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Discussion Starter #1
I am in the process of buying a 2004 VN 1600 Classic.
Did a test drive today as a sort of confirmation the bike was all OK and everything is except that shifting from 1st to 2nd gear goes only well at low speeds until 20 kmh (about 13 mph). Beyond that speed upshifting to 2nd becomes increasingly more difficult with rpm and with a grinding noise or impossible at all in the high rpm range. Is this normal and/or a typical issue for a 2004 VN 1600 or is it just this bike having this problem? And will fixing the synchromesh solve this or are there other potential cures? Bikes shifts pretty good to all other gears.

TIA
 

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Sounds like there is a problem,Not sure if the dreaded 2nd gear issue affects this model,someone will chime in
 

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Not normal. I would pass on it unless you love case splitting.
The problem will only get worse.

Lots out there that shift just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the responses. The shop who is offering this bike is most likely willing to do the case splitting and fixing as part of the deal. If they do is there good probability it can be fixed? Assuming the shop mechanics know their job of course.
 

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Assuming the shop mechanics know their job of course.
And that is a HUGE assumption. Their motivation will be to repair at the least cost, check nothing else, in order to maximize profit. Case splitting is a big deal and if not done correctly, you could be left holding the bag.

Sorry, but you asked.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the answer but the actual question was if there is a good probability it can be fixed? As opposed to no matter what is done the 2nd gear of a VN 1600 Classic always is troublesome so trying to fix it isn't worth the effort?

TIA
 

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Thanks for the answer but the actual question was if there is a good probability it can be fixed? As opposed to no matter what is done the 2nd gear of a VN 1600 Classic always is troublesome so trying to fix it isn't worth the effort?

TIA
1. It can be fixed.
2. If you currently owned the bike and needed the repair...worth it provided it is done correctly.
3. If you do not own it, then I would look for another. First to second gear issues can be a sign of abuse.
4. If you are in love with the bike, then nothing I can say will change your mind, but if it were me, I would look for one that shifts as it should. They are out there.
5. Shifting gives no problems on a 1600 if all is in order.
6. The choice is up to you.
7. My opinion only.
 

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so the 1600 DOES have tranny issues

Interesting to read, as I am considering buying a used low miles VN1600, lots of nice aftermarket parts, but no 2nd gear. I am a capable self taught mechanic, and if I have to pull the engine/split the cases i would do the work myself. But I need to know what extent of an ongoing issue this is for the VN1600.
Fix it once and done is fine, especially if I can do some internal mods/upgrades.
 

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This is based on my experience. There are thousands of 15 & 1600cc bikes out there that share the same 5spd transmission. Many if not most have thousands, if not 10s of thousands of trouble free miles on them. I have repaired several of the 1500 transmissions & only 1 of the 1600 transmissions. What I have found that has been consistent with all of those repairs, is rider abuse. I will never understand why people buy a big heavy cruiser bike and think it's a café racer.
When driven as intended, and with regular maintenance, these bikes will typically last a long time.

As for purchasing and repairing the afore mentioned bike, if it can be purchased reasonably, and you have the mechanical skills and time to make the repairs, I would suggest going for it.

I just two weeks ago purchased an '04 Nomad that had a bad bevel gear unit. Got the bike at a fair price, fixed it in a few days and am now considering keeping it for a while.

 

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So how hard is it to repair anything in the tranny? As I understand, the engine must come out of the frame and the cases must be split correct? I can do that. Once in the tranny I can check for any other damage. Once the cases are split I assume it is a typical motorcycle tranny with multiple gearsets on shared shafts and the shift forks/shifting dogs move the dogs into place for each shift.

Were there any design upgrades in the tranny from the 2003 VN1600 going up to later models? I can do some research on BikeBandit to compare part numbers in the tranny.
 

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Once the transmission (two shafts), have been removed, it is a pretty straight forward assembly. I am not aware of any upgrade or changes to these transmissions thru the years. There are quite a few areas that need to be inspected as you go along, beginning with the shift linkage, gear selector, drum, forks, sliders, and gears themselves. I have seen missing teeth on gears, bent linkage, selector slipping on shaft, as well as worn forks. So you have to check each item closely to find the fault.

Before you begin engine removal, inspect the shifting linkage under the floorboard to insure there are no bent rods or the selector slipping on the shaft.

If you have questions along the way, just ask.
 

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Well, I did it, bought the 03 VN1600, shown in the pics, $1250, 29,000 miles. But I'll have to fix the tranny. Maybe I'll get dumb lucky and find out its a messed up shift linkage. I see the bike for the 1st time in a few weeks when I get to the dealer just SW of Minneapolis. The bike just has too many aftermarket goodies, and I am itching for a project bike.
 

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Atta boy!! No different than me tearing down a Honda V65 motor for a winter project. Rebuilt that thing in the dirt basement of our old hovel. New rings, Shadbolt cams, hand lapped valve job - the whole works. That thing ran like a scalded ape. You can do it! Just keep this thread alive with pics and details of your work in progress.

Cheers!

Mike
 

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I got to inspect the bike I have put money down on, even though it does not shift into 2nd (told to me by the shop owner). The shifter shaft into the case to me has way too much play/slop to be right. Perhaps in this case the issue is not in the cases but maybe in the external linkage system. I can actually move the shifter shaft around at the point it goes into the side case of the engine. Makes me think the effective motion range of the shift shaft is greatly reduced. Curious too there is no leakage around the shifter shaft.
 

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There is an oil seal around the shaft where it passes thru the cover. On the shaft that the pedals connect to is a shift lever that the shift rod connects to. It is welded to that shaft. Inspect it to make sure the weld has not broken and the lever is wobbling on the shaft.
 

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Now that I reviewed the parts involved with the shifter, and having handled it on the bike, I wonder if there is a pending total failure of the shift lever arm inside the LH side cover on the crankcase, shown in the attached view. If the arm inside the LH crankcase cover fails completely, I would have any shifting capability. As I plan to ride the bike 275 miles home from where I pick it up, I am now apprehensive to just go pick up the bike and ride it home.

My fear is that if the internal shift lever arm has not yet completely failed coming loose on the shifter shaft, that it may do so while I attempt to ride the bike home. If the internal arm separates from the shift shaft, I won't be able to shift to ant gear, up or down. I may have to change out the shift shaft on site at the salvage yard before I attempt to ride the bike home.
 

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Unless you just enjoy living on the edge, I would trailer the bike home, make the necessary repairs and then enjoy riding it.
 

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I cannot see the shift mechanism giving problems with the 1-2 shift only, when the gears/shift fork are more often the common issue.
 

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Yeah, I may have to play it safe and trailer the bike home. If I were to overnight a few nights at the shop area and try to fix it there before riding home I'd spend more money than if I just drove my pickup over there with the trailer.

There are three shift forks in the tranny, so it is curious that only 2nd gear is affected, since typically each shift fork operates more than one set of dogs. 2nd gear is on the same shaft as 3rd gear so you'd think both 2nd and 3rd would be affected.

I have the Kawasaki factory service manual, and looking at the details on the shift linkage it is behind the LH side outer/inner cover set, but external to the crankcase. So the linkage is in an area that would be exposed to whatever conditions the bike is ridden through, such as rain, road slop, etc and would be subjected to rust and contaminants. But the only real access to the linkage is after the LH outer/inner covers are removed. One thing about this bike, for just under 30,000 miles the entire chassis is REALLY clean, nearly spotless, like someone regularly cleaned it with a pressure washer. My experience with uber-clean bikes is if a pressure washer is used the external pivot points can be really compromised by forcing water and detergent into areas it should not go.
 
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