Can You Start a Motorcycle in Gear? (Explained!)

Motorcycle Clutch

Motorcycles are designed to start easily in all types of road and traffic. The convenience is important for the rider, and hence for the manufacturer as well.

Motorcycles should be easy to start even when in gear so that the rider does not get stalled or stuck in traffic. However, you might have noticed sometimes, your motorcycle won’t start in gear, but only when in neutral.

So, will a motorcycle start in gear? Motorcycles can be started in first gear easily by pulling in the clutch. For higher gears, you cannot as the motorcycle will die down once you release the clutch to move forward. In case the clutch switch is not functioning, motorcycles won’t start in any gear.

Let us first look into the starting of motorcycles in each of the gears, starting from the neutral.

All Motorcycles Start In Neutral Gear

This is obvious.

Shifting your motorcycle gear to neutral position and starting it is the most natural way of motorcycle starting.

Neutral gear is the resting position for your motorcycle with the engine still running.

So, you start the engine on neutral gear, the motorcycle starts but won’t move forward. Then, you shift to the first gear to start moving.

You already know this. This is how one starts the motorcycle. And that is exactly the way the manufacturers want you to start the motorcycle.

Now, the position of neutral gear might vary across different motorcycles depending on their gear shift patterns.

Most commonly, the neutral gear is positioned between the first gear and the second gear in motorcycles. However, there are some manufacturers who keep the neutral gear at the bottom most position in their models.

The point here is, neutral gear acts as the resting gear wherein the rider uses it to start the engine without moving the motorcycle. Once the engine is started, the rider can shift to the first gear and start moving forward.

This is a common thing and all motorcycles are designed to start this way. Neutral gear starting is universal and is the most preferred method to start a motorcycle.

Can You Start A Motorcycle In First Gear?

The confusion begins when you try to start the vehicle from the first gear itself.

Now, this is not the preferred gear position and most manufacturers do not recommend it.

However, if you are stuck in a slow-moving traffic, you sometimes won’t have the time or patience to shift to the neutral if your motorcycle dies down. You just want to start the motorcycle and move fast.

And motorcycle manufacturers understand it as well. That’s why one can start their motorcycle even while being on the first gear position.

All rider needs to do is pull in the clutch lever on his left hand, and start the engine either through electric starter button or kick-start.

Of course, the rider has to be in the first gear for this.

Once the engine starts, the rider can slowly release the clutch lever and start moving forward. Once the bike gains enough momentum in the first gear, the rider can switch to the higher gears.

This method of starting your motorcycle while positioned at the first gear is commonly seen across all motorcycle makes.

Now, what happens when you try starting your motorcycle at higher gears, second gear and above? That leads us to the next section.

Can You Start A Motorcycle In Second Or Higher Gears?

If you wish to start your motorcycle on second gear or above, you start of course by pulling in the clutch lever.

The engine will start revving once you have started the bike either with the electric starter button or the kickstart.

However, once you start releasing the clutch to move forward the motorcycle, the engine will die down.

This is because, you are trying to start your journey at a high gear, and hence, high speed. And motorcycles can’t pick up at such high speeds. The driving gear cannot just engage with higher gears abruptly.

Even if sometimes you were able to move the motorcycle forward at higher gears, which mostly will be at second gear – it is not recommended.

You will be putting unnecessary strain on the gears since the gear engagement won’t be smooth as soon as you release the clutch.

So, whether the motorcycles start at higher gears or not, you should not practice starting second gear or above to maintain your motorcycle health.

Will Motorcycle Start In Gear If Clutch Switch Fails?

This is a minor problem that happens when the clutch switch is not functioning.

Clutch switch is a safety feature that allows you to start the motorcycle if it stalls or while taking turns. The motorcycle will be in gear that time. And clutch switch allows the rider to start in gear.

Basically, if the clutch switch fails, the clutch interlocks to prevent starting the motorcycle in gear.

Not just in gear, sometimes they prevent the motorcycle starting altogether.

This depends on the type and the model of your vehicle.

Depending on the manufacturer and the model, the motorcycle either wont start at all or starts only on neutral gear – when the clutch switch is not functioning.

While this is not a major issue, and if the motorcycle starts perfectly fine when positioned in the neutral gear, you need not worry.

However, if the motorcycle won’t start at all because the clutch switch is not working, they you got no choice other than changing the clutch switch.

How Much Does A Clutch Switch Cost?

The clutch switch needs to be from the same dealer or manufacturer as that of your motorcycle. While the amount varies from model to model, the usual range is between $20 to $30.

It is better to source the clutch switch from your motorcycle dealer or service shop since they are going to have the right one suitable for motorcycle model.

Can you Replace the Clutch Switch by yourself?

You can replace the clutch switch by yourself. All you need is the new clutch switch and screw drivers. However, it is advised to use the help of your mechanic.

Locate the position of the clutch switch near the clutch lever for your motorcycle. Most motorcycle models, have it underneath the clutch lever. If you look right below the start of clutch or where the wires join to the lever, you will be able to locate it.

Once located, the next steps are simple enough. Use your screw drivers to remove the clutch switch and replace it with the new one. Tighten the screws on the new and replaced switch using your screw driver.

And, that’s it. You have successfully replaced your clutch switch and your motorcycle is good to go and start in gears.

Is It Okay If I Don’t Change the Clutch Switch?

It is okay for you to not change the clutch switch as long as you are okay with not able to start your motorcycle in gear.

Most of the times, clutch switch only affects the starting from gear. And not when you are starting in neutral.

So, if you have been riding motorcycles for a long time and can manage busy traffic roads and stalling without requiring to start the bike in gear, you should manage fine.

However, if you are starting out and would like to have the option of starting your motorcycle in gear, you should consider replacing the clutch switch.

Starting motorcycle in gear helps specially when you are riding in a busy road, intersection, turning or when the bike stalls.