Dirt Bike Gears and Finding Neutral

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While we’re proud of the motorcycle tune-up services we provide at Southpaw Motorsports, that’s far from the only service we provide. Our pros are also here to help with all sorts of basic ownership areas, from experienced riders to rookies just trying out dirt bikes or ATVs for the first time.

When it comes to first-timers on a dirt bike, finding neutral on the gears can be frustrating. You may accidentally go into first or second gear often, and the bike may die when you come to a stop. Let’s look at the basic order of gears, plus a basic trick for finding neutral if you’re struggling.

Basic Order of Gears

For almost all manual dirt bikes, the order of gears will go as follows:

  • 6th gear (for bikes that have six)
  • 5th gear
  • 4th gear
  • 3rd gear
  • 2nd gear
  • Neutral
  • 1st gear

There are a couple exceptions here, such as automatic transmission bikes and certain specialized racing bikes. Other commuter-type bikes may also be different.

Why Isn’t Neutral the Bottom Gear?

It may seem counter-intuitive to not simply have neutral be the lowest gear – why should it be between gears one and two? There are a few reasons here:

  • Safety: When you come to a rapid stop, you often just stomp on the gear shifter multiple times. In stop-and-go traffic, this can be dangerous if neutral is the lowest gear.
  • Confusion: When you’re at a stop and you want to start moving, there can’t be any confusion about how to get from neutral to first. If neutral was the bottom, you might click up too far and go into second gear.
  • Importance: Being able to find first gear is considered more important than being able to find neutral. As such, making first the lowest gear makes sense.

Finding Neutral

If you’re struggling to find neutral on your bike, here’s a simple trick: Go into first gear by stomping all the way down. From here, nudge the shift lever slightly upwards – such a small motion that it barely feels like you moved. For most beginners, the issue with finding neutral is pushing too hard and going into second accidentally. If you feel a full click here, this means you’ve gone to far and you’re in second gear.

For more on finding neutral on your bike, or to learn about any of our services, speak to the pros at Southpaw Motorsports today.