2017 CRF250L Clunky Upshift

I have a 2017 CRF250L that I purchased new and I like everything about the bike except the first two up shifts are very clunky.

I have to be very deliberate to complete the first two up shifts, not nearly as smooth as the remaining up shifts.

It has done it from day one and I was hoping it would get better after break in. 

I read somewhere, in a review, that the 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd gear ratio's are relatively wide but at the same time that honda has smooth shifting transmissions.

I have adjusted the clutch free play and chain tension per specifications and no improvement.

I plan to take it to the dealer in a few days and have them take a look at it.   Just hope that they don't say that this is normal.

Any advice would be appreciated.

I changed oil (yamalube 10W40) and filter at 150 miles and again at 750 miles, currently it has 1400 city commuter miles on it.


The stock clutch shifts very smoothly.

its probably just the bike's way of complaining about the yamalube :) 

Edited by tbell_1

Is that humor, or a technical response?

What is preferred oil for this bike?  I could not find Honda 10W30 oil at the dealership. 

hehe. sorry, it was humor :)  I would imagine the yamalube is fine. I use motul 5100 myself, but I'm not necessarily set on it..

If there's a kawi dealer local, the 10w-40 full syn kawi moto oil it good. I've run that stuff in every bike I've owned past few years with zero issues. 

in my experience, on my 2015 with just over 2k miles on it....first through third are much more noticeable than 3rd through 6th in both directions (up and down). nothing worrisome, but definitely need to be more furtive in your shifting down low. even with the upgraded clutch (though, ironically I think the upgraded clutch cleans up the shift a little....I think...maybe..)

I probably will upgrade the clutch after the warantee period expires but its irritating to purchase a brand new bike and have clunky shifting problems from day 1.

Will see if the dealer can resolve this and restore my confidence that I purchased the right bike. 

not sure if this would make a difference either, but doesn't the manual state 10w30? I personally use 10w40 in my bike, but its a little more broke in (6000+ miles)

Yes, manual calls for 10w30.

I have a 17 Rally with 7k miles. 1>2 shift has always been clunky but the rest are fine/smooth. One of the things I noticed is that first shift prefers a lot of lever travel. Seems to shift smoothest with little play in the cable and then lever pulled all the way to the bar.

I have a 14 with 11k on it. The first to second gear shift has been my only issue. The rest are nice and smooth. I've used the HP4S as well as other high end 10w40's (Motul) with the same outcome.

Do you ride with boots or sneakers? yes it matters

with lighter shoes you put a weak pressure when shifting

1st to 2nd is "Notchy" (correct terminology) not Clunky,,,, Jeeze you guys, It does have to get past neutral,,, right?

Mine is a little notchy but its a cheap bike and I don't expect perfection, I wear work boots and shift it hard ,,, the job gets done

buy the extended warranty and run the piss out of it,, try and make it brake and then Honda will fix it.

I ride with leather shoes, not work boots though.  I know what your saying about applying firm pressure when making shifts.

I dont know what Notchy feels/sounds like.  All I know is that the first two up shifts (especially the first one) makes a loud Clunk sound when the shift is made.

All the reviews I read on this bike praised the smooth shifting "Honda transmission" and it is disappointing to find this is not the case for my bike.

I appreciate all the feedback and might try a different oil at next oil change or wait for outcome of appointment at dealership. 

Notchy is just a feel,, like theres an intermediate small detent as your shifting

A loud clunk sound should be looked at by the dealer

I noticed the same thing right after I bought the bike, and doing the "2 finger" shift I was used to.  Turned out it was the judder keeping the clutch partially engaged, and putting more pressure on the gear dogs when they slap together, at least when I wasn't rev matching.  Had to basically pull the clutch almost all the way in to completely disengage the judder in order to get a smooth shift.  After ditching the judder, and going with the EBC upgrade, it disengages with a mere fraction of the lever movement, smooth shifting, and when rev matching, I can just bump the clutch to smooth out the shift, if I use the clutch at all.  I'll echo Ducky dog's observation, more for the 2-1 downshift IMO, coming off of sport bikes, this has a long shift lever throw, and while it shifts relatively smooth, it does feel notchy, partially because of the long travel moving past neutral.  THe EBC does seem to have a bit more oil stiction when cold than the factory clutch, easily remedied by rolling in gear/clutch in to break it loose before starting, and letting the bike warm up a bit before trying fast clutchwork.

Motorcycles have a dog engagement transmission. No need to use the clutch after the bike is moving.

A very slight blip of the throttle while shifting is all that is needed for very smooth and quick up shifts.

On down shifts usually the throttle is backed off unloading the transmission so no blip needed.

Takes a little practice but works well after your brain adjusts / learns to shift this way.

Don't be discouraged if it seems a little rough at first. Commit and shift quick and positive is key.

After you get the timing down you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

Easier on clutch, less clutch dust pollution in the engine oil and easier on the transmission.

2 hours ago, congewe said:

A very slight blip of the throttle while shifting is all that is needed for very smooth and quick up shifts.

On down shifts usually the throttle is backed off unloading the transmission so no blip needed.


You've got that backwards. You give it throttle on the downshift to make it smoother and you back off on the throttle on upshift. If you give it gas shifting up you'll grind gears.

2 hours ago, Kompact said:

You've got that backwards. You give it throttle on the downshift to make it smoother and you back off on the throttle on upshift. If you give it gas shifting up you'll grind gears.


Did a poor job translating what is in my head into writting.

Thanks for your response.

This has irritated me about my bike, also a 2017.  It doesn't do it if you change clutchless, which makes me think it's the clutch.

I find that if I take my time and really do it by the numbers: preload shift lever, chop throttle and smartly disengage clutch, allow positive movement of lever, feather clutch back in, remove lever pressure; it goes in smooth as butter every time.  But I'm used to bikes that don't require that kind of attention, and it takes forever - not really what sequential dog boxes are about.

I set the clutch lever up so it's got very little cable slack, and you still need to pull the clutch to the bar for gear changes - to slip the clutch, you hardly need to pull the lever at all.  This again points to the clutch hanging up somehow, and getting in the way of the change.  On top of this, the gear lever action feels crunchy (not notchy, not just passing through neutral) no matter what.  Like there's interference in the mechanism, or it's poorly lubricated - like a cheap lock.  Like a wobbly bit of stamped plate, pinned together.

I wonder if this is the dreaded anti-judder spring doing its thing?  Being an extra spring, it will keep the clutch pack engaged slightly.  It does feel like the first "crunch" is in disengaging the dogs of the currently selected gear, actually - and this is the feeling I try to get rid of by pulling the clutch lever to the bar.  You can't always preload the lever, either, sometimes you need the gear before you can get your foot in place!


The snatchy throttle and my tendency to run a slightly slack chain adds up to a lot of slop that makes clutchless changes at town speeds (and part throttle) excessively jerky, and I'd rather not be slipping the clutch a huge amount each time I change gear, either.  Off-road, the lack of grip acts as a kind of clutch, so it's less noticeable.


My bike's only had the oil that Mr. Honda wants in it, by the way.  Only a thousand and a bit miles on it, though.  The engine has come to feel happier with those miles, but I guess the gearbox could still have further to go.  Not too much further, what with the way I'm accidentally abusing it...

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