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I am new to the forum, and just purchased a 2006 Vulcan 500. The other day while riding I had trouble getting into first gear at a stop sign. It would not down shift until I moved the bike forward. I also found when I got home from the same ride, I had trouble shifting into neutral. Has anyone else encountered issues with shifting gears?
 

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Two things it might of been. 1. the way the gears were lined up when you stopped. thus moving the bike moved the gears. 2. the clutch may need adjusting. As for neutral, again it may be a clutch adjustment or some times it can be tricky trying to shift half way.
 

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If the bike is stopped when you try to downshift, it is quite hard to get it into lower gears... If you're at a light and need to downshift, try letting the clutch out a little, then pulling it back in and try again... sometimes that will do it... I found that making sure I am down shifting while still rolling works best for me
I was told the reason that the bike won't down shift at a stop is that the trans is not synchronis trans... (The gears have to be moving to mesh) This is also the reason for the clunk when you shift into first gear at an idle...
 

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If the bike is stopped when you try to downshift, it is quite hard to get it into lower gears... If you're at a light and need to downshift, try letting the clutch out a little, then pulling it back in and try again... sometimes that will do it... I found that making sure I am down shifting while still rolling works best for me
I always try to downshift as I'm slowing down. I shift into first just before the bike comes to a complete stop. Some guys I ride with shift to neutral when stopped. I like to stay in first gear in case I have to move in a hurry.

I was told the reason that the bike won't down shift at a stop is that the trans is not synchronis trans... (The gears have to be moving to mesh) This is also the reason for the clunk when you shift into first gear at an idle...
Never thought about it before but that would explain why it does that.
 

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Red Rider, I have also found that starting to downshift below 16 mph (as per owners manual, I think that's where I read it) Makes the downshifts smoother than if I start at a higher speed... That is for stopping... not downshifting for a corner etc... I usually will wait until the cage behind me stops completely and then I'll shift into neutral... Otherwise, I leave it in gear, as you said, in case you have to beat it...
 

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Hey beanocook. I know this thread is a little older, but I'm wondering if you found a solution to your clutch issue. My 500 does the same thing... When coming to a stop I try to downshift and it won't go past neutral into first. So I end up stopping and having to start again in 2nd (sometimes 3rd) cause the bike won't downshift all the way. If I am able to get it to neutral, I'll release the clutch and things seem to be ok for a bit. And 70% of the time everything is fine, so I know it's not the clutch lever getting hung up or anything. Curious if any of you have any ideas. Thanks.


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Yes. I'll be coming down from any of the higher gears, and it seems to get stuck in 2nd, sometimes third. After repeated attempts to continue downshifting it'll sometimes eventually "catch" and do to neutral and then 1st. But that's a problem too because it should pass neutral when downshifting and go right to first.

I'll always rock the bike back and forth before I start it to let the clutch plate break free as I thought that might help. But it doesn't seem to....


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Yes. I'll be coming down from any of the higher gears, and it seems to get stuck in 2nd, sometimes third. After repeated attempts to continue downshifting it'll sometimes eventually "catch" and do to neutral and then 1st. But that's a problem too because it should pass neutral when downshifting and go right to first.

I'll always rock the bike back and forth before I start it to let the clutch plate break free as I thought that might help. But it doesn't seem to....


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Sorry to say, I dont' have my bike anymore. While I didn't get any work done on the bike, I don't remember encountering the problem much after posting this question. Sorry I couldn't be more help.
 

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Are you downshifting well before the engine gets down to idle or "lugging" rpms? I had trouble downshifting my '500 as a new rider on occasion until I broke the habit of downshifting late and / or slowly. Once I started putting a little pressure on the shifter right before pulling the clutch just enough to let it "snick" down a gear, the problem vanished forever. This makes sure the gears don't have time to spin down too much during the process. I also stopped shifting through all gears at the last minute and instead come down one gear at a time as I slow down: this keeps the RPMs matched better ensures the bike is in the the right gear if you need to accelerate. Are you sure you're releasing / pulling your foot up enough to let the shift mechanism fully reset? Finally, it was a revelation when I learned how a motorcycle transmission works - my knowledge of automotive transmissions was almost completely useless, the gear selection mechanisms are quite different and understanding a motorcycle transmission helped me understand why it acts the way it does.

Sorry if the above is obvious to you already.

Breaking the clutch loose when it's cold "solves" a different issue, namely that the plates stick together via surface tension of the cold oil. Does the shifting problem seem to happen more when the engine/oil is cold or hot?

If you're sure your technique is good, the clutch is fully disengaging and the oil isn't spent and you simply can't get it to go into gear by letting the clutch out a bit or rolling it, you might have a bent shifter fork (internal to the transmission).
 

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Hey thanks Phreon for the input. This issue happens mostly when the bike is warming up. Maybe for the first 15 minutes or so. After it's had its little hissy fit for a while, the it usually shifts normally.

I'm pretty conscious about keeping my rpms matched when downshifting, and I've tried holding the clutch in different spots when downshifting as well. Doesn't seem to make a difference.

Does the type of oil that the bike is running matter? Right now it's a synthetic blend. But before I changed the oil last summer, standard motorcycle oil was used the the issue was still there. And the bike didn't have this issue for the first couple years I had it, but the issue has been around the last couple years now (I've had the bike for 4 years or so).

I'm pretty positive it's not a technique thing on my part, because I've never had the problem on any other bike I've ridden, and after my bike warms up, it seems to mostly go away.

Interesting huh?



Are you downshifting well before the engine gets down to idle or "lugging" rpms? I had trouble downshifting my '500 as a new rider on occasion until I broke the habit of downshifting late and / or slowly. Once I started putting a little pressure on the shifter right before pulling the clutch just enough to let it "snick" down a gear, the problem vanished forever. This makes sure the gears don't have time to spin down too much during the process. I also stopped shifting through all gears at the last minute and instead come down one gear at a time as I slow down: this keeps the RPMs matched better ensures the bike is in the the right gear if you need to accelerate. Are you sure you're releasing / pulling your foot up enough to let the shift mechanism fully reset? Finally, it was a revelation when I learned how a motorcycle transmission works - my knowledge of automotive transmissions was almost completely useless, the gear selection mechanisms are quite different and understanding a motorcycle transmission helped me understand why it acts the way it does.

Sorry if the above is obvious to you already.

Breaking the clutch loose when it's cold "solves" a different issue, namely that the plates stick together via surface tension of the cold oil. Does the shifting problem seem to happen more when the engine/oil is cold or hot?

If you're sure your technique is good, the clutch is fully disengaging and the oil isn't spent and you simply can't get it to go into gear by letting the clutch out a bit or rolling it, you might have a bent shifter fork (internal to the transmission).




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So in talking with the local bike shop I go to (and trust), they are suggesting I get the clutch assembly replaced (around $200 total if they do it). Over the last couple years we've tried a couple different oils and adjusting the clutch cable and they say there is not much more to try. Thinking about going that route...


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So in talking with the local bike shop I go to (and trust), they are suggesting I get the clutch assembly replaced (around $200 total if they do it). Over the last couple years we've tried a couple different oils and adjusting the clutch cable and they say there is not much more to try. Thinking about going that route...


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How many miles do you have on your clutch? FWIW, I had your problem with just a few thousand on mine. If you get the rear wheel off the ground, does it spin when idling in neutral? If it does move, which isn't uncommon, can you easily stop it? (gym shoe against the tire, not fingers in the spokes!)
 

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My bike is an 04 and there are about 7000 miles on it. I don't have a lift, but I'll see what I can do to get the back tire up the shop was saying that it's possible for a little rust to form on the clutch plates (I think that's that part) if the bike sits. I don't ride it much in the winter so... It's possible.

Did you get your clutch replaced then?


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My bike is an 04 and there are about 7000 miles on it. I don't have a lift, but I'll see what I can do to get the back tire up the shop was saying that it's possible for a little rust to form on the clutch plates (I think that's that part) if the bike sits. I don't ride it much in the winter so... It's possible.

Did you get your clutch replaced then?


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Any rust on the plates should wear off the first few times you slip it.

Here's something to consider. The previous owners replaced the clutch plates on my bike (around 7k) because the vacuum petcock didn't close and fuel diluted the oil to such a degree that the friction plates swelled and were ruined. They had the petcock rebuilt, the carbs rebuilt and the clutch done. I got the bike and noticed it often smelled gassy and the oil was starting to as well. Gas was actually dripping from the petcock body as well. I had a shop do comprehensive maint on the bike since it was new to me and had the petcock outright replaced in the process. The Vulcan 500 is a great bike, but that vacuum petcock is widely regarded as crap made from pot metal. The valve body must be meticulously clean or it won't fully shut. I still don't trust it and have a secondary fuel valve I placed in the line that I shut off any time I'll leave it sit for more than an hour or so.

I'm not saying this has happened to your bike, but it's something to be aware of. I wouldn't expect the clutch to be worn or otherwise damaged with only 7000k miles on it without extraordinary abuse of some kind.
 
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