What Is False Neutral On Motorcycle? – (Engineer’s Explanation)

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Hi, I’m Kevin, and today we’re going to discuss “false neutral” on a motorcycle. In this guide, we’ll understand various reasons that cause false neutral on a motorcycle and how to avoid that. We’ll also discuss the consequences of false neutral on motorcycle engines.

The motorcycle transmission system is a complex yet marvelous example of engineering. A rider will shift to neutral only when he’s going to stop it, and he must downshift to a lower gear to stop.

That’s why neutral is situated between first and second gear because of the safety and convenience of the rider.

False Neutral on Motorcycle

A false neutral is the neutral that occurs between gears other than the first and second. It usually occurs when we shift from fourth to fifth or fifth to sixth gear. This situation occurs when the output shaft spline gear doesn’t engage in the recess of the freewheeling gear. It happens because of a bad shifting style, inappropriate space for shifter movement, loose clutch wire, and excess engine oil.

What Causes False Neutral?

The false neutral occurs due to inappropriate shifting of gear, loose clutch wire, and excess engine oil. If the shifter lever has no space for movement, you’ll face a false neutral.

All motorcycles come with synchromesh gear except some Harley Davidson motorcycles). Synchromesh gear has an input shaft receiving engine power and an output shaft with a chain drive sprocket.

On both shafts, some gears are splines that can slide along the axes of shafts while maintaining the same angular speed.

Some freewheeling gears can rotate on their axes without transferring power to the output shaft. These freewheeling gears have recesses, and spline gears have dogs that couple together.

Here’s a video animation for a motorcycle gearbox. Please watch it to understand how the synchromesh gearbox works.

Synchromesh Gearbox Animation

The general sequence of motorcycle gear position is 1—N—2—3—4—5—6. The first gear position is always in the forward direction, and the rest are in the backward direction—the actual neutral lies between 1st and 2nd gear.

But, due to high rev in fourth or fifth gears, sometimes gear dogs don’t engage in the recesses, and no power is transmitted to the output shaft. This situation creates false neutral because the gearbox is not engaged properly.

This false neutral generally happens between the fourth and fifth gear or fifth and sixth gears. The output shaft rotates at higher revolutions, and the spline gear fails to engage.

False Neutral Condition Explained

Does False Neutral Damage Transmission?

False Netural is bad for your motorcycle gearbox and can damage the transmission system. It’s because no gear dogs are engaged during false neutral, and once it suddenly engages without disconnecting the power transmission with the clutch, an impact load will be applied to the dogs.

The force intensity of the impact load is double, and It can break the gear dog and damage other gearbox components. So, false neutral is not a good thing for your motorcycle transmission.

How To Avoid False Neutral On Motorcycle?

The most common cause of false neutral on a motorcycle is an inappropriate gear-shifting habit. There should be certain RPMs of input and output shafts for smoother shifting. If you don’t press the gear shifting lever completely (dead end), it increases the chance of false neutral.

So, always press the gear shifting lever to its dead end. Also, your clutch plates should be disengaged with the crankshaft for smoother shifting.

Here are some easy tips to avoid false neutral on a motorcycle:

  • Fully press the shifting leaver to engage the gears.
  • Always pull the clutch lever while shifting gears.
  • Reduce the excess clutch free-play to avoid false neutral.
  • Maintain the engine oil level to the recommended value.

Pull the clutch lever and forcefully put the shifting lever to its lower gear position to come out from false neutral.

KTM 690 Gear Shifter

How To Fix False Neutral On KTM 690?

Thousands of KTM 690 owners reported bad gear-shifting experiences and often faced false neutral. It mostly happens when there is no space for the movement of the shifter. Also, the stock shifter spring gets loose over time.

So, first, check if there is enough space for the movement of the shifting lever and adjust the shifter position accordingly. Another solution to fix the false neutral on KTM 690 is replacing the shifter.

You can use the KTM 450 shift lever, which fits perfectly on the KTM 690 and works smoothly. You can buy a KTM 450 shifter from Amazon and replace it yourself.

Click here to buy shift lever from Amazon!


I hope you understand the meaning of false neutral on a motorcycle. It is mostly caused by inappropriate shifting, loose clutch wire, and overfilled engine oil. Pull the clutch and lift the gear shifter higher to prevent false neutral. If you further face gear shifting problems, I would advise you to replace the shifter lever.

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