Honda RC51 Forum : RC51 Motorcycle Forums - Reply to Topic
Thread: Difficulty getting into 1st gear. Reply to Thread
Send Trackbacks to (Separate multiple URLs with spaces) :
Post Icons
You may choose an icon for your message from the following list:

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Honda RC51 Forum : RC51 Motorcycle Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


  Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

  Topic Review (Newest First)
12-27-2009 05:32 PM
rc51 Red Rider
won't shift into 1st

My take on this issue is a little different.
Clutch slave cylinder should be checked for leakage and ensure bleeding of any air after changing the clutch fluid system with fresh DOT 4. Using a reverse bleeder or mityvac will work fine. My clutch brake fluid system on my 05' Rc51 was in poor shape with old black fluid and also a low low level of DOT 4 when I got it. Changed fluid and bled and wow, back to Honda snick shifting again.

Upon further inspection, I found clutch hose pressed against fork and it built up pressure back to the master cyclinder and after the clutch lever was let out, a couple of seconds later the system pressure would overcome the obstruction with complete engagement.
Checked banjo bold for torque and complete sealing with new crushable washers and redid hose alignment and clutch system has been super ever since.
Since your bike is 7 years old, the master and slave cylinder plunger seals may be on the edge, and this aspect would be first indicated with poor performance when shifting into first.

Since you don't seem to wince at metal to metal contact in your box, I think the problem is hydraulic in nature.

rc51red rider
12-25-2009 02:08 PM
E-Loc540 Yeah, I was going to say a dragging clutch will give your bike hell shifting from a standstill.

Check your shifting linkages and make sure they are adjusted properly and are lubed up.
12-20-2009 01:57 PM
Iceman_JD My 2 cents, mine never shifted worth a damn when first purchased. Kind of sounds like some of the same problems I was having. Since I didn't buy it new and was the third owner (of the rc) at least . I went through and replaced fluids and most everything else that was replaceable. The shifting was helped by replacing the clutch plates and disks and changing to a synthetic oil. Now it seems to shift fine, where before it was a chore to ride. This may help, but then again this was my experience. I have to say it did give me the peace of mind knowing the clutch was back to factory new condition.

Just remember to soak the disks in oil and get the judder springs back in the right position if you try this.

Good luck and hope you get this problem sorted out.
12-18-2009 08:49 PM
SubSailor On the surface, it sounds like your gear shift mechanism (the spindle assy) may be having a problem rotating the shift drum fully to engage 1st gear. And the wheel on the stopper arm isn't sliding into the detent of the drum.

Again, it may entail pulling the clutch and right side cover, removing the clutch and clutch basket to be able to view and check the gearshift mechanism.
12-18-2009 05:38 PM
Honda-redrider So i take it no one else has had this problem or knows for sure what it could be or how to solve the problem? Another way i guess i could discribe it as if when you shift it into 1st gear it almost feels as if there is not enough travel. You can push it down all the way to the stop and it will not "click" into gear and when you release pressure it is still in neutral. If you give it a quick push i would say 50% of the time it will go into gear. The other 50% it stays in neutral. This was part of the reason i thought it could be a bent shift fork since that fraction of an inch out of spec could prevent it from moving the detent and hence moving the gears far enough. That is just my theory. thanks again for looking
12-15-2009 12:13 AM
Honda-redrider Crap! i forgot to mention that i do have the bike up on a rear stand as that was one of the things that i tested... When i spun the back wheel (engine off) by hand and shifted it that is what i was refering to as needing to use more pressure... it has never popped out of gear on me by the way. As far as shifting it on the stand the gear all shifted good and had a good positive click and feel to them up and down. When i got to 1st however that was different. It required more pressure on the shifter before it would engage and a couple of times while spining the rear wheel by hand and then shifting from neutral to 1st it did click as if it had engaged to 1st but the rear wheel would still spin freely. I donno what to think but i was really hoping it was a detent thing cuz i dont wanna have to get into the engine anymore than that... I donno what my problem is with Honda street bikes... My old CBR600 had tranny issues too. None of my other street bikes did and now my RC does, DAMN!
12-14-2009 10:25 PM
SubSailor About the most common reasons you get a bent shift fork is if the bike goes down on the left and catches the shift lever.
It can also happen if clutch-less shifts are made without an ignition cutout switch.
And to a lesser degree if trying to force an engagement of a gear.

Usually, if a fork is bent it doesn't completely engage the dogs on one side and that gear can pop into a false neutral under power.
On the side where the fork is bent over to, it causes heat buildup and wear on the groove the fork rides in. If the heat buildup is too great, it will require replacement of the gear and fork.
I've seen this on some bikes where the side of the fork and groove in the gear were blue from heat.

However it sounds like you're having problems with the shifting mechanism: ratchet, pawl, detent wheel, return spring, or shift drum as you're not getting a distinct "click" of the detent wheel dropping into the inset of the shift star on the drum when it rotates (or not rotating properly).

The way to check out the shifting mechanism is to remove the right side cover.
To get to the mechanism is to remove the clutch basket.
Then you can inspect the overall shape of the pieces.

If everything looks good and you suspect it's in the gearbox itself, then the only way to that is to pull the engine and split the cases. Not a minor job.

I would put the bike on a rear stand and test shift the bike (engine not running) to see how smoothly it shifts by hand. Maybe it will shed some light.
You may remove the right side cover and inspect for broken/missing pieces, but most are going to be behind the clutch basket.
12-14-2009 09:00 PM
Honda-redrider Thanks for the reply... I have been on motorcycles since i was about 7 and i'm 17 days away from 31 so i have had my share of street and dirt bikes and i raced 4 wheelers too so i'm no noob... I'm sure you can understand what i'm talking about when your on a bike and something just doesnt seem right. I can understand the whole neutral thing and who knows if it is a government mandated deal or not, who knows. My thing is it does not have a positive "click" into first. Now obviously when you roll the bike or let out on the clutch that will help but this is not same. Stomping on the shifter is the last thing that you want to do but there are times wether i am sitting at a light or down shifting for a corner or light when i have to use excess pressure on the shifter to get it to ingage into 1st gear. I have had the bike about a year and when i got it i didnt notice the problem. I am sure i would have noticed it though because like i said, it is not a "positive click" and requires excess pressure alot of the time to get it to go into 1st gear. I was wondering if anyone else has had this problem and how hard it is to get into the shift forks, drum, detent, etc... i was thinking detent or a bend shift fork. The bike has never been down and it has not been shifted hard so i dont know how the fork would have gotten bent but i suppose anything is possible. thanks again,
12-14-2009 07:54 PM
SubSailor As for not going into 1st at a light. This can happen anytime with any bike when the engagement dogs aren't lined up.
It's no big deal. Either gently rock the big forwards and backwards, or slightly ease out on the clutch for just enough drag to rotate the main-shaft a little bit.
It accomplishes the same thing, it rotates the gears to align the engagement dogs.
What you should NOT do is try and stomp the shift lever to try and engage the dogs.
That can potentially damage you shift forks or shift mechanism.

As for the 2nd thing. Many transmissions are designed to easily hit neutral when downshifting when stopping at a light. It may even be a government mandated thing for safety.
Now if it's getting worse, it may be a problem with the shift mechanism like the pawl and ratchet.
Sometimes the the detent wheel that rides over the detents in the shift drum can wear.
Then it doesn't follow the shift drum well. I've even heard of rare occurances where the detent wheel wore out and fell off.

Go the this site and it may add a bit of background info.
12-14-2009 09:46 AM
Difficulty getting into 1st gear.

Hi everyone! i am new to this sight and thought that i would ask trans questions here. I have an 02 RC51 and noticed that it is sometimes hard to get it into 1st gear. it is not all the time and is usually that time that i dont think about it but when i am trying to get my bike in 1st gear it is difficult sometimes. Most notably when i am sittin at a strop light and then put the bike in 1st it will not go. usually i will have to push the shifter down 4-5 times for it to go into 1st. i also notice it when i am riding the bike and down shift from second 2 1st. When i do this it stops in neutral. i will also have to repeatadly push down on the shifter till it will shift. the bad thing is it alsmost seams to get worst. any help is a apreciated! thanks,

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome