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Author Topic: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...  (Read 24282 times)

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Offline shane

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Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« on: July 23, 2010, 01:53:59 pm »
Some background:
1976 CB550 F, I've owned this bike for a few months, and i haven't had much trouble getting it into neutral until today. Over the past few months, the shifting has seemed a little rough sometimes (I have to put a bit more force than I expected in order to shift), but this is my first bike, so I dont know if that's normal.

Current issue:
Anyway, so today I went on 30 mile ride and about halfway through, I was having a hard time getting it to go to Neutral while sitting at a stop light. I'd have it in 1st and then try to shift up, and I'd have to push up really hard with my foot and it would skip past Neutral and straight to 2nd. Then I'd ride another mile, stop at another light, and it would miraculously go into Neutral. Seems like sometimes it will sometimes it wont.

What can I do to fix this?

Lube? Adjustment? Seafoam?? New Parts??

Offline Duke McDukiedook

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2010, 01:57:26 pm »
Tranny teardown? Ruhruoh.  :'(

Sounds like the shift forks are not engaging properly.
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Offline Hush

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2010, 02:27:06 pm »
Start with the easy stuff mate, slacken your clutch cable from all areas, bars/brackets etc and do a complete readjustment starting from the bottom by resetting the actual clutch thrust plate adjuster and working your way up the cable to the bars.
Also check to see if the cable is binding anywhere like around the frame or triple tree area.
Hey Dukiedork could well be right but I'd start with the cheap and easy option of a badly adjusted clutch first.
My 650 needs the cable adjusted every couple of months as they streach and give bad gear change performance....good luck........Hush. :)
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Offline Spanner 1

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2010, 02:30:18 pm »
Do yourself and your bike a favor and get a new clutch cable...... about $ 15 from Motion Pro... IMO the best fix.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2010, 07:29:09 pm by Spanner 1 »
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Offline shane

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2010, 02:38:45 pm »
Do yourself and your bike a favor and get a new clutch cable...... about $ 15 from Z1 Ent.... IMO the best fix.
well the Clutch cable is new, replaced it about w month ago.  Maybe it needs adjustment. I'll see if that changes anything. Really hope I don't have to rebuild the tranny

Offline Fritz

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2010, 02:42:20 pm »
I had the same issue. Also the first bike I own. Couldn't find neutral whenever the engine had warmed up.
A little less slack in the (brand new) cable took care of the problem.
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Offline MCRider

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2010, 02:45:54 pm »
Do everything suggested. Good advice from all. Even a cable with few "miles" on it can be shot from age. Condensation cycles and gravity (pulls the factory lube out) will kill even a slightly used cable.

It may be too late for this episode, but you say this is your first bike. The word "force" and a motorcycle shifter do not go together. Either your technique is bad (you should always be in neutral before coming to a stop, etc) or something is wrong with the parts. Forcing the shifter is a no-no. If you find yourself at a stop and still in gear, be sure to rock it back and forth a lot while exerting a slight pressure on the shifter. It should easily pop into the space you want.

But back to your problem, as mentioned, do a full clutch adjustment starting at the engine adjuster with the cable fully relaxed and then tighten up the cable. Internal engine hard parts may be bad, but start on the outside. And throw a new cable on for drill.
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Offline Frostyboy

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2010, 07:32:14 pm »
If you hit the kill switch & stop the engine does it shift to neural easily?
If yes, it's quite likely a clutch adjustment issue as the other posters have suggested I reckon.
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Offline joerizzo0

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2010, 07:35:50 pm »
rock it!


and do everything they said.. haha
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Offline bender01

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2010, 07:43:48 pm »
What about a different weight oil? I put  15w  in my 750f and it did wonders this spring.. I had that and a clunky shifter. It didnt cure all.. but all improved.
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Offline TwoTired

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2010, 08:03:11 pm »
Difficulty finding neutral is likely a dragging clutch issue.

First change the oil (every 1500 miles)  Sooner, if you use the cheapest oil you can find, usually.

Second, make sure the clutch is properly adjusted, and completely disengaging when pulled in at the lever.

If those don't solve the issue, then you have to go into clutch checking for warped plates.

Lastly, the longer you jam the gears with a bad clutch and have a stiff shifter lever, the more likely you will wear out shift forks and engagement slots as well and the shifter mechanism.  Then you get to split the cases, which requires taking the engine out of the frame.

Cheers,
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Offline cameron

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2010, 08:07:20 pm »
Same bike, same problem.
Did what TT said, totally cured.
That is, I properly adjusted my cable and changed the oil.

c

(how many times has that gone through peoples heads, you think?)
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Offline scottly

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2010, 09:17:25 pm »
With every very bike I've owned, it was easier to find neutral, or shift down to first, while the bike was still rolling. My '53 BSA was impossible to shift out of gear at a standstill!   
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Offline shane

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2010, 09:18:05 pm »
If you hit the kill switch & stop the engine does it shift to neural easily?
If yes, it's quite likely a clutch adjustment issue as the other posters have suggested I reckon.

yes. I hit the kill switch and it easily goes into neutral.

Did a quick adjustment, seems like if might have helped. Still a bit sticky, maybe needs more adjustment

Offline shane

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2010, 09:30:53 pm »
If you find yourself at a stop and still in gear, be sure to rock it back and forth a lot while exerting a slight pressure on the shifter. It should easily pop into the space you want.

stupid question, but I need to clarify. When you say rock it back and forth, you mean the bike right? Or the shifter?

So let me get this right, If I'm at a stop and in first gear (holding the clutch in of course), it can be difficult to get in neutral even with a properly functioning bike?

So to allieviate this problem I should be shifting into neutral while the bike is still in motion? 

Offline scottly

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2010, 09:33:59 pm »



So let me get this right, If I'm at a stop and in first gear (holding the clutch in of course), it can be difficult to get in neutral even with a properly functioning bike?

So to allieviate this problem I should be shifting into neutral while the bike is still in motion? 

YES!!!
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Offline MCRider

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2010, 09:34:24 pm »
If you find yourself at a stop and still in gear, be sure to rock it back and forth a lot while exerting a slight pressure on the shifter. It should easily pop into the space you want.

stupid question, but I need to clarify. When you say rock it back and forth, you mean the bike right? Or the shifter?

So let me get this right, If I'm at a stop and in first gear (holding the clutch in of course), it can be difficult to get in neutral even with a properly functioning bike?

So to allieviate this problem I should be shifting into neutral while the bike is still in motion? 
Rock the bike. Easy pressure on the shifter and it should "snick" into neutral.

YEs.

Yes. Right before you come to a stop, final downshift to first, snick up into neutral while its rolling slow, left foot goes to the pavement, rt ft on the brake.
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Offline Ichiban 4

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2010, 09:43:23 pm »
I can't add to what's been said before..all from some very savvy SOHC 4 guys. Just wanted to reinforce what a couple of others said though about changing oil.  Seems to be often overlooked..especially with the 500 -550's.

Just changing the oil weight/viscosity..has significant effect on how well the clutch disengages..and trans shifts.  Definitely don't use synthetics in these old engines/trans'..it's too slippery..and the clutch doesn't want to grab or disengage very well.

Think that after you brainstorm this a bit further..you'll find the right balance for what you need.

Cheers,

Ichi
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Offline scottly

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2010, 09:46:34 pm »
With constant-mesh transmissions like our bikes have, if you are moving, you don't even need to use the clutch to either up-shift or down-shift, if you know how.
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Offline shane

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2010, 10:12:06 pm »
Well #$%*. I really am a rookie when it comes to bikes. You guys are awesome. Thanks for the help.  

Offline TwoTired

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2010, 10:41:01 pm »
So let me get this right, If I'm at a stop and in first gear (holding the clutch in of course), it can be difficult to get in neutral even with a properly functioning bike?
No.  That's an indication that something isn't right.  There are degrees of severity.  and he more stress you place on the shifter mechanism, the faster it will need bits of it replaced.

So to allieviate this problem I should be shifting into neutral while the bike is still in motion? 
Yes, that can accommodate a bike that doesn't work perfectly, or needs an oil change, or doesn't have a clutch that fully disengages.
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Offline 333

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2010, 07:21:09 am »
Let me try to correct a couple of minor things some have suggested.  First, if this is truly a clutch adjustment issue, the cable needs to be tightened, not loosened.  The confusion may stem from adjustment at the perch end of the cable, and the fact that the adjuster is unscrewed(counter clockwise) to tighten the cable.  Proper adjustment is critical, as the clutch must fully engage and disengage.  If the cable is too tight, the clutch will not fully engage and it will slip.  If it is too loose, it will not fully disengage and.... well, you are experiencing what can happen.  Although TT is right- warped plates can also make this happen.

Then, I do not want to hijack this thread and start an oil thread.  But I have been using the Honda synthetic oil WITH molybdenum for more than 20+ YEARS, and have never had a clutch issue.  Or any other issue that could be attributed to oil.  In fact, when obtaining a "new to me" SOHC4 bike, switching to this oil has solved minor shifting issues.  That having been said, worn out oil (regardless of brand or type) can cause shifting issues.  So, an oil change may help you, depending on how long it's been since the last one.
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Offline MCRider

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2010, 07:44:43 am »
Let me try to correct a couple of minor things some have suggested.  First, if this is truly a clutch adjustment issue, the cable needs to be tightened, not loosened.  The confusion may stem from adjustment at the perch end of the cable, and the fact that the adjuster is unscrewed(counter clockwise) to tighten the cable.  Proper adjustment is critical, as the clutch must fully engage and disengage.  If the cable is too tight, the clutch will not fully engage and it will slip.  If it is too loose, it will not fully disengage and.... well, you are experiencing what can happen.  Although TT is right- warped plates can also make this happen.

Then, I do not want to hijack this thread and start an oil thread.  But I have been using the Honda synthetic oil WITH molybdenum for more than 20+ YEARS, and have never had a clutch issue.  Or any other issue that could be attributed to oil.  In fact, when obtaining a "new to me" SOHC4 bike, switching to this oil has solved minor shifting issues.  That having been said, worn out oil (regardless of brand or type) can cause shifting issues.  So, an oil change may help you, depending on how long it's been since the last one.
On the clutch adjustment issue, one must first loosen the cable to its fully relaxed position, both adjusters at the perch and at the other end. Then one adjusts the lifter. Then you tighten the cable back up. That's what we're talking about.
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Offline MCRider

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2010, 08:00:10 am »
To Shane: As to coming to a stop in neutral. It is usually thought better form to come to a stop in first gear. This leaves you in position for evasive maneuvers if the intersection gets hairy. I'm talking about those stops where you have determined you want to be in neutral, to free up your hand to adjust your helmet or whatever. Then I would suggest getting back into first gear to wait out the light. Its a safety thing and I agree.

AS to the difficulty of any bike to find neutral when not rolling. I have 2 bikes now, an 88 Hawk GT and an 03 FJR, that I have owned from new. As well as others I have owned from new but have since sold. They all presented difficulties AT TIMES getting into neutral from a static position with the engine running. There are no mechanical issues, they did it from new. It was sometimes easier to shut the engine off, shift it and restart, but rocking usually served its purpose. But its a low level issue, one that is easily overcome with practice.

But I'll repeat, you should never have to "force" the shifter. Your arch should not leave the footpeg, even whe the trans is resisting, you will overcome the resistance with a firm pressure which is not strong enough to cause other internal damage, and a rocking motion of the bike, sometimes alternately slipping the clutch and pulling it back in will stir things up in the trans and you'll find neutral.

Your bike beiing older and the history is unknown? may have internal problems, Lets not have you be the reason for more.

Motorcycle transmissions are "constant mesh" as already noted. Meaning some parts are engaged and spinning at all times. (I think) They do not have synchronizers like cars do. I remember having cars with 3 speeds on the tree that did not have synchros between 1 and 2, nor reverse. Without proper technique one could "grind" the gears. That's what we are up against with all but the latest of motorcycles where the shifters are much more highly evolved.

It would be nice if you had an experienced rider that could shift your bike and tell you if its more difficult than it should be. And do we know how old the cable is?
« Last Edit: July 24, 2010, 08:03:15 am by MCRider »
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Offline Spanner 1

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Re: Can't get the bike into Neutral! Help...
« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2010, 12:06:13 pm »
My K1 750 was impossible to get into N once not rolling.... clutch worked fine apart from a little clunky on gear changes... but a new cable combined with following the adjustment proceedure to a 'T' made a huge improvement.... also cables stretch fast and day-one working steadily declines with use IMO  :(
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