Monday, April 25, 2011

Learning the Clutch: Going Uphill from a Stop

Starting out from a complete stop on a hill  is difficult for the new rider. One morning, I struggled to get the bike moving past the stop sign, continually stalling the bike. A cop noticed my struggles and blocked the intersection; he wouldn't let anyone through until I crossed. Talk about peer pressure!!

20 minutes later, I made it!

I learned the hard way what I still needed to practice, preferably without a back-up of about 20-30 cars as my audience.

Training techniques that worked for me:
  • Wear all of your protective gear, even if just practicing at slow speeds in a parking lot.
  • Practice on a slight incline in a parking lot. Release the choke out all the way. Allow the bike to roll back while slowly releasing the clutch to gain confidence the bike will go forward, even after rolling back. A released choke allows this to happen easily and should ONLY be used for training purposes to get over the feel of the bike rolling backward than forwards.
  • Once you master the coordination of releasing the clutch and rolling the throttle, put the choke back to normal. Riding with the choke out causes engine damage.
  • Practice again finding the “sweet spot” between the clutch and throttle, this time with the choke back in the normal riding position. Soon, you will be able to control the bike so there is minimal rolling backward movement.
  • Check your owner’s manual for choke procedures and recommendations.
Everyone has their own way of learning to control the bike on a hill from a complete standstill. These techniques happened to work for me, but I'd love to hear what other training tips others have figured out!


  1. This skill definitely requires practice, practice and more practice. I think the biggest thing is what you said, Christina about finding the 'sweet spot' between the clutch and the throttle. That point where you've let the clutch out enough to be just in the friction zone and where you're giving the bike ever-so-little throttle and then just slowly giving more throttle as you slowly let out more clutch. It's kinda like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. ;)

  2. I'm sure you've mastered this by now. Here are two things I do when messing around. I picked it up from driving around in my first sports car with a clutch. The first is a great way to burnout a clutch early but it really helps you find the sweet spot.
    -on a hill (or slight incline) I don't use the break at all to hold myself in place. Instead I hold it with the clutch. I roll the throttle slightly and ease into the sweet spot. As the clutch catches the bike stays still. I pay attention to the engine so I don't stall it. As long as the clutch stays steady it won't leap forward.

    A more practical (and less damaging technique) is to use the front break. I hold the front break and roll the throttle back with the palm of my hand while simultaneously easing out the clutch. Once the clutch catches I ease of the brake and give it more throttle. The break helps keep the bike from rolling back until the clutch is engaged enough to move you forward.