Friday, June 16, 2017

In praise of the Neutral Finder on four-speed Royal Enfields

Great idea: The neutral finder lever on the Royal Enfield Albion four-speed gearbox.
I've endlessly criticized the Royal Enfield four-speed gearbox for the awkward linkage used to transfer shifting to the left side of the motorcycle to suit U.S. regulations.

The five-speed gearbox on newer Royal Enfields eliminates the problem — it was designed from the start to shift on the left, as the world now expects of motorcycles. End of problem.

But my Royal Enfield's obsolete four-speed Albion box has something the Royal Enfield five-speed never got: the neutral finder.

Prod this extra lever on the gearbox with your heel and the old Albion instantly goes from any upper gear to neutral. No downshifting through the gears.

Even better, I think, is how the neutral finder helps you when you stop at an intersection and find you're left in first gear.

There's no weary waiting through the signal light cycle with your hand gripping the clutch lever. Just reach down and with your finger pull UP on the neutral finder.

It pops right into neutral! Now you can relax until the light changes. Saves the clutch, saves the clutch cables and saves your wrist.

In fact, rather than hunt for neutral from first when approaching a stop I will shift UP into second gear and then hit the neutral finder to let the motorcycle coast to a stop. Works every time.

N-1 means you CAN get neutral from first gear.
Here's how: Just hold the neutral finder down with your heel
as you press the gearshift lever toward second gear with your toe.
Or, for the better coordinated, here's an even cuter first-gear-to-neutral trick from Guru Nandan:

"...All you have to do is to HOLD it there, with your heel, and press the gear-lever with your toe towards the second gear, whence the neutral-finder acts as the stop and stops it in neutral! Try it!!"

Unlike many other aspects of vintage Royal Enfields, the neutral finder is absolutely reliable. 

Like most other aspects of vintage Royal Enfields, the neutral finder is a pleasant talking point when people rave about your "antique" motorcycle. "Did you restore it yourself?"

Patented neutral finder was a post-war selling point for Royal Enfield.
The neutral finder was a selling point for Royal Enfield, back in the day. Most vintage Royal Enfield models since the Model G seem to have the feature. (It wasn't used on less-expensive models.)

The snide commented at the time that the Royal Enfield "is the only motorcycle in the world with a neutral finder, and the only one that needs one." Funny, but hardly fair.

The neutral finder on my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet is completely integrated into my motorcycling. I don't know how I would do without it.

Yes, I've ridden motorcycles, including new Royal Enfields, that must be shifted through the gears when coming to a stop. You just do it (don't forget!). No big deal.

But how nice not to have to bother dancing on the shift lever at every stop.


  1. the neutral lever is great. Saves needing that 'Parkinson's' effect at junctions.

  2. hai sir am looking for royal enfield gearbox left shift please help me


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