How To Master Getting The Clutch Bite

Last Updated: 10/04/2021

Mastering the art of finding ‘the bite’ when you’re learning to drive is one of those things that seems so tricky for a period of time and then it will just become second nature.

The bite, or ‘the biting point’, is the term used to explain when the clutch plate engages the flywheel in your car.

This happens when you begin to release pressure on the clutch and increase pressure on the accelerator.

In simpler terms, it’s the point at which the car is ready to move off when you’re either in first gear or reverse.

There are a variety of scenarios when finding the bite will come in useful.

They include:

Moving Off (1st Gear):

When you want to begin accelerating forwards from a stationery position.

Reversing:

If the car is in reverse and you’re looking to begin moving backward (reversing).

For example, when you’re reversing in to a parking space/bay.

Junctions:

When moving off from a roundabout or other junction, being able to find the bite is a really important factor in whether you will be able to smoothly joint the traffic flow/junction.

Hill Starts:

Being able to master the bite is really important when it comes to hill starts, although we have covered the exact technique in our ‘mastering hill starts’ guide (see link in ‘further resources’ section at bottom of page).

Driving Manoeuvres:

So many different manoeuvres that you perform as a driver will require you to be able find the biting point.

Finding the biting point will require the same technique regardless of which car you drive, however, each car will behave slightly differently.

Therefore, getting the technique right will set you up to be able to find the biting point in any car in the future.

When you’re just starting out learning to drive, we’d recommend that you practice finding the bite whenever you can.

When doing so, make sure that you:

Find A Flat Road:

When you’re just starting out, finding the bite is tough enough on a flat road, the last thing you want to be doing is attempting this on a hill.

Use A Quiet Road Or Car Park:

The quieter the road, the better.

Ideally, you want a flat road with no traffic so that you can practice finding the bite in your own time.

Ensure The Handbrake Is On:

It’s vital that your handbrake is engaged whenever you are practicing finding the bite.

Our guide will look to keep things as simple and jargon-free as possible.

As ever, it will cover the following areas:

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

What You Will Learn

This guide is designed to give you all of the theoretical information needed to allow you to go and practice mastering the bite.

Key to doing that successfully is knowing how to do it, where to do it and what to look for.

We’ve got all of that covered in this list of what our guide covers:

What Is ‘The Bite’:

We’ve explained this in the introduction already but if you don’t know what the bite is, there is no chance of mastering it!

When You Need The Bite:

We explain when you need to be able to find the biting point, a set of bullet points in the introduction which really emphasis how important this technique is.

How To Find The Bite:

Our step-by-step guide explains how to find the bite in a simple, jargon-free way.

What To Look For:

We’ll explain what to look for and how to know that you’ve got the biting point.

Your car will tell you, so it’s just about knowing how it will tell you.

Hints & Tips:

We’re also going to give you a few hints and tips which are designed to make the process as easy as possible for you!

Step-By-Step Guide

Before getting started, make sure you have done the three things we set out earlier in this guide.

Use a flat, quiet road and make sure your handbrake is on.

All set?

Let’s move in to the step-by-step-guide then.

  • With the handbrake engaged, select first gear.
  • Keep the clutch pressed down.
  • Begin to slowly apply (push down) the accelerator with your right foot while very gradually releasing the clutch with your left foot.
  • As you accelerate you will hear the revs building up.
  • As you find the biting point, two things will happen. They are:
    • The engine tone will soften slightly
    • The front of the car will lift ever so slightly
  • This is your biting point.

If you were to release the handbrake at step 6, the car would be able to begin moving forwards slowly.

The more the clutch is released, and accelerator applied, the quicker this would become.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

Our step-by-step guide has probably just made the art of mastering the bite sound like child’s play.

It is really straight forward, but it will take some practice before you’re confidently doing it.

To try and make things a little easier for you, here are a few hints and tips:

Engine Noise:

The noise your car engine makes is often a great guide as to what is going on under the bonnet.

If your engine is becoming very loud (high revs), it’s likely your accelerator is pressed too far in and your clutch not far enough out.

Release pressure on the accelerator – you’re going to need to be able to find the bite without making the revs climb really high.

It’s Easier To Do Than Read:

Finding the bite is actually much simpler to understand when you’re sat in the car with your driving instructor.

He/she can demonstrate the signs of finding the bite, plus there is no substitute for actually having a go yourself

Practice Makes Perfect:

The best way of getting familiar with finding the bite is to simply practice.

If you continue to practice at every opportunity, it will very quickly become very familiar to you.

Useful Information

If you’re learning to drive in a modern car, then finding the bite could actually be even easier.

If your car was built within the last 10 years, it’s highly likely that it’s capable of moving forward at very low speed without actually applying the accelerator.

In terms of the relevance to finding the bite, it means that you can practice the technique without using the accelerator to begin with if you want.

Simply follow the step-by-step guide but do not press the accelerator pedal when it asks you to.

While the car movement may be softer, both of the tell-tale signs of finding the bite will be evident.

Final Thoughts

Finding the bite is one of those things that you just need to learn.

It’s something that your instructor will work with you on during the very first lessons you take but it’s still worth practicing whenever possible.

You’re going to need this every time you get behind the wheel – whether you’re driving up a road, parking, performing a hill start, doing a three-point turn – the list goes on and on.

So, jump in and get in to the routine of testing yourself.

Before you know it, it will become so straight forward that you’ll forget that it was ever a thing!

Further Resources