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Desert Rod
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I am not sure if anyone has seen this, but I'll describe below:

I was riding out of my apartment on a fairly cold SoCal day, about 37° out. No warm-up, just powered on and rode off. I ripped out onto my street and down to the stoplight at the end of the road, highest gear I hit was 3rd. I go to downshift, and the lowest it went was N. I kept tapping down, but it felt "mushy". I made a U-turn, and started to ride back home, but upshifting worked. I decided to take the back way to work, and shifted all the way up to 5th. When I reached the next stoplight, I tried downshifting...only to find it would only get to 4th, and with some effort. I pulled over and tried getting it to downshift with a little back and forth rolling, with no result. I turned back around and limped the bike back home. I had the shift shaft replaced about a year ago, 9k miles on the new shaft. It's been about 4500 miles since the last oil change, albeit I didn't change the filter, but I did the change prior, about 3k miles before that. From the little info online I can find, it may be a broken shift drum? I believe this means splitting the cases to resolve. I've never done this before, but I'm a big DIYer, since I don't have the $2500 to spend on the repair with an indy shop (HD would be even more). I have an HD repair manual, so I know that'll come in handy. I've found the shift drum on eBay for about $250. The thing is, before I even start troubleshooting, where do I begin? I revisited the bike after a week, and there was no change (obviously). Does anyone have any insight on the culprit?
 

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Desert Rod
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Bump. Bike is still in the garage. Haven't torn it apart. Any ideas before I do more work than necessary? I can't find anything online.
 

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The Hawk
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3,754 Posts
Make sure all the shift linkage is well lubed. Sometimes dry shift linkage joints will cause symptoms like you experienced, especially on a cold day.


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Desert Rod
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I'll check the shift linkage joints. I have tried shifting gears in the garage since, and no luck (including rolling it back and forth).

The pedal seems to be returning to center, only when shifting up to 5th. When I shift down to 4th it feels the same way it does when you normally shift down to 1st.
 

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Desert Rod
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
UPDATE: Just checked whether the shifter is returning to center. The pedal bounces back, so the spring seems to be fine (it doesn't stay depressed).
 

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Desert Rod
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
UPDATE: Shift linkage joints are perfectly fine. It definitely feels internal. I removed the linkage from the shift shaft. Everything moves freely.
 

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Desert Rod
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
UPDATE: I will be taking the bike to my buddy's house in Long Beach. Looks like we will have to tear apart the internals. From what the HD Repair Manual says, it might be a broken shift spring or shift forks out of place, both in the trans.
 

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Desert Rod
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
UPDATE: At my buddy's house. Currently working on disconnecting everything to drop the engine. Anyone have any tips? I'll keep everyone posted on what the problem was.
 

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The Hawk
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3,754 Posts
Disconnect all the wiring, exhaust, throttle cables, clutch line and remove coils, put blocks under the frame behind the engine and under the front wheel To raise the bike an inch or two, loosen the rear wheel and take the drive belt off the engine. Put a motorcycle jack under the oil pan, I like to put a piece of plywood between the jack and the pan, then take the engine weight onto the jack. Pull the swing arm axel and the front engine mount bolt, remove the left side lower frame rail and slightly lower the engine and rotate it counterclockwise out of the frame.

That’s the readers digest version, probably left out a few things but you get the drift.


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Desert Rod
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
UPDATE: Pulled the engine. Wow, that was a bitch to jimmy out. I am unsure what to do next. Going to take it to a Harley mechanic this weekend. It's crazy no one else has had this issue. I can't wait to find out what it is. I think it's bent shift forks. Does that sound right?
 

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The Hawk
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3,754 Posts
UPDATE: Pulled the engine. Wow, that was a bitch to jimmy out. I am unsure what to do next. Going to take it to a Harley mechanic this weekend. It's crazy no one else has had this issue. I can't wait to find out what it is. I think it's bent shift forks. Does that sound right?


Yeah, sounds like it bent or broke the 4/5 shift fork.


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Desert Rod
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
That's the confusing part, which makes me think it may be something else: It only up-shifts. When I first noticed the problem, it was stuck between 2nd and N. Then when I upshifted to 3rd, it would only go down to 2nd. So on and so forth. It will shift up, but down only one gear.
 

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Registered
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259 Posts
Sorry your still having trouble.
Curious to what caused you to need a new shifter originally..

"I was riding out of my apartment on a fairly cold SoCal day, about 37° out. No warm-up, just powered on and rode off. "

"it's been about 4500 miles since the last oil change, albeit I didn't change the filter"

Thick old cold oil and you just fire it and drop the hammer?
Caramba, do you not love your VROD?
 

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Desert Rod
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
UPDATE:

Motor is ready from HD.

Turns out it was a broken shift drum. On top of that, me forcing it between gears ended up snapping the shift shaft and every single downshift shift fork. $3k in labor and parts (would've been cheaper to buy an engine on eBay). Now I'm crying handing over cash to HD.

Anyone have any idea what would cause catastrophic failure like this?
 
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