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8080 Matthews Hwy, Tecumseh, MI 49286


The Basic Mechanics of Motorcycle Controls

22 November 2019

The Basic Mechanics of Motorcycle Controls

While every motorcyclist loves to cruise, not everyone understands the role each control plays in propelling the bike forward. Here's a basic rundown of how a motorcycle gets from Point A to Point B.

Right Handlebar

Whether it's a brand new motorcycle or a reliable pre-owned bike built a decade ago, it will operate in essentially the same way. The right handlebar contains the front brake lever, which works just like a bicycle brake, and the twist throttle. The throttle requires a twist backward to accelerate. The right handlebar also contains a start button and ignition kill switch. Before the motorcycle can start, the rider must turn the key, flip the kill switch to run, and push the start switch. Further, most bikes must either be in neutral or have the clutch pulled in—or both—to start.

Left Handlebar

Bikes with manual transmission—which include most motorcycles—have a clutch lever on the left handlebar, which must be pulled in to shift gears or disengage the clutch. Some of the more basic bike components, including the horn, signal indicator, and hi-lo beam switch, are also located on this side of the handlebar.

Foot Controls

The foot controls are crucial for shifting gears. The shift pedal is on the left side: typically, one-click down is first gear and one-click up is second gear. Additional clicks up will lead to third, fourth, fifth, and sixth gear. To simplify shifting most bikes contain an indicator light letting the driver know when the bike is in neutral. The right side includes the rear brake pedal, which serves as the emergency brake. Using this brake can result in sliding or an accident. For most situations, riders should generally use the front hand brakes, which have dual rotors for safer stopping.


The gauge assembly tells the driver how the bike is operating. Located between the handlebars, it contains the speedometer, odometer, neutral indicator light, gas indicator light, and other essential lights and gauges that measure operating performance.

Take a Test Ride

Now that you know the basic mechanics of a motorcycle, it's time to schedule a test ride! The Tecumseh Harley-Davidson® showroom contains new and used bikes waiting to hit the open road. Whether you're a motorcycle pro or don't know the difference between a Softail® and a Sportster®, we'll help you find the bike that fits like a glove. Visit our showroom today or call us at 517-423-3333 to learn more.