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'98 KLX300R possible tranny failure?

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My buddy said his bike was off, so I rode it and it seemed perfect until I got on the road (It's street equipped) and WOT in first - horrible stripping/grinding sound and loss of acceleration. Upshifted and rode to a parking lot, and tested it out; seems to only do this under hard throttle in first gear. I was able to slip the clutch hard in second and wheelie fine. WOT in third and low speed so it was really stressed, and no issues. No noticeable slipping in other gears, so do I pretty much have this narrowed down to a bad first gear in the tranny? New assemblies are $80, and I'm no professional, but I have some successful experience - a couple top ends, a bottom end swap, kick start shaft replacement, etc. How hard is replacing the transmission myself?

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