Can't shift down (or up) anymore - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-23-2010, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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Can't shift down (or up) anymore

So I took my brand new 2009 Versys out for it's maiden voyage. Let it warm up for few minutes just idling, then went out on the road for the first time. Start of trip: 0 miles.

I was trying to follow the break-in instructions, so I didn't exceed 4k rpms, and was driving on streets with lights and stop signs with speed limits around 25-35mph. I had originally intended to go to a parking lot, but with the heat (90s), and it being my "first ride" I wanted hit the roads first.

It was all going great when I turned onto a road about 3/4 of the way through my circle back towards home when I tried to shift up (going about 35? maybe 40?) and... nothing. The shifter moved, but nothing happened. I thought it was kind of odd, and tried to shift down... nothing. I pulled over and no matter what I tried; engine on, engine off, whatever, it would not shift. At this point, the odometer had 7 miles on it.

I was pretty panicked since it was 930 at night and I didn't have a cell phone and... then I noticed the oil window was ... empty. Actually, it wasn't. I'm just a complete moron and panicked and thought it was empty because the bike was on it's sidestand. I didn't realize you have to put the bike upright to check the oil level. But, at the time, I totally panicked and added more trouble... I walked into a gas station and bought a quart of oil (the only oil they had) and put it in the engine. All I could think is that the engine was blown and I just ruined my brand new bike. But, it started right up and seemed fine except for the fact that I still couldn't shift.

Then I realized at no time was there any oil light while I had the engine running, and 1 quart shouldn't fill it from bone dry... so maybe it wasn't an oil problem, but I still couldn't shift, and I needed to get home. So I clutch-slipped to start (a couple lights and a couple stop-signs) and rode it another 3 miles to get home. I tried shifting the entire time I rode home... but still nothing, no up, no down. The shift lever moved, but I was practically throwing my weight on it and still nothing.

Ok, so I need to drain all the oil and replace with the correct amount of motorcycle oil. I'm hoping that throwing in car oil and having the oil be overful didn't do to much damage in 3 miles of 4k rpm or less. I certainly don't mind doing an oil and filter change tomorrow to correct my stupidity if I didn't cause too much damage by being dumb.

However, I'm still somewhat worried about the transmission/shifter. The clutch seems to work just fine... it completely disengages and I guess it seems to completely engage once I get up to a high enough speed that the engine won't lug. Not even sure what gear it's in, but I am doing 35, maybe 40 mph at 4k rpms.

I read over some threads here about the clutch lever not being adjusted right, or problems with people shifting because of the neutral finder, but... I'm a brand new rider, and don't have much mechanical experience. Although I was hoping to use this bike as an opportunity to develop my mechanical skills, I didn't expect something like this to happen at 7 miles.

Could it really be the clutch cable causing this if the clutch disengages completely when I pull it in all the way?

I tried slowly moving the bike, rocking it back and forth, and none of that helped at all. I also started it and tried the "slowly engage and then quickly disengage" trick some said helped their shifting problems but that didn't seem to help me. Maybe I was doing it wrong? Let clutch out slow until I feel it grab a bit, with steady pressure on the shifter... but nothing. Let it out slow until I feel it grab, then try a hard shift (up or down)... nothing. I don't know.

I sent an e-mail to the dealer I bought the bike from (two actually, since I didn't realize until I got home and read the manual that I misread the oil gauge), but I don't know how much help they'll be as they are 400 miles away.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 12:11 AM
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I haven't seen this problem before on here. This sounds like a transmission defect possibly. Something's not engaging inside there and I'm sure its not a clutch cable issue. When you pull in the clutch do you see the arm on the engine casing moving? If so, and It's brand new under warranty, I would get it to the dealer ASAP.

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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 12:13 AM
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check the pinch bolt on the shift shaft and make sure it's tight..that the linkage is actually moving the shift shaft...check the clutch free play, but since you can take off and stop it's probably not that bad...can you upshift without the clutch? can you manually put it in 2nd gear then start it up and take off like that? Sorry, I don't have enough info to help you more. Call your dealer asap and get service on the line. Do you have a tow policy with your insurance? Oh yea, keep the oil thing on the DL if you haven't already spilled the beans. you probably didn't hurt anything, but why provide any reason to be denied help on your brand new bike.
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 12:21 AM
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Sorry to hear you have such an outing on your first ride.
To star off did you check you clutch cable for sag fit since you are able to ride home.
Most properly the problem maybe due to your clutch cable, so check that out. Check also gear shift pedal adjuster and check with manual for right setting.

On overfilling of the oil, best to drain and have the filter change as well. You wouldn't have damage much but that's done and gone so don't worry on it.

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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 12:43 AM Thread Starter
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The arm that the clutch cable attaches to that is on the engine case moves freely and fast when I pull in the clutch lever on the handgrip. I don't think there are any issues with the cable binding. Although, I don't really understand how to tell if there is too much or too little play in the cable itself. I will look at the posts about that tomorrow (I'm exhausted now) and when there's light outside again. Though I can say the clutch seems to still work just fine in terms of engaging and disengaging. But then again I can't start without massively clutch-slipping since it's stuck in like 3rd or maybe 4th (?) gear and I can't really rev the engine since it's new, so I can't really tell if it's slipping when the level is completely out.

I can't shift up or down under any circumstances... whether I'm rolling with the engine off (clutch in, clutch out, tried both), or going 25 mph with the clutch in. However, if I get the bike up to speed so it's not lugging and doesn't have any slippage, it responds normally (engine brakes just fine, etc.). However, I didn't attempt any shifts without the clutch while the engine was running. I might be able to try that tomorrow after work.

The shift pedal to rod to shift lever seems to move freely and the pinch bolt that binds the shift lever over the shift rod is tight, and I can see the shift rod moving and not slipping at all when I engage the shift pedal.

Anyways, sounds like it's really bad news. I'll see what the dealer says tomorrow, but I can't get the bike to them for a while (it's a 15 hour round trip, and I can't take another day off work this week anyways), and I'm not sure how keen the local dealers are on doing warranty work on a bike with 10 miles on it that I didn't buy from them. I guess the joke is on me now!

I appreciate you guys throwing out some suggestions though. I need to get some sleep now.
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 12:54 AM
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I had a similar issue when I got my V new, when I was changing from 2nd to 3rd gear and back. I couldnt select 3rd, until I released pressure on the gear lever and then reapplied pressure, all with the clutch in.

It all loosened up pretty soon, but I did panic on my first ride when it happened.

Good luck getting it sorted though!
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 03:23 AM
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Dohrt,

Had some problems like Angusog before. Re-adjusted my foot shifter and no problems since.

Try draining your oil out to check if it is enough or if anything is amiss.
Pour it back in if it's alright.
I had read clutch plates getting stuck together as the reason for not being used for a long time or as for you, a brand new bike.


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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 03:24 AM
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Oh, yes, Is your idle rpm at 1300 rpms?

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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by dohrt View Post
The arm that the clutch cable attaches to that is on the engine case moves freely and

I appreciate you guys throwing out some suggestions though. I need to get some sleep now.
Looks like the gears are stuck. Get it over to the dealers and feel very sorry for you.
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 04:34 AM
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This problem has nothing to do with the clutch. Manual transmissions can be shifted without clutching. Oil has nothing to do with it either. Try to get your back wheel off the ground. If you don't have a swingarm stand you can lean the bike over onto its sidestand. It won't fall over, don't worry, just do this while standing on the left side of the bike. The back wheel will come off the ground. Have a friend hold the bike in that position or brace a piece of wood under the swingarm. Then you can rotate the wheel - not very much because it's still in gear. It sounds like one of the forks in the transmission is not returning to its original position. If you rotate the wheel back and forth it may spring back into place. Anyway, that's where I would start. Good luck. Remember, all mechanical problems can be solved.
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post #11 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 04:41 AM
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you do not have to take the bike back to the dealer you bought it from . You can take it to any Kawasaki dealer for warranty work.

Last edited by turn8a; 06-24-2010 at 05:19 AM.
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post #12 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 04:54 AM
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you do not have to take back to the dealer you bought the bike from you can take it to any Kawasaki dealer for warrenty work.
This should be true anywhere as any Kawasaki dealer will or should cover it, for goodness sake you have a new bike.
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post #13 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 05:04 AM
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This should be true anywhere as any Kawasaki dealer will or should cover it, for goodness sake you have a new bike.
And if he does take it in for warranty work I would not volunteer the info about adding a quart of oil to the bike .

Last edited by turn8a; 06-24-2010 at 05:19 AM.
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post #14 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 05:15 AM
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I found a Kawasaki dealer in your area.

http://www.wherethepoweris.com

I wouldn't mention the oil overfilling but would definitely give them a call.

Just curious, but why did you buy from a dealer so far away?

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post #15 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Mt. Versuvius View Post
This problem has nothing to do with the clutch. Manual transmissions can be shifted without clutching. Oil has nothing to do with it either. Try to get your back wheel off the ground. If you don't have a swingarm stand you can lean the bike over onto its sidestand. It won't fall over, don't worry, just do this while standing on the left side of the bike. The back wheel will come off the ground. Have a friend hold the bike in that position or brace a piece of wood under the swingarm. Then you can rotate the wheel - not very much because it's still in gear. It sounds like one of the forks in the transmission is not returning to its original position. If you rotate the wheel back and forth it may spring back into place. Anyway, that's where I would start. Good luck. Remember, all mechanical problems can be solved.
X2 on it not being a clutch, cable, or oil issue, unless the oil was empty. Is/was the check oil window completely covered after you put in the additional quart? Definitely something amiss in the transmission. If you’re not mechanically inclined I recommend that you get it to the dealer ASAP.
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post #16 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Mt. Versuvius View Post
This problem has nothing to do with the clutch. Manual transmissions can be shifted without clutching. Oil has nothing to do with it either. Try to get your back wheel off the ground. If you don't have a swingarm stand you can lean the bike over onto its sidestand. It won't fall over, don't worry, just do this while standing on the left side of the bike. The back wheel will come off the ground. Have a friend hold the bike in that position or brace a piece of wood under the swingarm. Then you can rotate the wheel - not very much because it's still in gear. It sounds like one of the forks in the transmission is not returning to its original position. If you rotate the wheel back and forth it may spring back into place. Anyway, that's where I would start. Good luck. Remember, all mechanical problems can be solved.
+1. That where I would start and if it doesn't work than call the dealer.
hope you solve your problem.
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post #17 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 07:56 AM
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drain down the oil to level -then take it to the dealer. Trying to fix it yourself may incline the dealer to say you were the problem....btw - it is brand new - call the dealer you bought it from and have them pick it up! Or at the very least - have the selling dealer arrange for it to be picked up by a local dealer - THEIR COST. Lastly, if they give you any Sh*t tell them you want a replacement - that will get their attention.


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post #18 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I definitely appreciate all the help from everyone.

I went to a dealer far away because it was 4800 out the door. I'm really, really bad at haggling, and the best price I found anywhere near my house was 5400 plus dealer fees (delivery, setup, documentation, etc, which the dealers always say is "non negotiable"). Plus, a lot of dealers didn't even have 2009 models in stock, and there was no way I could afford the 2010s, which are selling close to list otd, since I am definitely not a rich man.

I'm at work now, so can't check it, but last night, I tried rocking the bike back and forth while in gear and putting pressure on the shifter, but nothing. I didn't try lifting up the rear wheel, but I'll give that a try tonight.

Basically, yea, it sounds like I'm going to be taking it to a dealer to try my luck with warranty service... maybe the one mentioned above, since it looks to be about 6 miles from my house.

Thanks again everyone.
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post #19 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 11:56 AM
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Mine did that too!
'09, first ride of any length, 75 miles from home.
First couldn't get it to shift up, 3-4th, next light it was 2-3rd, next one 1-2nd. I pulled over.
Called the dealer, they said bring it in, no offer of help getting it there. when the bike had cooled for 15 minutes I tried rocking it against the front brake using the friction zone on the clutch while in first. Then took off planning to use side streets to get to a KTM dealer I remember being in the area- 1st, try it- 2nd, 3rd, 4th- lugging it, back to 3rd, Box works! Got home OK.
Called my mechanic the next day, he was a bit mystified, and since it wasn't still doing it it's hard to diagnose. I dumped the Oil, put in new, then had it to him a few days later for the break-in service.
It's been fine since (3K), just a little balky on multiple downshifts while braking, but a lot of bikes do that.
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post #20 of 42 (permalink) Old 06-24-2010, 12:48 PM
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Look the V is brand new and under warrenty. it's a no brainer take it to the dealer and get it fixe;. Then you can enjoy what we all have been talking about on here with your bike.
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