First gear is good for very slow speeds but eventually to match the engine speed to the road speed, it will be necessary to shift to the next gear. Each motorcycle owner's manual will give suggested shift points based on RPM. Usually, they are based on maintaining a smooth ride with decent fuel economy. Early on, you may have to rely on the
to know when you should shift. The more you ride, the more intuitive it will become. No matter what, always shift before the tachometer reaches the red line. The redline will vary depending on the motorcycle model, however, allowing the engine to rev beyond the redline can damage the engine. Additionally, the engine's power will have already peaked so there is nothing to be gained by letting the engine speed to exceed the redline. For best fuel economy shift up as early as you can without lugging the engine. For maximum acceleration, shift up as close to the redline as possible. As a beginner, focus on riding smoothly and under control - not acceleration.
When it comes time to shift to a higher gear, roll off the throttle and squeeze the clutch lever in all the way. Though power is no longer being transferred to the rear wheel, you momentum will keep you rolling. Firmly lift the shift lever as high as it will go with your left toe. Ease out the clutch and gently roll on the throttle to help keep the engine from bogging down as the clutch engages. Once you've finished shifting, release the shift lever so the ratchet mechanism can reset for the next shift.
When it comes time to decelerate, it will be necessary to downshift to keep the engine and wheel speed matched up. When decelerating, you should already be rolled off the throttle. Squeeze in the clutch all the way and firmly press down on the shift lever. Slowly, ease out the clutch. For a smoother downshift, roll on the throttle a bit as you let out the clutch. This will help the engine speed sync up to the wheel speed a little quicker. The engine braking that results from downshifting will further help slow the motorcycle.
It is possible to shift more than gear at a time. Usually, there is not much cause to skip gears on the way up but sometimes it can be useful when slowing to a stop. To downshift multiple gears, squeeze the clutch lever in. Press down on the gearshift once and then allow it to return to its natural position. With the clutch still squeezed in, press down on the gearshift again before slowly releasing the clutch. Downshifting more than one gear has a much higher potential for over-revving the motorcycle's engine, can cause extreme deceleration from the effects of engine braking and often will not be particularly smooth. Beginners should stick to shifting one gear at a time.