How To Ride A Manual Motorbike For Beginners? All to Know

How To Ride A Manual Motorbike For Beginners? All to Know


Which adventurous soul can refuse the experience of roaring their manual motorbikes across long, beautiful scenic roads? Almost no other vehicle – even modern, high-equipped cars- can give you such a whiplash sensation.

As experienced bikers who have made our way across the toughest riding paths, let us give you some practical tips on how to ride a manual motorbike for beginners

How to Ride A Manual Motorbike for Beginners? Step-by-Step

How to Ride A Manual Motorbike for Beginners? Step-by-Step
Landing in style

Step 1. Locate the start button and ignition key

Finding these controls is a must to launch your bike. 

While no two motorcycle models are identical, here is the good news: the starter keys often have the same placement – and are installed in the most accessible spots. 

  • Ignition key: below the instrument clusters, at the bike’s center. Settle on your motorbike first, then cast your eyes downward behind the speedometer. Your ignition key will show itself instantly. 
  • Start button: on the handlebar at the right. Grab it using the right hand, and you can feel the button next to your thumb. 

Our team members have, like, 20 different type of motorcycle models in total, and none of them stray from this standard layout. 

Step 2. Grab the handlebar clutch on your left

For better visualization, let’s say the left bike handlebars resemble a bicycle’s handbrake, which you must seize and control during the rest of your trip. Once pulled, these clutches will disengage the engine, allowing further gear shifts. 

Automated motorcycles often have these designs pre-arranged for you. But with manual ones, you must familiarize yourself with the clutch’s feel. 

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Step 3. Find the handlebar throttle on the right

Your bike’s right handlebar functions as a throttle, which pumps power into the engine once pushed. Your speed increases as the throttle rolls – and decreases when you release it. 

So how exactly should one handle the throttle? Simple: twist it backward. 

And we strongly suggest practicing these bike moves while stationary. Skipping them all over used to be one of our biggest beginner mistakes, which transferred excessive gas into the engine and made our beater bikes lurch forward violently! 

Step 4. Find the shift pedal (next to the left foot)

Use the left foot to press the pedal and control your gearshift.

Since motorcycle gears usually move from lower to higher during a bike’s operation, the first gear becomes the lowest level setting. The second settings are N (Neutral gear), followed immediately by a second gear. The numbers keep rising and rising after that. 

Long story short: N lies between 1st and 2nd gear. Shift to N before you put the bike to a complete stop. 

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Step 5. Start your bike

Again, never forget that no motorcycle models are 100% identical: their ignition procedures will vary significantly depending on released years and brands. 

Nevertheless, from our years of observation, there are one-size-fits-all, basic controls that beginner motorcycle riders can note down:

Twist the igniting key to get it started. And if it’s in gear, downshift to N (between first and second gear). 

Hold the clutches, then hit the start button. Release it immediately as the engine roars. 

Push your shift pedal to first gear. Press the clutch at the same time, then wait for a few seconds before releasing the pedal. Should nothing unexpected occur, the bike will start rolling in motion. 

Start your bike
New Honda CRF300L loves the high mountains of Vietnam

Step 6. Lay your wrist flat while grabbing the throttle

Keep a consistent hand level with the throttle. 

The reason behind this suggestion? It keeps your hand from deadly angles that feed too much engine gas to the tank – another hard-earned lesson we will never forget. 

During some of my first Vietnamese motorcycle tours, my soul almost left my body when the bike staggered from random, spontaneous speed bursts!

Step 7. Roll the throttle while slowly releasing the clutch

Throttle engagements feed the tank more gas, while clutch releases will fuel the engine. Perform both at the same time to move the bike forwards. 

Step 8. Run smoothly

Before paying attention to gear shifts, the most important thing is to settle on a smooth, comfortable engine speed. Keep steady, light throttle pressure, and watch out for balance. 

Unless you wish to end up paying thousands of dollars for engine repairs like one of our teammates, remember to keep your rate low (about 6.2 MPH ~ 10 KPH). Only increase the bars when you feel more confident with your riding skills. 

Popular Mistakes When Riding A Manual Motorcycle for Beginners

Popular Mistakes When Riding A Manual Motorcycle for Beginners
Emrys is testing brand new CRF300L

Though the guidelines above have covered every necessary transitional step, we know not every novice remembers them all (been there, done that!). Unfortunate accidents often occur due to some of the most amateur oversights ever:


Never let out the clutch too soon; the bike will stall immediately. And bike acceleration RIGHT after clutch release is another big no, which keeps the bike in place instead of pushing it forward due to a lack of clutch distance.

Another mistake common in inexperienced motorcycle riders (our new team members, cough) is riding too slowly at high gears. They always forget to draw up the clutch and pull it in, causing an indefinite bike stall. 

Not Downshifting Before Bike Stops

We have mentioned it already and would like to stress this reminder again: ALWAYS downshift to Neutral (N) before you stop! Trust us; the surprise that your bike gives you when you go straight from 2nd to 1st gear without N will not be pleasant at all.

One great tried-and-true tip we use for all traveling occasions is to have the clutch lever and brake handle drawn in all through. That way, you can keep the downshift/ transmission smooth. 

Manual vs Automatic Motorcycles: Which to Choose For A Motorbike Tour

Manual vs Automatic Motorcycles: Which to Choose For A Motorbike Tour
Honda Automatic PCX125cc

Frankly, automatic transmission bikes have tons of advantages over their manual counterparts: the term “automatic” already says it all. 

Their user-friendly rear brakes are another plus, suited to all riding and bike-controlling levels – a complete opposite of those demanding manual bikes!

But if you ask us to choose one for a motorbike ride, our answer will always be manual motorcycles

After all, a motorcycle tour is not about speed or impressive performance. Enjoy yourself, immerse in nature, and embark on a new riding experience that is otherwise impossible on busy, high-traffic city roads – that’s all that matters the most, don’t you think? 


We ourselves used to struggle with how to ride a manual motorbike for beginners. But practice makes perfect: it only takes some of our new members 1 or 2 months before they can ride confidently alongside other experienced seniors!

So square up your shoulders, grab the throttle, and Action. Ask for our advice if you still want more help on how to have a safe ride!

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