compiled & edited by Kristian #562
For Replacement Clutch Levers (On Handlebar) refer Aftermarket Levers FAQ.
compiled by Kristian #562
The F650 gearbox can be very clunky especially between 1st and 2nd gear and it can be difficult to find Neutral. This FAQ is not a treatise on Clutchless shifting, which can be done on the F, particularly shifting up, but takes some practice.
So here’s what you can do;
Live with it (Finding Neutral)
If it slips OUT of (particularly 2nd) Gear, your problem is more serious: See Can't change Gear past Second/Lost Second Gear
First Here's what you should NOT do:
Stomping on the shift lever is one way to bend those shifter forks. Richard #230: 1997 Funduro
I concur with Richard. You want to shift positively, but not HARD. It sometimes works to hold your foot UP on the shift lever until you have released the clutch lever. If it still pops out, it sometimes helps to hold the lever up until you have released the clutch lever AND gone through at least one load/unload cycle with the throttle before releasing. Flash 412 (CO)
OIL: See the Detailed FAQ on Oil for a Huge Discussion on Synthetic Oil usage.
After the first 10,000 km or 6,000 miles, switch to FULLY Synthetic oil.
I must say when I put it in to first gear it CLUNKS LOUD! I am hoping a synthetic oil change and maybe the clutch lever adjustment will help this. Am I close to the truth? mrgimme.
For your gear clunk, that is normal and do not use synthetic oil, because the transmission & clutch use the same engine oil. Synthetic oil will adversely affect clutch operation. I have gotten this information from the dealer I use (Ironhorse MC) and another very good BMW mechanic. While it may be true that the introduction of additives you mentioned may have an adverse effect on the clutch, synthetic oil is inherently very "slippery" which can lead to problems. Having said that you have apparently not had problems, but I am not comfortable using synthetic oil in my Dakar or wife's CS and thought the fellow I responded to might want this information. He now has two sides to make a decision from. On another note I have gotten away from using synthetic in my LT based on a long discussion with the mechanics at Ironhorse MC. They say that regardless of what kind of oil you use, it should be changed every 3000 miles to remove the harmful acids that build up in the engine regardless of what kind of oil is used. With this in mind I figure why spend the extra $$$ on synthetic when I should be changing it every 3000 miles anyway. BBowens
I would disagree with Bruce about using synthetic oil. I have been using Mobil 1 and now Redline, for the past 25,000 miles (on my 31,000 mile bike) and my clutch and gear box are really working well. The only thing that affects the clutch is the introduction of a lot of MoS2 or Graphite into the oil. Oils with these anti-friction compounds will have a "starburst" on the oil bottle label and be described as "energy conserving". You will not find this rating on the 10-40 or 20-50 wt oils that are used by the F650. My recommendation is to use regular BMW motorcycle oil until the 6000 mile service then switch to motorcycle-rated synthetic oil. The shifting action should get better as the miles accumulate, but make sure that your clutch cable slack it within specifications. What Ironhorse MC recommends is fine. Your bike will last a long time using regular oil and changing it every 3000 miles. However, it is a myth that synthetic oil is inherently more slippery than other oils. It is the additives that make one oil more "slippery" than another. Synthetic oils are just more stable, are more resistant to heat break-down, flow better at low temperatures, remain in grade longer, tend to cling to metal parts longer, are more resistant to acids and will last longer without needing to be changed, than normally-refined petroleum-based oils. I certainly do not believe that they are a good value for anyone who changes their oil regularly. I also do not believe that using such oil will cause engine, clutch or gearbox damage. Richard #230
Change the oil, but 1700 miles might be too early to put synthetic in. I don't want to start any flame wars here, but IIRC all the BMW techs (at various dealerships) that I've talked to say to hold off on synthetic until about 6000 miles. (This is covered in the FAQ I believe). Clunking into first gear could also be a by-product of a poorly adjusted clutch cable. Is there a strong pull when you drop it into first gear? Bottom line, I would think that the poor thing just needs more miles! 8-) Seacuke, #1214, F650GS.
I bought a few cans of BMW oil the other day for my 6,000 mile change. My dealer suggested I try the synthetic oil (non-BMW) as it was superior to the BMW oil. He said it would be especially good for the F650 BECAUSE the clutch and engine operate in the same oil bath. Scott, ID #1244
I was once privy to a conversation between a service dept mgr and a tech regarding a memo they had just received from BMWNA to the effect that BMW did NOT recommend synthetic until at least 10K miles. And they were serious enough about it to require an oil sample with any engine warranty claim that could possibly be oil related. (The point of the memo). The theory being that synthetic oil works so well that it actually impedes the breaking in process. As for first gear, I was at my dealer the other day asking about oil recommendations, (I've used factory stuff up until now, as the bikes were in warranty, now they're not, and I'm tired of buying BMW oil for the F and Triumph oil for the Sprint) Anyway, (sorry I'm rambling!) He said that they've been putting 10W-40 in the F's that "clunk" rather than the usual 20W-50. But check the cable, too. That not having been done at 600 miles might be a big part of the problem. In the F, my dealer switched at the 6K service. FWIW, this was about two weeks prior to the aforementioned conversation. David #476, '99 F650.
This is nothing serious. I had the same problem - and a clutch adjustment did the job. Just screw the bolt on the lever a bit so that there is a clearance of only 2mm. Rejnok
Make sure your clutch adjustment isn't all the way out at the hand lever. Capt. Ken: The key to the shifting blues is in the clutch adjustment. When you get the bike new (or a new cable) it will stretch. Once the cable has stretched the adjuster on the lever will probably be dialled most of the way out so you have no more adjustment. To get the clutch to work ok again, slide the rubber boot off the adjuster (down the cable). Reset the clutch by turning the adjustor barrel at the clutch hand-lever all the way in, then move the arm on the transmission (other end of Cutch Cable) back one notch (clockwise). The easiest way to hook it back up is to mark the position of the arm on the shaft prior to removal. Then take the cable off by screwing the adjuster on the lever in all the way. Then take the bolt completely out of the arm and remove it. Move it one notch back from the original location (from the mark you made!). Disengage the clutch enough to get the cable back on the hook. Then readjust the clutch from the lever. This should cure all of your hard shifting problems Clunking in gears, etc. The dealer should do this at your 600 mile service. There FAQ page describes the operation in more technical terms so you can tell if it is set up right or not. After adjusting mine the bike shifts perfectly now at 1000 miles. Good Luck.
I also had my new Dakar out last weekend for the first time. Since I read a couple of threads here about difficulties finding neutral, I paid special attention to it. I must say I didn't have a problem with my bike at all. Maybe it was just so much easier to find N on the F compared to my old Suzuki DR600 which I rode for about 10 years. From my experience with the DR I would check the clutch adjustment. If it doesn't fully disengage it's always pulling the bike a little forward even when the clutch lever is pulled all the way. Another matter was always the oil. In my DR I used whatever was cheap all the time. Depending on the oil quality the bike would pull forward in first gear when cold with the clutch pulled (oil viscosity too high when cold) or start jerking when the oil was hot. If the clutch doesn't fully disengage for whatever reason it is difficult to find N. It will also get easier after a few thousand miles when everything is worn in a little. Have fun riding, jerryscuba
Rotate Gear Shift Lever/Check Tightness
Change your gear shift lever down one notch on the spline so you get a firmer upshift. I have short feet and it really works great for me. Here’s what mine now looks like: Rotated Gear Shifter.
So How do I do that.? It’s easy. First MARK the current position with a pencil, referencing it to one of the splines. Then undo the Allen key bolt, which you will need to remove, pull the shifter off the spline, rotate it down one spline and push it back on. Torque the bolt back up to spec. (Note: LOTS of people have lost their shifter so you may even consider safety wire or siliconing the bolt in place.). Richard #230 gave this great tip.: "The secret is to bend the lever outward slightly so that it clears the loop on the frame. The lever is made of steel and will bend outward without too much force. I discovered this when my bike dropped at a stop and the lever was pushed inward and would not move enough to permit shifting, until I bent it back away from the engine case." I'd therefore recommend bending it outward slightly before you drop it down a notch. Or you can cut the Sidestand Loop, which protects the Switch, but check the link first.
I thought I should share my experience in changing the shift lever (I had the same problem). There is a screw holding the shifter in place. You will probably need one of those bent Allen keys to get easy access. I had a T handle type and had a hell of a time tightening it up (tight working space in there). The screw must be _removed_. Just loosening it is not enough, as the screw sort of goes through a groove in the shifter bolt (or whatever you call the bit sticking out of the engine.) Once you have removed the bolt, slide the shifter straight out, rotate it up one spline, and then slide it straight in. Replace screw. Tighten. You cannot just loosen the bolt and rotate the shifter around the post. People have busted their shifters by just loosening the screw, not being able to remove the shifter, and trying to open up the bit that clamps onto the post a bit more with a screwdriver. Otherwise, a very easy job. Ted TO.
I had to rotate the gear lever around the shaft when I bought new Daytona GTX boots. It is a 30 minute job, and requires that the foot peg be partially undone too, I think. Anyway, it's a one off job and not too taxing. Just be sure not to do everything up tight until you got the position right. It is easy to over compensate and leave a huge lift of the boot required to make contact. Additional benefit : The number of times you accidentally shift to neutral while starting off will diminish. PeeWee ( #716)
Make sure that you do not have too much slack in your clutch cable. Then try changing the oil to a synthetic type. Finally, try rotating the gear selector lever down one notch to give your ankle better leverage when shifting. If none of that helps, you may have a bent selector, but gearbox repair will require the engine to be removed from the frame and dismantled, I believe. Big $$$ if your dealer does it, or lots of your time, if you do it. I spent a winter repairing a Yamaha YA-6 gearbox many years ago. After I got it back together, it shifted once and then stuck in gear. I finally had to have a dealer fix the thing. All you need to do is make one small mistake when working on a gearbox and you will really regret it. Richard #230.
When I bought my boots all I did was to remove the bolt clamping the gear-lever, then rotate the lever 'one' notch on the spline upwards, and the problem was resolved. Took less than 5 minutes. Trevor #999, Bristol, UK, 01GS
Not that I've ever had to move the shifter due to any boots, but it's not at all a big deal to slide it off. If you do readjust, make sure you have room to shift up (clutch cover), and down (sidestand kill switch). Jeremy #1087 in San Francisco.
Shift lever tightening. I forgot who posted it but last week there was a post on tightening up the shift lever with better shifting the result. Well, I went out and checked mine and sure enough, it was loose. Not falling off loose but certainly not snug. I tightened it up and the shifting seems maybe a little better, it still clunks like Sherman tank when shifting from 1st to 2nd but higher gears are sweeter now. Shank.
Aftermarket Gear Shift Lever/Footpegs
You could also try an aftermarket lever if you don't get enough adjustment. I bought one at the place below for $25: http://www.xrsonly.com/chassis_comp/chas_comp_8.htm Exactly the same effective length as the stock F650 lever, but with a much wider bend (if that wasn't clear, it goes backwards the same distance as the stock lever, but sticks out a lot more). It can also be bent if you would like it to be a different shape. Slipped right on. Mason #631 - 97ST in PA
With the GS, you do have the option of footpeg relocation brackets from Touratech. don't know if they actually move the pegs back or what. I have a '99. when I went to off-road boots, I found I couldn't shift at all, so I fabricated my own brackets that simply move the pegs back about 1.5 inches and further out about a half inch. made all the difference in the world and I can now shift and brake comfortably. check out the Touratech stuff. if it doesn't do what you want (check before installation), you can return them. I bought a pair of wider pegs (for the GS) from them, and when they didn't work on my classic, I returned them, no problem. but for $100, I was surprised at the cheesy welding, even though the looked solid. mark #403
If your shift lever feels too long you can drill and tap a hole in the shift arm right where you want. Then just buy the little rubber toe boot, slip it over a bolt and screw it in to your new hole. The bigfoot that you sell your bike to in the future can just remove the bolt and then it's back to stock configuration. I did that on my Yamaha 20 years ago and it's still there.
1. Preload Shift Lever.
2. Change your Shifting RPM.
3. Disengage the Clutch a little less.
4. Try Boots.
When shifting, practice putting a little bit of pressure on the lever just before changing. i.e. preload it just a bit. This works for lost of people.
Did I eat my Wheaties? Yes, this happens to me every day now. I've nearly killed myself a few times--wanting to go on the green, and wow--my feet are off the ground on the pedals, but I'm not going anywhere. The bike begins to lean/fall over...you get the picture. And it's also moved back into neutral when I've already shifted to second. I'm sure there are a million explanations, but all I know is it is totally unsafe. If you ever got into an accident, I'll bet you could sue a few people over this one. Sarah.
Experiment with shifting at different RPMS and using the less clutch (I mean pulling the lever less. Multi-plate MC clutches don't need to be fully disengaged to provide a smooth shift like an auto clutch does.) You can find a method to provide very smooth shifting. For instance, my K bike likes to shift 1-2 at 2-2.5K, for all other changes it wants 4K. When I do that, it's smooth as butter, when I don't I get a "BMW" clunky shift. David#476
The Rotax gearbox is notoriously tight during the first few hundred miles. I had problems finding neutral as well, but the gearbox loosens up after a bit.
Shift into neutral while you're still rolling.
@*$%$# neutral! I've seen this on my 99F. Here are a couple of things I do to work around this. First, downshift coming into stops wherever possible. Early on, I made some downshifts into 1st too soon. The tranny doesn't like that, so I've learned to time it a little better. This is important to make sure I actually made it into 1st. Second, I've found my bike will actually slip out of first into neutral. Maybe it's false neutral without the green light on, I tend to think it's slipping out. Leaving your left foot on the shifter may be a better suggestion, but I tend to give it a little rev and some friction zone to make sure I'm really in 1st while still stopped at the light. Hey, there's plenty of time, right? I don't recall it ever slipping out of 1st into neutral when I did this. Together these seemed to cure it for me. I had the additional problem of not making it into second gear -- not a safe thing losing acceleration with no brake light when the light turns green! So I've learned to be quite direct and firm with shifts into 2nd. I also run in 1st a little longer than I used to. I still can experience some problems with this when I'm tired and not paying attention, though it getting fewer and further between. The effort shifting from 1st to 2nd is 4-5 times what it is going from 2nd to 3rd, etc. I've just come to expect this. You can also get a digital read out and mount it somewhere on or near the dash to show you what gear you're in. The Bohn armor folks sell one of these. Some of the more expensive BMW bikes have this built into. I was really thinking about this a while ago. Not sure I need it as much now, though. One final note: I get my oil changed every 6 months, even if the mileage doesn't warrant it. This improved my shifting smoothness a lot more than I would have expected. Chris #856.
Try just barely disengaging the clutch, (moving the lever 1" or less). Bike trans's are different than cars and don't need to be fully disengaged. Most of mine work way better when less clutch is used. Also, my bike does the same when it's time for an oil change as well as the 1st 100 miles after one. I get around it by holding the lever up (in 2nd) until the clutch is fully out. 1) I change 1-2 at a lower RPM than any other gear, usually 2500-3000. 2) Don't pull the clutch lever in all the way. Because of the differences between a Car transmission and a MC transmission, the MC clutch doesn't need to be fully disengaged to avoid grinding gears, in fact it works BETTER if you pull the lever in just enough to slip the clutch. Also, don't completely close the throttle, just back off enough to match the RPMs to 2nd gear. If you wind the motor up to 5K in 1st, pull the clutch and chop the throttle so the engine drops to 2K or so, of course the trans will "clunk" when you slam it into 2nd, it's spinning at the speed it turns at 3500 or 4K RPM engine speed. A false neutral occurs when the speed differential is so great the trans actually "kicks" itself out of gear. Once you get good at matching these speeds, the opposite will occur. A slight upwards pressure on the shifter and the trans will actually "pull" itself into 2nd gear. Using these methods and Flash's, I can shift my bike without ANY "clunkiness" or false neutrals, that is at least until it's time to change my oil! David#476.
Try wearing steel-toe shoes. When you do the shift lever won't give you anymore back-talk. Richard #230, Pacifica, CA
I encounter the same problem on my 01GSA. A really aggressive shift sometimes leaves me in neutral and it takes sometimes two more tries to get out. I just had it looked at but the dealer was "unable to duplicate the condition." I put it down to operator error or apocraphy, but i will be watching. alex871
I have a similar situation as Steve but I consider it just operator error at this point since I don't have a pattern. The problem is too intermittent for me to trouble shoot properly. Ed Northern VA.
It is a 2001GSA. As per Ed & Co. It is intermittent and I have always put it down to lazy shifting. Given the responses.....I wonder if its not just a case of the missing Wheaties. Steve#780
The same thing happens to me semi-regularly, although it happens in both directions (first to second and second to first). As Flash recommended, I try to remember to press and hold those shifts rather than snap them. That's the only thing that seems to work. Mason #631
I have two pairs of boots; one gives good shifts and the other one gives bad 1/2 shifts with too many neutrals. It has to do with the flexibility of the ankle and raising the toe. I guess if the shop had removed the shift lever and replaced it one spline higher you would have noticed. Claude #312, Annapolis, Md
Try preloading the shifter a little and quickly pulling the clutch all the way to the bar and firmly clicking it to the next gear. You might need to adjust the shifter itself down a notch. Many have done this including me. You might need to bend the shifter away from the bike a little to clear the cage that protects the sidestand switch. Has anyone else noticed kind of double click and a longer throw when going from 3rd to 4th? Chris in Santa Cruz, CA #782
I have an '01 F650GS, which is quite prone to the symptoms you describe. In my case, a rider adjustment was necessary. I migrated from sport bikes, where you're on the gas as you let out the clutch, and a quick flick will change your gears. This bike will not tolerate that kind of abuse. I find that Flash's technique--preload and hold-- basically eliminates the problem. And if it does happen, I am usually aware, in retrospect, that I made a sloppy shift. On the other hand, if yours did not do it before you had the clutch adjusted, but only started doing it afterwards, then the clutch adjustment that was performed perhaps made the problem more pronounced. mspeed #1023 Toronto, Canada
Day before yesterday I approached a country stop sign in fourth gear. I braked, pulled clutch fully in, and depressed smoothly through 3rd and 2nd....but, when I tried to get into first it sounded like one of those party noisemaker, you know the one that clatters when you spin it around....anyway, I double checked to make sure the clutch was fully in and tried to firmly get into first. Again "clatter". As I neared the intersection it finally took on the third try. I checked my clutch play which was OK. Drove on 100 miles with no problem. Is that "notchy gearbox", me or something else? Mo '01 GS
My experience is that that is normal. It is caused by trying to shift into first while moving too fast. Even with the clutch fully pulled in there are a whole bunch of spinning parts in the transmission. These are spinning at different speeds. By trying to shift into first at speeds higher than 15-20 these parts are spinning at such different speed they do not "sync" and you get clatter and it will not want to go into gear. The simple solution is don't shift to first about 15 mph with the engine at idle. In theory if you rev the engine you will be more able to shift into first. Forcing this could cause damage to your transmission. Don - Rochester, NY
Don't forget that motorcycles do not use "synchromesh" transmissions, like most cars do. The transmission gears are always meshed, but are selected by sliding dogs that grip the gears from the inside, while sliding along the shaft that the gears spin on. There is nothing synchronized between the dogs and the gears, except for your ability to rev the engine to match their speed with the spinning gears resulting from the tire turning. For a quiet shift, you need to rev the engine with the clutch out before shifting into a lower gear - and first gear is the lowest and most difficult to match the engine speed with your road speed. All I do is shift from second into neutral and coast to a stop. If you need to be in first, it is hard not to get a loud noise and lurch when downshifting from second to first. Richard #230, Pacifica, CA
Live with it (Finding Neutral)
I read somewhere, think it was in a magazine review of some other BMW, that all BMW gearboxes clunk, and BMW makes clunky gearboxes on purpose because they last a lot longer than the smooth-shifting japs. Dunno if it's true, though. Oyvind #1052
"all BMW gearboxes clunk" I own three different models of BMW (R60/5, K75RTA, F650) and previously owned one more (R100RT) and every one of them, with properly adjusted controls, fresh oil, and proper technique, can be shifted as smoothly as any other bike I've ridden, with absolutely no "clunk" The closest to an exception to this is the F, when I attempt to shift into 1st at a dead stop. I get around this by shifting into neutral, letting out the clutch, then shifting into 1 gear just BEFORE I come to a complete stop. It's simply a matter of properly matching the RPMs from one gear to another. And yes, when I get lazy and don't pay attention, THEY ALL CLUNK! David #476, '99 F650.
Okay dood here's the deal, my 02 clunks like crazy! I believe it has a lot to do with finesse, but even so...it's not like a 'dangerous sounding' clunk. Our bike clunks, that's all there is to it. The real question is, will the clunking wear out our box out before the warranty expires. Doubt it. the only time I don't like the sound is when I'm next to someone with something more quiet..they look at me funny. Docc
I wanted to ask about the F650's gearbox's behaviour when new. I seemed to have a lot of difficulty finding neutral. My buddy who has a Suzuki Katana rode it and also said the same thing. Just wondering if this is normal for a Beemer and if it will eventually get easier to get it into neutral? jomifo
I've heard some other people mention having trouble shifting/finding neutral. On my bike it's never been a problem to find neutral, real easy. The only thing that does happen on rare occasions is that I miss second when upshifting. I don't know if it's because I'm sloppy or if it's the gearbox. Razz, '03 black GS, Colorado
Yeah, it's normally stubborn to get to N. The short answer to your question is, do it while you're rolling slowly coming up from 1st (vs. down from 2d), it seems to be much easier that direction. Or turn the motor off if you can and then it will go right in from 1st or 2d. BTW, I always start my bike in N. I used to not do so and when it was cold or really damp out, my bike would about lurch like a draught horse when I hit the start button. Lot of unnecessary wear on the clutch, engine and battery. Or maybe my clutch cable needs to be taken up a bit but it doesn't do that in warm weather. Not a weakness in design, just the way it's made--IMO, anyway. NothingClever, '02 P/D, Louisiana.
It just takes getting used to - I am new to riding - got a 01GS in December - never ridden a bike before - and had heaps of problems in the 1st few weeks in finding N. With some encouragement/advice from the CG members - and getting a feel for the bike - have not had a problem since - practice and gaining feel helps a lot. MrA, Richard 01GS, Sydney, Oz.
My experience is that the clutch tends to "break-in" after several hundreds of miles and then seems to produce less drag on the driven plates, lessening the "clunk". In most bikes, the more miles the better they will shift (assuming no mechanical problems). Richard #230.
Mine (2003, 1700 miles) has gotten pretty tolerable. There's a clunk when shifting into first from neutral, but only a bit more than my SV650. The Suzuki shifting was supposedly very good, so I figure the BMW isn't bad. Codewheeney
Art is proberbly right, either the
clutch needs adjustment or you do ;) Seriously. I consider the GS clutch to be
a beginners one, as you have to pull the lever in very far before it disengages
fully. This behaviour makes starting easy. but shifting slow. If you are used
to more distinct clutches, as I am, it's easy to make the mistake of shifting
to soon, which produces a loud clack and will very likely shorten the life of
your gearbox. I still make this mistake myself now and then, so please don't
take this as an insult of your riding skills... rakaD
If none of that helps, you may have a bent selector, but gearbox repair will require the engine to be removed from the frame and dismantled, I believe. Big $$$ if your dealer does it, or lots of your time, if you do it. See this FAQ.
By Flash #412
'Blipping' the throttle to match internal component speeds to each other is the LEAST damaging way to shift your engine. Here's a workable technique, I read about it in a racing context, and damned if it doesn't work on the F:
1) Roll off the gas, let engine and road speeds decline
2) Apply downward pressure to the shift lever. Don't stomp on it, just press.
3) Blip the throttle. This means a quick on/off. Don't take it to full throttle, don't hold it open.
4) While blipping, pull in on the clutch lever. Not all the way, just get it a bit into the friction zone to make things smooth.
5) Watch as your foot magically goes down and the bike switches gears deadly smooth.
6) Release clutch, apply whatever
throttle your situation now requires.
If you skip step four in the above downshift process, and you do it right, you'll have learned how to FLAT downshift. The only thing is that you need to blip harder for clutchless downshifts.
Clutchless downshifting is simple. You
have the throttle closed because you are slowing. Everything is "loaded"
bassakwards from the way it is normally loaded. So do everything backwards from
the way you do a speed shift and it works fine. i.e.: Crack the throttle OPEN as
you apply pressure to the lever. When it hits the "sweet spot" where everything
matches, it'll pop out of the gear you're in and, to get it to pop into the
lower gear, blip the throttle once real good. The shift is complete. Close the
throttle. (Yer tryin' ta slow t.f. DOWN, remember?)
Upshifting is similar, but with everything reversed. You don't really need the clutch at all to upshift, I find.
The transmission in your F has a shift drum and shift forks. There are six DETENT positions in which the shift drum can reside. Of course, there are an infinite number of positions where it can reside. The six DETENT positions are 1st, neutral, 2nd... 5th gear. When you shift between 2-3 or 3-4 or 4-5, there is a requirement that the gear you are coming FROM disengage BEFORE the gear you are going TO is entered. If it didn't, you'd be in two gears at once and your transmission would "explode", shedding gear teeth like my Samoyed sheds fur at this time of year. So... for a brief period, the gearbox is not in any gear. This is NOT the same as NEUTRAL. These are called FALSE Neutrals. If you find one... coast along in it for a while, hit a few bumps or blip the throttle and the odds are, you'll suddenly find yourself in one gear or the other on either side. Car gearboxes force you to physically move the lever though the neutral position, REAL neutral. There is no detent there, due largely to the fact that the gearbox functions without a shift drum.
It does no harm whatsoever to the transmission or clutch to shift (well) without the clutch. But if you screw up... it can be a bad thing, no worse than grinding the gears in any gearbox, however.
Replacement Gear Shift Lever
I had a shift lever for an XR650L Honda in my spares collection and I was very surprised to find it fit the shift shaft on my Pegaso. The f650 should have the same shift shaft spline. The aftermarket Honda shift lever is steel (no more breaking) and has a folding tip. It was quite reasonable in price, and you should be able to find one just about anywhere. It had more of a dog leg in it than I wanted, so I hammered it straighter before I ever used it. My size 11's would hardly work with the stocker, and now its so nice. Hondas have had the same spline since before mud. The XR600, XL600, RS600, XR650l etc all use the same part. don't know about the new water cooled xr650's. mtiberio (cugino pegaso)
I figured if the XR650 lever fit, then an upgraded aftermarket lever would too, right? ;-) I bought one at the place below for $25. They have lots of other stuff that could be nice for the F too. http://www.xrsonly.com/frameset.htm. Exactly the same effective length as the stock F650 lever, but with a much wider bend (if that wasn't clear, it goes backwards the same distance as the stock lever, but sticks out a lot more). Seems very strong and has a rubber covered folding tip. Slipped right on. Perfect. Mason #631
I once relocated a shift lever on my R100RS and had to shorten it to get the position correct. I had a friend cut and weld the lever and never had a problem. I assume that you could either weld an extension on to the middle of the shaft, or look around to locate a lever off a Japanese bike that is a bit longer than yours and just buy it (or go junkyard diving with your current lever in hand). Most shift levers are fastened by splines and I'll bet that they all use about the same type of spline pattern and hole diameter. Richard #230
Can't change Gear past Second/Lost Second Gear
by Flash #412 (CO)
Additional comments by Martin, HsN
Refer also the Engine Removal F650 Classic FAQ
So is this a Clutch problem or tranny one?
The original shift forks were superseded by ones that are polished, harder, and tested. Bad news is you must drop the motor to split the cases to get to them. A shift fork costs about $35 or so. You might have a bad detent-wheel rivet, like I did, too. It sounds like your pawl rivet may be loose, allowing the "wheel" on the end of the part to lose its place in the detents of the shift drum, not rotating the drum. Mine did that at about 22,500 miles. You are NOT going to like when the dealer tells you how much labor is involved in changing that US$10 part. You must drop the motor and split the cases. You can do it yourself with only one special tool. I am going to post a write-up after I get mine reassembled the SECOND time. There are no special tools required to do the job, with the exception of the ~$22 alternator rotor puller. The job is long, but not difficult. I have the first draft on the "dropping the motor" FAQ done. But have not even begun the "splitting the cases, fixing the trans and reassembling in reverse order" FAQs."
Try HOLDING the gear lever in place until you have let the clutch out completely. What year model? The second gear shift fork on the earlier bikes were crap. BMW won't say when they changed the part. If you have to hold the lever to keep it from jumping out there is something wrong with the gearbox. Shift dogs are SUPPOSED to be undercut, so that the load PULLS the thing INTO engagement when you make an incomplete shift. There should really be no need to hold it in place. You either shifted or you didn't shift or your box is broken.
BMW will not do anything for you unless you took
it to the dealer for the same problem before you warranty ran out. Your dealer
probably said, "Let's wait and see..." Shank sez that what that means is,
"Let's wait until the warranty runs out and see how much you're gonna pay to
get it fixed."
I dunno what the flat rate is on dropping the motor and doing the trans repairs. But I bet you can call and they'll tell you it is WELL over US$1k.
Are you at all mechanically inclined? Dropping the motor is not a real big deal. Splitting the cases is not a real big deal. Replacing the shifter bits is pretty simple. There are only about three things you need that you might not have already. The education is well worth it.
Figure 10 hours to drop the motor and split the cases the first time you do it, especially if I give you a bunch of tips. Figure about 5 hours to install the new bits and reassemble the motor. Maybe 8 hours to get it hung back in and all hooked up. (These times all drop drastically upon repeating the tasks.)
Alternately... do not use second gear. Take off in first, wind it all the way out and then double shift into third. You can milk the bike until the middle of winter like that.
The Shifter in More Detail
Take a look at this picture.
Transmission Bits. Note how
the fork on the left has smooshed engagement dogs (the things near the tips of
the tines). Note how the fork on the right is a different part. The one on the
right is the REDESIGNED second gear shift fork. Note how it is polished. That
is because it was hardened. In fact, when you turn them both over, you can see
in this other picture
Rockwell how the shift fork on the right has two tiny dimples. These are
caused by Rockwell testing. In fact, on this fork, it was tested not once but
BMW is going to tell you that there is no "class issue" with the transmission parts. That is horseshit. Why would they redesign the part if it wasn't an issue. My '96 in popped out of second gear. My '98 got so bad that I opened it up to replace the shift fork, and the detent roller, too. That is the other part in the first picture. The "wheel" is mounted to the arm with a rivet. Mine had about +/- 15 degrees of PLAY in the wheel due to a loose rivet. This can't have helped the shift selector drum stay in position. A loose detent exacerbated the problem with the smeared shift fork to the point where even holding the lever up with my foot wouldn't keep the transmission in second gear.
This is an F650, with a Japanese-looking, Italian
five speed gear box. There is a fork for 1/3 one for 4/5 and one for 2nd. I
replaced my 2nd gear fork in January cuz it was popping out of second. The new
part is VERY improved, including TWO Rockwell tests on the SERIOUSLY polished
surfaces. (I have pictures if you care.) I also replaced the detent pawl
because the old one had a loose rivet that allowed the "wheel" to wiggle about
+/- 15 degrees or so. I figured between the worn detent and the f'd fork, the
gear had enough slop to pop. It was FIXED.
OK, so now I know how it works. There is NFW that the drum "went around". Can't happen. The slots the heels of the forks ride in END. There are THREE forks dis-allowing the drum to over-rotate.
There is a piece of nylon (or summat) at the bottom of the drum on which the neutral switch rides. In that nylon is a bb-sized bronze contact that allows uh... CONTACT to light the light. HOW the fuck can it be in fourth gear and that thing make contact? OK, maybe something ELSE is making contact in there. But WHAT? And why doesn't it fall out when I shift gears or ride it like that for 65 miles?
I hypothesize: 4th and 5th are distinct gears selected by a sprog that rides between them. The sprog is supposed to be unconnected in neutral and gears 1-3, chunked into the 4th gear in 4th, chunked in to the fifth gear in fifth. The fork whose job it is to hold that sprog in the middle is always pushing the sprog into 4th.
Alternatively, one or the other gear is always driven, but the shaft is supposed to be disconnected in gears 1-3. Whatever sprog disconnects the shaft has failed to the engaged position.
Thus, in gears 1 through 3 (including neutral), the transmission is in two gears. If one them is neutral, voila! you're in fourth. Otherwise, the transmission locks trying to turn the wheel at two speeds.
The effect should be that the shifter goes:
Without a great deal of hand-waving or more personal acquaintance with the design of the transmission I can't explain why you didn't have two fourth gears (one with, and one without, the neutral light on).
My bike has 23k miles. 2nd gear shift fork was worn out. Rotax/Aprilia/BMW had identified this problem and upgraded the part. My bike popped out of second, just like my '96 did in France, only it gradually became unacceptable. I replaced that part and the detent-wheel lever (which had a loose rivet). I believe that a bit of swarf from the new shift fork got in my 4th gear, welding it to the shaft. I replaced the shaft and gear. NOW, before I rip into it again, I believe that one of these parts is defective. Either that, or else I did something wrong upon reassembly, which IS quite possible as I did the reassembly the day after I returned from Europe. What I am saying is that MILEAGE has nothing to do with it. And buying another motor with an old-style 2nd gear fork is NOT something I want to do. Flash #412
First of all, thanks for all the help on my previous posts (water pump). All's well with that now. But, shifting issues are driving me nuts. The problem's theme is that the bike seems to like being in neutral! Symptoms are: 1) Shifting into first fails 1/5 of the time, leaving the bike in neutral. Sometimes when stopped I have to try 3 or 4 times to get it into first. 2) Once in first, it will sometimes slip back into neutral under load. Happened 4 times in the past 2 days. 3) Same with second, although it is much less frequent. Pops into neutral once a week or so...maybe less. 4) Yesterday I apparently found a false neutral between 2nd and 3rd. After shifting, the bike wasn't engaged, and made an unpleasant sound. Not violent or two loud, but certainly not normal. Shifting again worked. For the record, I'm using fully synthetic oil (Mobile 1), and recently have been inside my clutch housing to replace the water pump impeller. Symptoms predate that repair, but do seem to be getting worse. Stu2
I had the same shifting problems with mine, I'd take the bike to the dealer and he'd tell me there's nothing wrong. He'd ride it all over the neighborhood without a problem but when I got on, it would pop out of first while I'm leaving his parking lot. I mentioned this on line with the IBMWR riders and got this advice. Don't shift so hard and when shifting into first keep your foot pressing down just a little longer. This guy's theory was that some bikes came with a return spring that was to strong and shifting hard and/or fast would help the spring pull the lever back out of first and into neutral. Also rotating the shift lever down would help. If you were like me, when it would pop out, I'd jam the lever real hard trying to get it back into first. Which just bounced back out again. I'm not sure we have the same problem as I haven't had a problem with second gear like you do. But It's something to try. Charlie #070. ('97)
I had a nice ride today in the hillside of the southern part of the Netherlands but....A few times I wasn't able to shift 2 or 3 gears down. The bike stayed in second or third gear. Even when I stopped, the gear didn't want to shift down. I paid special attention to the fact that I let the shift lever move upwards totally (my foot was off). Also repeatedly changing gears up and down didn't help. The questions are : - Did I do something wrong ? - Is there something wrong with my gearbox ? - At what mileage is should the wearable items in the gearbox be replaced ? My bike is a ´94 classic with 56000 km. I would be grateful for any advice from your guys, before going to the dealer. Jos ´94 NL.
Gear selector. I have a 97ST with 35k on the clock. I have recently been having problems selecting a gear above 2nd i.e. it will not change upwards from 2nd. This does not happen all the time and it does not seem to make a difference if the bike is cold or hot. The clutch feels and operates well on 1 and 2 so I don't believe it is a clutch problem, rather a bent selector. Unknown.
So I woke up this morning, had my cup of java and rode to work as I usually do. No less than 4 times I hit neutral when shifting from first to second. On one occasion the bike seemed to slip out of second back into neutral. I had the bike in on the weekend for an oil and filter change and had the mechanic adjust the clutch. Steve#780.
So the transmission on my 98F is jumping out of 2nd gear. The bike is out of warranty, but only has 19.2K mi on it. I would like to hear anyone's opinion on whether I should take this up with BMW NA, whether they think I'll be successful, and the steps to take (should I complain, take it in, then send bill, etc.). I'd also love to know who to contact at BMW NA. : c_d_mayo#643
The original shift forks were superseded by ones that are polished, harder, and tested. Bad news is you must drop the motor to split the cases to get to them. A shift fork costs about $35 or so. You might have a bad detent-wheel rivet, like I did, too. There are no special tools required to do the job, with the exception of the ~$22 alternator rotor puller. The job is long, but not difficult. I have the first draft on the "dropping the motor" FAQ. Flash#412
Problems shifting gears. My F 650 model '95 has only 25 000 km, I am the second owner. When the bike is cold all works very smoothly. After some 10 - 15 km it becomes impossible to shift higher than second gear. One can go down to neutral and first but it won't kick up to third or more. I have adjusted the clutch - no improvement - oil was changed at 19000 km. Fredo
You can forget the lessons learned. The thing about changing oil did not do the trick after all. Even though the shifting sounds much smoother when the bike is cold, today after some 30 km my troubles started again. First, second, then nothing ... the thing won't budge. I may have to go for Flash's recommendation, unless one of you guys have another suggestion to share? Fredo
Is there anyone out there with this problem. I have a 1998 F650 and in second gear it seems like the transmission isn't engaging. It seems like it slips when I get up to 5500 rpms. If I ride it normal it doesn't happen. It only happens in second gear. Please advise. gunnerg4
Bike lunges/jumps at speed! I have a 98F with
19,000 mi on it. I've been having problems with it running rich (carbon on the
plugs) since the 18,000 mi service (done by me). I put a tank of carb cleaner
in it thinking that it would remove the varnish on the carbs/jets/fuel valve
in hopes of that fixing the problem before I had to remove/clean/refurbish the
carbs. Now at about 5500 rpm the bike will cut power while the rpm's go sky
high. I would think that this is either: The carb is choked, which momentarily
cuts the engine and when it starts back up I've pulled in the clutch so it
revs sky high. Or: Totally unrelated to the carb problem, it's jumping out of
second gear (the only gear that it seems to do this in). It's only done this
since I put that stuff in the tank.
I pulled the oil out today in preparation for getting the coolant out an taking off the left side crankcase cover. I noted that the oil was really dark for only having 1100 mi in it. I thought that may be a by product of the carb cleaner/engine decarbonizer that I put in the tank. Part of me wants to just change the oil and say that the "gunk" that came of my engine from the carb cleaner made the clutch slip, but I know there must be more going one. There was fine metal shavings on the sump drain plug, but no more than usual. One BIG question. I saw in my Clymer manual that I should "apply Optimoly MP3 grease to the transmission shaft splines" when reinstalling the clutch. I have no idea what this is an whether it's different than the BMW grease I bought. Thanks all with help changing out my clutch (and while I was at it, seals and water pump/shaft). The problem still persists. For the original issue, please read below. My 98F with 19K mi acts like the clutch is slipping when accelerating hard in 2nd gear. When it happens, always in 2nd, the engine will rev very high like the clutch is momentarily slipping (really disengaged) and then when I cut back on the gas/pull in the clutch, it will ride normally. I replaced the clutch thinking that the issue was a slipping clutch. I replaced the discs, springs, etc. The clutch springs and discs were out of spec (at the minimum wear point). The problem is exactly the same. Here is the story on my bike:
1. I did the 18K service on time. Everything was fine and went as expected.
2. My valves were at LEX: .140 mm, REX: .115 mm, LIN: 115 mm, RIN: .127MM. Since they were in spec I decided to check them again at 21K.
3. At 19K mi I noticed that I was getting 31 mpg rather than the normal 43 mpg.
4. The bike was riding fine, other than the gas mileage on the “hole” in power at 4000 rpm.
5. I replaced the spark plug caps/coil wire per the poor gas mileage FAQ. One, the outer cap, was rated at 50K Ohm, but now both are rated at approx. 13 Ohm per the NGK caps I put on. The “hole” was gone. I pulled the plugs, they were covered in carbon. I gapped them, cleaned them and readjusted the carbs (1.4K idle, 3.5 turns out). The carbs seemed to be running rich.
6. The bike still got poor gas mileage after that job (the same 31 mpg) so I put a can of Yamaha Ring Free Fuel Additive in the tank per the instructions. After that I was getting the same poor mileage and this problem started.
7. That’s when I decided the clutch was the thing to look at next. When I removed the oil for this job, the oil was really black and sooty. It smelled different that it normally does, but I could place it.
8. The clutch area and the water pump area was very clean and looked brand new inside.
1. I could not get the specified clutch release measurement "A" = 68 - 75mm due to the new clutch cable (needs to stretch a bit).
2. I replaced my oil/filter with Spectro 4, SAE 20w/50 (meets API SF/SG), which is what I put in at 18K. I understand this is the same as the BMW oil recommended for our bikes.
3. Other than the “issue”, the only other complaint I have is the idle is a little rough (just a little) and at constant throttle around 4000 the bike kind of surges/stumbles. 98F, so carbed.
Possible Next Steps:
1. I’ve replaced my clutch, so unless I’m using the wrong oil which is causing it to slip, I don’t think it can be that again. I think I got the clutch back in right because the issue is exactly the same and the clutch pulls fine from standstill and other gears.
2. I don’t know if this issue is separate from my mileage issue. I thought the issue was my carbs at first, but when the bike cuts power to the rear wheel, it’s not like I’m running out of gas because the engine revs really hard.
3. My next thought was the bike was jumping out of gear. This would be consistent with the engine revving up, but I’m not sure why it would be “back in gear” when I roll off the throttle/pull in the clutch. What does the tranny coming out of gear feel like? I would assume that it would be like being in neutral again.
I ended up putting the bike in to a local mechanic. It was in fact a bent shifter fork per Flash. I had that and the carbs rebuilt while it was in. I had that and the carbs rebuilt while it was in. Total, ~$950. 19K on the bike with 2 scratches. One last email with the thought that this information may help other Inmates. I got the bike back today (riding in Chicago in January is not that bad...). The bike shifts better than it did when new, with all shifts coming quickly, quietly, and without any slop as before. In the 50 mi or so it took to get home, it never missed a shift and stayed in 2nd all the way up to 6K rpm. The bike never shifted great when new, but I assumed that was a BMW thing (as my dealer told me). I asked the tech from Bob's Motorcycle World to supply me with the parts he replaced, and it was a single 2nd gear shift fork, as Flash predicted. Chris. c_d_mayo#643
Greetings from Austria, I have a F650 Classic 1998 model. My problem is that since I bought the bike (new at BMW) the 2nd gear tends to slip into neutral when I accelerate fast or have a passenger on the back. Another strange thing is that when the bike is stationary and in 1st gear I need only to press the gear lever down and take my foot off fast and it jumps into neutral. Has anybody had any of these problems? Markb1610
Flash's Notes for when you DO the work:
I've had mine out three times, actually. Took out the duff detent pawl and put the cases back together. Went to the dealer. Sparky told me that Steve (the wrench) said to pay CLOSE attention to the 2nd gear selector. Went back to Harl's and got the crankcase and took it back to the dealer and ripped it open on the counter. Sure as shit the 2nd gear fork was screwball. We had only looked for BENT on the first look. Matt, the owner, said, "HEY! This is a PARTS counter, not a workbench!" I said, "Well, these are PARTS and I'm trying to figger out which ones to BUY replacements for!" Matt said, "Oh, well in that case... carry on." After that I put it back together and took it home, with the rest of the bike. When I got home, I decided that I really SHOULD have the fork OUT to compare with the new fork when it arrives. Re-re-split. Re-remove fork. Reassemble.
Just for fun, before you finish ordering parts, inspect the upper/lower hardened faces on the other shift forks - now is the time to replace them if you are ever going to, ESPECIALLY if you replace the drum. On mine it was just the pawl (and selector fork). The drum is about 99.44% fine.
The one exception is a SLIGHT amount of wear in the "hump" that gets you from neutral to second gear. The wear is more like slight polishing and looks to be something that will mate with the new part just fine. The drum is $70 and I just do not see enough wear to justify a new one. If it was $10, I would go for it. At about $20, I would maybe flip a coin. Color me cheap and about to be snake bit. But, there you have it. Part of my decision was Sparky (parts guy) saying Steve (wrench) said that ALL he put in a duff box was the 2nd gear fork. If the DEALER can't justify the expensive bit, how can I?
It's just that since this shifting problem has been mentioned before, it might be possible that Rotax has improved some of the parts responsible WITHOUT MENTIONING it to ANYBODY? Like they improved the water pump impeller, and the clutch release bearing (pinion and rack shaft), and the head studs? Just a thought. (This is why we need to beg/borrow/steal a copy of the dealer Technical Info/Service Bulletin CD.). (HsN).
So the other night spent two hours I stripping off the plastic, drained the fluids, removed the starter, removed the batter, unhooked a bunch of wires and hoses and what-not and removed the front frame cradle. Having already dropped the motor once, I knew that I really needed to make a jig to hold it. Last night I spent about a half hour drilling and sawing and screwing around in the garage. This morning, I was ready to GO.
Having learned several lessons from last time, I knew to loosen but not remove the drive sprocket nut as well as to pull both the clutch and alternator covers with the motor still in the frame. And loosed the nut on the end of the crank that holds the cam chain drive sprocket.
With the clutch and alternator out, the motor is easier to manoeuvre. It took me two hours to get this stuff done and the motor out. Another hour to pull the jug and split the cases. Not bad, five hours from quasi-rideable (in fourth gear only) to having the transmission in my hands.
The transmission parts all LOOKED just fine. Nothing obvious. The gears all slipped off the mainshaft as pretty as you please. The stuff that falls off the countershaft all fell off as it should. At least MOST of the stuff did.
Fourth gear is supposed to be held on by a circlip and a thrust washer. For some reason, it wasn't free on the shaft. I removed the circlip and thrust washer and the gear was still not free. I put the shaft in the vice and smacked it with a rubber hammer. Nope. A 4 pound metal hammer. Nope. I think I have found the problem.
At the BMW shop, Sparky the parts guy said that they DID have a press. He warned me that the press might damage the shaft and/or gear. I told him that if he broke the stuff, I'd have to buy new ones. But that if he got it off, I might not. What he had in his hand was no good like it was, so we had nothing to lose.
He came back with a sad smile. "Looks like you're gonna need new parts."
Why fourth gear doesn't have a bearing like first and second and third and fifth is the question we all must ask.
New countershaft... US$160. New fourth gear... US$52. And a buck and a half for a new circlip and thrust washer. Sparky checks and finds out that BMWNA is OUT of parts.
Now... about the failure. Some discussions with other inmates led to the germination of an idea of how the failure occurred. There was a bit of swarf similar in size and shape to a fine fingernail clipping stuck to the magnetic drain plug. If such a piece had found its way into the area between 4th and the shaft, it certainly could have initiated the "welding" that occurred. When confronted with any failure, the first question to ask is, "What is the LAST thing you did?" I replaced the shift pawl and second gear shift fork. The old one had these worn out faces and DING! The size and shape of the swarf on the drain plug pretty well matches what would have come off a NEW part, wearing in. It is only a theory, but it works for me... by 500 miles after installation of the shift fork, a couple of bits of swarf were shaved off and one found its way to the magnet and the other into a Bad Place.
No bushing, no bearing, no oil hole or grooves, NADA. The hardened gear runs on a hardened shaft, period the end. Nothing to alter or repair.