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.
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.
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.
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.