why motorcycle shifters are typically 1 down, 4/5 up

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Why do most bikes transmissions make you push the shifter down for 1st gear. Why can’t all your gears be be pulling up on the shift lever? Same with a lot of atvs if I remember right from my childhood

In: Engineering

6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

British bikes were (are?) one up, then down. Some decades ago it made for great ermmm… entertainment when you switched from one style to the other…

Anonymous 0 Comments

Imagine trying to engine brake with neutral at the bottom?

Anonymous 0 Comments

We’re taught in a panic to just slam down on the shifter. This will send you to gear 1. Releasing the clutch will now apply engine brake, which is safer than emergency brake.

Anonymous 0 Comments

You need to know definitively where 1st is. If you get all the way down, and there is no more, it has to be first. No big deal with new bikes with gear indicators, but old bikes with sloppy gear boxes it really helps.


I have had bikes where going from first through neutral to second felt like it was done by carrier pigeon.

I guess some folk start off in second too?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Another part of it is inertia. As you accelerate your body slide back on the bike. If the seat is the fulcrum point, you can imagine your body tipping feet up and head down.

This makes it more natural to shift up as you accelerate.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because a lot of bikes don’t have dashboards and if you don’t know what gear you’re in you can just shift down all the way and know you’re in first gear. You don’t want to shift down and accidentally end up in neutral because that’s dangerous.