Question about 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

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80 harley flh acts like its stuck in neutral but

80 harley xlh acts like its stuck in neutral, I can hear gears shift, pulled primary case, clutch and chain look ok, was riding and felt like it popped into neutral, no noise, this one going to be major surgery? or should I just take out back and shoot it

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Have you checked the front final drive chain sprocket. These sprockets are quite often neglected since they are so difficult to get to. You must pull the inner prirmary to get to it. The old four speed transmission is a tough ****** and I don't recall ever seeing one fail unless it was run with no oil. Check your final drive chain. Shine a flashlight behind the inner primary and check the teeth on front sprocket.

Posted on Jul 05, 2010

Testimonial: "Thanks for the reply, I pulled the primary sproket, (book said to use wheel puller if necessary and it was) main shaft is splined but sprocket is not?"

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2007 Harley Sportster 1200 Custom RPM would rev up once doing about 70. Transmission felt as if not trying to go any faster. Not it does not engage in any gears. The shift lever moves up and down on all...


Sounds like the clutch is slipping. If you are seeing smoke come out of the overflow hose, your clutch is probably ruined by now. I've been messing with Harley's for over thirty years and I've never even heard of this. When is the last time you checked the oil level in the primary. I'd take the primary cover off and check the clutch. If it smells burned, it's probably damaged severely. It takes a special tool to disassemble the clutch assembly.

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Hard to shift from neutral to frist gear and back to neutral


Usually this is caused by either of two things. The first thing is that your clutch is dragging and needs to be adjusted. I'd tell you how to do that but you didn't tell me what year or model bike you're working on. The next thing is too much oil in the primary. If the oil level is too high, oil gets between the clutch disc when it's disengaged and acts like transmission fluid in a torque converter in an automatic transmission. It will put pressure on the clutch even though it is disengaged causing your transmission to shift past neutral every time you try to find it.

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Sounds like the shifter pawl is broken. This is common in Sportsters. You'll have to pull your primary drive to repair it.

Disconnect your battery, drain the primary, loosen the primary chain adjuster and remove the outer primary cover. Take the engine sprocket nut loose. Remove the snap ring in the clutch assemble and remove the throwout bearing. Remove the mainshaft nut that holds the clutch assembly on. This nut has LEFT HANDED threads. Lift the engine sprocket, primary chain, and the clutch assembly out of the primary case.

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You've got the right idea. You need to pull the primary cover and take a look at the shifter pawl. As long as all external shifter parts are moving as they should, the problem is probably in the shifting mechanism inside the primary. You may have to pull the clutch assembly off to get to it.

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It sounds like your shifter pawl is broken. It's trying to roll the shifter drum but it's not rolling it quite far enough for the drum to index to the next detent. It is rolling it far enough to put out the neutral indicator light. If this is the problem, a teardown of the transmission is required to repair this.

There is one other possibility. From the foot shift lever, follow the shifter rod back to the shift lever on the transmission. This is the shift lever that connects to the shifter pawl shaft. I"ve seen lots of them get worn to the point that they feel like they are going to fall off. When they get like that, they don't shift well. To repair this, you will have to pull the complete primary to get to it. If the splines on the shaft are worn badly enough, you're back to pulling down the transmission to replace the shifter pawl shaft.

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There are two possibilities. The first is the most probable. From the foot shift lever, follow the shifter rod back to the shift lever on the transmission. The shift levers get worn and no longer shift the transmission like they should. You'll have to remove the outer and inner primary to get to the lever to replace it. If the splines on shifter pawl shaft are worn out, you'll have to pull the transmission down to replace the shifiter pawl shaft.

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