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A Motorcycle With No Clutch Lever? No Shifting?

Updated: Jun 10

More than likely, you know someone who has told you stories about how they had to learn to drive a car that had a manual transmission. It probably included instances of grinding gears, frustration, holding up traffic, and hollering friends or family members. Thank goodness now an automatic transmission is the default when you buy a car, and a manual transmission is available only as an option - if at all.

Without question, the most common issue that beginners have when learning to ride a standard motorcycle is using the clutch properly - coordinating the clutch lever with the throttle, shifter, and brakes. "Master the clutch, master the motorcycle," you'll hear Rider Coaches say. If a beginner has operated a car or truck with a manual transmission, the standard motorcycle comes more easily, but when a beginner has no familiarity whatsoever with a manual clutch, struggling with the clutch can get in the way of trying to learn other important skills within a 2-day class.

So what about a motorcycle? Are there motorcycles with automatic transmissions? The answer is yes. Many brands are offering motorcycles with automatic transmissions. Not just scooters or smaller bikes, full-sized motorcycles are becoming more available offering automatic transmissions, meaning the rider does not have to use a clutch lever or shift gears - the bike does this for you.

This photo was taken at H&W Powersports in Palestine, Texas recently and shows a new Honda Rebel. Look closely on the left hand grip and in front of the left footpeg. What do you NOT see? No clutch lever and no shifter peg.

Can these automatic motorcycles be used in an MSF Basic RiderCourse? That answer is also yes. At ETEX Motorsports Training, we are now offering a Honda Navi to our students. About the size of a Honda Grom, it has a 110cc engine with an automatic transmission.

We believe this Navi will make our selection of training motorcycles more representative of what is available on showroom floors, but more importantly, it will serve a wider range of beginning riders who may be looking for a motorcycle with an automatic transmission as their first bike.

Tell us what you think about automatic motorcycles!

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