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EXCELSIOR
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Lubricate all pivot points, not just the linkage ends but also the lever shaft bushing. It's been a frequent issue over the years, not just on this bike but others.
A friend recently picked up a used Kawasaki Meanstreak and was complaining about difficulty in downshifting and wanted to know if there was anything in the tranny that might be an issue. Considering how few miles were on the bike, and how long it had sit without use I suggested he first lube all shift linkage points. He did and the problem went away. There have many here have the same issue with their V-Rods.
 
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