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XR400 Kickstarter woes

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The kickstarter on my XR400 quit working one day after my son rode it. I pulled the case off and discovered that the pinion gear and idler gear aren't meshing together, but grazing the top of the gears - which seems to explain why it doesn't work anymore :(


This is my first dive into the cases of an XR engine. What I found doesn't look right..


Anyone have a similar experience? And, anybody out there have some good parts they'd like to sell? 


The metal shavings are another cause for concern. Am I out of my mind to try and save this engine?


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That's strange. Yes, the idler gear teeth look a little worn but not enough that the gear meshing would be that far off.

Are you the original owner of this bike?

My first thought is that if the idler gear meshes properly with other related gearing besides the kickstart gear, then someone installed the wrong kickstart assembly. I can't remember what other gear the idler gear meshes with. Anybody? I'm thinking it meshes with a gear on the back of the clutch basket, but I've had so many bikes I'm unsure.

Definitely keep us up to date as to what you find.

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@Trailryder42 - great point! I'm the third owner of the bike - the first owner did a lot of the mods on the bike (pumper carb, Scott's upper triple clamp, etc.). I got a bucket of parts from the second owner that was passed along to him, including a bottom-end from a 400.


Guess what's missing on that bottom end? The kickstarter assembly! 


I've looked at OEM parts for the bike, and there are several different idler gear and pinion gear options even within the same year. This could be the problem?


And, I thought myself the gears didn't look too worn, and none broken. 


I'm just baffled that, if it wasn't the right size gear to begin with (either one), why did it work, and why did it quit working?

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Take a very close look at the bearing behind the idler gear. I have stripped two XR4 engines, one had a broken counter shaft, both had a worn bearing there, one which had collapsed. I think it must be the last point of the engine to receive oil & if the oil is low at any time it can cause the bearing to wear quickly. if this is the case, the bearing can only be purchase from Honda as it's an odd size (that's the case in Australia anyways) So my theory is if that bearing collapses, the shaft can lift up enough to lose contact with the kick stater gears but being a slight incline from the bearing on the opposite side of the counter shaft the internal gears will remain meshed to a certain degree. Put the bike in gear & rock it back & forth, it may just slip back to where it's supposed to be if that is the problem .

Hope this helps

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