Experienced riders have a ritual every time they get on a new bike. They adjust the mirrors and levers before they even start the bike’s engine. Having a bike set up to fit your preferences can make a big difference in how easy it is to operate. One area that is often overlooked is the gear shift lever. Having the shifter in the proper position makes it possible to change gears with the minimum foot movement possible. Also, in some instances, without the proper adjustment shifting is almost impossible. We’ve seen cruisers with the shifter so far out of adjustment for the forward controls that it felt like we needed an additional ankle joint. Similarly, on a sportbike, if the shifter is too high or low, the ease of shifting is drastically reduced. What’s the proper position? The one that suits your riding position and the size of your feet.
Adjusting the shifter height only requires the most basic of tools. Often all you’ll need is a pair of open end wrenches – one for the shift rod and the other for the lock nut. You need to be careful when preparing to adjust the rod length of the shifter. Look closely at the threads above the lock nut. One end of the rod is reverse threaded. Why? Well, once both lock nuts are loosened, you can raise or lower the shifter by simply rotating the rod with a wrench or a pair of pliers. The reverse threads at one end and standard threads at the other make the rode lengthen or shorten as you screw it our or in (respectively) in the linkage ball joints. Once you’re happy with the shifter position (try a range of settings to see how they affect your ability to shift), check to make sure that plenty of threads remain engaged in the ball joints (if not, you may have to change the shift linkage’s location on the shift shaft’s splines by rotating it a tooth), and be sure to tighten the lock nuts. You don’t the rod may vibrate loose and strand you 70 miles from home in third gear.