XT250 Clutch/Shifting issue

Hi everyone.   I've got a recently acquired 08 xt250 with about 1500 miles on it (about 500 were from me).   Recently it has been refusing to drop gears unless I slightly lift up on the shift lever before downshifting each gear.   I am a new rider but have ridden bike before that were tough to get into first and you needed you let out the clutch a tad or rock the bike back and forth,  but this feels like a different problem.  There is a little more play in the clutch lever than spec.   I don't know if that is the culprit or maybe a lose return spring or something.   If someone has and ideas,  I'd like to hear them. 

Tightened up the play in the lever.   Still behaving badly. 

sounds internal to me.  but 1st,  is the clutch arm is aligning with the mark on the case in the applied position?

Hmmm... I didn't see a mark on the case.  I looked at it again yesterday and took it for a ride and it seems to be working fine now.  Weird.  The day that it was acting up, I had put on about 50 miles of heavy stop-and-go city traffic riding.  Maybe it was misbehaving because it was hot.  Don't know if that makes sense though.  I looked at the lever this morning before setting out and when lifted up or pushed down it is centering correctly.

Hotter it is, the thinner the oil gets.  Because bikes use motor oil to lubricate the transmission, it's entirely possible that excessive heat was the cause. 

Yeah, but the heat is causing what to happen?  I was thinking it was a broken spring, but that seems to be unlikely now.  I guess I will take it out this weekend and get it hot and see if the problem reoccurs.  This is with an essentially fresh oil change.

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