Before a rider ever even starts their motorcycle in the safety class, they will learn all of the controls of the motorcycle. This article will discuss each control found on a motorcycle, as well as its function and location.
Ignition: The ignition is the part where the key goes. It can usually be found on the center of the handlebars. However, the location of the ignition is different on almost every motorcycle. There are usually three options to turn the key to on the ignition. The on position turns the bike on, the off position turns it off, and the lock position which locks the forks in place and prevents the handlebars from turning. The lock position is an anti-theft device to keep someone from putting the bike in neutral and rolling away with it.
Fuel switch: Bikes that are not fuel injected usually have a manual fuel switch. This can usually be located on the left side of the bike close to the engine. This switch is to be turned on before the bike will start. Once the motorcycle is shut off the rider should turn their fuel switch off again.
Engine cut off switch: This switch is to be turned on in order to start the motorcycle. It is located on the right side of the handlebars, and is operated by the right thumb. To kill the engine, simply flip the switch off. On newer bikes the kick stand will act as a kill switch.
Electronic start button: After the ignition, fuel and cut off switch are turned on… the motorcycle can be started by squeezing the clutch in and pressing the electronic start button. It is located on the right side of the handlebars right under the cut off switch.
Turn signal switch: This switch is used to signal lane changes and turns. It is located on the left side of the handlebars and is operated by the left thumb. This switch is pushed left for left hand turns, and right for right hand turns. Push in on the switch to turn the signal off.
Light switch: This switch is used to operate the headlights. It is located on the left side of the handlebars directly above the turn signal switch. This switch is usually in the “low beam” position. To turn the high beams on flip the switch upwards.
Horn: The horn button is pushed to operate the horn. It is located on the left side of the handlebars underneath the turn signal switch. It is operated by the left thumb.
Engine Choke: Some motorcycles have a choke lever. The choke lever is used during cold starts to give the engine an enhanced fuel mixture. It can be located in many places, but is usually found on the left side of the handlebars.
Clutch lever: The clutch lever is used to put the engine in and out of neutral position. It is slowly released to give power to the rear wheel and start the bike, and is squeezed in to change gears. The lever is also squeezed in to take power away from the rear wheel during stops. It is located on the left side of the handlebars, and is operated by the fingers on the left hand.
Throttle: The throttle is what puts more or less gas into the engine. It is located on the right side of the handlebars and is operated by the right hand. The throttle is to be twisted back with the right wrist to accelerate the bike, and rolled forward with the right wrist to close the throttle. When released, the throttle grip will return to a closed position.
Front brake lever: The front brake lever is used to stop the front tire from rolling. It is located on the right side of the handlebars, and is operated by the fingers of the right hand. This lever is pressure sensitive, so the harder you squeeze the faster the wheel stops turning.
Rear brake pedal: The rear brake pedal is used to stop the rear tire from rolling. It is located on the right side of the bike, and is operated by the right foot. The pedal is pressure sensitive so the harder you press it the faster the wheel stops rolling.
Gear change lever: This lever is used to change gears. It is located on the left side of the motorcycle, and is operated by the left foot. Most gear change levers have six different positions. These positions are first, neutral, second, third, fourth and fifth. To shift into higher gears a rider lifts up with his left foot. To shift into lower gears a rider pushes down on the lever with his left foot. Most sport bikes have a 6th gear.
Kick stand: The kick stand is used to hold the bike in a leaned position while parked. It is located on the left side of the motorcycle, and is operated by the left foot.
Along with all of the controls on a motorcycle is an instrument panel.
This is located somewhere in front of the rider. There are several functions on the instrument panel. Most motorcycles are different as far as what instruments are equipped. Here is a list of common instruments on the panel:
- Speedometer- shows traveling speed.
- Odometer- shows total distance traveled since motorcycle was new.
- Trip Odometer – shows distance traveled since last reset.
- Tachometer- shows engine RPM.
- Gas Gauge- shows amount of fuel in the tank.
- Turn Signal Indicators- blinks which direction you are currently signaling.
- Engine Light- turns on if any problems are detected within the engine.
- Oil Pressure Light- turns on if there is a lack of oil.
- High Beam Indicator- turns on to indicate high beams are on.
- Neutral Light- turns on when motorcycle is in neutral.
- Gas Light- turns on when motorcycle is low on fuel.