American Motorcyclist April 2018

Ask The MSF

Starting On A Hill

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What is the best technique for holding my motorcycle stationary when I am stopped uphill? Should I let out the clutch until it engages a little to keep the bike stationary? Should I keep pressure on the brake until I am ready to start moving? Is there a better way?

A: The best way to hold your motorcycle when stopped uphill is to use one of the brakes. If you can hold the bike up with your left foot, apply the rear brake so your right hand is free to use the throttle when you start. If you need your right foot or both feet on the ground, apply the front brake with two fingers, so you’ll have throttle control when you start off.

While it is possible to hold the motorcycle in place by keeping it in first gear and letting out the clutch a bit, that puts extra wear on the clutch plates. It also involves more finesse and attention that would be better spent focused on the traffic environment.

To start smoothly, shift into first (unless you’ve kept it in first the whole time) and apply some throttle as you release the brake and ease the clutch lever into the friction zone to start the power transfer. Apply additional throttle as needed as you further release the clutch lever to keep you moving uphill. With practice, your throttle/brake/clutch actions will be accurate, smooth and nearly simultaneous.

You may want to practice your uphill starts when there’s very little traffic and avoid dealing with the added stress of seeing a line of cars in your rear-view mirrors.