How To Ride A Motorcycle With A Broken Clutch Cable


Category: How To

Step Five: Get Moving

With the bike in neutral, start the engine and get it rolling up to about 5 or 10 mph. A hill helps here, as does a buddy riding alongside, pushing you with an outstretched leg. Or, just run alongside the bike until you’re up to speed, hop on, and click up into 2nd gear.

Alternately, you can use the bike’s starter motor to get it moving. Again, use 2nd gear and, when the coast is clear, thumb the start button and give the bike a little gas as it begins to move. It should fire the engine after a few revolutions and you can then accelerate away.

1st gear is simply too short and abrupt on most bikes, but your mileage may vary.

Step Six: Shift Gear

This is the easiest part. You probably already know how to upshift without the clutch (apply upwards pressure to the shift lever, close the throttle a bit), but downshifting is nearly as easy. It helps to have the engine spinning low in the rev range, then just apply the normal amount of downward pressure to the shift lever, hold it there, close the throttle a bit and the lower gear will slide home. Downshifting without the clutch can be a jerky affair.

Step Seven: Coming To A Stop

Coming up to a stoplight or stopped traffic? Start slowing well ahead of time, giving you the opportunity to downshift without the clutch. Try and find neutral before you have to come to a stop, then just coast to a halt modulating your speed with the brakes. If you can’t find neutral (don’t underestimate how recalcitrant some gearboxes can be), then you’ll need to stall the bike at a stop, just use both brakes to make sure you do so without jerking forward and be prepared for that jerk and to catch the weight of the bike when it happens so you don’t fall over.

You’ll need to follow Step Five again when it comes time to pull away. Obviously this would be a huge pain if you have to do it every half mile, crossing a city and exposes you to the unpredictability of other traffic at each and every stop. You can mitigate the hassle somewhat by rolling through stop signs or choosing routes with fewer intersections.

Just be careful, the cars around you aren’t likely to understand the unique challenge you’re facing and may fail to anticipate that you’re going to come to a sudden stop when you stall the engine or that you’re going to pull away slower than normal. Keep safety as your first priority and resort to riding without a clutch cable only when it’s absolutely necessary. There’s no shame in pushing.

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