Motorcycle reverse gear – Have any? Everything you need to know

In order for you to fully understand the motorcycle reverse gear, you will have to know the primary principles of the motorcycle gears.

The three controls to operate when shifting the bike are:

Motorcycle reverse gear

The clutch

This engages and disengages the transmission.

The throttle

The function of this control is to rev the engine.

The gear selector

Just as the name suggests, the gear selector selects the gear.

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The mode of shifting in motorcycles

To perform this act properly, you should pay special attention to the following actions.

Disengaging the clutch

To do it properly, you should use your left hand to pull it in your direction.

Selecting the appropriate gear

You will do this by using the shift lever. Ensure to use the left foot for this process.

Other points to note in the shifting process

To release the clutch, do it as gradually as possible and not by making a sudden release.

If you do not want to accelerate the bike, do not feather the throttle while releasing the clutch.

To rev the engine at a lesser magnitude, you should twist the throttle with your right hand.

Finally, you should pay attention when you are revving the engine for acceleration, until another shift is needed.

If you keep the above techniques at your fingertips and constantly practice how to execute them, then the entire process will eventually become easier for you in the long run.

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Shifting gears on a motorcycle

When it comes to deciding when to change gears, it is recommended that you trust your instincts. These instincts should however be based on basic principles of gears.

For instance, a high gear is never recommended for use in the normal situations. Another general rule is that you should make proper calculations such that you do not shift the gear too early which may result in inadequate power necessary for acceleration.

Skipping gears

During the times when you are revving high, you may wonder whether skipping a gear may lead to a higher acceleration as opposed to when you had to shift from the lowest gear to the highest in that order.

Well, sorry to burst your bubble but skipping gears has no significant impact on the rate of acceleration. However, if you master the art, then you can use this maneuver to save on gas.


On level ground, you can engage the neutral gear and the motorbike would be peacefully parked. On a steeper slope, you may engage the first gear, for the normal motorbike.

For the heavier models, you should leave it in reverse gear.

Mentioning the reverse gear brings us to the topic of the day

It is common knowledge that most motorcycles not only lack the reverse gear but they do not really need it.

But why don’t most motorbikes need the reverse gear?

The first obvious reason is that most of the motorcycles do not have to go in reverse. Unlike the 4-wheeled vehicles, the motorbikes have a tight turning radius.

This means that you can instantly change its direction by simply making the front wheel face your preferred direction.

They are also relatively light and you can just push them to go towards whichever direction that you want.

Another reason that makes the reverse gear unnecessary in motorbikes is the shape. The design of the steering is such that the bike remains fairly stable while in forward motion. It would probably tilt over if you tried moving it in reverse.

Motorcycles with the reverse gear

There are bigger motorcycles which are just too big, heavy or extremely wide for a single individual to push them towards their preferred direction. For this reason, these bikes with the reverse gear to aid in the reverse direction movement.

The most popular models that have a reverse gear include the Honda Goldwing, the BMW K1200LT, the Can-Am Spider bikes, the Moto Guzi and the Ural motorcycles which have a sidecar.

The major difference between the reverse gear in a motorcycle and the one in a car is that the reverse function in the former is performed by the starter motor geared in reverse. The one in the latter is performed by the engine.

Another point to note is that the reverse gear in a motorcycle is only meant to help you in walking the bike in reverse direction. The speed at which it will move in this direction is really limited and it also drains the battery at a higher rate than normal.

The components of a reverse gear system

A main shaft side gear

This is connected to the main shaft which is in the gearbox of the motorcycle.

Countershaft-side gear

This is joined to the countershaft in the gearbox of the motorcycle.

An idler gear

This part works hand in hand with the countershaft side gear.

A shifter

This part mainly provides support to the idler gear in two main ways. First, it will locate the idler gear while in a separation position and then will disengage it from the main shaft side gear. All this will happen while the shifter is in a retracted position.

The second is that it is used to locate it (Idler gear) in an engagement position so as to engage this gear with the main shaft gear. The shifter will have been set in a forward position.

A holding unit

This unit will temporarily hold the shifter in a state while the shifter is being set in a retracted position. It will also hold it when being set in a forward position.

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The bearing apertures

These are formed in the shifter and have a length along the direction in which the shifter moves. This length should ideally be larger than the diameter of a shaft member.

In conclusion

We hope that this article has enhanced your knowledge on not only the reverse gear of a motorcycle but of the entire transmission system.

Just apply the knowledge that you have gained and use it to enhance and enjoy your motorcycling experience.

1 thought on “Motorcycle reverse gear – Have any? Everything you need to know”

  1. Typically I really don’t read through article in information sites, however i want to say that this particular write-up really urged us to take a peek during and also practice it! Your current writing style may be amazed everyone motorcycle gear. Cheers, pretty good write-up.


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