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What is a Quickshifter on a Motorcycle & Quickshifter FAQs

November 29, 2023 Comments Comment

In a motorcycle race every advantage matters, even the ability to accomplish gear shifts in a split second. The quickshifter is a device initially created for motorcycle road racing that allows the rider to shift instantly without using the clutch, providing uninterrupted forward momentum on acceleration. Quickshifter technology has trickled down to street bikes, where riders may appreciate the convenience of clutchless shifting, or just the ability to feel sporty. Let’s take a look at the technology behind a motorcycle quickshifter and how it could improve your riding experience.

Quickshifter on a Motorcycle FAQs

What is a Quickshifter on a Motorcycle?

A motorcycle quickshifter is an electro-mechanical device that enables up-shifting gears without modulating the clutch or throttle. Exactly what does a quickshifter do? The original function of the quickshifter on a motorcycle was to enable motorcycle racers to make instant up-shifts – faster than would be possible by using the clutch in a normal fashion – without damaging the transmission.

Some quickshifters also enable down-shifting gears, again without modulating the clutch or throttle. Most are controlled by the rider’s left foot on the motorcycle shift control, but a few are controlled by up/down shift buttons on a hand control. A motorcycle quickshifter should not be confused with an automatic transmission; shifting still requires an action by the rider, and use of the clutch will still be required when stopping and pulling away from a stop.

How does a quickshifter work?

To shift gears smoothly without damaging the transmission, the motorcycle engine needs to momentarily disengage from the transmission. When there is no power transmitted to the transmission, the gears are “unloaded,” and the mechanical action of changing gears can take place. In the traditional shifting sequence, pulling in the clutch lever and rolling off the throttle relieves the transmission of engine power so we can make a smooth shift. A quickshifter places a sensor in the motorcycle shift linkage. When the rider engages the foot shift control the sensor cues the motorcycle engine control module (ECM) and fuel and/or ignition are cut within milliseconds, which unloads the transmission permitting precise, rapid up-shifts without modulating the throttle or disengaging the clutch. Advanced quickshifters also use the electronic shifter signal to “blip” the throttle for seamless down-shifts without using the clutch.

What types of riders may benefit from quickshifters?

For sport or street riders, the quickshifter serves mostly as a convenience, or a race accessory. The quickshifter is especially popular with riders of adventure touring motorcycles who appreciate being able to shift quickly to maintain momentum when riding off-road or on trails, especially if they are standing on the motorcycle foot pegs.

Quickshifters are best used during acceleration at moderate and higher RPMs. If an engine is being lugged in the lower RPMs, the Quickshifter may feel jerky.

What are the different types of quick shifters?

Older motorcycles with carburetors can usually be fitted with a quickshifter that only interrupts the ignition to enable upshifts. Newer motorcycles with drive-by-wire throttle control may be able to utilize a quickshifter that enables both up- and down-shifts because downshifts require the motorcycle ECM to momentarily blip the throttle. Aftermarket quickshifters usually fit in line with the shift control rod and may be designed for a rod that “pushes” or “pulls” the transmission control, depending on the how the motorcycle is designed. Quickshifters that are standard equipment or designed as an accessory offered by a motorcycle manufacturer, may be more integral to the motorcycle operating system.

Can I add a quickshifter to my motorcycle?

Yes, Harley-Davidson offers the Screamin’ Eagle® Quickshifter for 2022-later Harley-Davidson® Pan America® 1250 models from Harley-Davidson® Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories.

Best Harley-Davidson® Quickshifters

The Screamin’ Eagle® Quickshifter for 2022-later Harley-Davidson® Pan America® 1250/Special models from Harley-Davidson® Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories accomplishes instant clutchless up and down shifts without risking transmission damage, enabling smoother, stress-free control in on- and off-road situations. With the Screamin’ Eagle® Quick Shifter installed, a rider can focus more on the road or trail ahead and less on shifting, over any terrain.

Looking to soup up your ride? Browse more Harley-Davidson® motorcycle parts and accessories today. For more expert advice on Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, visit an authorized Harley-Davidson® dealer, or schedule a test ride on a new or Harley-Davidson Certified™ motorcycle. 

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