Jockey shifter

Transmission, clutch, chains and belts
Forum rules
Please do not start new topics here, but here: New Panhead and Flathead topics
Post Reply
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2007 8:02 am
Location: Puget Sound

Jockey shifter


Post by 53rigidrider » Fri May 19, 2006 4:20 pm

Description: I'd like to know if anyone out there ran into anything I haven't thought of about the pro's and con's of it.

Post by 53rigidrider on Oct 16, 2003, 1:47am

I've got the setup for a suicide shifter for my Pan. I'm a week away from installing it for my old school tastes.

I rigged my old softail up with one before I got rear ended on it. (not rider error)
I'd like to know if anyone out there ran into anything I haven't thought of about the pro's and con's of it. ???

Post by suicideshovel65 on Oct 16, 2003, 3:48am

I rode with a suicide shift on my rigid shovel for some time here in Tokyo. Nuts. It is a pain in the proverbial to lane-split (ride between cars in traffic) especially if you have apes, and it is a pain to pillion (slightest lean to the left at slow speeds usually means an engine stall!).
Having said that, it looks the dog's bollocks, and is a blast to ride when the traffic is moving, or you're on more open roads. I had mine set up attached directly to the ratchet top so it was a slap shift rather than a tank shift.
If you are riding with the setup on a ratchet top (as I did), I highly recommend a working neutral lamp - of course not mandatory, but helpful!
I also recommend setting the clutch up to have travel more like a car's clutch. On/off only where you have to control it with your entire leg bending at the knee/hip rather than at the ankle can be very difficult in traffic.
Have good brakes!
Also, make sure the shift rod/linkage is securely attached at the transmission end, and carry a spare of whatever it is you use to attach it. I had the rod come free twice, and it is a pain in the proverbial to try an re-attach by the roadside when you're in a hurry.
Glass shift knobs look great!

Have fun!

Post by kell on Oct 16, 2003, 11:11pm

Of course, the setup ss65 described is a suicide clutch with a ratchet top, not a jockey shift. When I changed my 52 FL over from foot shift I took the ratchet off the tranny and put a jockey top on with a short lever, and I'm glad I did. I love to feel the snickety-snick of the gears through the lever and into my hand as I shift. I modified the previous owner's aftermarket foot shift lever some and made it serve as a clutch pedal, with a chain going back to a clutch lever I fabbed. I also had to make my own shifter lever and the shaft that goes into the shifter top. The chain just barely clears the shifter shaft, right in the gap between the lever and the tranny top.
The lever for a jockey top has to move a lot farther than the lever on a ratchet top does.

Post by 53rigidrider on Oct 17, 2003, 2:01am

I'll look into the different ideas and see what would work best for my setup.
I do love the "coolness" of racheting through the gears while everyone on a twinkie or evo looks like I'm insane!
Plus, I like the simplicity of a jockey over the mousetrap, but both are equally cool.
Ride With Pan Pride!

Post by haggis on Oct 18, 2003, 4:44am

53 rigid..
me...I like the mouse trap........nothing like having an evo rider come up and ask what that extra doohickey is hanging off the downtube!
Mousetraps rule!!!!Haggis

Post by DuoDave on Oct 18, 2003, 5:37pm

Mousetrap. This contraption has to be the most eccentric piece of engineering design ever conceived
by a human mind. I love it! Sometimes when I am fooling around in the garage, I pull my clutch lever a few times (there's no law against it!) just so I can watch all those levers, rods and springs do their thing.
A word of warning, though. If you are ever tempted to tinker with it, mind your fingers. It's not called a mousetrap for nothing. Guess how I know that?
Sproing, clang, Arrgghhhh!

Post by 53rigidrider on Oct 23, 2003, 1:40am

Mousetrap caught me a few times!
You're right though, I love watching the contraption operate.
It kinda reminds me of the exaggerated trap the characters from "Looney Toons" use to make.
I think the designer was Wiley Coyote!
It's a hard choice between the two.

Post by dirtydistrict on Oct 23, 2003, 12:06pm

Me it's tank shift and i wouldn't change for nothing, at least i can park my scoot without chainlock, if anyone want to steal it he would have to kick it first, then use the footclutch, engage the first gear....nooooo, no need to run after him, just wait and call for an ambulance ;D

Post by 53rigidrider on Oct 24, 2003, 1:28am

Exactly DD!
Most present day shops don't have anyone that knows how to test ride a foot clutch!
That's one of the secondary reasons for my wanting to changeover, it'll maim most of the thieves out there trying to kidnap my "wife!"
I know I seem anal for taking so long to make the final move, but I want to consider everything before the change.
Thanx for the input! ;D

Post by 52Chopper on Nov 16, 2003, 10:11pm

Hey 53, I've had all the parts (VTwin kit) sitting around this summer to convert my 52 ridgid chopper over to a suicide shifter w/8-ball knob. Now that it's going into winter I'm ready. Since you need to pull the primary, I'm considering dropping the primary chain for an open belt. I've never had a suicide before, but looking forward to it. I'm sure it will cut down on the beer intake.... I'll report back!

Post by panomania on Dec 31, 2003, 5:27pm

would you believe ive had posers ask me if my bike was a automatic because they didnt see a clutch lever?

Post by Panhead on Dec 31, 2003, 5:41pm

Yes I believe you, probably Evo-riders?!

Tank shifters!!!!!

Post by kevsett on Dec 31, 2003, 6:57pm

Hey guys! Not only do I get funny looks on my 64 FL when tank shifting/foot usually draws a crowd when I kick start it. I'll never forget the look on the faces of several riders at a KC H-D plant open house. Most posers would have to lift old iron into a truck or van to steal it, because they sure couldn't start it and ride it!
One other the 1st annual Gail's HD bike show in Overland Park, KS the other day someone had a twincam model all set up in 50's/60's Panhead fashion; even a hand shifter on the tank. The funny thing was that no one I saw noticed there was NO linkage from the hand shifter and the foot shifter and rod were still hooked up below. What a hoot!

Post by DuoDave on Jan 1, 2004, 12:51pm

Like those fake kicker kits that don't connect to anything. How pathetic is that? :
I imagine those guys hiding out in the garage, practising the ritual, trying to get it to look just right.
"Nope, I need to grunt a little more at that point. HAAA-YUNG! potato, potato potato. Yessirree, this is a real mans sickle, you bet!" " Now, I'll just stuff this sock down the front of my pants."
(Damn! what a giveaway. now you all know why I wanted those socks for Christmas.)

Post by panomania on Jan 2, 2004, 3:01pm

explain this for me... i have a buddy that owns a metric shop here in the deep south,us. he acts like he hates everything about my bike. the kick start, jocky shift, springer and so on... my question is, how could any automotive or motorcycle gearhead not appreciate a 50 year old motorcyle that already had a history, before his vulcan 1500 cc's engineer,s great uncles grandfathers, grandfather ever had the conception of that bike? Just because he's had to push me around the block a time or two in public...whats the problem? of course only when theres a crowed. I just scream faster,faster.

Post by panomania on Jan 2, 2004, 3:12pm

oh and i forgot, the ones that ask you, is that belt dangerous downthere by your feet? I guess i should remind them that the pavement is screaming past them 2 1/2 feet away from there torso, if a little ol belt scares em that bad, they should probably find a safer hobbie. and back to kick starting in public, have you ever caught yourself begging your bike (silently) to crank when a bunch of people are watching? Please baby, please. dont let me down now.. Or when it aint crankin, under your breath you are saying, piece of%$*^ son of%^&??? so when that time is at hand do you proudly keep kicking or duck your head and pretend theres not 50 people standing there watching?
last year we went to a 4 day ralley in panama city, florida and i swear i didnt see another jockey shift bike out of about 30,000 bikes. anyhow i had a car battery straped to my rear fender because my generator had gone out. but at the main square, main event, when i finally got mine to start, i got a huge standing ovation. i was so proud..NOT!!!

Post by MUTT on Jan 2, 2004, 3:39pm

MY kids have been pushing around the block for months.ill bet they.ll be glad to see it pull itself LOL

Post by 52Chopper on Jan 9, 2004, 12:42pm

My follow-up: I've stripped the primary off, installed a new jockey shift, removed old external throttle and put in a new internal throttle from Chopper Shack/England and now waiting for tax return to put 3" belt drive. Can't wait to try and ride this beast. No need to lock it as no one could kick-it or shift-it!!!

Post by panomania on Jan 11, 2004, 3:43pm

I really love my 48, and Ive spent enough money on her to retire in the virgin islands or something. But I have really grown close to a ridgid sporster I have been building. This thing is as hardcore as I could come up with. I wish I could figure out how to post a picture without having to create a website to send it to. Can a open primary possible be fitted to work on a sporty? hum..

Post by 57Kicker on Jan 23, 2004, 5:22am

Your lucky your buddy doesn't hate you for making him push you around the block like that...we could ALL use a buddy like that!
Jocky shifts rule

Post by panomania on Jan 24, 2004, 4:04pm

no, he just hates the bike. He owns the local bike shop and sells me my parts at dealer cost so he wont have to push. I guess while he's not lookin, Ill keep my finger on the kill switch so I can keep getting the deals and watching him sweat down here in the southern heat.

Post by Kevin on Apr 28, 2004, 3:22pm

I just don't believe it..........the bike I bashed in the below quote (had a fake tank shifter) is on the cover of Hot Rod Bikes. The article says the owner of a '00 Fatboy had been wanting a special "oldies" look for his bike and finally found a guy in SD that had done one. I knew I'd seen that bike somewhere and sure enough, it was the one at the bike show.
My question is why blow such a large wad of money (above and beyond the original purchase price and other goodies he had already put on it) on dressing a Fatboy up to "look" like an old pan when an original pan would have been a lot cheaper, and a whole lot cooler????? Not to mention the fact that a Heritage Softail already has much of the look.
Anyway, maybe I was too quick to judge the bike and the money spent (to each his own), but that fake shifter and all of the Pan wanna be parts really made me laugh and NOW I can't believe it made the cover of a national bike magazine.

Hey guys! Not only do I get funny looks on my 64 FL when tank shifting/foot usually draws a crowd when I kick start it. I'll never forget the look on the faces of several riders at a KC H-D plant open house. Most posers would have to lift old iron into a truck or van to steal it, because they sure couldn't start it and ride it!

One other the 1st annual Gail's HD bike show in Overland Park, KS the other day someone had a twincam model all set up in 50's/60's Panhead fashion; even a hand shifter on the tank. The funny thing was that no one I saw noticed there was NO linkage from the hand shifter and the foot shifter and rod were still hooked up below. What a hoot!

Post by sleeper on Apr 28, 2004, 5:52pm

The only thing the 00 fatboy with the Fake hand shifter, would need-would be the Fake kicker that DuoDave had mentioned on page 1. Yes, those 2 items certainly make an 00 fatboy exactly like an 'ol school Pan :
But what's worse is that poser's that buy this crap & may think they ARE 'ol school.
I suppose that's better than them wanting to get the Real Deal, thus driving up prices of 'ol bikes & parts.

I just imagined how this would look, first you "Fake Kick" your "Twin-kee" & then "Fake" your shifting into 1st. w/NO linkage. :
Yeah, that's about right!! ;D

Post by Weez on May 1, 2004, 2:29am

Well guys If it wasn't for these dudes there wouldn't be anything to laugh about. Way back when I first started riding we used to laugh at the dudes on Hondas, My buddy pushed one guys sled into the river next to the bar we were in We all laughed our asses off but thinking about it now it was kinda harsh this is America, let those who ride decide, They got all that money and if it wasn't for them we would really have antiques and there would be No Harley Davidson - If AMF hadn't came along. But i still like laffin at em and there as dumb as they can be, Now who has the most righteous sled out in the Parking Lot, The Girls DO!

Post by panomania on May 1, 2004, 2:17pm

i'll be glad when the posers move on to speed boats or shuffle board. i'm tired of seeing them bad ass around. nothing worse than a outlaw dentist or doctor.

Post by Weez on May 2, 2004, 7:39am

Yea i hear yea there, nothing worse then a smeely leather stanking dentist I have met a few of them ??? I'd like to climb in their mouth with an adjustable and a dull screw driver ;D

Post by potsonpans on May 28, 2004, 2:24pm

My 59 has got a hand shift top on the gearbox,tank shift(no gate)suicide clutch,1.5 inch belt drive enclosed by diamond tin primary.Love it.My mates think Im mad.No one can start it or ride it.Gee,so many people ask me what model fat boy it is.Oh well ,Its a hard slog.

Post by Cotten on May 28, 2004, 3:51pm

The fake machines irk me of course, and so do the posers who buy the machines in order to be somebody.
However, I must be contrary, and defend their right to try. (It's my 'Muricun nature.)
In fact, if it weren't for some Rich Urban Bikers for patrons of the art, I'd still be adjusting sportster valves in the gutter in front of some sleezy dive. And you folks wouldn't be able to enjoy my freebie advice.
Not all of the newbies are 'lifestylers for the weekend'. There are many who have no interest in being a badass, or even looking like one. They truly love the romance and adventure of a vintage machine, even if their upbringing robbed them of hands-on ability.
Fake parts offend them every bit as much as it does us.
In fact they often obsess with authenticity, and preserve much of what we would have cut up in decades past.
Let us not judge them as one would a book by its cover. But judging them by their hardware is certainly fair game! And we can express our disgust to magazines/editors/publishers that would think we accept fakery. I, for one, will not purchase such a rag.

PS: I preach authenticity, but I don't practice it myself. A real machine shows something of its owner upon it. The museums are full enough of embalmed 'correct' machines.

Post by 52Chopper on Jun 6, 2004, 3:38am

Hey gang, summer is here, so far a little wet but it's warm. Here's my update: I 've put maybe 100+ miles on the old girl with the new jockey/suicide shift on her and I love it! Sure it takes time to get use to, you can't drink too much, it's hard to turn around at your favorite watering hole parking lot, BUT, going down the road and shifting down by your left cheek is as cool as it gets! Just never forget to lean to your right when your stopping and get her in neutral ASAP! Ride On!

Post by xcaret on Jun 14, 2004, 4:22am

If you mean the true suicide shift forget it ..i had a bayonet case with bayonet in it welded to my non ratchet top The clutch was just like a cars the stop sign you had to be in nuetral and lean right with foot on the brake you would take off cause you would fall to the right and instinctly take your foot off the brake to suport yourself. There is a false neutral on older 4 speed trans between 3rd and 4th will soon be a pro at shifting into it ..ha ha ..My bike had super high compression and no front brake ..the rear brake hardly worked cause in building the bike i didnt set it up much but thought i had ..any ways gearing down was so effective it wasnt till i was in the hills of Seatle that I found the rear brake wouldnt hold on a steep hill.!000 miles from home in calgary..anyways i continued to San Fransisco that way ..Comming back the police stopped me in a state park on the way to reno and said I had no brakes ..they had watched me gear down and shut the bike off..they also saw sparks flying out of my staight thru pipes and said thet i couldnt continue that way in a state park with out spark arresters Hmmm there i was stoned and all this ..after awhile joking around they said ' what the hell " let nevada worry about me ..a paronoid rider rrived in reno..To be stopped by the Reno police they thought i looked just fine and pointed me to an inexpensive motel.. what this part has to do with a suicide shift is beyond me ..i'll sign off for now ..i'm sure if your a young guy you will be soon experiencing the joy and terror of riding a suicide shifter..Yhe above happened in 1970 I now ride a 91 springer with disc brakes ..that 70 only choppers didn't have front brakes ..

Post by sleeper on Jun 14, 2004, 5:37am

Suicide set-up. The only way to Fly!!!!!!!! ;D ;D

Post by 53rigidrider on Aug 3, 2004, 12:04pm

I'm goin' fer it!
I've gotta tear apart my inner primary anyway to replace a tranny seal that's keeping my rear chain lubed.
I'll take off the beautiful mousetrap and store it for the future.
I had a '93 softail with a garage rigged slap shifter..weehoo!
Life's too short to think for very long!
BTW-I live near Seattle..the city on the hills..streets averaging 45 degree grades with stop lights in the middle.
I'll let you know when my funeral is!!

Post by kell on Aug 4, 2004, 11:42pm

To paraphrase Mark Twain,

Reports of your death will be greatly exaggerated!

Post by sleeper on Aug 5, 2004, 12:52am

Perfect terrain to practice your skills. Especially starting out from a Stop sign. On a steep hill & you want to go up.. ;D & the car behind you is 9" off your rear tire.
Enjoy, that's what it's all about anyhow.. ;D
Don't sweat the small stuff!!

Post by kws1949 guest on Dec 20, 2004, 7:15am

Here's a trick, when you pull your inner tin off to install your jockey shifter, IF you are going to reinstall it, first mark where the three taper screws or allens line up on ratchet top with inner tin, then drill holes in inner tin to line up with ratchet. Then you only need to remove outer tin to tighten after they work loose! From the real cool,over weight, shifter knob or lack of RED loctite.

Post by wheels on Dec 23, 2004, 4:13pm

i've been waiting for winter to arrive( and it has with a bang in southern illinois) to take my pan apart and fix some things. i am going to change to jockey shift. i have a 65 does the starter solenoid get in the way. for the record that electric start has been a real turd. i'm thinking of convertin it to a "glide' istead of electric glide. do you guys recommend gettin the kit with pedal rod and shifter or using the shifter for the clutch any insight would be appreciated. can't wait to put that old style primary cover i got from billy on also. i'm gonna buy one starter and if that one doesn't last i think i'll just change it all to the old style but that's a different thread.

Post by fasted53 on Dec 23, 2004, 11:35pm

Wheels, I've got a older set of forward controls on mine, I just bought the longer clutch arm and rigged a rod up to my shift lever. It seems to do alright. Ed

Post by Cotten on Dec 24, 2004, 1:32am


I your startermotor is a red-label Delco unit, please let me know if you have no more use for it.
My wife could use a back-up on the shelf for hers.

Post by 53rigidrider on Dec 25, 2004, 9:40pm

I "got 'er done!"
It's like riding a new 'sickle......high gears, high bars, and a kewl jockey shift in Xmas traffic!

Post by wheels on Dec 27, 2004, 8:20pm

how about it. has anyone changed a 65 to jockey shift. does the starter solenoid and wires get in the way and should i buy the kit with pedal. thanks to FastEd53 it looks like the shifter could be converted to a clutch easy enough. i guess i'll have to remove to the glorious mousetrap. i also need to replace the starter motor. i don't see many 65 units available. i think it was a one year only deal. does anyone know if you can substitute another model. i'm gonna try one new unit and then the electic glide becomes a glide. also does a 65 not have a starter relay? thanks to any and all who respond.

Post by 55fl on Dec 28, 2004, 3:29am

My 55FL and 69FLH are both jockey shift ,set up to accept the electric start so I run the aluminum primaries on both. I don't currently have the electric start on either bike but I use a cable to actuate a late model clutch arm and a ratchet top for shifting. The solenoid may get in the way of a ratchet top shift handle but I think some creative modification can solve this.


Post by wheels on Dec 29, 2004, 3:43pm

thanks 55fl. i appreciate the help.

Post by PanPal on Jan 10, 2005, 9:38pm

??? I'm confused on this terminology ???
What is a suicide set up?
What is a slapstick?
What is a Jockey shift?
I have a non ratchet top, a lid with a shifter drum and a 12" chrome arm with shifter knob bolted to the lever on the lid. I was thinking of putting a squeeze style clutch lever on shifter lever and adding a foot clutch, may be roller rocker style to make city driving a little easier.

Post by Cotten on Jan 11, 2005, 12:08am

a "suicide" clutch is a clutch pedal with no friction dampener, so it self-engages just like a car would.
(It is actually the most sensible foot clutch. Relying upon risky so-called 'safety' devices only leaves you dependent upon fault-prone mechanisms, and conditioned into very bad habits, like sitting at a stopsign with the pedal in the air.
Such devices were needed for cowpaths and rutted roads, not modern street traffic.)
"Slapstick" is vaudeville humor, like the Stooges used to do.
"Jockey shift" is where the Factory tank gate assembly has been removed for a direct lever, such as you describe that you have.

Post by kell on Jan 11, 2005, 3:52am

Slap stick sounds like a ratchet top with a hand lever on it -- shift by slapping it.

Post by sleeper on Jan 11, 2005, 6:25am

I agree, no searching for a gear. Just "Slap it" & dump the clutch..

Post by 108 on Jan 13, 2005, 12:34am

The bad thing about suicide/ car-type clutch pedal is that if you loose your balance or start to fall left ( and it will happen once or twice a week ,no matter how carefull you are) you wont have time to jerk it out of gear and get your foot down in time before you fall or kill it. Thats the advantage of the over-center spring on the rocker clutch. In a split second you can push your heel down and get your foot to the ground and the spring holds the clutch dissengaged for you.The rocker set-up can be reworked to shift gears without going "over-center" and with about 40% less travel makeing acurate shifting quicker and easier.

Post by JD on Jan 13, 2005, 2:02am

That just keeps things exciting

Post by Cotten on Jan 13, 2005, 2:43am

If you are traversing cow paths regularly, and fording an occasional stream,.. then by all means tighten your foot rocker dampener!
Otherwise, it just robs you of feel for the clutch engagement, and makes you look like a novice as you
launch from every stop.
With a hand-shift tranny lid, it is very easy to bump it into a false neutral between any of the gears, in a moment of awkwardness. But if you have a ratchet lid, you would indeed have to 'slap' it silly to find neutral in a hurry!
So I advocate a loose dampener, but no ratchet tops for a hand-shift machine. But I'll defend anyone's right to do anything as bizarre as they want.

Post by thsmith on Jan 14, 2005, 11:09pm

Cotten, I have read several post where you recommend loosening the clutch so it does not stay locked. When I built my 57 I have a suicide set up with just a clutch pedal not rocker, I would like my rocker to work the way mentioned. When you have time or can point me to a previous post explaining how to do this.
I prefer to have the feel of the clutch not just guessing and hoping. I keep my foot on the clutch at lights or stopped if in gear because I am afraid if I don't it might give way and through me into traffic, probably just paranoid but I like the idea of being able to feel the clutch.


Post by Cotten on Jan 15, 2005, 3:49am


The Factory rocker pedal assembly is fully adjustable: Merely loosen the tension upon the star spring until it self-engages freely.
The bent-washer locktab is rarely trustworthy, so a drop of wicking-grade Loctite after you find perfect adjustment is prudent.
If you find that the assembly is too stiff to self-engage, a thorough cleaning/inspection of the shaft and replacement of the friction disc is in order. If it still requires more than a gently prod of the toe, then inspect your clutch springpack in the primary.
And all should be reminded that riding a footclutch requires certain disciplines and focus, most important of which is that you always get into neutral before you roll to a stop.
Benefits go beyond just improved control by virtue of feel, and avoiding the horror of trusting a dampener that decided to "walk" on you: It makes riding two-up easier.
Carrying a valuable passenger on a buddyseat can be cumbersome, particularly if either or both are of healthy stature. When scooted far forward on the buddy, the angle at which your foot operates the pedal is compromised.
But with a pedal that self-engages, you can merely depress the heel portion with your toe!

Post by suicideshovel65 on Jan 16, 2005, 9:53am

Cotten, that sounds like sound advice from a seasoned and careful rider. Tuning of the bike to suit riding conditions and not just type of riding (ie matching the bike's chassis, drive train, and controls to the power output and delivery interfaces) is something that is often neglected - as is safety - though I've seen some great earlier posts on this board on seat post spring tensions and tire profiles, and their affect on the ride.
I'm always intrigued by the mordernization of our classic cycles to improve saftey, reliability, and performance, whilst sacrificing none of the look. I imagine the tuning of the more peripheral aspects of our motorcycles could be the source of some interesting new thread topics...especially that of rigid-framed and even springer-forked bikes!



Post by kell on Jan 17, 2005, 7:35am

with regard to your question in the first post of this thread, the biggest drawback to a true suicide clutch (not a rocker) is that under certain conditions it is just damn hard to ride. Like poking along in a traffic jam, on the uphill side of a long bridge, where you go just a few feet and then have to stop, start, stop. Keeping your hand on the lever constantly and shifting in and out of neutral.
(The necessity of shifting into neutral is one reason to avoid a ratchet top.)
Also, you have a problem if you tilt just a hair to the left on pulling out from a stop.
Anyway there's a solution: a redundant hand clutch lever. I'm not the only one that has done it.

Post by PanPal on Jan 18, 2005, 4:15pm

Do you have any pictures of your redundant hand clutch set up? Am I correct that you only really use it in first gear? With a non ratchet top, is pulling the lever all the way back first gear? The design I have in mind would be hard to operate with the lever in the forward position.

Post by kell on Jan 19, 2005, 4:01am

Yes it's really only useful in first gear. But what a difference it makes riding in heavy traffic. First gear is with the lever back (hand shift tranny top). I use a short lever and reach down. No tank linkage. I have photos at
click on Kell's Bike Photos and scroll all the way down. The last two or three photos show the setup. There are two or three pages of photos, don't miss the last page which has only one photo on it.
The hand shift part is a commonplace aftermarket mousetrap eliminator. I don't use a short clutch release lever (the one on top of the transmission) like the mousetrap eliminator is meant to work with. I kept the long clutch release lever on top of the transmission, which connects to the foot clutch. Mine is homemade. The cable from the m.e. connects to about the middle of that lever.
If you can't see the photos I'll post direct links to them.

Post by kell on Jan 20, 2005, 3:12am

Also, a correction to the above post: when I said "the hand shift part is a common mousetrap eliminator," I meant "the hand clutch part is a common mousetrap eliminator." You can see its cable housing butted into a bracket just under the oil tank. Buy it, bolt it in. The only fabbing you have to do is attaching the cable end to the clutch release lever on top of the transmission.

Post by 1960PanNick on Jan 20, 2005, 10:25am

[Riding with a Pan-suicide for 8 years and loving it! And it gives me more reason to rub my ol-lady's leg!]

What I love about the "suicide shift" is that it's a really trick style of riding, and blows the mind out of the old school guys, that a youngin' like myself prefers a slapstick rather than the "ordinary" style. And they thought the old ways were losing their edge!
I've modified my slap shift, replacing the glass door knob with a skeleton in a top hat. I've heard that you've got to be careful about the weight of the shifter though. I believe there's some concern over the weight of the lever causing loosened parts/ bearings inside the tranny. Any one know about this?
Anyhoot, I've decided to retire "Mr. Reaper on my side" due to rock and paint chips, and add a newer style, handblown, glass shift-knob from [].
Although the cost is a bit pricey, the quality and color choices seem to add that touch of personality I've been looking for. Check out the Lattichino Galaxy "twist" style....pretty bitchin'.

"Ride long - Ride hard"

Post by chopper on Jan 20, 2005, 1:02pm

Welcome PanNick
Been looking at this thread for quite some time now and i honestly cant understand what the big problem with suicide and Jockey shift is?? Been riding for twenty years with it and i think it's much moore fun and i think i can count the "tip over" incidents on one hand..And not twice a week as someone said. Often when someone says that it's hard (or stupid) to drive with suicide clutch they have NEWER tryed it!!?? Of course it takes some time to get use to it (like everything else) but when you get use to it you have a much moore fun ride ;D
And dont forget how COOL it looks


Post by Cotten on Jan 20, 2005, 2:17pm


Handshift tranny lids take the stress of a jockey lever well: They have a thick shaft and stout bushing that can get quite worn without affecting the operation,...much.
Ratchet lids were never intended to take the side-forces that a direct jockey lever delivers, and the small pawl bushing can wear quickly, allowing the entire assembly to become sloppy and feel like the little screws have all come loose.
This isn't because of the weight of the knob, but the hand upon it.
This is just another reason that I do not endorse ratchet lids for a jockey alteration.

Post by 1960PanNick on Jan 20, 2005, 4:01pm


Yeah, I don't see the problem with suicide either. It's fun and keeps my hands busy. My Pops got me turned on to it a while back. He's into the ordinary style "handle bar", but thought that I'd have fun learning suicide. I didn't know any better and I liked the name "Suicide". What's a kid to do when his Pops is helping him fund a portion of the bike?
So, we hooked up my '60 Panhead with a suicide shift, and I have loved it ever since. Love it so much, in fact, that I have a hard time riding his '93 Heritage Softail from time to time. I forget that his shift lever is located on the handle bars as I occasionally reach down for the lever to find it "missing". LOL
As for the "tipping", I have to be honest, I have done that several times, but it was during my learning stages. Once I became better at it and more confident, I took off the training wheels and had no problems since then.


Post by 1960PanNick on Jan 20, 2005, 4:19pm


So you recommend that I don't modify my ratchet lid to a suicide because of the wear rate on the small pawl bushing? Too late I guess! I already modified it some time ago and I have been riding with it suicide for some time. I have noticed some slight �wobble� in the lever though. Bummer!
Is there something I can do to counter this wear; like install a more durable bushing or am I stuck with the eventual wear and future failure? Just to make sure that I am talking about the correct tranny�this is the same tranny with the rounded lid right?

Post by Sidecar on Jan 20, 2005, 7:14pm

I'm getting pretty good at turning left from a dead stop with the rocker clutch. For me, that took the longest to master.

Post by PanPal on Jan 20, 2005, 7:36pm

I think Cotten said the ratchet was the one that would become very loose and the suicide could start to wear without causing problems.

The hand clutch set up I'm thinking of is mounting my clutch lever directly on my shifting lever. squeeze a slide lever with two fingers up towards the knob. I might use the mousetrap eliminator style bracket that is used on the front bottom side of the oil tank, or I may need some type of mechanical advantage (mousetrap on downtube?) set up to make it operate easily. I would fabricate it and the rest of the setup. I never rode a jockey or tank shift before, so my question is, would it be hard taking off from a light with one hand on the throttle and one hand on the shifter knob letting the clutch out slowly with two fingers? I would think finding the correct spot in my long clutch lever to attach the cable or rod for my finger clutch would also be an important factor.

Post by Cotten on Jan 21, 2005, 2:38am

There is actually very little that holds a ratchet lid together sideways.
The slop occurs mostly at a bushing that is about 5/8" diameter but very short.
Just replace it regularly I guess.
The handshift lid shouldn't be referred to as "suicide", as it has nothing to do with the clutch.
The factory always chose a linkage, but a direct lever , or "jockey shift", allows direct feel with a handshift lid, and it was preferred for sport riding before self-shifting ratchets were produced.
The need for feel is eliminated with a ratchet.
(Except when you really need neutral fast.)

Post by kell on Jan 21, 2005, 5:00am

You are right to be concerned about the amount of force required, and the need for mechanical advantage. I think if you just hook something to the end of a cable for your fingers to grab and pull on directly, you would need a gorilla grip.
Althoug I never saw it, I have a friend who took his sportster and converted it to hand shift, with a regular hand clutch lever attached to the shift stick.
Don't worry about the startup instability issue. At least you will have a foot to put down if you go with the hand clutch on the shift stick thing.
I don't know about other people's experience with the jockey/suicide thing but I get so that half the time I don't even bother to reach back up, I just let the left arm dangle and ride one-handed a lot.
When I got my bike it had foot-shift. I knew I wanted to change it to suicide, and I changed the tranny top over to a handshifter top because of stuff I read on this board. With the hand shift I actually get to feel the gear teeth engage.

Post by chopper on Jan 21, 2005, 9:38am

Kell i know what you're talking about, most times i dont grab the bar with my left hand until i have the fourth gear in.
We call the handclutch/footshifter "Ladyshifter" ;D

Post by 1960PanNick on Jan 21, 2005, 1:39pm


I stand corrected. Thanks.
I refered to "suicide" as the complete method of shifting gears, using both the shift lever and the foot clutch, not as the single entity that it really is. After some light research and a coke, I found that I was wrong.
"Suicide" refers to the foot clutch while jockey shift refers to the lever style at the tranny; like a jockey leaning over whipping his horse with his crop!
Alrighty then, now that the confusion is over and all my peas are places back in the pod, I can continue with this post.

You've mentioned both the ratchet lid and handshift lids. Without opening up the tranny, can I visually distinguish them from one another? If I can "correctly" remember, a ratchet lid is rounded right?


Post by Cotten on Jan 21, 2005, 1:55pm

The handshift lid just has a bare toggle lever and (three or) four positions for it. (One or two more if you count false neutrals.)
The ratchet top has its lever screwed to a springloaded drum with only two positions. It is a little larger than a hockey puck, and sits vertically just inboard from the inner primary.

On riding habits:
In recent years I have had to learn to ride machines with a left-hand throttle, right hand shift, and a rocker that treadles opposite. After a quarter+ century of lefthand shift habit, it only became more difficult the more I thought about it.
So, to stop thinking, I found that riding with one hand on the shiftknob automatically short-circuited all those ingrained responses. Operation quickly became confident and comfortable (although my left arm found new muscles it had never used!)

Post Reply

Return to “Transmission, Clutch, Belt & Chains”