'87 Honda XL250R Noise

My '87 Honda XL250R recently started making an awful noise. It's coming from the engine, but it's not engine noise (??) What I mean is, it's more like transmission noise. When the bike is idling or revved in neutral or with the clutch disengaged there is no noise. Engine purrs like a cat. When I release the clutch I get a scraping/chatter noise. It starts slowly and increases with speed, but is not constant. It comes and goes, but can occur in any gear at any speed. If I'm accelerating or cruising with input on the throttle and I hear the noise, releasing the throttle, even the slightest bit, makes the sound go away.

I pulled the right side cover as the sound seemed to be loudest there. I didn't see anything obvious, so I pulled the clutch. Still nothing obvious, so I measured the discs. They were all at or slightly below the service limit (.11). So, I ordered new discs, but I'm not convinced it will make any difference.

In the meantime, I'm looking for some other answer and hoping it's not something in the transmission. While looking around I noted that the kickstarter idler gear is really sloppy on the shaft. The service manual shows the bushing has a serviceable limit, but to measure it I'd have to remove the kickstarter gear and retainer clip and I don't have the right tool (snap-ring pliers). I know, no big deal to get a pair of snap-ring pliers. I was just wondering if anyone experienced in the RFVC engines would know off-hand if that sloppy idler gear is normal.


I can only say what I know of the idler gear on the 600s,,basically the same engine just bigger. The idler gear is what I'd call slightly sloppy on them..Are there any metal shavings or bits of anything stuck in that oil screen filter down the bottom in your picture. You should be able to pull it out from the motor and have a squizz at it..Hard to say what the noise is..May be some problem with the gears,,shot teeth or the like..Pay to check the oil screen in the front frame downtube as well and also the actual oil filter for anything suspicious..Best I can say really..

The oil screen and filter are clear. It sounds as if the gear is supposed to be sloppy.

I'm thinking I'll pull mine and mic the sleeve just for piece of mind. My parts will be here tomorrow and if I put it back together without knowing for sure I know I'll just end up taking it apart again to check.

I pulled the gears and everything checks out. Back to hoping the clutch is the issue.

Take a look on the back side of the outer hub. Are those springs loose? That may be the source of your noise.

I've got everything back together and the noise is still there, although this time it sounds higher like in the valve cover. I'll run the engine in gear while on the stand again and see if I can isolate it better.

After having a couple of friends listen while it's running on the stand in gear, we've pinpointed it down to the countershaft on the right side. Since first gear sometimes requires an extra toe push to get it in gear, and since most of the noise is when I let out the clutch in first gear, I'm betting on something wrong with the first gear. It sits on the right end of the countershaft. So, I'm splitting the cases. I'll report what I find.

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