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Motorcycles are a part of daily life. We see them just about every time we are on the road, and we have been trained to be alert for their presence. But, in all the times you’ve ever seen a motorcycle, you’ve more than likely never seen it going backward. And, now that you’re thinking about it, you realize that you can’t recall a time that you have ever seen a motorcycle in reverse. If you’re anything like us, that makes you wonder if a motorcycle can even go in reverse. We have looked into this to find you the answer!
The simple answer is that most motorcycles cannot go in reverse. Only a select few can, and that is due to their weight. Most motorcycles are lightweight enough for their operators to lift them or push them into a new position to go in the opposite direction.
We have done some digging to find out why motorcycles don’t have a reverse gear, how backing up works on a motorcycle, how you can know when your motorcycle is in neutral, and more. Read on to find out exactly why motorcycles are designed the way they are.
Why Don’t Motorcycles Have A Reverse Gear?
Motorcycles do not have a reverse gear for a few simple reasons.
First, the instability of a two-wheeled vehicle makes the possibility of riding in reverse nearly impossible. Maintaining balance while craning your neck in the wrong direction can be next to impossible. So, for safety’s sake, the reverse gear is not a common feature for a typical motorcycle.
The second reason motorcycles do not go in reverse is because it’s unnecessary. Again, as we mentioned earlier, the majority of motorcycles are lightweight enough that the rider can position them easily. It’s usually very easy for a rider to roll the bike backward, turn it, or push it the opposite way. The added benefit of a manual direction change is that it is another way that riding a motorcycle burns calories.
Finally, most motorcycles don’t have a reverse gear because of the added cost for the manufacturer — a cost that would then be passed on to the consumer. Since motorcycle riders have been accustomed to making do without a reverse gear, companies that make motorcycles have seen no real reason to incur the extra expense.
How Does Reversing Work On A Motorcycle?
To reverse on a motorcycle, make sure that the engine is on, and the bike is in neutral. Balance yourself over the bike so that it evenly distributes your weight on both legs. Then, you can look over either your right or left shoulder and begin pushing the bike back with your feet. Check out this video for a visual representation of how to reverse yourself on a motorcycle.
If you are on a heavier bike and in a smaller space, you may have more trouble backing up. In that case, you can hold the front brake, lean over the front, push down to put stress on the front shock absorbers, and then release the brake. The springs in the shocks will push you backward approximately one foot or so. You can repeat this process as many times as needed to get yourself out of the space. To see exactly how to perform this maneuver, check out this video.
Having the transmission in neutral is the key to either of these techniques. So that leads us to another question.
How Do You Know If Your Motorcycle Is In Neutral?
Motorcycles, regardless of their make and model, share many standard features. One of these features is that neutral is always between first and second gear. Finding neutral is critical to every aspect of riding your bike. You cannot even start the bike if it is not in neutral.
If you are unsure whether you are in neutral, you can tell in two ways. First, a green N light should be illuminated on the bike. Sometimes, however, there may be an issue with the light. If the light is not functioning correctly, you can tell by the way the motorcycle feels. When in neutral, the bike will roll freely. If it is in a gear other than neutral, the back wheel will stop rolling.
Putting a motorcycle in neutral, and being able to know with certainty that it is in neutral, is the first step to being able to ride your motorcycle. It also makes it possible to do other things.
How Do You Move A Motorcycle Without Starting It?
When your motorcycle is in neutral, you can move it without starting the bike. So, if you are out of gas, stuck in a tight parking space, or have some other mechanical issue, you can still maneuver it. Putting the ignition into the on position and shifting into neutral will enable you to move the motorcycle to a different spot. Whether you want to move it around in your garage or need to move it quietly without waking up your spouse or your neighbor, you can do so by putting it in neutral. Remember: if the bike does not roll freely, you are not in neutral.
Motorcycles are a great, fun way to travel. They can provide a unique experience for both novice and experienced riders. However, most of them will not operate in reverse. You must know how to move your bike to navigate your way around certain situations.
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