This is How Do Dirt Bike Gears Work & How to Shift Gears _ Dirt Bikes Action

Riding a dirt bike is a very joyful experience and if you know how to use it, this can turn into your hobby. This machine mainly contains an engine with braking and gear systems installed into them to power the entire thing. These gears are designed to let you move your dirt bike either slowly or fast as per your needs.

If you are just introduced to dirt bikes or you never rode one before, you’re probably searching for how dirt bike gears work. And you should be because it has a lot of things to control your entire bike mechanically. You should properly know things like do dirt bikes have gears or not, how many gears are there on a dirt bike, how they work, how to shift gears on dirt bikes and a lot of other related things.

So, whenever you are ready to take your first ride, you should have some information about why, how, when and where you should shift gear, be it upshift or downshift or anything else. Let me tell you how dirt bike gears work and how many gears a dirt bike has. Let’s just get into it!

Do Dirt Bikes Have Gears?

All machines with engines installed in them always come with gear mechanisms to get the best out of them. The dirt bike itself is a machine, so they do have gears as well. But, not all dirt bikes have gear. Currently, we are specifically talking about manual dirt bikes that you’ll commonly find in the market, as well as in the bike trail areas.

So yes, dirt bikes do have gears and they are actually located in the engine itself. However, we control those gears with a gear lever that is located right on top of your left foot peg. There’s a forward gear on your toe which is used to shift the bike in upper gears and also a gear lever on reverse on your feel to downshift those gears. We will detail how these gears work in a dirt bike.

Technically speaking, gears are designed to control the power distribution and shift the power produced by the engine to wheels or output shafts (if that’s not a vehicle). Each engine has its own kind and type that can also change the power.

See the differences between ATV VS Dirt Bikes here

How many gears does a dirt bike have

Well, this thing depends and can vary from bike to bike in terms of engine size, type and brand like things. Generally, dirt bikes have at least 4 and 6 gears at max, excluding neutral. Dirt bikes commonly have 5 gears but you will also see 6 gear dirt bikes like the KTM 500 EXC, WR250F of Yamaha, and FE 250 by Husqvarna. Generally, 6 speed dirt bikes come equipped with large engines for good power to speed distribution. By the way, we will not get into technicalities way too deeply!

However, these gears are always arranged in an identical pattern. Dirt bike gear pattern usually has first gear, neutral gear, third gear, fourth gear, then fifth gear and sixth gear comes afterwards if your bike. The number of gears may change between 4, 5 or even 6, but the arrangement will always be similar.

Dirt Bike Gears Diagram

This is how a dirt bike gear pattern would look:

The gears on dirt bikes are arranged in a way different from what we see in motorcycles. Here, you will get neutral gear in between first and second gear for safety purposes, so you can’t accidentally make your bike neutral while being on a ride, which you will definitely do in your starting days, but that’s okay as you’re practising.

The placement of neutral between the first and second gears drastically helps in slowing down your bike when you are shifting down at a fast speed. This also prevents accidentally dragging your bike into neutral where you may lose control as the engine brake fails there. The shift pattern is different in motorcycles with all gears in the same way but neutral being between 0 and first gear.

Novice riders may accidentally get into neutral while shifting down which is not the goal, but it is completely okay as you are just learning and practising it to be the best. You too will accidentally shift into neutral but just get going and improve it.

How Do Dirt Bike Gears Work

Gears on dirt bikes work with a proper mechanism Seeing the gear pattern we showed above, every gear has a different size and different speed. The lower the gear number (i.e, first gear) the higher would be the size of the gear inside its gearbox but the lower the speed will be. Similarly, the higher the gear number (i.e, sixth gear), the lower the gear size, and your bike will move at the highest speed into that. All these gears are installed inside a gearbox.

The gears in this gearbox are interconnected with shafts and sprockets to transmit the power. Then, there’s an external gear lever under your left foot peg and this is where you control and shift your gears and it shifts the gears from under the gearbox right there. Now, there is a shifting mechanism for a smooth transition of power. For that, a clutch is used in transmission.

In dirt bikes, the clutch itself is filled up in oil for smooth transmission. There is a pressure plate and friction plates along that but they are not in contact with each other. When we pull the clutch it picks the pressure from plates and the pressure plate comes right back there this way this acts like a complete unit and shifts the power to the rear wheel when you shift gears in the meanwhile. This is how to shift gears on dirt bikes smoothly.

When and When not to shift gears?

Yes, this is the right question with the right timing. If you want to get the best out of your dirt bike and extend its life, you need to know when and when not to shift gears. Because the way and where you shift the gears or the way you ride your dirt bike directly affects its performance and life of course.

So, you must know how and when to shift gears.

First of all, you should always use the clutch whenever you are upshifting. It doesn’t matter if you downshift the gear with or without a clutch but you should never upshift without it. I would never do that and would never recommend that too! Because, when you shift gears without a clutch, it damages the shift forks, the clutch plate and the gear itself too. This could eventually turn into huge damage, mechanically.

Besides this, you should be in the right gear at the right time and at the right speed. If you are in the first gear, you will push the throttle hard to its limit and it’s not going to be going fast. Or, if you need to move slowly but you are in the sixth gear you are doing nothing but wasting the engine power only.

If you are climbing up, you should be in the first, second or maximum third gear. Being in the fourth, fifth or sixth gear while climbing will lower your acceleration and harder will be to climb that cliff. Also, if that climb is up to 50 meters in length (my rule), don’t shift your gears be it lower or higher. It will put unnecessary load on the engine and if you are in the highest gear, the engine will cut off when you are climbing. Because you are supposed to climb it slowly but with some power.

Dirt Bike Without Gears

Well, a dirt bike without gears does not exist because it is a machine that runs on gears to change between low or high speed. Technically, you will never find any dirt bike without gears. Every dirt bike has an engine and each engine contains a gearbox, be it an electric dirt bike or a mechanical dirt bike or an automatic dirt bike. Each type of dirt bike comes along with a gears mechanism installed into it.

Are there automatic dirt bikes?

Definitely yes, there are automatic dirt bikes manufactured and available out there in the market. Automatic dirt bikes do have gears installed in them for the gradual transmission of power through upshift and downshift. Now the difference is, you don’t need to shift gears on your own each time. The automatic transmission in the engine changes the gears on its own so you don’t need to do it by yourself.

So, you can see how much an automatic dirt bike saves you from shifting stress so you will never accidentally get in the wrong gear or in neutral. Also, automatic dirt bikes are the greatest ways to start your dirt bike riding experience and learn. You don’t need to learn the gear shifting and using patterns and not even clutch which is a stress in itself for most beginners.

However, I would only recommend it for beginners and kids trying to learn how to ride a dirt bike. Obviously, you will not get to know about the shifting but this isn’t the goal here either. Also, the automatic dirt bikes have less power as there are fewer CC engines, like 50cc to 125cc engines at max. Apollo’s DB14 comes equipped with a 125cc engine and Razor’s MX650 is also a nice electric dirt bike.

In the automatic dirt bikes segment, there are a comparatively low number of dirt bikes available because it is not so common and also due to their less engine capacity. Besides this, you will mostly find mini or kids’ dirt bikes that may not fit your needs. For teenagers and kids, this could be a good start but not for adults and big guys like me. Plus, the fuel mileage is not so good and they are not so good on hard and rocky terrains. You’ll experience less power and poor stability.

Dirt Bikes Gear | Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many gears do a 2 stroke and 4 stroke dirt bike have?

The type of engine your bike has directly complemented its overall performance, speed and everything. Also, the transmission system and gears may also change but it’s not necessarily the number of gears that would be changed too. Overall, the gearbox works similarly, be it two or four strokes and the number of gears may change on the basis of engine size. But, a 200cc dirt bike, be it 2 or 4 strokes may have 5 gears and a neutral. It’s not going to be 4 or 5 in one type and 5 or 6 in the other.

  • How many gears does a 125cc dirt bike have?

Dirt bikes with 125cc engines mostly come with 4 gears as they are considered smaller dirt bikes. For the CC and power, 4 gears are enough and you will get decent power, smooth transmission and a healthy engine overall. You may find 5 gears too, but this is rare. You will get 4 gears and a neutral gearbox in a 125cc bike.

  • How many gears does a 450cc dirt bike have?

Well, a 450cc dirt bike is at least 3 and a half times more powerful than a 125cc dirt bike. A bigger engine would come with more power and more speed would be needed too. To occupy more speed, a 6 speed gear transmission will be installed under its gearbox. However, some 450cc dirt bikes may have 5 speed gear too.

  • Can you shift a dirt bike gear without the clutch?

Definitely, you can shift dirt bike gear without using a clutch, but I will never recommend it and will never do that myself. You should always use the clutch while you are upshifting. This is because if we don’t use the clutch while upshifting, the gears will face wear and tear that will reduce their life and the clutch plate will be damaged itself too. However, you can downshift gear without using the clutch.

  • Can you start a dirt bike in gear?

Yes, dirt bikes can be started when your bike is in gear. But there will be a lot of wear and tear in gears and clutch. If it’s for just one or two, it’s fine. But, it’s not good to start a dirt bike in gear always. This may damage your dirt bike’s engine. But, you can start it when your dirt bike is in any gear. However, this may get a bit challenging to control after the engine starts and the bike is in the Go position.

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