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Crappy gear box ?

37515 Views 143 Replies 62 Participants Last post by  fasteddiecopeman
Is it me or do these bikes shift like crap ? I have 200 miles on my 2012.
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This post is primarily for anyone stumbling across this thread.


Many parts of the Versys motor , including the complete Ninja motor can be swapped , we have an inmate here that can verify that-in fact people from all over the world come here and to AdvRider for his help.


So far there are 3 members that have installed a slipper clutch from a Ninja 650



So several things, any major purchase-$200 or more I research not only to find the best price but reliable sellers. I look at reviews all the time, sometimes the posts are from people that should have hired a professional to do the job, or asked for help..

I use credit cards for ALL my purchases. My credit card is not left on any site. Sure it takes 5 minutes or less on Amazon, but if the card isn't on the site, someone gets into my account, it is pretty hard to buy something using my credentials without the card number.
Speaking of Amazon, generally, I can buy identical products with free shipping from places like Fortnine and at a lower cost and no membership fee.


My 2015 Versys came from a dealer 100 KM south of me. My 2007 came from a dealer 20 KM north of me. Let me say, I will never buy anything from the north dealer. So what I suggest, look around, ask questions, when you find a reputable dealer that also has some highly trained mechanics, and deals fairly with you, hang onto that dealer and spread the word. My dealer is in Delhi Ontario.

So buying a used bike from a dealer, you can figure the guy trading it in lost $$$ and generally you could buy the same bike for less $$ privately. Ask questions, take it for a ride, possibly try a newer version., note any problems. Before you buy it, ask to have anything wrong with it, fixed. A valve shim check is between $400 and $600. You can do it yourself, total outlay for tools would be between $200 and $300. I have a list of tools in the valve shim post.
FYI , they aren't going to do anything unless it is a case that the battery has failed and they can't start it. So you will need to make a deposit, with a promise to pay a total amount. Make sure before you sign anything that the issue or issues are noted on the paper you are signing.
A expected time of completion should be also on the paper signed. Use a credit card if possible for the whole purchase, or at least the down payment, many credit cards have buyer protection. Also make sure there is at least a 30 day warranty.

In the years prior to 2020, there was a surplus of new bikes, which drove the resale value of used bikes way down. I purchased my 2015, off Kijiji , from my Delhi dealer for less than this @SVBLUE paid for his used one, including tax and $300 worth of extras, which included the Oxford heated grips and the BarkBusters.

Last and I am sure others will chime in here with more advice. Before you ride away, make sure the throttle cables are adjusted properly. Make sure the shifter is adjusted for your foot, from a mechanics standpoint it is easy, best to have it done right the first time. Same with the clutch, when cold, there is less oil between the clutch plates, when hot there is oil between the plates and the travel is less. The clutch should be adjusted when it is cold, and you need just a small amount of slack at the clutch lever. If you set it once hot, there is a very good chance of doing damage to the clutch plates on cold start up, having the plates slip. When in doubt, don't believe everything I say, look it up in the service manual, or ask someone more competent than me. I make mistakes all the time --and I learn by them- and that is why I post. Maybe my post will save you $$$ and some frustration.

Last-when I offer to do something, unless I tell you it is going to cost $$$ - it is free, I only ask that you pass it forward and help someone else, a thank you will suffice.
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I got me a new bike and started experiencing difficulties shifting up and down, so I decided to join this forum to see if it was just my luck or if other people were also experiencing....

...The important thing here is, to any new owner of a Versys that might stumble here, if you found this message, you are not imagining things, some Versys have real stiff gear boxes , plenty of other riders have experienced difficulties shifting the Versys and have commented on the issue, and my best advice, have your bike checked....
... you posted a problem you were having, and we THOUGHT you were looking for advice on HOW TO FIX IT....

Seems to me that is NOT what you were trying for, as ALMOST every suggestion you were given was NOT GOOD ENOUGH, but they all WERE good enough for those "inmates" who've TRIED to help YOU.

A problem on ANY Forum will get members to try to HELP. You could just say "thank you" and move on.
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Thank you for all the insight.

Unfortunately when it comes to vehicle repairs, we are all at a lost unless you enjoy and find pleasure on being the mechanic yourself.

When I moved into this area, we had a lot of dealers and local repair shops through out the area, but they have all disapeared. Ridenow motor sports have either acquired everything or forced the others to close their doors.

Ridenow even acquired the local Harley dealer, so if you want a new Harley, Triumph or Indian you have to deal with Ridenow. So unless you get lucky and find a gently used bike from a private owner, your only option to buy a slightly used bike is to go through Ridenow.

Ridenow is so bad, that now they refuse to change a tire on any bike that is 10 years or older. So if you have an older bike, they will sell you an over priced tire, but they won't install it.

The only mom pop local shop in town that survied I no longer recommed it, the father retired, and now the son is running the show, the whole vibe inside that shop has changed.

There was a time in my life when I couldn't afford anything good, so I had no choice but to deal with mechanics on a regular basics fixing the junk I used to owned, and I don't miss those days. I always felt once a vehicle goes into a shop, it never leaves, it always has to come back.

For some people wrenching is a pleasure, they love working on their bike more than they do like riding the dam things. That is not who I am, I prefer to spend my days riding and enjoying the outdoors.

For that reason, I rather delay my purchases, and save my money so that I can buy vehicles that are gently used and in good conditions to minimize my interactions with shops and their mechanics or me having to be wrenching all the time.

I buy bikes to enjoy they ride not to work on them, I don't need a part time job as a mechanic to my own bike.

So far I have been lucky, I have purchased bikes that have giving me many miles of trouble free service only needing regular basic maintenance, but that streak of good luck ended with the Versys and that is the why the situation is so frustrating.

I got my last bike the SV650 with only 5K miles, I rode it for two 2 years and I sold it with 20K miles because it was getting to that phase where it needed a valve adjustment per the manual schedule, but those valves were quieter then the Versys will never be. It also needed new tires, a chain and sprocket.

My experience with that bike was a dream for the 15k miles that I rode it. I never had to fix anything, all I ever did was filled the engine with Rotella diesel oil from walmart, super tech oil filter, clean and maintain the chain. I never had adjusted the clutch lever, break levers or shifter position, everything always felt on point, I got spoiled.

My only complaints about the SV650 which motivated me to sell it, was the small gas tank, only 130 miles before the fuel light come on. No luggage and no wind protection, so it was more of a in town hooligan bike, and I been dreaming on going back to an adventure bike like the Honda NC700X that I once owned and did plenty of long tours with no mechanical problems to speak of, similar experience to that of the SV650.

I watch the daily rider show on youtube by Zack from RevZilla, and based on his love of the Versys I started looking for a gently used Versys and I didn't have to look too hard, I found one pretty quickly.

The plan, or at least the hope, was to buy a like new condition adventure bike that was ready to ride, and required no immediate mayor repairs or mechanical interventions. Remember, my philosopy is to avoid dealing shops and their mechanics like a plague. I also, don't need a part time job as a mechanic wrenching on my bikes.

So I jumped on this gently used Versys with all the factory accessories, the matching keys luggages, the barkbusters hand guards for the cold days, beautiful color scheme, beautiful design lines, with a very confy seat, easy to read tach and giving the current market, I think I got a good deal for $7K on an gently used Versys. So, it looked like the perfect replacement for the aging SV650. The KLR for the trail rides and the Versys for the longer road trips.

Unfortunately Ridenow dealers does not allow for test ride, and sales are final. So you buying blindly.

I trailer the bike home, the sun was going down, temperatures were droping, but I took the bike for a short 15 min ride anyways. First thing I notice was how noisy this engine is when compared to the bike I just rode for 15K miles. But, I am okay with that, not every engine is quiet.

Maybe the L shape engine on the SV seems quiter because it hides one cylinder head under the seat and the other cylinder head points to the front tire down low, the Versys has two noisy heads pointing upwards into the fairing which bounce all that noise right into your face, so it is the nature of the beast, I wasn't complaining.

As soon as I took off I noticed the harsh shifting, but I paid no mind to that, I was still under the adrenaline of the new purchase and was just excited to have my new bike, so I continued on with my ride.

The next thing I noticed as soon as I got up to about 50 mph, was that the small windscreen although adjustable it is useless, it creates more problems than what it resolves. But I wasn't holding that against the Versys either because the Honda NC700X was the same way, those small windscreens creates a lot of wind buffering on the helmet. The SV had no wind protection, but it didn't have the wind buffering issues either.

I returned home, parked the bike and went to sleep because the next morning I was meeting a group of riders, we were going to a bike swap meet about 100 miles south of me. On our way down we mostly did country road where I didn't have to shift a lot. But coming up back north, we all went our separate ways and I went to visit a reastaurant that I like in that area.

That is when I got stuck in traffic, constantly shifting up and down for a good amount of travel. When I finally made it home, I was walking with a limp and when and I finally took my shoes off, my big toe was all red and paintful to the touch. What I would call a bruised toe.

That week my coworker came to work with a cold, coughing and all that, she is a single mother of two kids that are always getting sick at school, get her sick, and than she brings that stuff to work and get me sick.

By the end of the week I was also feeling like crap, I came home that Friday with chills and a fever, I had Covid and it was bad, it took me about 3 weeks to feel better. When I finally started feeling better, we went through strech of winter cold weather here in Florida and I still had a lingering cough, so I wasn't going to be out in the elements wrenching on the Versys in the cold and the rain.

I am now feeling much better and the weather has improved, but I don't want to waste the good weather riding days wrenching on a bike that shouldn't be having any issues to begin with. So, instead of wrenching on the Versys, I been riding and enjoying the KLR every chance I get because it is a joy to ride, and it has no shifting harsness.

Eventually I will get to the Versys, my friend who enjoys wrenching more than I do will be in town this coming week, I will ask him to help me grease up the foot peg thingy, I will give it an oil change and if that fixes the issue great, and if it doesn't am passing that problem to somebody else, just like it was passed on to me.

I already took all the photos to put of the bike forsale, the only reason I have not listed, is because I want to see if that foot peg correct the issue, I really like the bike otherwise, but if it doesn't, the bike is going up for sale ASAP.

Life is too short to be dealing with a stubborn gear box, cut your losses short, and move on.

From my past experiences, transmissions have their own personality and attitudes and not easily changed.

That is my take on the issue, and that should be of no offense to anyone.

Thanks for all the suggestions on how to aliviate the issue, and I really hope that an oil change and some grease on the foot peg would fix the harshness when shifting up and down, that is not an expensive repair and it is something that I can do myself, so I am keeping my finger crossed.

The issue here has been the arrogance of some die hard Versys owners.

This post is primarily for anyone stumbling across this thread.


Many parts of the Versys motor , including the complete Ninja motor can be swapped , we have an inmate here that can verify that-in fact people from all over the world come here and to AdvRider for his help.


So far there are 3 members that have installed a slipper clutch from a Ninja 650



So several things, any major purchase-$200 or more I research not only to find the best price but reliable sellers. I look at reviews all the time, sometimes the posts are from people that should have hired a professional to do the job, or asked for help..

I use credit cards for ALL my purchases. My credit card is not left on any site. Sure it takes 5 minutes or less on Amazon, but if the card isn't on the site, someone gets into my account, it is pretty hard to buy something using my credentials without the card number.
Speaking of Amazon, generally, I can buy identical products with free shipping from places like Fortnine and at a lower cost and no membership fee.


My 2015 Versys came from a dealer 100 KM south of me. My 2007 came from a dealer 20 KM north of me. Let me say, I will never buy anything from the north dealer. So what I suggest, look around, ask questions, when you find a reputable dealer that also has some highly trained mechanics, and deals fairly with you, hang onto that dealer and spread the word. My dealer is in Delhi Ontario.

So buying a used bike from a dealer, you can figure the guy trading it in lost $$$ and generally you could buy the same bike for less $$ privately. Ask questions, take it for a ride, possibly try a newer version., note any problems. Before you buy it, ask to have anything wrong with it, fixed. A valve shim check is between $400 and $600. You can do it yourself, total outlay for tools would be between $200 and $300. I have a list of tools in the valve shim post.
FYI , they aren't going to do anything unless it is a case that the battery has failed and they can't start it. So you will need to make a deposit, with a promise to pay a total amount. Make sure before you sign anything that the issue or issues are noted on the paper you are signing.
A expected time of completion should be also on the paper signed. Use a credit card if possible for the whole purchase, or at least the down payment, many credit cards have buyer protection. Also make sure there is at least a 30 day warranty.

In the years prior to 2020, there was a surplus of new bikes, which drove the resale value of used bikes way down. I purchased my 2015, off Kijiji , from my Delhi dealer for less than this @SVBLUE paid for his used one, including tax and $300 worth of extras, which included the Oxford heated grips and the BarkBusters.

Last and I am sure others will chime in here with more advice. Before you ride away, make sure the throttle cables are adjusted properly. Make sure the shifter is adjusted for your foot, from a mechanics standpoint it is easy, best to have it done right the first time. Same with the clutch, when cold, there is less oil between the clutch plates, when hot there is oil between the plates and the travel is less. The clutch should be adjusted when it is cold, and you need just a small amount of slack at the clutch lever. If you set it once hot, there is a very good chance of doing damage to the clutch plates on cold start up, having the plates slip. When in doubt, don't believe everything I say, look it up in the service manual, or ask someone more competent than me. I make mistakes all the time --and I learn by them- and that is why I post. Maybe my post will save you $$$ and some frustration.

Last-when I offer to do something, unless I tell you it is going to cost $$$ - it is free, I only ask that you pass it forward and help someone else, a thank you will suffice.
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It'll get better after break-in then even better when you switch to synthetic oil...

I have to call bullcrap when I read it. Your comment is bullcrap.

Bought the 2021 Versus 650. Love everything about the bike EXCEPT the shifter! I made mention to the dealership on day one that it was hard to downshift and constantly going into first gear and not neutral.

ON THE WEBSITE THEY EVEN HIGHLIGHT THE FACT THAT THE BIKE HAS A POSITIVE NEUTRAL FINDER!! GO LOOK FOR YOURSELF!!

Not my first rodeo with Kawasaki. I traded in my 2020 Ninja 650 for this Versys and my Ninja was butter smooth. I told them I'd see if it would break in, but after adjusting my chain and clutch lever (they did this at the dealership) it was not any better. Even the mechanic, after test riding it post-adjustment, said that there's an issue.

IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT OIL YOU USE FOR GOD SAKE! GET OVER THE OIL AND OIL FILTER BULLCRAP ALREADY!

This is my only mode of transportation. I brought the bike in, and a few hours later I was called. They informed me that the shift mechanism is fine and that there is a transmission issue. There going to take out the transmission, inspect and replace anything out of spec. They have to remove the clutch basket to get to the tranny, so they'll be inspecting that as well.

Thank GOD it's a cassette style tranny. They don't have to take the engine off frame. I'm suspecting bad shift forks or spacers. I doubt it's any of the actual gears. Those are hard forged. The shift forks are not. There is undue friction happening somewhere. If this hard shifting is an issue it should be a RECALL. Kawasaki needs step up and own this.

I'm 61 years old. Riding since I was 18. I've bought numerous bikes from this dealerships. They take my whining seriously. Yours should have as well. Kudos out to my shop for standing behind the product and the customer.

There no way in hell that a slipper-assist clutch should be this rough. I told them that honestly, in my lifetime, this was the shittiest shift I've ever experienced in a motorcycle. And I've owned some real dogs!

I have full faith in my shop. I'm certain the issue will be resolved. If not, I'll claim under the lemon law here and they'll have to buy the bike back. I've got 4,000 miles on it but I'm not so attached to it that I won't look elsewhere.

I've heard online that Kawasaki is having transmission issues. This sounds like a big one of them.
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...IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT OIL YOU USE FOR GOD SAKE! GET OVER THE OIL AND OIL FILTER BULLCRAP ALREADY!
lordy, gotta love this stuff.
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I kinda wondered the same. Got about 200 miles on my new V and she shifts pretty hard, especially that first clunk down into 1st. If I don't keep my hand on the front brake I'm afraid she's going to lurch forward. I thought it was just mine, glad I'm not alone.
That will happen on pretty much any bike especially when cold. I bet if you pull the clutch and wait a few seconds it will drop right in gear with no lurching. Sometimes with cold thick oil the oil between plates hydrolically partially couples them til free of oil through centrifigal force. Try counting to 5 slowly after disengaging the clutch before you drop it into gear and see what happens.
OIL FILTER
gotta love this stuff
Okay, Im ready to forgo a discussion on oil but oil filter sounds like a logical fix for a stiff gearbox!
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Okay, Im ready to forgo a discussion on oil but oil filter sounds like a logical fix for a stiff gearbox!
But proper oiling can fix a stiff....ah gearbox...ah filtered gearbox...ah never mind
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Okay, Im ready to forgo a discussion on oil but oil filter sounds like a logical fix for a stiff gearbox!
good point, but no one understands what the heck you're saying unless presented in Canuck speak...

D'accord, je suis pr√™t √† renoncer √† une discussion sur l'huile, mais le filtre √† huile semble √™tre une solution logique pour une bo√ģte de vitesses rigide !

but that's only the first step, now we need to translate the whole darn thing into El Norte speak, that's all we use around here...

De acuerdo, estoy listo para renunciar a una discusión sobre el aceite, ¡pero el filtro de aceite suena como una solución lógica para una caja de cambios rígida!

see what i mean, even those with early onset light deprivation syndrome will get it. let's not be hasty, might not be the filter, that gearbox could be missing a handful of toofs. ever see someone missing a bunch of those trying to eat a tough steak, there's all kinds of weird noises and growling sounds, kinda like a bad gearbox. some helpful advice, if that steak eater tries to shift into 2nd, it's time to leave.

anyone having difficulties with El Norte speak should contact Father Eduardo Fast, i'm sure he'll recommend an immersion treatment, even if it didn't work for him...comprender?
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...anyone having difficulties with El Norte speak should contact Father Eduardo Fast, i'm sure he'll recommend an immersion treatment, even if it didn't work for him...comprender....
Quebecers DON'T make cognac, but the French DO, so a couple of stiff shots should lubricate your tongue enough to give it "traction"....

;)
Quebecers DON'T make cognac...
Invoquez l'administrateur, comme dirait Elon Musk, cette personne devrait être bannie, non pas pour avoir enfreint les règles du forum, mais pour se faire passer pour un comédien.
NOT too bad for a "You-All"...
gracias, pero el uso correcto de la palabra en el sur de El Norte es y'all.
Perhaps a silly question, but do the other variants of the 650 motor exhibit the same reported as clunky and hard shifting gearbox as our V650 ?

My 2022 April V 650 version has just under 6,000 Km on the odometer now, and the box is a bit freer, still clunks a bit up to 4th gear, probably higher but I don't hear or feel it.
I was surprised how better was the Z400 I test rode a while back. I would have thought they (the Z twins) had a Kawasaki common gearbox design. It was smooth !

My September new Z900 is pretty faultless. Perhaps the power pulses of the 4 cylinder motor are smoother on the gears than the twin motor.
When the V650 bike is in second gear going up a winding mountain grade with the minimum revs (the motor really chugging out those torque pulses), the bike is hard to change gear.
It just grunts away to itself at low rev's singing "I know I can, I know I can", with no suggestion of stalling. Might not be the best riding by me, but I love that side of the motor, just like a big single.

Rob.
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Quite a few of us 'long-timers' found that the shifting improved tremendously once we changed the oil to SYNTHETIC (Mobil1 15w-50 in my case).
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Quite a few of us 'long-timers' found that the shifting improved tremendously once we changed the oil to SYNTHETIC (Mobil1 15w-50 in my case).
Thanks Eddie, I read your cure earlier in this Thread.

BUT, has the original question I posed, get an answer ?
"Perhaps a silly question, but do the other variants of the 650 motor exhibit the same reported as clunky and hard shifting gearbox as our V650 ? "

I was thinking of buying a Z650RS in the near future, but if all of these 650's are blessed with the same motor and transmission, I'll look elsewhere.
And before anyone say try a demo, their like rocking horse poo.

Rob.
...if all of these 650's are blessed with the same transmission, I'll look elsewhere...
i reckon ya should start looking.

i'd have to think about how many of the ER6 bikes i've had my hands on, at least a dozen, and i still can't get riled about any transmission shifting issue. 1st gear clunk from neutral stop, yeah, but it doesn't hurt anything, and upshifts/downshifts through the gears are normal and smooth. it's been the same on every single bike, shifting exactly the same, no issues. if anyone could find fault with this cartridge style trans it would be me, i'm a freakin' gear shifting maniac on these bikes, i know how i want them to run, both RPM and gear. you might find someone to break this transmission, but it wouldn't be me, i tried and failed.

from where i stand, the ER6 bikes are blessed with the same transmission, a solid performer, and field tested world wide since 2006.

as a footnote, i've been running that often mentioned transmission taming oil for longer than Eduardo, and that makes it about 100 years in Canuck time, he's kinda old.
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transmission taming oil
I've been running full synthetic since after my first oil change 90,000K ago but cant say its better than dino oil for tranny smoothness. Once I realized the first gear clunk doesn't hurt anything its out of my mind. I find somedays my shifting is bang on and its usually coordinating the 2 hands and 1 foot with the RPMs. I run the bike higher in the revs now more like a sport bike when Im ramping up. Ive got a 44T rear sprocket so the ranges are a little taller which I like for shifting. Especially 1st gear. When I go out for a day ride I like working on gear shifting on my favourite routes that I know well. Feels good when it comes together.
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I've been running full synthetic since after my first oil change 90,000K ago but cant say its better than dino oil for tranny smoothness. Once I realized the first gear clunk doesn't any hurt anything its out of my mind. I find somedays my shifting is bang on and its usually coordinating the 2 hands and 1 foot with the RPMs. I run the bike higher in the revs now more like a sport bike when Im ramping up. Ive got a 44T rear sprocket so the ranges are a little taller which I like for shifting. Especially 1st gear. When I go out for a day ride I like working on gear shifting on my favourite routes that I know well. Feels good when it comes together.
I find mine a little clunky in town with lower RPM's, take it to 5K or better it shifts so smooth I can't feel it, kinda like an automatic tranny, I've always been a quick shifter. With a bike that has a pipe on it (mine doesn't) I sometimes like to quickly blip the throttle between shifts
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