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How to Shift a Harley Davidson Fat Boy

Harley-Davidson's Fat Boy cruiser has been thrilling motorcycle riders since its introduction in the early 90s with its hidden rear suspension and a tough bad boy appearance. Adding to the Fat Boy's appeal is a comfortable riding position, augmented by a double-lever heel and toe-style gear shifter, allowing its rider to shift into a higher gear by lifting the front lever upward, while the lever behind the rider's heel shifts into a lower gear. While using this type of shifter isn't difficult, it can be confusing to a new rider or someone more accustomed to the traditional single-lever shifter.

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  1. Pull in the clutch lever and hold it in place.

  2. Press the rear shift lever down to shift into a lower gear, using your left heel. Repeat until the shift lever doesn't click into gear, indicating that you have shifted into first gear.

  3. Tap the front shift lever, using a gentle upward motion with the tip of your left boot. A green light should illuminate on the motorcycle's gauge, indicating that the transmission is in Neutral.

  4. Release the clutch lever.

  5. Start the motorcycle and pull in the clutch lever.

  6. Shift into first gear, using your left heel to press down on the rear shift lever.

  7. Release the clutch lever and accelerate to 20mph.

  8. Pull in the clutch lever. Shift into second gear, using the tip of your left boot to lift the front shift lever. Release the clutch and accelerate away. Repeat to shift into third, fourth and fifth gear as your speed increases.

  9. Roll the throttle grip forward and brake as needed.

  10. Pull in the clutch lever and shift out of fifth gear and into fourth gear, using your left heel to press down on the rear shift lever.

  11. Blip the throttle to increase the engine's RPM (revolutions per minute), using a quick snapping motion to roll the throttle grip open and closed. Release the clutch lever.

  12. Roll the throttle grip back to accelerate away.

  13. Repeat to shift into third, second and first gear as your speed decreases.

  14. Tip

    Blipping the throttle while shifting down helps counteract the engine braking effects and provide a smoother ride. Keep a mental note of your current gear selection while riding to prevent shifting into the wrong gear for your riding situation.

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About the Author

An avid motorcyclist, Chris Gilliland has immersed himself into the two-wheeled world while balancing work life and raising three daughters. When he is not managing the parts department of a local, multi-line motorcycle dealership, Gilliland can often be found riding, writing or working on his motorcycle blog, Wingman's Garage.

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