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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Oh, the joys of a $200.00 motorcycle. :motorcycl When I ride to work, about 1/2 way there, ( at about 5-6 miles) I have problems downshifting. When I ride around my neighborhood, things go pretty smoothly. Once I've been riding at around 45-50 mph for a few miles, when I downshift at the lights, it goes into neutral instead of first. It takes several frantic pushes on the shifter to get it into first. It doesn't matter if I'm rolling, or at a dead stop. When it is doing that, I can't get it to go into second either. I'm not sure if this is a technique problem, it was suggested that I try not pulling all the way in on the clutch........ I've had friends ride it around, and no one else seems to be able to get it to do the same thing. ( although they aren't riding 50 mph. in heavy downtown traffic with people cutting them off and tailgating.) They are just riding around my neighborhood, or parking lots.

Is there some adjustment that needs to be made? I purchased the bike a couple of months ago, drained and replaced fluids ( brake, oil, antifreeze) Was planning on doing a "spline lube" sometime next week ... calling for rain anyway. Since it already has 67K miles on it, I imagine it was already done, or the damage I see will require a new final drive unit. I was going to check the gearbox level at the same time as the spline job. ( could old gearbox oil be the problem?) The guy I got it from was very good at keeping fluid levels up and changing oil, he got rid of the bike because of "carburator problems" which ended up being a "rusty tank and messed up petcock problem" Runs like a champ now.......... except for the whole "neutral thing".

Any thoughts? Getting killed by some overanxious driver at a light isn't exactly the way I want to start my day.

Thanks
Bob
 

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and the Adventure Cycle
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Hmm, the Vulcan does have what Kawasaki refers to as a "Positive Neutral Finder"
I don't really know what it is or what it does, but it might have something to do with your problem.

Might be that the clutch cable needs adjusted.
Do you have any problems shifting into any other gears ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nope, it just seems to happen when I'm downshifting. Tried something while I was just out. I left the bike in gear and started it with the clutch in. It definately surged forward. Not a lot, and not so much that I felt like I was going to take off.... more like it was sitting on a slight hill and as soon as it turned over, I had to "support the weight" of the bike on the hill ( figuratively speaking) The part I don't get is that the clutch doesn't hit the friction zone until about half way out. I'm more confused than ever.

Bob
 

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It sounds to me like you need to adjust your cable just a tad. Might not be disengaging completely when you have the clutch lever pulled in.

Still it doesn't seem likely that it wouldn't go into 1st or 2nd and would stick in neutral. Positive neutral finder is a feature that once the bike has stopped and you've downshifted into 1st gear, you can only shift up to neutral and back down to first while you are sitting still. It won't let you search through the gears higher than first and neutral.
 

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sorry to hijack the thread

i seem to have a simmilar issue, maybe i can help. when in 5th going over @40-50 mph, and i try to down shift after slowing to <10 mph or at a complete stop, it seems as if the shifter is broken (no resistance with the shifting motion). what i have to do is reengage the clutch and try to shift again and it works. sometimes it will shift to 4th or 3rd, then "not work" till i dis and reengage the clutch.


Thoughts on it? i think that the gears arent lining up when shifting, but wouldn't it only do a half press, then not move any more, not all the way down with no resistance?

so far i've found that if i down shift as i decelerate, then i am fine I.E. 5th- 40mph, 4th-30mph, 3rd-20, skip second to first b4 i stop...... so far no issues with this method. Just hope i dont get any E-stops...
 

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OK, something just dawned on me that may be the issue. When you are down shifting, each down shift has to be completed by the shift lever returning all the way to the relaxed upper position. For instance, if you're resting your foot on the shift lever and push down to shift down, but don't remove your foot from the lever, you probably aren't letting the lever return to it's rest position and by doing so, it isn't completing the operation.

I've done this several times and realized that I didn't let it "ratchet" back into the "wait" position for the next downshift. Hope I'm making sense. Maybe this isn't what's happening but it sure makes sense since no one else seems to be able to make it happen but you...

Try this: Shift down and completely remove your foot from the shift lever before you try to downshift again. See if that solves the problem.
 

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Once Banned
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As far as the little bump forward when starting it in gear, with the clutch in, mine does it too, has always done it. Don't think that's the problem. Do what Fergy says and tell us the result.

$200 for a bike is a great deal. I know I never would have bought one with 67K miles, but our forum is making me more confident tackling the hardware. Gives me the itch to buy another one cheap.
 

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Hello all.. I am new to this forum and had to join in on this topic, as my VN does some what the same thing. the way I down shift is sort of the way you would down shift a truck with a non sync transmission.... give a little gas as you down shift. I am just about to try something else that may ( or may not ) help in this area.

PS. What "type" of oil are you using?
 

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Hello all... tried something new today and it seems to work.... so my suggestion is to ditch the synthetics!! Read my post under "Engine, Cooling & Exhaust" re: what mobil one oil do you use.:smiley_th

May start new debate over proper oil!!
:boxing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Been out of town, and haven't had a chance to try the different shifting methods.

I'll have to try it tomorrow evening, work requires that I drive the truck tomorrow:(

As far as the oil I'm using, I purchased 10W-40 from the dealership for $5.00/qt. I hadn't found this forum yet, and bought what they told me.

Next oil change, I'll do my homework.

I'll try out the different downshift methods tomorrow, and fill you in
Thanks
Bob
 

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Down Shift Problem

Hello Guys, I have an 85 700 with a similar problem. The bike runs perfect beside this problem. I have tried different weights, amounts and brands of dino oils. To me there are noticeable differences in shifting when oil brands and viscosities are changed. I'm curious if your shifter has any up and down freeplay when you move it by hand? I believe the linkage inside the case for the shift pawl is worn on mine. I can't believe the Kawi engineers would put such a high wear item so deep within the engine but that is another discussion. I have had mine apart and replaced the sliding shift pawl and spring. It made a big difference until the weather got hotter. I would ride to work fine in the morning but on my way home it would not shift down past 2nd. The shift pedal would get a very mushy feel to it. If I let the bike cool down for a while it would suddenly begin shifting. When I had it apart I noticed there is a BIG jump between 2nd and 1st on the shift drum. I am considering taking it apart again and making the sliding shift pawl stationary or switching to synthetic oil because everything I've read about it say bikes run cooler and shift better. The thing is the bike is 21 years old with 26k miles, not sure if the switch to syn will affect it in a bad way.
 

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The shift to synthetic won't have any bad affect on your horse. Synthetic isn't slicker oil, it just maintains it's slickness for longer than dino. If you have a Walmart in your area, see if you can find the Rotella Synthetic T oil. I think it's 5w40. Very good stuff and reasonable priced.
 

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After tearing one of these beasts down as far as humanly posible I'll try to spread a little of what I've learned. To down shift you must be moving, I ride with a Harley rider and when he stops he just starts down shifting to first. Our bikes shift drum and positive nuetral wont allow that. In order for the shift drum to ratchet it has to engage each gear on the way down and the positve nuetral requires the output shaft to be moving for each gear to engage with the exeption of first or nuetral. I have driven several large trucks and am used to using engine braking so the vulcan fits my riding style. It's something to get used to if you have never done it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
even more questions

I just want to get something clear. Are you saying that I have to downshift, let out the clutch, then go to the next lower gears? If that's all it takes, I can get used to that. I am hoping it is more a matter of technique, than a transmission problem. I'm also a little confused about your last sentence.
"except for neutral and first gear" Neutral and first are my problems.

I've tried revving the motor while shifting from second to first, tried downshifting while moving.... "usually" works, but sometimes I have to keep stepping on the gearshift, sometimes I have to pop it back up to second then down to first. Sometimes, it just goes into first. Considering the gears shift perfectly on the way up and on the way down, until second to first, I'm hoping I can just get used to the little quirks, and get it to go every time without getting stuck completely at a light :wow: .

One last thing, is there a certain "speed" where you can't downshift from second to first? I tend to downshift a little early with the clutch in, when I know a stop is definate. If there is a lot of traffic, and the light is still red, I squeeze the clutch, let it idle down, and down shift....even if I'm still going about 15-20. Do I need to be going slower? I had an old Honda Accord, that wouldn't let me shift into first until I was going pretty slow..... just a thought.

Thanks for any and all input. I did try the GM oil additive, put another couple hundred miles on it, and don't notice any change in ACCT sound or in shifting. It doesn't hurt, but I don't really notice it helping either.

Bob
 

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I am able to downshift whether standing still or moving without re-engaging the clutch between shifts. I can go all the way from 5th to 1st, or any combination without any problems whatsoever.
I too have had my engine torn down to "parade rest" and even played with the trans just to make sure I had it all back together properly. It seemed to shift just fine as long as one of the gear shafts moved even a tiny bit.
There are three very small steel balls that ride between the gear that engages for second and the shaft that are part of the neutral finder. It may be that they are sticking to the shaft causing the trans not to shift into first as they block that action.
On my bike, I had to readjust the clutch cable just to get it into neutral as the bike was always trying to creep forward even with the clutch lever fully pulled. It would go into second or back to first but not neutral. Once I adjusted it with the recommended 2mm of lever play, the trans has been as smooth as silk since. My bike does not creep now with the clutch lever fully pulled and the friction point is about 1/3 the way off full pull.
 

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jerry huesing
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I think Fergy may have hit on it, you may need to let up on the shifter completely. I got into the bad habit of keeping my foot on it too, but if you consciously think about not doing it while downshifting, it won't take long to break the habit.

By the way, my positive neutral finder must not be working, because while checking the bike while sitting still the other day, i was able to go through all the gears. Hmmm.

Jerry Huesing
1990 VN750
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
What exactly is the positive neutral finder?

I have been paying close attention to letting the shifter spring all the way back up. I intensionally move my foot all the way off the pedal before shifting down each gear.... just to make it a habit.

Is there some way to knock those "3 very small steel balls" loose, without removing the whole engine? I'm going to play with the clutch freeplay as well. I don't feel any freeplay, but the friction zone starts somewhere around half way out.... which I thought was fine. Any other suggestions on things I can do easily? I plan to pull the engine when riding season ends, and really get in there and clean things up, but don't want to be down that long during the summer.

Any and all suggestions are more than welcome.

Thanks
Bob
 

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and the Adventure Cycle
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bkyser said:
What exactly is the positive neutral finder?
The neutral finder stops the tranny from going any further than neutral, from first gear, at a stop.
In other words, you shouldn't be able to, from a dead stop, in neutral, shift to second.

Somebody jump in if I've got that incorrect.

bkyser said:
Are you saying that I have to downshift, let out the clutch, then go to the next lower gears?
A few months ago, one buddy bet me I couldn't go from normal riding speeds, to a complete stop, without using the clutch.
Ha, what do Honda riders know anyhow !!
I was able to downshift, to each gear, with no clutch what so ever. When it came to stopping, I was able to get the bike into neutral just before coming to a stop.
Kick stand down, bike shut off, Bet Won !! My left hand never touched the clutch, or the handlebar at all for that matter, from 50 mph to zero (and no gear grinding either !!)

So I'd say no to that question.

I wouldn't bet him I could do the reverse, starting out w/ no clutch. Although I have done it in one of my first cars when the cable snapped.
 

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First you'd have to trick it into starting, but yeah, you could run through the gears without a clutch. I do it on occasion. Take it out and try it.
 
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