Gear Selection Problem - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
1987 to 2007 Wrenching & Mods For maintaining, repair or modifications of Generation 1 KLR's. 2007 and earlier.

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post #1 of 8 Old 04-02-2009, 07:20 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 6
Question Gear Selection Problem

I have a high mileage (80,000) 1992 model. For the last 20,000 first gear selection has not felt positive and sometimes required a second attempt. In the last week the problem has become much worse - now virtually every time I select first I need to have a second, third or fourth go at it. This problems happens both when underway or when selecting from stopped. I am about to split the cases to look for the problem. I'm reasnobly experienced at working on bikes but don't have much specific experience of gearbox problems. I am currently guessing I will find damaged selector forks. Does anyone have any other suggestions on what the problem might be and what I should look for. Also any specific advice and comments on splitting the motor from someone who has done it will be welcome (I have the Kawasaki manual but whilst it is technically great it does not provide a great deal of guidance on what to look for).
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-02-2009, 08:03 PM
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Had the same problem once on another bike after I had dropped it on the left side. Jammed the shift lever and bent a shift fork. But, is your clutch fully disengaging? Are you using a MC specific oil? Just things to consider.

Gray-haired riders donít get that way from pure luck.

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post #3 of 8 Old 04-02-2009, 10:13 PM
2nd Gear
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: north Ga. USA
Posts: 272
gear selection problem

Fear not, it is only a motorcycle.
Your 1st gear selection problem; what happens to cause you to have to try again, and again.....? Does the shifter feel solid? does it feel like it goes into gear as you toe it ? Only first gear, shifts well thru all the others?
Does it go into then pop out of gear as you ease out on the clutch? Or does it not go into gear? Any weird noise or feel? What do you have to do to get it going?

There could be any of several different problems. You may in fact end up having to split the cases, to fix worn or bent shift fork problems.
The shift drum may be worn in the area that selects first gear, or it could be worn dogs and slots in the gears themselves. Usually associated with bent shift forks or worn selector drum.

Or if you are lucky, it may be in the selector or detent mechanisms, which happen to be under the clutch basket. Which does not require removing the engine from the frame to diagnose and repair.

I like to check the simple stuff first. I would check some easy stuff before I pulled the engine out of the frame and ripped it apart.

I can field some questions for you if you want, like starting with the ones above.

'08 KLR650,
'72 BMW R75/5 (Col. Klink),
'02 KTM 400 E/XC,
'05 ktm 125 sx (for sale)

"Hey, are you okay? Can you get up?
I thought you said you could ride"

All the best
Kent Soignier
the str8ner
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-03-2009, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 6
Thanks for the thoughts. The symptons when trying to engage the gear are the lever feels like its moving normally but the gear fails to engage (neutral light goes off as i move the lever but then comes back on). The lever is not solid. The only way around the problem appears to be multiple stabs at the lever until at last it works. Once the bike is in first gear there is no tendency to jump out of gear even if I am agressively on and off the throttle.,

All other gears work well - although I would not describe the gear change as the smoothest I have ever had. Also recently I seem to get a false neutral indication when still in second.

I'll look at the detent mechanism this weekend. It would be good to avoid the time in splitting the cases (however I don't see it as a major drama).
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post #5 of 8 Old 04-13-2009, 05:44 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 6
Question What i found when I split the cases

Well I've got the motor out and split the cases. On examining the components this is what I've found:
1) No sign of any problems in the detent mechanism behind the clutch.
2) Shift forks look fine and mic up to factory spec both for the fork end and the pin that rides in the shift drum.
3) Shift drum slot measures at service limit but this is over full length of the slot and shows no special wear at the first gear location.
4) First gear engagement dogs show very very slight rounding at the top edge. Nothing major but definately some rounding.
5) First gear engagement dogs appear parallel sided whereas the other gear dogs appear slightly tapered (undercut). It looks as though they were manufactured this way but maybe it is wear.

Based on the above I suspect the first gear engagement dogs as the culprit - but given a new gear is likely to be expensive I would appreciate more experienced peoples thoughts. Questions I would really like some advice on are:
1) Is the low level of wear I have seen on the dogs likely to be the problem?
2) Can I get away with just changing the gear with the engagement dogs or do I need to change both the gear with the dogs and the one with the engagement slots?

Anyother thoughts would also be much appreciated.

As an aside also found in the bottom of the cases was the remains of a doohickey spring - obviously been there awhile.
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post #6 of 8 Old 04-13-2009, 08:21 PM
2nd Gear
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: SoCal
Posts: 103
I hadn't seen this clearly stated in the thread, so.... Did you look closely at the shift lever? They often crack at the weld near the splines, and give the symptoms you describe. Another thing that can cause this is the lever hitting an aftermarket bas plate. You likely already know this, but somtimes simple things are overlooked.
all the best,
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post #7 of 8 Old 04-14-2009, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 6
Question Thanks for the tip about the gear lever

Thanks for the post suggesting I look at the gear lever. Not something I had thought of. Firstly there has been no change of bash plate (the bike is a Tengai model with the standard plastic item) and secondly when I checked the lever the weld is fine. However in cleaning the lever to do this check I noticed a small area of paint polished off the bottom of the arm and close inspection reveals what appears to be a matching polished spot on the frame tube. So it seems likely the lever is hitting the frame at full travel. I don't know if this is the problem because it only affetcs first and it has got progressively worse without me moving the lever - but maybe the lever has distorted very slightly over time and what was just OK a year ago is now a problem, or maybe the internal change mechanism has just that little extra bit of wear. Anyway thanks for this one.

My local bike shop has looked at the gears, the shift fork and the drum and they don't think the problem is in these components - based on their experience they think there is not enough wear in them to cause trouble. Their guess is a clutch problem - possibly bad oil. I admit about 1000 km ago I threw in some cheap car oil (non-friction modified) because that was what I had and I was in a hurry. I've done this before in other bikes without an issue. The motorcycle shop mechanics view is he had seen this type of issue before - you get away with using cheap car for years and suddenly it causes problems. I'm not convinced but open to other peoples thoughts (I'm about to do a search on oils because I know there are lots of threads covering this).

Trying to decide what to do at the moment but current favourite is to simply put it all back together (with the doohickey mod done and a new balance chain which was desperately needed) and see if the problem is solved by oil change or lever resiting. Whilst pulling it apart has been a bit of work I've thoroughly enjoyed it - I haven't had the chance to do an engine for several years so I'm not particularly worried that i may need to pull it out again if it doesn't fix it. This way I will learn something and I'd prefer to do that than spend a lot of money on new parts and never be certain if they were really needed.
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post #8 of 8 Old 05-25-2009, 06:51 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 6
Thumbs up An update

Well the bike is back together and the gearbox now works fine - so I'm happy.

For those that are interested here is what I ended up doing:
- Changed all gearbox bearings as some were feeling a bit rough. This is what caused the job to go slowley as some I found are specials (not available from bearing suppliers) and Kawasaki Australia did not have them in country. Consequently I had to wait three weeks for them.
- Changed all the case oil seals.
- Changed the balancer chain as the old one was at limit of its adjustment.
- Changed doohickey for EagleMike model (which was delivered from the States to Australia in just over a week - making me wish I had ordered my bearings that way).
- Set valve clearances.
The camchain and rings weren't touched as they were done 20,000 ago.

Whilst I was waiting for the bearings I also took the opportunity of getting the very tired rear shock rebuilt and did the same myself for the front forks as well as replacing the steering head bearings.

Net result a much smoother engine - I don't know whether due to the balance chain or bearings. However a worthwhile result - especially as I consider the original gear selection problem was probably the distorted gearlever suggested by EagleMike (good call - and easily fixed with a large hammer).

Was it worth it? I think so: I spent about $1200 in all but at the end of it the bike is in top condition and ready to run another 50,000 kilometres and all set for that overland trip to Europe that I sometimes dream of. More importantly I have re-introduced myself to wrenching, something I haven't done much off in the last few years. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

Anyway thanks to all past posters to this website. The collected wisdom buried around it was most helpful as I worried my way through the job.
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