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Discussion Starter #1
Why do motorcycles (at least all the ones I have owned and ridden) have the gearing 1 down and 4 (or 5) up with neutral between 1 and 2? Why not neutral on the bottom and then up in sequential order? Wouldn't that make it easier?

I am sure there is a right and quick answer, but it is one I do not know.

Ptackley
 

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Why does the shift pattern have neutral between 1st and 2nd?
Actually, there is a specific reason why neutral ended up between first and second gear when motorcycle controls were standardized in 1975: SAFETY.
In the 60s and 70s, there was a growing trend toward placing neutral below first gear. My nephew, for example, had a Kawasaki 100 with a "4 up" shift pattern (N,1,2,3,4). As this shift pattern gained popularity, more and more motorcyclists were developing the tendency to instictively shift the bike all the way down into neutral as they slowed, sometimes accidentally, but most times intentionally. The idea was that you could stay in neutral at a light or stop sign, then clutch into gear and start rolling again when right-of-way was established. The habit was obviously flawed, and riders started getting hurt.
The vast majority of injuries were caused when a bike was inadvertently upshifted from neutral into first gear at a fast coast. The resultant engine breaking caused instant rear wheel lockups, which in turn caused crashes. The mechanical aspects of neutral's location also caused various runability and logistical problems, as well.
By locating neutral between first and second gears, the severity of engine breaking in the event of accidental upshift was reduced, as well as making neutral a relative inconvenience, rather than something riders depended on. It also made first gear the natural first position in the gear box, which is where the transmission should be adjusted whenever the bike is stopped in traffic anyway.—Tim Kreitz

Neutral is in its odd location because that’s where it makes the most sense to locate it. On a bike, you rarely need to be in neutral: you’ve a clutch, which is your primary method of disconnecting the engine from the transmission. Indeed, you could go completely without a neutral gear, if you could stand the monotony of holding the clutch as the bike warms up, and turning off the bike whenever you got more than an arm’s-reach distance from it.
First gear, however, is extremely useful. It’s great for starting in. And it’s great for stopping in. It’s really good for driving slowly, too. So it’s at the bottom: as you approach a stoplight, you start to brake, and you tap your gears down to match your speed. If the light goes green before you get there, you’re ready to rocket. If it’s red, you keep the clutch in, and remain in first gear, ready to rocket. You never do go into neutral when you stop. As you leave the stoplight, you tap your gears up to match your speed. You never do go into neutral when you accelerate.
Now, imagine the situation if neutral were located at the bottom: you start slowing for the light. You begin tapping down. You’re almost stopped, you tap into neutral, the light goes green, you rev the gas, and you tip over because you’re out of gear. The asshole behind you runs you over as your engine shoots a piston through your groin. Damn, that sucks.
As it’s absurd to place neutral between 2nd and 3rd, or any of the higher gears, no example needed 8)
 

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As Paul Harvey would say " And now you know the rest of the story" :D
Just kidding, I've wondered it myself. Thanks for the explanation.
 

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Wow. I've been riding 33 years and just now found out I've been wrong putting my bike in neutral at those long lights and stop and go traffic snarls. Oh well, it sure saved a lot of wear and tear on both my clutch and my clutch hand (maybe I just don't keep my hand exercised like others do theirs :) ).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Spike. Now I know the reason. Always been wondering it though.

Ptackley
 

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You're welcome, but I can't take all the credit as I snarfed it from another site. I wondered the same and searched it out about a year ago when I found that and a few others so I thought I'd bookmark it for later use. 8)
 
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