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80 XR500 first gear problems.

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Hi all ,

Just completed my 80 XR 500 bike and took it for a ride on Sunday.

What is happing is that it wants to slip out of 1st gear.

Just wondering if anyone has had this problem. All other gears work right.

This is my first post on this site.

Thanks,

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Hey, gwhaler!!!

I'm kinda thinkin' you have a bent shift fork, which requires case splitting to fix, But I always like to try the simple stuff first, so look at your shift shaft first...... :cry::thumbsup:

Drain your oil, & pull your left side case off. You can leave the alternator wires hooked up; just put the case outta your way, & tie it up so it won't be floppin' around on ya. Take off the 10mm headed bolt that holds the shifter's "racheting mechanism/gizzie" ("gizzie" = any part I can't recall the proper name for.... :ride: ). You should be able to slide the shift shaft out now. The shift shaft will have 2 circlips on it, that are supposed to fit into grooves turned in the shaft. A crash had caused one of my circlips to "pop/slide" out of its groove, allowing a lot of lateral movement of the shift shaft. This caused me to miss downshifts, mostly, but like I said above, it's something easy (compared to case splitting) to check. The outer circlip was the one that had jumped out of it's groove on my XR's shift shaft, causing the problems. I hope it's something similar (and easy!) on yours....

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Thanks for the info Diesel Goober.

I did have that side and shifter apart so it could be I did not get it put back together right. Sure would be nice if that all it is.

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I may have had the same problem with my 81. First gear would "jerk" and then "catch" under load. It was new when it started and the dealer fixed it. I think they just threw parts at it. It started again after about 3500 miles. I Put in new gears only to have it do it again. I sold the bike as is for nest to nothing. No idea what was going on. I guess I'm no help am I?

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My 81 XR500 also had 1st gear issues. It seemed that gear selection technique made a big difference. The main problem occurred when downshifting into 1st on difficult terrain, say a rocky hill climb. Sometimes it would not go into first or not stay there for long. Using the clutch and giving the shift lever a good solid press helped it get into and stay in gear. No clutch and a light tap on the lever was a recipe for neutral and getting stuck on the hill. If I had to do a no clutch shift, I would keep my foot on the lever pushing down.

I don't remember if it is accessible without splitting the cases, but check the spring that holds the shift drum detent. That's the thing that holds it in gear. If the spring is weak, it slips out of gear easily. Because of neutral the detent isn't as deep as the other gears, so it doesn't hold it as well.

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Thanks again for all the help. I rode it again last night and sometimes it would stay in just fine.

I will take the left cover off tonight and do some careful inspection of the shaft and how the gear selector works.

When the parts where replaced did first gear look worn on

any of your bikes?

I will give an update if I find out anything.

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On mine the only thing I noticed was the knobs on the side of the the first gear gear, (is this a dog?) seamed to be rounded off more than others. I replaced it and the bike worked well only to have the problem return. Leads me to believe it was something else and the disasembly/reasembly put something right for a short time. Hay, I'm still no help!

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Just did a kickshaft replacement, and it is slipping in first under load, what the heck. I inspected the gears when the cases were split, but went and rode it, and when torqueing up a steep hill it acts like the chain is slipping on the front sprocket. But it's not. I need to replace the stator anyway so i'll go ahead and check the shift shaft and springs. Need to sell this thing I guess.

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Hi gwhaler,

Sounds to me like you have a bent selector fork. I just did the same repair on my xl500s. It was as if you are slipping the clutch for a split second then dumping it did it under power and also under downhill deceleration it would slip then catch again. Only in 1st gear all the rest pulled like a train also did not do it all the time. I replaced the first gear selector fork and the gears it meshed with, you can do the job without removing the motor by splitting the bottom case of the motor it can get hung up on the rear bottom engine mount but you can leaver it forward carefully as you separate the case saving having to remove the engine from bike and replacing all the gaskets in the top of engine.

Regards Rod.

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