Mastering the Friction Zone

Being a beginner some terms sound complicated and overwhelming. Breaking down the terms helps build an understanding of the concepts.

In this beginner series post, let’s cover the basics and the concepts we need to remember.:

Balance Skills

You first need to have the skills on how to balance on a bike, if you can ride a bike, then you know the concept that you are more balanced when you moving. Balancing on a motorcycle is the same.

What is the clutch lever?

The clutch lever is located on the left side of the handlebar. Its main purpose is to engage and disengage power from the engine to the rear wheel.

When the clutch lever is all the way out, the clutch is fully engaged, all the engine’s power is transferred to the drive system which causes the rear wheel to move forward.

What is the gear shift lever?

The gear shift lever is located on the lower left side of the motorcycle. We use our left foot to change gears.  If you have driven a manual transmission car, the concept is similar where you need to step on the clutch before shifting gears.

With a motorcycle, the gears are laid out differently. With a combination of fully squeezing the clutch, you can safely shift gears by kicking down to the first gear. To go back to neutral, slide your left foot under the gear shift lever and lifting it upward while fully squeezing the clutch. Each click equals one gear.

  • The gear pattern is laid out with the first gear at the bottom (one kick down).
  • Neutral
  • 2nd gear
  • 3rd, 4th, 5th, and sometimes 6th gear.

What is the throttle?

The throttle is located on the right end of the handlebar. Twisting the handlebar towards you increases the amount of fuel that feeds into the engine. Twisting away from you feeds less fuel. Always start in a normal or flat wrist position.

Finally, what is the friction zone?

Now that we nailed down the basics, we can now describe what the friction zone is. This is the area in the clutch lever position where the clutch begins to engage the engine and transfer power to the rear wheel. As power is transferred to the rear wheel the motorcycle begins to move forward even without throttling.

How can I practice?

Stand flat-footed on your motorbike, pull in the clutch all the way in, and shift gear to first gear (one kick down). Without adjusting the throttle, slowly release the clutch lever until the bike begins to creep forward, pull the clutch all the way in to stop.

While the clutch is pulled on the way in, walk the bike backward and repeat by slowly releasing the clutch lever to move forward. Do this several times until you are comfortable with the friction zone.

Finally, when ready try doing this exercise in an open space like a parking lot, engage the friction zone, and balance yourself in the motorbike moving forward. If you begin to move too fast, pull the clutch in to cut power to the rear wheel.

Once you’ve mastered the friction zone you are on your way to increase your confidence and motorcycle riding skills further.

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