Motorcycle Won’t Shift Into Neutral? Here Are The Reasons


Your motorcycle just doesn’t want to shift to neutral sometimes. You have to rock your motorcycle back and forth, and shift the gear up and down for a while for it to go into neutral.

The main reason why your bike won’t shift to neutral is because the clutch cable does not have enough slack.  A loosened or strongly tightened clutch cable will create problems while changing the gears.

You need to adjust the clutch by giving it the required slack. One correct way to gauge the required slack is from the company specification for your motorcycle. Another way is the trial and error method by adjusting 2 mm to 3 mm and then rechecking.

If your motorcycle does not shift into neutral when it is standing still, i.e., in resting position, but works perfectly fine while running, then it is not a big concern usually.

By slightly rolling your motorcycle ahead and then shifting the gear will automatically take care of the problem and shift into the neutral position.

Now that we have an idea of why your bike is not going into neutral, let us deep dive into the issue.

Reason #1: Clutch is the issue in most cases

Okay, let us look at the reasons first.

There are 2 main reasons why your motorcycle is not changing to neutral gear. The first reason is the clutch and the second one is Oil.

The most likely reason is, of course, your clutch. The clutch plates are dragging, and they are not fully releasing whenever you pull in the clutch lever.

So, make sure that your clutch lever has some free play. Usually the slack in the clutch wire should be about 2mm to 3mm. However, check for your bikemaker’s manual for the exact specifications.

Here is the reason why your clutch wire should have sufficient slack. If the slack is too high than required, the clutch can slip even though you have fully released the lever. And the other case, when the slack is too low or tightened, pulling the clutch wire even completely is not enough to fully release the clutch plates.

To solve the issue, adjust your clutch by giving it a proper slack. If you don’t have the company specifications, try adjusting for 1 mm and recheck. If it is not correct, adjust the cable a bit more.

Reason #2: Not enough Oil

Another possible reason why you are not able to shift the gear into neutral is because your motorcycle does not have enough oil in the system.

Either the oil level in your bike is low or you are using low quality oil.

For the clutches to operate smoothly, lubrication is very important. If there isn’t enough oil or if the oil quality is not great, dryness creeps in, which makes it difficult to shift the gears.

Check your oil levels and frequently change the oil to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.

If it has been more than 3 months since you have changed the oil last time, then it is definitely the time to change it up. Also, while changing oils, make sure the oil viscosity is of the right levels. You do not want a cheap quality oil in your motorcycle, do you?

Reason #3: A rare cause, warped clutch plates

This might not be a common reason. However, warped or burnt clutch plates will also result in difficulties in shifting your gear to neutral.

If you have recently traveled for a long distance in your motorcycle, then there is a chance that the clutch was overheated due to riding the bike under full power for long periods.

If warped clutch plates are the issue, then you need to visit your mechanic to fix the clutch plates or worse, replace them with a new one.

Not a big concern if the problem is only when at stop

If you are facing difficulty in shifting into neutral only when the bike is at rest, i.e., when it is at the stop, then it should not be a major concern.

Most motorcycle owners have faced this issue at one time or another. And as time goes by, bike riders get accustomed to it so much that they forget that this issue exists.

All you need to do is find and shift to neutral gear. Roll your motorcycle forward slightly and then try shifting your gear into neutral. See, it works like a charm.

Another hack is to shift into the neutral position just before your motorcycle is coming to a halt. As soon as you are stopping your bike, shift the gear into neutral right before.

Wrapping Up

To summarize, here are the key points to know if your motorcycle is not shifting into the neutral position.

  • The most likely reason is your clutch cable not having enough slack.  A loosened or a strongly tightened clutch cable will result in problems while changing the gears.
  • Adjust the clutch by giving it the proper slack required. Usually, the slack should be around 2 mm to 3 mm. Check your company specifications. If not, go for trial and error approach.
  • Another reason might be low oil levels. If it has been more than 3 months since you serviced your bike last time, gear problems or not, you gotta change the oil levels.
  • Other possible reasons include warped clutch plates. If you have recently rode your motorcycle for a long trip, your clutch plates may have warped due to overheating. If the other reasons mentioned above are not the causes, it is probably best for you to check the clutch plates.
  • Lastly, if you are facing this difficulty only when the motorcycle is at stop, then there might not be a cause for concern. It is a common issue that most bike-riders face. Roll your motorcycle slightly forward and then shift the gear to the neutral position. Another hack is to change the gear position to neutral right before the motorcycle comes to a halt.