Question about Harley Davidson XL 1200 L Sporster Low Motorcycles

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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.

Now, you can get to the shifting mechanism and determine what the problem is.

Good luck

Posted on Aug 31, 2010

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  • wd4ity
    wd4ity Aug 31, 2010

    This one of the jobs that I do advise the purchase of a service manual. Either an official Harley-Davidson manual for your bike or a Clymer's #M429-3. The old saying is "a picture is worth a thousand words" applies in this case.


  • kfc59 Aug 31, 2010

    thnks so much !!!!!!!!! im working on it thought it might be that ,,

  • wd4ity
    wd4ity Aug 31, 2010

    I think that once you get the outer primary cover off, you can check and see if the shifter pawl is working as it should. The Sporty transmission is tough transmission but the shifting mechanism has always left something better to be desired. But, at least it's easier to fix on the newer models. you don't have to pull the entire transmission like you used to have to do. I strongly suggest the purchase of a service manual. There are some procedures you need to do that will be very difficult to describe via this forum. Thus the picture is worth a thousand words. Believe me when I tell you if you fix your bike using a manual you bought, the manual will have paid for itself a few times over with that one job. Compare the hourly labor charges these days. Yikes! If you need any help let me know.

    Forsyth, GA.



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Hi, Bigdog12319 and the usual suspects are:
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Some times when i change down from 3rd into 2nd i hit netraul and from 2nd into 1st i get netraul only happens when engine is hot. xl1200r 2006 model

The transmission "neutral" position is located between 2nd and 1st gear. You say you're also getting a "false neutral" between 3rd and 2nd. Since you say you're finding both, it leads me to suspect that you are not being aggressive enough when shifting the gears. The Sportster has the best shifting transmission of all the Harley motorcycles. Since it does shift so easily, riders sometimes "soft shift" the transmission and wind up missing gearshifts. This is the most likely problem, rider error.

Now, there is the possibility that the clutch is dragging but that usually effects the transmission when upshifting, not so much downshifting. With the engine off and switch on, put the transmission in gear, hold the clutch lever in, press the starter button. If the bike tries to move forward, you need to adjust the clutch.

Ride Safe

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Hi i was trying to do a burnout on my 2008 harley 1200 sporster and after my bike will not go in to gear it is like it is stuck in neutral. Thanks Tim

Well, the first thing to look for is a broken rear belt. If there's no belt to turn the rear wheel, the transmission will feel like it's in neutral regardless of the gear.

Also, pull the front pulley cover where the master cylinder is. Take a look at the front pulley, I've seen these strip the splines out of themselves under conditions like this.

If the rear belt and the pully is good, with the engine off, rock the bike backwards and forwards while attempting to shift the gears. Does the transmission shift? If you cannot feel it shift or attempt to shift, you may have a problem with the shifter pawl but usually this doesn't happen with doing a burn out.

If you cannot determine what the problem is this way, the only alternative is to pull the outer primary and keep on going until you find the problem.

Good luck

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Loud clang, no power, no go.

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