Accelerating, using the throttle and gears

Always try to use the throttle smoothly and steadily: this will

  • reduce fuel consumption
  • reduce wear and tear on your motorbike
  • make your riding safer
  • reduce the amount of damage your motorbike does to the environment.

Make sure you sit so you can reach the throttle comfortably and use it smoothly.

Be careful not to over-rev your engine when moving away (do not open the throttle more than is needed to make the motorbike move) or when your motorbike is stationary because it will waste fuel and make it harder to control your motorbike.

Using cruise control, if it’s fitted on your motorbike, can help to save fuel because it keeps your speed steady. Only use cruise control if you can travel at a steady speed for a long period; for example, on a clear motorway. Check your motorbike handbook for details on how to use cruise control.

If you get very cold while riding your motorbike or if you get tired, you’ll find it harder to use the throttle smoothly and accurately, and this could make your riding less safe. Make sure you wear suitable protective clothing to keep yourself warm and take breaks to avoid getting too tired.

Using the gears

The number of gears that motorbikes have varies: most modern motorbikes have 5 or 6 gears. The speed at which you’ll be travelling when you need to change from one gear to another will vary depending on the number of gears on the machine and how they’re configured.

Choosing the wrong gear can

  • make the motorbike accelerate too slowly or too quickly
  • make it difficult to control the motorbike effectively
  • increase fuel consumption and wear and tear on the motorbike.

Travelling in the highest suitable gear will help you save fuel and reduce wear on the engine.

The gears on a motorbike work sequentially so you have to change to the next higher or lower gear in turn. However, if you want to miss out a gear – sometimes called selective changing or block changing – you can do this by holding the clutch while you change from one gear to the next, and onto the next. This can give you more time to concentrate on the road and can increase the effect of engine braking.

When you’re braking and changing down gears, it’s best to brake to the speed you need to go and then change down into the appropriate gear so you may be able to miss one or more gears.

You can also use selective changing when you’re changing up gears, but be careful not to accelerate too fiercely or for too long in the lower gears.

Riding on hills

Use the gears to help your motorbike work efficiently when you’re going up or down hills, especially if you’re carrying a passenger or a heavy load.

When you’re riding uphill, change down to a lower gear to avoid the engine struggling to give enough power.

Riding downhill, you can use a lower gear to increase the effect of engine braking and reduce the risk of overheating the brakes.

You’ll need to anticipate when a gear change is needed to avoid making the engine struggle and to keep control of your machine.

Semi-automatic and fully automatic transmission

Semi-automatic motorbikes do not have a gear lever. Instead the clutch works automatically when you use the gear-change pedal.

Motorbikes with fully automatic transmission have no gear lever: the rear brake lever may be fitted in place of the clutch lever.

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