Stripped Harley Shifter Shaft

Duration: 2:31

Not Finding Gears

Stripped shift arms and Harley shifter shaft are a common problem for almost every model Harley Davidson. Your shift assembly will be actuated thousands of times, just riding over the course of one weekend. Eventually the spline of the shift arm and the shift shaft will begin to wear.

Next Step

If these components are left loose, they will wear much more quickly. If the shift arm needs to be replaced, you will need to remove the entire drive from your motorcycle. The inner primary must come off. If the shifter shaft (also know as the shift pawl assembly) needs to be replaced; you will not only need to remove your drive. You will also have to remove your transmission gear set. Depending on your model; you may also find yourself removing your exhaust and oil tank. Removing your drive is a little involved for some. Removing your gearset is a major undertaking for most. It is definitely something that should be avoided if possible.

Look Up-Close

In this video Bob gives us a clear view of the Harley shifter shaft on a Harley Davidson. Frequent inspection is the first step in avoiding excessive wear to this area. If play develops between these two components, you need to take the time to snug the pinch bolt of the shift arm. It is not always easy to access the pinch bolt, but it, certainly, is possible.

Tight Fit

Try using a quarter inch, 3/8 drive allen with a short wobble extension. If you hold your shift lever in the “up shift” position, you can get a straight shot in. Always be super aware of your cylinder fins. Do not pry or push against the fins. They will break. Also be careful not to slip and cut your hand on the cylinder fins. Try to turn the allen bolt 1/4 to 1/2 of a turn. If the Harley shifter shaft is not overly worn, this should be enough to have both components tight and secure again. If you can eliminate the free play that had developed; you will also be eliminating the wear variable.

Maintain to Avoid Replacement

The shift assembly on your Harley Davidson is a vital, overall, component. However, it is often overlooked. Before your next ride, inspect your shift assembly; especially your rear shift arm. You may find it’s time to crack your pinch bolt 1/4 turn.

Related Video:
Shift Shaft Seal when doing 6 speed Trans Rebuild at end of Part 1
Harley Shifter Shaft Seal Replacement

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18 Responses to “Stripped Harley Shifter Shaft”
  1. Big Al
    Big Al

    I have a 2010 Electra Glide Limited with 22k miles…..what do I need to check for any play in the shifter? I have not noticed any difficulty in changing gears…I want to be proactive…planning that big trip to Sturgis this year

    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      Great question.
      Probably the most overlooked maintenance on Harley Davidsons.
      Rear shift arm; aka transmission shift arm.
      An expensive repair, if let go.
      If you notice excessive play in this lever, carefully insert a 3/8″ drive, 1/4″ allen bit on a short extension with a 3/8″ ratchet.
      Having a second set of hands hold up on the forward most lever(s) (hold, up shift position) will allow you more room to work.
      Be very careful. If you slip, you are in danger of breaking cylinder fins or cutting youself. (ZD: 3334)

  2. herb

    like to see a video of replacing a shifter shaft on a 2008 night rod special 1247cc or anything near related

  3. Glen

    Hey got a 2014 street glide. Was in first gear accelerating tried to go into 2nd gear and my heel shifter went all the way to floor board and wouldn’t go into gear. Now my heel toe shifter see saws back and forth and sometimes goes into a gear and sometimes does not. If I pull forward or backward just on the linkage I goes into gear but the forward shift shaft looks like it’s not moving at all when I use the heel toe shifter. Sound like a worm out forward shift shaft? Thanks for the insight.

  4. James F
    James F

    My 05 Road King shifter shaft has stripped 3 times now. I’m considering removing the whole primary and doing a small spot weld on the shaft to hold the shift lever on. Is this a horrible idea??

  5. harleyguy26621

    Ticket 17938 As I was riding my 2009 Road King on the highway last night, the front pedal on the shifter just slipped down below the footboard and just dangled there. Once I got home by using the back pedal to shift, I noticed that the front pedal was just loose and would go up and back without shifting. It just hangs down there now. I can still shift(luckily for me)used the rear but that is not a solution I am happy with. What can I do to either fix it or does it need an expensive repair? Looking forward to your speedy reply! Thanks guys for helping all of us Harley riders to get our bikes up and running!

  6. Tyler Miiller
    Tyler Miiller

    Have to replace the shifter shaft on a 2007 Electra glide ultra classic. Is there a full video on replacing the shaft?

  7. Johnathon

    I have a 2003 Electra glide ultra classic and I believe I stripped the splines on my toe shifter but my heel shifter is intact are there any videos of this repair or websites that can walk me through this?
    Or what’s the rough estimate of a shop repair cost?

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hello Johnathon!

      That’s a great question!

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  8. NICK

    Working on a 1993 FLHS that has a stripped shifting assembly for a 5 speed (shaft pawl) due to not proper maintenance. Do you have a video(s) on how to actually pull the shifting assembly (shifter shaft pawl) out of the transmission and show the installation of new one? Also, what specialty tools are needed and do you have to take the primary completely apart to get the shift shaft pawl out of the transmision?