How To Use Heel-Toe Shifter Harley-Davidson Bikes: Everything You Need To Know


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How To Use Heel Toe Shifter Harley Davidson

Do you ever find your Harley-Davidson tough to ride and wish there was an easier way of shifting gears? Luckily for you, there is something to make things easier. A heel-toe shifter mounted on your bike will provide an easy avenue for gear shifting.

Using a heel-toe shifter on your Harley-Davidson is pretty simple. It’ll work by either pressing down the heel (shifting up) or pressing down the toe (downshifting). 

In this article, you’ll get to know all about how to use heel-toe shifter Harley-Davidson, its significance, the advantages and disadvantages, and a lot more.

What is a heel-toe shifter?

A heel-toe shifter on a Harley-Davidson will act as an additional shift lever that is attached to your bike. Usually, it is behind the traditional toe-shift lever. It looks like a reversed toe shift lever extending to the end of where your foot normally rests.

Often, there are two different shift levers on the gear shift shaft – the heel and toe shifts. The heel-toe shift lever is placed facing backward while the toe shift lever will be placed facing forward. In some cases, they’re placed together, which makes it look like both of them combine to form a unit.

Why do you need heel-toe shifters in your Harley-Davidson bikes?

The primary reason why heel-toe shifters are used is that they create an easy avenue for gear shifting. They’ll make it easier for you to shift between the heel shifter and toe shifter by using just your heel. The heel-toe shifter will make it very convenient for you as it allows easy access.

Moreover, using only the toe shifter lever will create inconvenience. When shifting with a regular toe shifter, you’ll need to constantly move your foot under the toe shifter’s peg. This is relatively easy on regular street bikes, but it can be very complicated for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

This is the case because of the position in which the floorboard is mounted under the shifter. It causes a lack of space for your feet. As compared to other bikes, the Harley-Davidson touring bikes come with a unique distinction. These bikes involve different riding postures and feature floorboards instead of footpegs.

The riding position on these bikes will have your feet in a different direction than normal sports bikes. This is where a heel-toe shifter will come in handy. Due to the heel-toe shifter, you won’t have to put your feet under the toe shift peg. All you’ll have to do is shift up using the heel-toe shifter.

How to use heel-toe shifter Harley-Davidson?

Any heel-toe shifter that is mounted on a Harley-Davidson bike is very simple and easy to use. In fact, both the toe shift lever and heel shift lever are pretty easy to use. They will face the opposite direction and work similarly to a seesaw. It essentially implies that pressing the heel shifter down will cause the toe shifter to move up. If you want to shift into a lower gear, you can simply press for the gear to move up. Then, press down on the heel shift lever using your leg.  This will cause the shift shaft to turn in the same direction.

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Motorcycle Heel-Toe Shifter Infographic

The heel-toe shifter is explicitly made for creating less complicated issues for riding your Harley-Davidson bike. It’ll create utmost convenience such that your bike simply by pressing on the two gear shifters. Using a gear shifter is pretty easy, and it’ll involve two phases – shifting up and downshifting.

Shifting up

Shifting up is done by pressing down the heel or lifting the front shifter.

When using a traditional toe shifter, the rider will first need to place their left foot under the lever. Then, you will need to lift the shift to the next higher gear. If you’re using a heel-toe shifter, you’ll be able to press down with the heel on the gear lever. This will shift into the next higher gear, or it’ll lift the front shifter. The lever will be then ejected such that it resets itself and be more convenient for the next sift.


Downshifting is done by pressing down the toe shifter. Shifting into a lower gear is essentially the same process for a standard heel-toe shifter. This will occur by pushing the shift lever forward using the ball of your left foot. Immediately, you’ll need to re-engage the bike clutch. Then, the shift lever will be ejected and reset for the next shift.

Advantages of using a heel-toe shifter on your Harley-Davidson bike

There are a number of advantages that come with using a heel-toe shifter. Some of those advantages are –

Easy to use

Heel-toe shifters are incredibly easy to use. Constantly having to move around your toes can get exhausting quickly as compared to moving it down using your heel. That is why using your heel to shift gears will feel more convenient. It’ll be less tiring for a Harley-Davidson driver, especially when you have to ride long distances.

Harley-Davidson owners who are accustomed to using a heel-toe shifter will find it far more convenient to always use a downward motion for shifting gears. Moreover, riders with handicaps will also find a heel-toe shifter easier to use, especially the ones with limited mobility in their ankles.

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Easy to upshift

Heel-toe shifters make it easy to access upshift, especially if the toe lever is low or unreachable. These are extremely convenient for Harley-Davidson drivers. This will come in handy in situations when your feet do not fit into the space between the floorboard and the toe shifter.

Comfortable for disabled bikers

Heel-toe shifters are very helpful for disabled bikers. It will offer ample comfort and easy to shift gears. For instance, riders who have joint problems or leg injuries can use a heel-toe shifter without experiencing any problems.

Less tiring

Using a heel-toe shifter is worthwhile and less tiring. You won’t need to stress yourself when using a heel-toe shifter. Many Harley-Davidson riders can attest that using this handy feature will be more convenient than using a toe shifter.

Boot friendly

A heel-toe shifter would never scuff your boots.

Say that you’ve bought new boots and you’ve set out on your Harley-Davidson bike. However, you notice that your boots have got scuffed. This is what a toe shifter can potentially do if you’re not careful. However, a heel-toe shifter will never do that. The latter is designed in a way to stop it from causing any damage to your boots.

Disadvantages of using a heel-toe shifter on your Harley-Davidson bike

With so many advantages, come a few disadvantages as well. Some of those disadvantages are –

Less room for your feet

Harley-Davidson drivers love changing the position of their feet on the floorboard. This is important as it’ll help reduce leg and back pain. Unfortunately, a heel-toe shifter will not have enough room, which means you’ll have less room for your feet.

Less space on the floorboard

Similar to the previous point, a heel-toe shifter will not give you ample space for the floorboard. This will slightly limit your movement. This will make it more difficult for you to properly position the left foot to shift into a higher gear.

Extra cost

There will be an extra cost involved with heel-toe shifters as you’ll need to get it installed. Further, getting the heel-toe shifter fixed will also cost you decent money.

Will require getting used to

While a heel-toe shifter is pretty simple to use, it’ll still take some getting used to. This is especially the case for riders who have been using the traditional toe shifter for several years.

How to install the heel-toe shifter on your Harley-Davidson bike?

A heel-toe shifter is very easy to install. However, there are a couple of considerations that you should keep in mind before you install it.

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Fixing Heel Toe Shifter Harley Davidson

The first thing that you should consider is the toe shifter. If it is installed too low, you’ll not be able to get your toe under it for shifting into a higher gear. Moreover, if it is too low, it may hit the floorboard when pushing down on it. This will, in turn, render you unable to shift into a lower gear.

Further, if you’re planning to use your toe for shifting into a higher gear, you’ll have to consider how much movement you’ll need in the ankles. In case the shift lever is too high, your ankle’s range of motion might not be enough to shift the gear. This will leave you unable to fully lift your leg off the floorboard for shifting properly.

Secondly, you should consider the heel shifter. Although, you do not need to worry about getting your toes under it. In case it is installed too low, the shift peg may hit the floorboard, and you won’t be able to shift into a higher gear. For the rear shift lever, make sure that it is high enough. In case you accidentally drop the bike, the floorboard shouldn’t fold up and damage the liver or the shift peg. Before putting the bolts on, lift the floorboard and see if the lever is high enough and unaffected during a fall.

Installing a heel-toe shifter on your Harley-Davidson bike will depend largely on the type of shifter that you’ve acquired. The installation will happen by bolting the heel-toe shifter to your bike’s gear shaft. You will need to detach the already attached toe shifter before you can attach the new levers. If you’ve already bought a separate heel-toe shifter, you should mount it at the end of the gear shaft. Then, move the attached shifter lever closer to the engine on the bike’s shaft.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know more about a heel-toe shifter and how to use heel-toe shifter Harley-Davidson bikes, its advantages, disadvantages, and more. A heel-toe shifter mounted on your bike will help you with gear shifting. It is pretty easy and convenient to use. It will work by either shifting up or downshifting. To shift up, you’ll need to press down the heel while for downshifting, you’ll need to press down the toe. While it will definitely help you, the final decision rests on your comfort level. It has many advantages, but it has a few disadvantages as well. It’ll definitely be a great addition to your Harley-Davidson and offer a lot of comfort.

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