Motorcycle Won’t Shift Gears? Here Is What You Need To Do

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You are facing trouble in shifting gears in your motorcycle and not sure how to go about it.

Or, you often hear a clicking noise whenever you are changing the gears. The gear shift is either not smooth or the gear does not shift properly at all.

Well, let us find out what are the main causes and the remedies for that.

If your gear is not shifting either up or down, then there is a problem in either of these three things.

  • Clutch – Not enough slack or too much slack in the cable.
  • Oil/lubrication – Oil level is low or you have used a deteriorated quality Oil.
  • Transmission Gear – Seized Transmission, foreign object stuck in the gear assembly.

Let us check each of these problems one by one.


Do you usually ride in a heavy traffic daily? Do you change the gears at extreme frequency? If yes, then too many gear shifts would have put a strain on – the clutch, the clutch wire, and the clutch assembly.

One of the first things to make sure is that your clutch cable is not too hard pressed while changing gears. Unless there has been an external damage, in the case hard shifting of gears, the most usual and common reason is clutch problems.

Frequent change of gears and hence the frequent use of clutch makes the clutch cable slack. The loosened cable might have resulted in the clutch not being fully engaged even if the gear is completely engaged.

In other words, your transmission is working perfectly fine, however, your clutch cable is causing problems while shifting the gears.

Okay, I got it. Clutch wire is the problem. What is the solution then?

Well, the remedy is you need to get your clutch cable adjusted or tightened or even get it replaced depending on the condition the wire is in. If it needs to be replaced, go to the mechanic for replacement in the next service.


The next possible reason why you are facing problems in gear shifting might be because of the engine oil.

Either the oil level is low or the oil you are using is of deteriorated quality.

Most motorcycles use wet clutches that operate well only when bathed with the engine oil. The lubrication is important. And the type of oil used for lubrication is important as well. You must lubricate your motorcycle every often to avoid wear and tear and dryness which makes it difficult for the gear to shift.

So, how do I know engine oil is the reason my gear is not shifting?

Well, first we need to ask ourselves when was the last time the oil was changed in the motorcycle?

A simple thumb rule for oil change is every 3 months or for every 1000 kilometres run, whichever is earlier.

So, if it has been more than 3 months or you have traveled more than 1000 kilometres in the last 2-3 months, then it is time for you to visit the mechanic and change the oil .

Another concern is whether you are using the right kind of oil or not. A bad oil quality or an incorrect viscosity level in the oil is as equal as having no oil in your motorbike. Do not compromise on the quality of oil when you visit your mechanic the next time.

Chain and Transmission Gear

Problems in Chains and Transmission Gears can also cause issues in gear changing in your motorcycle.

The two main concerns in chain are chain slack and chain sprocket issues. Make sure there is not much slack in chain or worse, the chain is not hanging loose. Also, diagnose if the chain sprocket is alright and the bolts are not loose. If either of the issues exist in your motorcycle, get the chain adjusted or replaced by the mechanic.

Sometimes, there might be problems arising from your transmission gear and shift shafts.

Seized Transmission gear, foreign object stuck between the gears, incorrect assembly of transmission gears, bent shift shafts are some of the major issues that could cause problems while changing the gears. If you suspect any such problems are prevailing, take your bike to your mechanic as soon as possible.

Summing Up

Let’s recap. Here are the reasons that are creating issues in your motorcycle while changing the gears.

  • Clutch – loosened clutch cable
  • Oil/lubrication – low oil levels, deteriorated oil quality
  • Chain – chain slack and chain sprocket issues
  • Transmission Gear – seized transmission, foreign object stuck in the gear, incorrect assembly.

Irrespective of the diagnosis, it is better for you to take your motorcycle to the mechanic and get it checked.

Helpful read: motorcycle gear shifting tips

Preventive Measures

Apart from understanding the reasons for gear shifting problems, we should also be aware of the steps we need to take to prevent the same problem from arising again.

Here are the preventive measures that can be taken to prevent facing issues in changing gears of our motorcycle.

  • Do not press hard on the gear levers while changing the gears up or down. The bikes of today have smoother clutches that help in releasing the gear smoothly.
  • Release the clutch smoothly rather than a sudden release. This will facilitate smoother engagement of the gear rather than a blunt one which might cause issues in the Transmission Gear.
  • Get the oil changed every 3 months or for every 1000 kilometre the bike has run, whichever is earlier.
  • Use good quality oil. If the viscosity of the oil is not right, the lubrication is not right for the motorcycle.
  • Get your motorcycle serviced frequently.