Motorcycle Stuck in Gear? Here’s What to do!


Getting your motorcycle stuck in gear is an issue that both new and old bikes experience. For old bikes, it is probably because of an unlubricated chain, clutch cables, and chain sprockets. For newer models, sometimes it is because the driver will try to shift down fast at an incoming red light. Some models have quirks when it comes to shifting gears. Sometimes you have to rev the motor or use a little bit of force on the shifter.

If you have an old motorcycle, it is likely to experience getting stuck in gear. Before taking apart the engine, you should check other components first. If this happens to you in the middle of a busy road, you may want to step aside and try to force it into shifting. Pull the clutch gently until you hear it catching or rev your motor before changing to force the shift. You can also try to rock the motorcycle back and forth until you can shift, or shift up, first before you can shift down. However, all of these are only temporary fixes so you can get home safely.

Once you get home safely, fixing the motorcycle is a matter of deciding to do it yourself and save money, or spend money to get it repaired. If you are experienced enough in fixing things, you can probably fix your shifting problem easily, depending on what is causing it to happen. however, it is very fulfilling to learn how to fix things yourself.

Being stuck in gear is a vague term. There are many variations of being stuck in gear. Here are some scenarios that will help you decide what is wrong with your motorcycle:

  • SHIFTER IS HARD AS A ROCK

If your shifting pedal is stuck, you may have a problem with your gears and sprockets. Something may be stuck, or the teeth are wearing out.

  • SHIFTERS ARE WORKING, BUT GEARS ARE NOT SHIFTING

The cause of this might be because you have shifted down quickly. To fix a problem like this, you will need to release the clutch slowly or rev up to change gears.

  • CLUTCH LEVER IS HARD TO PULL

There might be something stuck in the cable that causes friction when you pull the clutch lever. This friction may have damaged the wires, and you may need a replacement. If you have replaced the clutch cables, and you are still stuck, check the sprockets.

ALWAYS REFER TO THE OWNER’s MANUAL

In times like these, your owner’s manual is your best friend. Any specification about your motorcycle should be written in the owner’s manual. If you do not have the hard copy, you can find one online for your specific model. I can’t remember how many times the owner’s manual saved me. Do not throw your manual away. Always keep it in a safe place, even the ones for your cars and other appliances.

COMMON CAUSES

One of the most common causes of old and new bikes is shifting rapidly. When you do not give your bike a chance to slow down before shifting, it confuses your bike and gets stuck into a particular gear. What you can do in this situation is just simply wait for a few minutes until you can shift back again. If there is nothing wrong with your mechanical components, this is a common quirk for most motorcycles. It is all about the timing. You can try to rev more, and slowly release the clutch until it pops. If it does not work, just try again until it does.

Sometimes, problems like getting stuck in gear are caused by the smallest issues, such as a loose screw. It is best to visually inspect your motorcycle, and make sure that there aren’t loose screws and such. But, be careful when doing this process. Make sure you do the research before messing around with any components.

Helpful tip: before modifying anything on your motorcycle, remember these two words; Owner’s Manual.

NO LUBRICATION IN YOUR CHAIN

A chain needs to be lubricated regularly to avoid drying up. If your bike has been sitting for a while, the lube must have dried. To lube your chain up, you will need chain lube or oil. By lubing your chain, you can avoid wear and tear and dryness.

  • How to clean the bike chain

Cleaning a bike chain is essential in keeping your bike chain in good shape to make it last longer. This job is not difficult, some people, due to lack of time, go to the shop to have this done. If you clean your chain frequently, typically when it is time to adjust the chain slack or more. If this is the reason your bike won’t shift gears, then you are in luck. It is effortless to do. 

To do this process successfully, you will need to identify what kind of chain you have on your bike. Different style chains have different care techniques. Two types are most commonly used in motorbikes, a plain chain, and a sealed chain.

  • Plain Chains

These types of chains are made up of two types of links. The Inner and outer rings that are connected by rivets are what make a plain chain.

  • Sealed Chains

Sealed chains are improved plain chains that use O-rings to keep the grease inside the pin and bushing cavity while retaining moisture, dirt, and gunk out of the chain.

            Procedure:

  • Inspect the chain and sprocket
  • Make sure you put pressure on the sides and see if it does not slop out on each side
  • You can do these processes without removing the chain, use the center stand so you can spin the wheels to move the chain and clean by sections
  • Look for the master link; it will visually look a little bit different
  • Make sure the master link is in good shape
  • Spray chain with cleaner
  • Use a chain brush to clean all the sides of the chain
  • Re-spray motorcycle chain
  • Dry off the chain
  • Lubricate the chain (make sure you choose the right kind)
  • If this issue is not the case, move on to the next.

CHAIN SLACK

The chain of your bike will usually get loose after reasonable use. You should readjust your chain slack back to normal every 500 miles or so. A loose chain can be the reason your bike is not shifting, so you should consider readjusting your chain to its specific position. Here are the steps for resetting your bike’s chain.

STEPS:

  • Refer to your bike owner’s manual and determine the right amount of slack
  • Shift the transmission into neutral; make sure the bike’s engine is turned off
  • Put the bike on its side stand or center stand
  • Locate the midway point of the chain
  • Adjust drive chain by loosening up the axle nut by a couple of turns
  • Most bikes will have different bolts you need to turn to adjust the chain slack, change them slowly to get the right amount of slack on each side of the swingarm
  • When you are finished with the adjustment, tighten the axle nut back to the correct torque

CHECKING THE SLACK

  • Once you think you’ve got it, put a rag or a screwdriver on the sprocket
  • Turn the wheel to pull the axle against adjusters
  • Tighten down the axle nut to the torque listed down in your owner’s manual
  • Pull the rag or screwdriver out of the sprocket
  • Tighten down the lock nut
  • Check the chain slack one more time to make sure it is in the right specification

Are you still stuck? Move onto the next.

CLUTCH CABLE

The chain should be adequately working if it is not hard to press when changing gears. If you have your clutch cable adjusted, it can help with shifting gears smoothly. Most bikes with hydraulic clutch must have leaking cylinders. If it is the case, you will need to replace the hydraulic system.

To replace a clutch cable, you will need essential tools, cable lube, and the replacement cable. To get started, here are the steps to replace your clutch cable:

  • Gain access to the routing of your clutch cable. You may have to remove a couple of components, such as flares and seats.
  • Remove the clutch cable from the lever and perch by bottoming out the adjuster screw.
  • Pull the cable out from the handlebar opening.
  • Remove the other end of the clutch cable out of the engine.
  • Remove the stator cover.
  • Simply release the cable from the lever.
  • Remove the clutch cable from your bike and take not of the clutch cable’s routing.
  • Lube up the new clutch cable with your clutch lube.
  • Replace the new cable with the same way you got it out.

REMINDER: Removing a clutch cable may be different for various motorcycles, follow the routing. You may have to unscrew a couple of lug nuts to remove the cable for other bikes. Make sure you do not lose any of the nuts and bolts.

CHAIN SPROCKETS

Your chain sprockets might need a replacement. Check to see if the teeth are fine, or if any loose screws need tightening. If your shifter is as hard as a rock, this means there might be something stuck in your shifting sprockets. It may not be lubricated or have damaged teeth. Either way, you will need to open the stator to check what is going on in that area.

SPINDLES

Another common cause of getting stuck in gear is because your spindles are not aligned correctly. Realigning your axles is an inexpensive repair, and you can do it by yourself if you have the tools, common sense, and basic mechanical knowledge. The materials you will need are replacement gaskets and some oil.

Procedure:

Step 1: open up the cover of your motorcycle engine

To remove the protection of your engine, you will need to pull out a couple of components, such as the footpeg, the subframe, and the radiator guards.

Step 2: Locate Spindle

Open up the right-hand cover of your motorcycle engine and locate spindle B. you will need to pull out this component to successfully realign it with spindle A.

Step 3: Remove the entire clutch basket

Take note of the order you pull out the components in because you will need to put everything back in a specific order.

Step 4: Realign the teeth of the spindles

This process will be complicated because there will be some components in the way of your vision. If you have a jack, lift your motorcycle up so you can sit down while doing this. If you do not have a jack, you will literally have to be on your belly to do this.

Step 5: Rebuild and Test

To test out if this process worked, you will need to rebuild the clutch and put back every component you pulled out.

This process will take a lot of time and meticulous work. You need to be very patient and careful because working with the engine can be very delicate.

STILL STUCK?

If you have tried every single one of these procedures and you are still stuck in gear, now is the time to seek professional help. I know it can be a pain to lose your bike for a couple of days, especially if it is your only means of transportation. But at this point, it might be the only way to fix it. However, most of these procedures have worked well in the past, so I think you’re good.

If you did some of these procedures and got fixed your bike, make sure you do a couple of test runs in your neighborhood. Do not go too far until you are 100% sure that everything is working perfectly. You don’t want to have technical difficulties when you are far from home or on a busy street. Towing a bike can hurt your wallet.

RELATED TOPICS

MASTER THE ART OF SHIFTING

If you are new to motorcycle riding, you are probably having a hard time shifting your gears correctly. It may be the cause of you being stuck in gear sometimes. I’m not saying you can’t drive. Everyone started not knowing before learning and mastering a skill. Here are a couple of tips for mastering the art of shifting gears.

The number one key to never stall when riding is to practice. An excellent place to practice is an empty parking lot or a driveway. I assume that you know the basics of operating a motorcycle, such as how to start the bike and the essential functions. To be sure, here are the things you need to keep in mind when you are beginning to learn how to ride:

  • Before starting up, always shift to neutral. If you start a motorcycle that is on a gear, the bike will run, and it probably might stall. If you have the experience, you can probably catch the bike with the brake or clutch.
  • Learn by using the clutch only. Before you start the bike, press on the clutch, and shift it to first gear. Without using the throttle, slowly release the clutch, and you will notice the bike moving.
  • Practice without the throttle first. And do the clutch method over and over until it becomes second nature to you. If you get this step, you will never stall again.
  • The throttle makes you go fast, but the clutch decides when to go. These two functions work hand in hand.
  • When you master the clutch, remember to release the throttle when shifting to the next gear.
  • Do the clutch practice on first gear over and over until you feel the clutch’s catch point.
  • Once you master the clutch, practice using the throttle to go a little bit faster, and you’ll be riding in no time.

WHAT BIKES ARE BEST TO LEARN ON?

If you want a more reliable motorcycle for your daily commute, you may want to consider getting a new bike. However, if you have a garage, I would suggest keeping your old bike as a project bike where you can learn to fix it. Nothing is more fulfilling than fixing broken things all by yourself.

Here are my top 3 picks for learning how to ride:

  • YAMAHA V STAR 250 CRUISER

(Price Starts At: $4,349)

This motorcycle is a compact bike that is suitable to learn on because of its lightweight. It is super easy to handle, which makes it an excellent choice for beginners. This bike has a classic look with chrome finishes on the engine and components. This bike does not only look fantastic.

  • HONDA CRF250L RALLY

(Price Starts At: $5,200)

If you want to learn on a bike that can ride on almost any terrain, the Honda CRF250L Rally is the bike for you. This bike is built to survive any terrain from deserts to your daily commute. It has excellent fuel economy with a long-travel suspension on the front and rear. If you are into dirt biking, this is an excellent choice for beginners. It is very affordable for a bike that can do it all.

  • KAWASAKI NINJA 300

(Price Starts At: $4,999)

The Kawasaki Ninja is one of the most popular bikes. It is deemed as the lightweight champion. This sportbike is not only affordable; it is also equipped with power and durability. It is effortless to maneuver, and with the F.C.C clutch option, you can learn how to shift your gears without stalling effortlessly without getting stuck!

For a complete list of the best bike for beginners, click here.

CONCLUSION

It can get so frustrating when your bike, especially your new bike experiences malfunctions like getting stuck in gear. Good thing we have the internet nowadays to guide us. Nowadays, people can talk about their experiences and share their thoughts. When I experienced getting stuck in gear, I read all these forums online, and all of them were very helpful. That is why I decided to share my experience with you guys. I hope that this article helped you fix your motorcycle shifting issues so you can go out and ride!

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