Transmission Failure!!

Well, I've never heard of this happening with anyone else, but I blew the tranny in my DRZE yesterday. I was in third gear and BOOM a loud chunking noise and the bike kicked out of gear. I slowed down and took off again. First gear was OK, went into second fine, hit third and it was like neutral. Slowed down again, went back into first, and then hung in first gear. The shifter won't even budge. I rode about five miles back to the truck in first gear.

Has anyone ever had problems with gears chunking? I ride 90% of the time in third gear, and I lug it pretty good at times. I also rarely shift with the clutch. I have changed the oil every 200 miles, and use Mobil 1 15W50 with X1R oil treatment. I had just changed the oil Tuesday, and had the proper amount. The engine is stock except for bolt ons, so it's not producing an unreal amount of torque.

Does anyone have any experience at splitting cases and working on transmissions? I'm debating working on it my self, but I want it done right. I'm also afraid that after fixing it, it may do it again?

Looks like I won't be riding until next year. :)

Third gear seems to be a problem for some bikes(XR400 and XR600's). Woods riders just seem to use 3rd a lot.

I have not heard of any DRZ having this problem yet(can mine be far behind? :) ).

Shifitng without clutch? No problem, as long as you don't do this on the street or other hard surfaces where the rear wheel does get any "give".

Sorry to hear of your problem. Please let us know what happend and what it took to fix it.

It will be tons cheaper to do it yourself. I always video tape and use my digital camera for the major surgury stuff. Once you pull the cyl. head, take the case to a shop and have them split it. Much, much safer. Hopefully, it will only be a bent shifter fork, but the clunking sound that you hear, sounds bad. Other things to look at, broken springs, worn shift drum, and stripped gears. You might as well replace all the gaskets, seals, and whatnot while your in there. You can further cut the cost by getting parts mail order.


I Read A Couple Months Ago In

Cycle World They Tore Up The

Tranny On A 400E.It Was A .69 Cent

Shift-Pawl Roller.Maybe Something

To Check Out?

Originally posted by sven:


I Read A Couple Months Ago In

Cycle World They Tore Up The

Tranny On A 400E.It Was A .69 Cent

Shift-Pawl Roller.Maybe Something

To Check Out?

Now that you mention it, I remember reading that too. I'm going to try and contact them, and see what I can find out. I REALLY hope that's it, but I doubt it. Third gear was completely gone. :)

Sorry to hear about that CAL.Keep is updated on the outcome. :)

I have a problem shifting into third some times when I am accellerating hard say off the line at a race. I think i have shifted to 3rd, let the clutch back out and it is still only 2nd, roll off throttle a little more and it goes. But it costs me the holeshot. I hope this is not what is in store for me. I don't think I could afford to rebuild right now. Did you have a simmilar problem before it went? :)

I had a couple of times where it jumped gear, but I'm not sure if it was between second and third. Probably was though, because I rarely go down to first, and occasionally go to fourth. About the only time I go to fifth is when wheelying. It doesn't suprise me that third was the gear to go, but it does suprise me that a gear broke. I'm not an abusive rider or extremely fast. We ride a B class harescramble pace usually. The bike has low hours also. I hope Suzuki doesn't try to cut corners on their trannys.

Depending on how far I break the engine down before taking it to the shop, it's looking like it will cost between $350 and $400. That is figuring that both third gears(driven & driving) are shot and nothing else. If I can find aftermarket gaskets, I can lower the price. My dealer priced the gasket set at $97 with a discount. He was kind of in a wierd situation. I bought the bike from him(it was his personal bike). And he was riding right behind me when it crapped out. But he doesn't have a mechanic right now, so I'm having to go to a competitor to have it fixed. :)

Hopefully no one else will have problems, but the fault was by no means on my part(lack of maint. or abuse). So I would keep your eyes open.

I just started having shifting problems :) ......BUT it was a result of the ignition case guard interfering with the shifter......WHEW!!

Hey Bill,

Looks like I will be towards your neck of the woods when I get my bike fixed(Paris). You wouldn't happen to be big buddies with Chris Grissom would you? I need all the help I can get. :)

I split the case on my old KDX a couple of years ago. Same problem, 3rd gear. In general it is costly.

You need a flywheel puller to start. I took mine to a shop and they charged me $50 for that service

Next you need an inpact wrench to loosen crank bolts,or some kinda clutch holding tool.Then you need a case splitter, better let the shop do that one. Although I did use a knife and flatbar( young and dumb), I wouldn't recomend it!

Also order all the parts ahead of time, 3rd gear input and out put, shift drum, shift forks. And take pictures I put my Idle gear in back ward on accident, the bike ran, but wouldn't shift.

Good luck, hope this was some help.


Ok, I'm letting the shop handle the trans. work. If I take off the top end and get it ready to spit, it will save me about $90 on labor. But, I'll have to spend $60 on a shop manual. I've never done a top end on a 4 stroke. How difficult is it? The only thing I'm worried about is torquing the bolts down properly and getting the timing dead on. Any suggestions?

Hey Cal,

I know Chris Grissom. I bought my DRZ from him. He has been in the motorcycle business for a long time. I think he is very knowledgeable about the bikes also. I think you will be in good hands. As long as I can remember he has always sold Suzuki's and he specializes in the dirt bikes rather than the street.


My thoughts on the subject are this. Let the dealer do it! For $90 you are assured that everything is done properly, and if not, there is no way they can blame the failure on you, they will have to warranty their work. Especially given the odd nature of the breakdown in the first place.

You stated that you planned on buying a $60 manual, by the time you spend that money, and calculate what your time is worth (assuming it's going to take you at least a couple of hours to do the top end, probably more like a whole day in the garage) and I think $90 is a good deal.

I like to do all my own work too, I can't remember the last time I took a vehicle of any kind to a mechanic, but in this situation since the trip to the mechanic is unavoidable, I think it's your best bet.

Just my $.02,



I have a lot of faith in Grissom. He has completely rebuilt an RM250 for us in the past. I've also ridden a couple of his race bikes.

You ever ride at Turkey Bay? We need to ride together when the DRZ is back up and running.


My thoughts exactly. :)

I wish I had some extra cash, I would have him throw in a 470 kit while it's apart. :D

Well, I just got a call from the shop.

Both second gears - shot

Both third gears - shot

Both fourth gears - shot

Shift drum - questionable

Shift fork - questionable

$100 gasket set

Total labor to this point, plus parts = $705!!! And that doesn't include putting it back together!

Total after putting back together should be about $850.


I wonder if the dealer has financing plans on work orders?

Excuse me, I need to step outside and SCREEEEEAAAAM

Hey Cal

I ride at Turkey Bay all the time. I was just there about 3 weeks ago as a matter of fact. It is about an hour and a half from my house. We should get together sometime. My neighbor has a DRZS and he usually rides too. Drop me an e-mail sometime at Sorry to hear about the transmission failure. My bike has been incredibly reliable so far but I'm holding my breath.

What kind of triple clamps are you running? I was just wanting to by the top clamp if I could. Does it have the same tapped mounting holes as stock in the front for mounting the cable stays and such?


I've seen a few other DRZ's out at Turkey. May have been you?? We will definately ride when the DRZ is back together. Who knows when that will be. I have everything I own for sale on ebay right now, trying to raise money for the fix. Anybody wanna bid on a 21 year old, 5'7", 120 lb., cute blonde? :) I do have a 1969 Camaro, that I don't drive as much as I should....I've gotta quit thinking about it.

Anyway, I have an Applied top clamp. It has all the mounting holes and bosses.

Here are some pics of the gears and dogs that failed.

Here are the dogs that broke and bounced their way around 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears. Damaging 6 gears total.




And here is what a broken down DRZ engine looks like.


The mechanic said everything else looked great. Clutches were perfect, cylinder, valves, and piston, couldn't have looked better. Looks like Mobil 1 really is good stuff.

Looks like the cause of failure was overuse of 3rd gear. You guys that ride in 3rd alot, I'd watch out and be careful.

[ December 12, 2001: Message edited by: CAL ]

That's why is a good idea to buy the extended warranty. I have 4 years on my moto. It only cost me $348. It's also transferable.

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