Harley First Gear Problem

Question Hi there wonder if you can help me. I have a Sportster xl883 2004 model the Harley first gear problem is that the bike keeps coming out of first gear only I have adjusted the clutch screw and cable and there is new clutch plates in there. To get to the main gears you have to split the engine on this model as good old Harley took the tray of gears away on that model.. hmmm. Someone said it may just be the selector? The mechanics want £79 an hour to look at it. The clutch also has a new center spring plate in the middle as the last one broke from the rivets. Thanks for your help. – Mark

Answer Would not put too much thought/worry, into your transmission gears.

Your problem is probably somewhere in your shift selector, shift linkage, or clutch assembly/adjustment.

You mentioned replacing your clutch spring plate. Did this problem exist before the spring plate came apart?

Or did it begin after the repair?

When a spring plate comes apart, it can make a real mess. Usually destroying your clutch.

What else was replaced at that time?

Was everything relating to your drive disassembled and cleaned thoroughly?

Was everything replaced that needed to be? And was everything reassembled correctly?

We recommend getting back into the drive. Retrace your steps. Clean and inspect everything thoroughly as you disassemble. You will find your problem there.

Related Video: Clutch R&R

Discussion
  • (will not be published)

17 Responses to “Harley First Gear Problem”
  1. Craig Rumph 307-253-9427
    Craig Rumph 307-253-9427

    My sporty ’98 1200 has started to make a ‘gear whine?’ noise in the lower 3 gears that can be heard over the sound of the screaming eagle straight pipes by fellow riders (and me) that makes me believe it might lock up and spill me. It has 30,000 miles. I couldn’t find a video in your list or Q & A that would encourage me to spend my money and join your membership. Do you have any idea what might be the problem? Have you ever had this issue come up before? The bike repair shop guy said he thinks I need some new bearings in the tranny. So, pay him? Pay you? Special tools that I will never need again? I a misplaced retired DAV from Wyoming now in FLA north of Jacksonville. All this sun and a bike I’m nervous about.Thanks for any advice you have.

    Reply
    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      Hi, Craig. The mechanic you spoke with is probably correct. Sounds like a bad main drive gear bearing. We do not have any videos on replacing such a bearing.

      Reply
  2. Branko
    Branko

    Hi Guys, I have a 86 flst softail , the concern I have is when the bike is cold or hot each time I put it in first gear it clunks in but fine with that rest of the gears, It concerns me or is that normal. Thanks Branko

    Reply
    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      Check your shifter pawl adjustment. With the m/c off; shift your bike into 3rd gear. Disconnect your shift linkage from your transmission shift arm.
      Pushing, gently, forward and back; feel for the spring pressure on your transmission shift arm. The spring pressure should feel equal, both ways (forward & back). If it does not; loosen the 11/16″ jam nut (next to the trans shift arm) and use a 1/4″ wrench to turn the adjuster pin until the spring pressure is equal. Verify that the adjustment is still correct after locking the jam nut. Sometimes you may have to compensate a little if the pin moves with the jam nut.

      Reply
  3. David
    David

    2003 Harley Sportster 883 (22000 miles) 1st Gear Clunk while releasing clutch.

    2003 Sportster 883 Screaming Eagle package, I bought the bike used last year, I have recently noticed that after shifting into 1st, I get the normal Harley clunk, but while releasing the clutch I hear another CLUNK and feels like it almost jumps, sorta like a gear reengaging or a broken tooth on the gear, it doesn’t do it all the time but when it happens it sounds (not normal) is there anyone else out there having this problem or have had this problem, and what might be the fix ?

    Reply
    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      Hi, David. We would suggest removing your outer primary cover and inspecting your drive. Verify that everything is tight. Inspect your clutch hub and basket. Look for any abnormal debris or signs of wear. The problem may be staring you in the face as you pull the primary cover away.

      Reply
  4. Flo
    Flo

    I gently layed my bike down on primary side and now it won’t shift. HD shop said its jammed & possible the shaft is bend. Do you have a video to review this repair?

    Reply
  5. Al
    Al

    I have a 1982 Ironhead Sportster XLS (1000cc) with a 4-speed box; I had the same problem of it jumping out of 1st, but no other gear; my problem was that the ‘throw’ of the gear selector is longer to go into 1st, than it is to go from 1st to 2nd etc; the gear selector lever was prevented from traveling the necessary distance upwards to fully positively selecting 1st; it was stopped ‘short’ by the foot peg; a little judicious filling/grinding of the top of the gear selector where it was fouling/stopping against the foot peg then allowed the gear selector to fully select 1st and I’ve had no problems since.

    Reply
  6. fraughtwolf
    fraughtwolf

    One Maybe two gears need replaced, where the two gears inner lock is damaged.

    Reply
  7. Paul
    Paul

    When changing my throw out bearing on my 76 superglide 4 speed trans do I just take it apart to the bearing and then just part back together again

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      You will want to back off on your clutch adjustment 1st; at the clutch assembly and the cable. Then, proceed to replacement of the throw out bearing.
      -Mark

      Reply
  8. largecar1957
    largecar1957

    just got 883r,03 model. sometimes when I take off, the tranny grabs and then jumps out but sounds like its not completely disengaged but not hard grinding. the bike has been down, obvious damage,and the shift shaft looks tweeked as shift pedal not straight. sometimes I can pull the clutch and ease it out and it will reconnect and go on(usually 2-3 times. are the odds pretty good for just a pawl or maybe forks or maybe a bent shft? had clutch adjusted at my usuall shop,not really any difference.help please.

    Reply
  9. MICHAEL
    MICHAEL

    Ticket 23119 i’ve been having problems with floating gears. i can shift gears without the clutch in. any way to fix this?

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Dear Michael,

      Thank you for your patience. What is the year and model of your Harley?

      Sincerely,

      Mark
      Fix My Hog Video Membership

      Reply