Get it in gear!

Hi all, my name is Dan. I have 430 miles on my 2004 XR650L. I took it really easy on the brake in for about 200mi. When I started riding harder and pulling the front end up in a wheelie, I noticed when I shift to second, I'm getting a lot of neutrals. I've also noticed a couple of times, after shifting to second, then it pops out of gear when I get hard on the gas. This the first XR that I have owned I've allways ridden two strokes. I am used to not clutching when I shift. Tried clutching for shifts and didn't help. I was wondering If anyone else has had this problem. Is this an XR650 problem and I just need to be more deliberate with my shifting, or should I take the bike in and have it looked at. Any advice or opinoins greatly appreciated. Also, if anyone has a new or used aftermarket gas tank for sale, let me know. Thaks, Dan.

Dan, the 2 strokes you've been riding are much lighter in weight and don't have the engine braking or heavy flywheel effect that your XR650L has, which makes them much more forgiving with clutchless shifting, especially with improper clutchless shifting techniques. The heavier weight of your XR650L makes for more traction to the rear tire. Combine this with the added 4 stroke engine braking and it becomes critical that you master your clutchless shifting techniques or else tranny parts will fail.

Usually when a tranny pops out of gear, it’s a sign of worn or damaged parts and improper shifting techniques can lead to worn parts, but it’s also possible that your tranny had a problem to begin with. It’s possible that your engagement dogs and or shift forks might be damaged, but it could also have something to do with the counter or main shaft splines and shift selector. The fact that it’s popping out of gear is usually from a bent or worn shift fork, but it can also be caused by worn engagement dogs. Once the fingers get rounded off enough, they don’t fit properly in the corresponding slots or holes in the gear and the force inside the transmission will pops them apart, hence the transmission popping out of gear. When you or a mechanic tears apart the transmission, pay particular attention to which side of the part is worn so you can determine if it’s wearing mostly from acceleration, deceleration or both. The parts will tell the details of your shifting techniques or if it’s a manufacturing defect.

Whether you use the clutch or not for shifting, you still want your shifts properly timed in relation to the engine speed to get the most from your tranny. The trick is to get everything spinning at approximately the same speed with the engagement dogs meshing smoothly and softly with the gears whether you use the clutch or not. Up shifts are the easiest and you should make your up shifts when you let off the throttle to neutralize the load. Downshifting is the hardest to properly master and more often than not you'll have to blip the throttle to bring up the engine RPM to neutralize the load for a proper downshift. A lazy or soft shift can also be a bad thing, so make your shifts firm, but not super quick and don’t ride the shifter or you’ll be putting excessive pressure on the shift selector and wear out the shift forks prematurely.

You might want to try changing the oil to a different brand and see what happens, but chances are there’s something wrong inside your tranny. I wish you the best of luck on everything and hope the damage is very minimal.

I agree with qadson but would like to add that 90% of all tranny problems I have experienced were solved with a change of oil brands. Also make sure the shifter and clutch are adjusted to fit you.

I would try the oil change and then look for damaged parts such as the shift fork or drum as was already mentioned.

Thanks for the input guys, all those things make sense to me. I did notice when I back off the gas to shift, unlike my two strokes, The engine would still carry a lot of momentum. When I shift 2nd,the bike would lerch forward a bit. I guess I will have to take it in and have the shop check it for damage. Look for my next post "Anyone know how to properly clutchless shift a big heavy four stroke?" Thanks again for the help. No sign of a big tank out there huh? :)

"Anyone know how to properly clutchless shift a big heavy four stroke?"

Yeah...don't! :)

I'm not comfortable speed shifting my BRP, I think it's a lot of load on the tranny, so I almost always use some clutch, not a full pull the lever in, but about half way seems be all it needs...

"Anyone know how to properly clutchless shift a big heavy four stroke?"

I frequently shift without using the clutch with good results, but I mostly do this on upshifts and only sometimes on the downshifts. Using the clutch doesn’t ensure everything will be all right because bad shifting will take its toll on the gearbox even if you use the clutch. The clutch simply unloads your engine and gives you a larger window of opportunity to make your shift (wider shifting tolerance), but if you can properly unload your engine by shifting at the right time without using the clutch, then it shouldn’t cause any problems to your gearbox. You’ve just got to learn shift when the real wheel and engine speed is the same by either chopping or blipping the throttle so there’s no load on the gearbox when you shift and you’ve got to make positive shifts. When you’ve done it right, the shift should feel smooth, but positive without any jerking. Make sure to momentarily chop the throttle immediately before an upshift. When the gearbox is unloaded, select the next gear and then accelerate. When down shifting while decelerating, you’ve got to blip the throttle gently to bring up the engine speed by 1 to 2K to unload the gearbox. As you’re closing the throttle after the blip, then apply a little downward pressure to the shift lever and complete the shift. You should feel the shift lever easily press down smoothly without any grinding, jerking, etc, if done properly. If you do this wrong it will cost you, but there should be no issues if you do it right. It’s not a technique for everyone, but it can be handy to learn because shifting this way with the clutch will only further extend the life of your transmission.

Hey Qadsan, does the 650L have that same "big gap" between 1st and 2nd like the 650R does? If so, I wonder if he is just missing second, or not engaging it fully ? I've had a similar problem with my 650R, but it's just because it takes a lot of toe to get it fully into second, also I miss second sometimes because of the "gap".. I haven't done the clutchless shifting since I was a teenager and was riding

an '82 CR250, then later an '85 RM250, both of which shifted wayyyy smoother than any four stroke I've ridden.


does the 650L have that same "big gap" between 1st and 2nd like the 650R does? If so, I wonder if he is just missing second, or not engaging it fully ?

I do find it strange that pretty much as soon as I started gettin on it, I noticed the missed shifts. I only have just over three hundred miles on the bike. I also dont seem to have as much problem shifting through the other gears. The shift from 1st to 2nd seems to be the roughest. Im pretty sure my technique is ok, Ive been clutchless shifting all my sportbikes and two stroke dirtbikes for about 20 years. This is the first time Ive had this many missed shifts on one bike in such a short time. This must be a thumper four stroke thing.

Dan IMS sells them.... I ordered one for a friend of mine.

Good luck with tranny problems.


does the 650L have that same "big gap" between 1st and 2nd like the 650R does? If so, I wonder if he is just missing second, or not engaging it fully ?

Hmmmm....Good point! I just don't know for sure about the 650L. Maybe it's as simple as a procedural thing due to a longer throw where too short of throw prevents the engagement dogs from being fully seated. I would go for the cheap stuff first like changing oil and maybe try shifting the lever a bit farther upward in hopes of a more positive engagement. If there is a problem with 2nd gear, it should be covered by warranty if the bike is less than 6 months old or maybe the 650L has an even longer warranty?

:D:):D :D :D :D :D


Good thing my wife doesn't read this or else she'd think I'm addicted to TT :)

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