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How to Ride a Bike with a Broken Clutch Cable

(Image Source: Flickr)

If the clutch cable snaps and leaves you unable to disengage the clutch, you may think you have no other option but to call a tow truck. However, it might just be possible to ride your motorcycle home. Below is a guide to getting a bike home which has a broken clutch cable.

Check for a Failsafe

Some bikes feature a failsafe mechanism which will prevent the machine from starting if the clutch lever is not pulled in. If your bike has this feature, you will need to pull the clutch lever in to start the bike, even though it is no longer connected to the clutch cable.

Jump Start

Put your bike in neutral and start the engine. Push the bike and run alongside it until you reach a speed of between 5 and 10mph. Then carefully jump onto the back of the bike and move into 2nd gear. You should avoid 1st gear as it is too jumpy and abrupt to jump start most bikes. If there is a nearby hill, rolling down it can help you to get some speed before you start the bike. Once the bike is started, you can slowly accelerate away.

Changing Gear

Changing gear without your clutch is pretty easy. To change up a gear, you should apply upward pressure to the gear shift lever and close your throttle a little. Downshifting without a clutch tends to be quite a jerky affair. The key to achieving a smooth downshift is to ensure that the engine is at low revs when as you apply downward pressure to the gear shift lever and close the throttle.


As you make your way home, it is likely that at some point you will reach a traffic light or stationary traffic and need to stop. Without a clutch, it is going to take you a greater distance to slow to a stop. For this reason, it is important that you look well ahead down the road. To stop a bike with a broken clutch cable, you should downshift through the gears and aim to reach neutral before you come to a stop. Let the bike coast and occasionally apply your brakes. If you do not manage to put the bike in neutral before you stop, you will have no option but to stall the bike as it becomes stationary. Prepare yourself for the jerk when this happens and be prepared to catch the weight of the bike so you don’t fall.

Starting Again

To get going again, you will have to jump start the bike again. This can be dangerous on busy roads, so you should try to plan a route home that has the fewest traffic lights and other reasons to stop. When stopping or starting your machine, you should be aware that car drivers around you probably don’t appreciate the challenges you face when jump starting a bike, and they may be unaware that you are going to come to a sudden stop or that you will be pulling away at a much slower speed than usual.

Knowing how to ride a bike which has a broken clutch cable will allow you to get home without the need of a tow truck or recovery service.