Into Jockey Shifting?

As the opposite of what most people think, Jockey shift and Suicide Clutch were never stock equipment on any Harley-Davidson motorcycles. At the time of the first choppers they were installed by those chopping off everything they could. Gear changing was a jockey shift and foot clutch. The jockey shifter worked off of the transmission (no more shifter linkage & hardware). The suicide clutch replaced the linkage with a simple push-in and let out clutch. Two years ago, it seems that motorcycle controls manufacturers were quite surprised when they saw the big surge of bobbers & choppers equipped with a jockey shift. Result? Even today, not many well known & reputable companies are offering such a setup and our mailbox at the shop is filled with requests for guidance to find such controls. The modern way to do the old setup is to use a hydraulic foot clutch. Most of the time, these foot controls come from small custom builder shops who made them because they needed them for their own bikes. One of them is Grandeur Cycles with forward controls with the left side equipped with a master cylinder. They also offer a choice of shifters & knobs. Of course, you can make yours and it’s not so difficult to create your own cable or hydraulic setup. But this Blog is read by bikers with different levels of expertise. Another good company to help you get started is LaBriola Machine specializing in this setup since 1988.

23 Responses to “Into Jockey Shifting?”

  1. 1 Bristolmania Jan 25th, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Real bikers jocket shift. The others fall trying to.

  2. 2 DJ Chopper God Jan 25th, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Once ya switch ya never go back!!!

  3. 3 east2westcoast Jan 25th, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Jockey shifting is to demonstrate the true art of riding.

  4. 4 Pop Jan 25th, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    I put a tank shifter / foot clutch on a year ago.. It doesn’t replace the standard equipment, but through linkage and a cable arrangement that splits to serve both the hand and foot clutch I can use either system but I just don’t bother with the stock system anymore.

  5. 5 Pat The Racer Jan 31st, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    I just learned jockey shifting on my new bobber. Beginners, do some training before you go in traffic. After that, when you are comfortable, it’s very cool.

  6. 6 Trip Jun 24th, 2007 at 7:04 am

    I have been thinking of putting a Handshift to my FLHST 1990, I wonder if have any photo’s of the set up (“Pop”) I had a ’59 DuoGlide for 11yrs. and enjoyed the foot clutch and hand shift, as a lot of my mates still bag me out about selling her and buying a Evolution it would be nice to be different again.

  7. 7 Nicker Jun 25th, 2007 at 2:02 am

    Sorry Cyril:
    That’s no Jockey Shift.
    Pop & Trip have it right, it’s a Tank Shif.
    However, you got “suicide clutch” right.

    …’s all about tradition……:)

  8. 8 dix hilborn Jan 26th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    am in the process of getting patents on my products. I make hand shifters and foot clutch conversions that are reliable, cheap, easy to install by any novice. send a closeup pic of left side of your scoot and a description of what you are looking for and I can custom make it. I prefer 8 balls and cue ball shift knobs but if it can be drilled, it can a knobby. Although more complex and costlier, I also make tank shift conversions.

  9. 9 Spaz Mar 14th, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I recently converted my custom built old school bobber to suicide shift….I will never go back!!!! It is awsome, you get a lot of people looking……plus one good thing about it your friends never ask to ride it. LOL…………………..If anyone ever wants to see pics of it they are posted on club under phstfukr

  10. 10 Dominick May 26th, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    I have a 81 yahama xs 1100 and I am trying to make a jockey shifter for it but I am having a hard time try to make it work because it is not a v- twin . can you help. I want to have the clutch in my hand with the shifter also

  11. 11 Kyle E Sep 2nd, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    My father died in 2000 and he willed me his 1964 Panhead, I just got the b$%# up and am just learning to shift on it. I was always told that first gear is all the way forward (towards the front tire)………on my bike, first gear is all the way back and there is only three gears. Is there different types of “suicide shift” trannys ? because my mom used to ride and she swears that her 49 knuckle had 4 speeds and first was all the way forward. Please someone shed some light on this subject.

  12. 12 yamachop Apr 13th, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    hi, I used to ride a Goldwing and got bored with it. Decided to install a hand shifter from and old international pickup and fabriacted a foot clutch from a Ford LTD stationwagon. It worded great and rode it for a few years like that. I olny had to weld one small peice to the frame for mounting the hand shifter. I’ve modified an ole XS 650 yamaha by stretching the frame 16 inches and raking the front end. Turned out better than could have imagined. I’vve been riding it for the last 8 years and am now looking to install a hand shifter and foot clutch.. I already forward controls and so it should be a since to modify the foot shifter into a foot clutch.

  13. 13 Big Papa Sep 13th, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Hello, Would it be possible to get in touch with Pop to see how he rigged that double clutch (hand and foot) system he was talking about? I have a 2000 sportster I would like to try that on.


  14. 14 Shel Oct 1st, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Do you make a right side jocky shifter for an 88 softail custom FXSTC ? I was injured ! I lost my left foot & had a broken neck ! I like your left hand shifter ! But I need a right side shifter ! My little brother is moving 2100 miles away from me in 1 month, I am hoping to ride with him before he has to leave !!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks Shel

  15. 15 SoCal Nov 5th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Hey, I just put a Foot Clutch and Jockey Shifter on my 1993 Herritage Softail Nostalgia (Moo Glide). I havent rode it yet cause im still waiting on other parts for the bike. Im a lil nervous/ anxious, am I just being a B***h like the guys are saying, or is it really as tough as I think? I have the lowest of low and wide bikini bars and a drop seat. Am I askin for trouble with this whole set up? (Ive been riding for years and I am extremely experienced) “POP” throw your email out there………………


  16. 16 Allen Burleigh Feb 11th, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    oh yes harley had tank shifters in the 40s and up.

  17. 17 kevin Mar 10th, 2010 at 12:23 am

    i have ben riding my shovel with a jocky shift for 3 years now and i have ben having a problem with the clutch my ajusting nut keeps wearing down and thye clutch jumps at a stop with the trans in first gear with the curtch ingaged i have a spring on the forward control to keep preshure of the clutch rod and throwout bering and still i have the wear on the ajusting nut and the jumping on the clutch what the f*#!k

  18. 18 kevin Jul 28th, 2010 at 9:45 am

    problem solved.

  19. 19 j12racer Oct 7th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    anybody know where i can get a kit like this for a 1981 honda cb900…. or any tips on fabing one up?

  20. 20 Mauro Borges Feb 13th, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    You are saying Harley never made any bike with hand shift, how about the early Panheads and flatheads?

  21. 21 neil gray Sep 18th, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I need a tank shifter and foot clutch for a 2008 suzuki c50 bobber that I am doing . Can you design or supply one . How long and how much,
    Neil gray

  22. 22 Chuck Gutshall Sep 29th, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Can anyone please help me out. Im looking to put either a tank shift or a suicide shifter on my 2002 Honda, 750 prostreet chopper. It has been chopped, stretched, lowered and hasnt looked like a honda since the day it was taken apart and built. I’m looking to either use my Marine Corps NCO sward and a shifter on fab my K-bar into a shifter. Any ideas would be great.

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Cyril Huze