How Quickshifters Work And Why They’re Awesome

Electronically enhanced shifting for the masses.

Like radial brake calipers, single-sided swingarms, and inverted forks, motorcycle quickshifters were born at the track from a desire for faster lap times. In recent years this tech has trickled down to the street, bringing clutchless up-and-down shifting to the masses. In all honesty, it's a completely unnecessary feature for the street, but damn if it isn't entertaining and addicting.

How Does A Quickshifter Work?

Normally to shift gears you'd roll off the throttle slightly and pull in the clutch, because the transmission needs to be unloaded for the cogs in the gearbox to slide into the next position. With a quickshifter, that momentary unloading of the transmission is achieved by manipulating the ignition spark. Here's how it works: There's a sensor integrated into the shift linkage that detects when the shifter moves and cues the bike's ECU to interrupt spark. So right as you're toeing the shifter there's a milliseconds-long cut in power that lets those gears down in the transmission shift over on their shafts, no clutch or throttle blip required.

Here's how it works: There's a sensor integrated into the shift linkage that detects when the shifter moves and cues the bike's ECU to interrupt spark. So right as you're toeing the shifter there's a milliseconds-long cut in power that lets those gears down in the transmission shift over on their shafts, no clutch or throttle blip required.

What Are The Benefits Of A Quickshifter?

Clutchless upshifting may only take a split second, but those half-seconds add up when you're racing. With a quickshifter, upshifts happen so fast that drive is essentially uninterrupted, so you can grab a gear while transitioning between corners or even while you're banked over exiting a turn. Quickshifters also free up attention since shifting goes from being an action that requires at least two precisely timed, synchronized motions to one independent movement.

Factory And Aftermarket Quickshifters

On the street, none of that stuff really matters, but a quickshifter is still a fun, convenient feature, and an easy way to make any bike feel sportier. Manufacturers are fitting them to everything from naked bikes like the Vitpilen 701 to touring bikes like the K1600, and there are plenty of aftermarket options.

Dynojet offers the Dynojet Quick Shifter (DQS) that works in conjunction with its fuel-controller kits. Bazzaz makes accessory kits for pretty much every bike, and you can get the Quick Shift as a stand-alone module or as part of a kit.

The Drawbacks Of Using A Quickshifter

Some people say quickshifters are for lazy riders, but if you’re not a fan of quickshifters, that’s likely because you haven’t tried one yet. They really are fun. The only downside to using a quickshifter regularly is that your clutch and throttle finesse are likely to get rusty, which is a legitimate concern.

Also, as with clutchless shifting, the smoothness of the shift is somewhat dependent on engine speed. Some engines just don’t quickshift well at lower rpm and it makes the ride uncomfortable. Luckily, most aftermarket kits—like the Dynojet Quick Shifter and Bazzaz Quick Shift unit—let you adjust the ignition cut time and sensor sensitivity so you can dial in the best performance for the way you ride.

What About Downshifting And Auto-Blippers?

And if you're wondering about auto-blip downshifting, that's the cutting edge of electronically enhanced gear changes. Like quickshifting, auto-blip lets you downshift without using the clutch. It's available on a few bikes and there are aftermarket kits, but the bikes have to have a ride-by-wire throttle so that the system can electronically auto-blip the throttle plates. It's seriously trick stuff and likewise, a lot of fun to use.