on the toe-shifter, or press down on the heel shifter to shift into second gear. Roll on the throttle while releasing the clutch and accelerate up to 25 mph. Repeat this process through the remaining gears, shifting at 35, 45 and 55 mph.


Roll off the throttle while pulling in the clutch fully. Push down on the toe-shifter to shift into the next lower gear. Ease the clutch out and adjust the throttle as needed to avoid slowing the rear tire enough to break traction. Downshift from sixth to fifth at 50 mph, and the successive gears at 40, 30, 20 and 10 mph.

Shifting Strategy

Every rider develops his own style of control. The above shift points serves as a guideline, but in actual use they will vary a bit and that is acceptable. A common shifting technique used among experienced Harley riders involves using the engine speed to help synchronize your gear speeds in the transmission before shifting. This helps to prevent shifter mechanism and slider-gear wear, and prolongs the life of the drivetrain while giving maximum control over the bike. Pull the clutch in and roll off the throttle as normal for a downshift, but before shifting you will want to rev up the engine briefly, then make the shift.

Shift Pattern and Neutral

The shifter mechanism follows a one-down-five-up pattern, with the neutral detent located between first and second gears. You can feel this detent when you shift between first and second, giving these shifts a sort of notchy feel. You can shift into neutral from first by lifting up slightly on the toe-shifter, or from second by pushing down slightly on the toe-shifter.

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