The terms suicide clutch, and suicide shifter or jockey shifter, refer to a motorcycle's foot-operated clutch and hand-shifter to change gears, Foot clutches (rocker clutches) and hand shifters (tank shifts) were found on early motorcycle designs from around the turn of the 20th Century to the 1940s or 50s, and reappearing on modern retro styled custom motorcycles and choppers. Modern motorcycles do not require removing a hand from the handlebars to shift gears, using only the fingers for the clutch and the toes of one foot to select gears. In contrast, the fanciful slang "suicide" was applied to designs where the rider removes one hand to change gears, or cannot put both feet on the ground while using a foot clutch to disengage the transmission. Sometimes the shifter is referred to as a "jockey shifter" while the foot clutch is called a "suicide clutch".
Suicide clutches were common on mid-20th century Harley-Davidson motorcycles and many custom bikes today still employ this system. Harley-Davidson introduced the hand clutch on the 1952 Panhead.
More technically, "suic...