What to do when gravity strikes and a lever breaks
CRASHING YOUR MOTORCYCLE is a bummer and may leave you with a broken clutch lever, brake lever, or shifter. Do you attempt to ride the bike to a parts department, repair shop, or back home? Or do you play it safe and call a friend with a truck?
You’ll probably be okay if you busted the front brake lever because you still have use of the rear brake. If you choose to ride the bike without the front brake, go slowly, allow plenty of following distance, and decelerate early for stop signs and traffic lights. If you broke your shifter, you can often still operate it with an agled boot toe, depending on where the lever snapped.
You’ve got much bigger problems if you snap off the clutch lever. In this case, we recommend you call for assistance because riding without clutch control is risky. If that’s not an option and you happen to be brave, then it is theoretically possible to ride without a clutch.
1. Pick a route with the fewest stops. 2. Start the bike in neutral.
3. Get the bike rolling at a sufficient speed so the bike won’t stall when you force the shifter into gear. The safest way to do this is to roll down a hill. A riskier option is to run alongside the bike, step onto the footpeg, swing your leg over the saddle, and then find first gear. 4. To shift into higher gears, simply roll off the throttle and lift the gearshifter briskly. Most bikes will be fine upshifting without the clutch. 5. Downshift by slowing until the engine just begins to lug and then shift firmly. Alternatively, you can momentarily “blip” the throttle and then immediately downshift. The blip unloads the transmission gears, permitting the shift. 6. Slow early for traffic lights (watch your mirrors) to allow time for the light to turn green. 7. If you must stop, try to slip the transmission into neutral, but be prepared for the engine to stall. If you’re in traffic, get to the shoulder before you stall. To get going again, repeat the starting procedure. 8. To stop at your final destination, downshift through each gear and apply the brakes firmly to complete the stop. Be ready for the bike to stop abruptly.