Can you change gear without using the clutch on a motorcycle?

Do you need to get recovered if your clutch cable breaks? Will changing gear without a clutch damage your gearbox and drivetrain?

Yes, you can change gear without a clutch. Clutchless shifting can be done in the event of the clutch cable braking. Upshifting is relatively easy without a clutch.

It’s about sufficient road speed and the correct revs for that speed. Snap the gear, and it syncs without grinding. Changing down is more challenging.

What happens if I change gear without a clutch?

To change gear without a clutch, you need your motorcycle to be rolling (if your clutch cable breaks at traffic lights, select 1st gear and bump the motorcycle to safety using the electric start)

You can upshift without the clutch once the bike is rolling with enough ground or road speed for 2nd gear. The gear will select without crashing and should be a smooth transmission.

However, coming down the gearbox without a clutch is a different story, and it takes practice.

If you need to slow knock the motorcycle out of gear and rely on your brakes to slow you down, if it is possible, think ahead and try to preempt the traffic. If you can keep rolling, you can select 2nd again and upshift until you reach a repair shop.

If you do come to a stop, you need to get rolling again before using clutchless shift again.

Is it bad to shift gears on a motorcycle without using the clutch?

Clutchless upshifting is not going to do any harm to your gearbox, providing you are not crashing the gears.

Invariably clutchless downshifting is a different set of circumstances, and your gearbox is going to be less forgiving of a gear change without a clutch.

Under normal circumstances, you will not be riding for 100’s of miles without a clutch; if you do have a long journey and are snatching gears, this may put some strain on your chain, so it’s worth checking the chain tension and sprocket wear.

How do you change gears on a motorcycle without a clutch?

Fortunately, it is a simple process. The problematic aspect is getting your motorcycle rolling if you are alone. It can be done with lighter motorcycles, but you can push and hop on for heavy cruisers and tourers.

When your motorcycle is moving at 1st gear speeds, make sure your rev range is correct, roll off the revs, snap the gear into 2nd, and then do the same through the gearbox. 

Ride according to the conditions and take it easy. You will find it hard to clutchless downshift!

Can you put the gear in without a clutch?

You can, and it’s worth practising this, so you are familiar with the technique.

It’s about getting your motorcycle rolling at the same speed as you typically change gears. If you can do this in 1st gear, then you can select 2nd gear easily as the gears are aligned.