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It's very rare but there have been reports of a broken shift pawl so that may be the case.

Have you checked the range of movement and tried to turn the shift drum while the rear tire is being turned? Linkage range of movement, as in faulty shift lever as Paul noted, or shift ratchet, are most likely problems. Being lazy, I like to eliminate the easier things before cracking the transmission.

I haven't gotten around to trying one of my inspection cameras to look inside the transmission.....anyone?

For $20.00, if you don't have one it might be worth trying to have a look. I have the larger USB type for my laptop and recently got a 7 mm micro USB for my Android phone. The larger one gives better results with its mirror but the smaller one goes into a bit smaller areas.

You could look at the condition of 3rd and 4th.
 

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Sorry, I was referring to the protrusion on the side of a transmission as a "pawl".

I wish that I had spent some time to poke around with an inspection camera when had the opportunity but owner was pressing to get the job done, so now I'm sorry that I didn't.

Those little inspection cameras are amazing although, like most tools, requires some practice/experience. Playing around with additional light, light from different angles, often helps quite a lot.

Any chance of photos of the metal shards?

Do any of the pieces appear to be very hard material, evidenced by sharp edges?
 

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The pawls protrude from the sliding gears which are splined to the shaft. These engage into the holes in the adjacent (free turning) gear to lock it to the shaft. They are the type seem protruding from the gear at lower left.

1998 Kawasaki KLR650 (KL650-A12) Transmission (KL650AE032210∼) | Babbitts Kawasaki Partshouse

One or more can snap off and jam the gear so it can't engage, or go adrift and cause mayhem. Very rare for KLR but does happen. If can't get it to engage manually while turning the shift drum, that's where I'd look next. Wish you were closer as would like to play with my cameras in there. For $20.00 + $2.00 for mirrors (best have more than one & don't ask)
 

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The cases have to be separated to get into the transmission because the transmission shafts are supported between the two case halves. At times like this the cassette transmissions on bikes like Honda ST1100 look quite attractive.

I'd order a flexible USB inspection camera to see if you can spot the problem before pulling it down. Broken parts = certain disassembly but otherwise one might assume wrong diagnosis and look a bit more. I've pulled some things down only to find the problem wasn't there......not ideal.

For $20.00 they are a great toy regardless.






NormK -

Apologies for going dark. Was out of town.

I am leaning towards your idea about the pawls. Been all over this bike and am not finding anything else that could be the cause of the shifting problem.

Took it out today with the new extended shift lever. Definitely shifts better from 1 to 2. Still no go on getting into 3.

Do you have to crack the case to get into the gears that were pictured in your pawl diagram?
 
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