Thoughts on how to fix second gear

This is a collection of ideas for fixing second gear, a common problem on these bikes.

Ryan Hobart
When I had second gear problems, I purchased the aforementioned whole tranny preparing for a complete tear down of the engine and tranny from the bike and splitting the cases. Well as I got the engine on my garage floor and into the transmission (before I cracked it mind you) I noticed that circlip on the end of the counter-shaft was bowed out and no longer on the shaft. Here is where the gears in my mind began to work, so I checked my main and counter shaft gear for dings and mars(no excess wear), checked my shifting forks for excess play(not enough to worry about), and my shifting drum for dings and mars and excess play (nothing out of the ordinary). By the way this is all possible without splitting the cases, which will save you an extra gasket and a lot more hassle. So I had found no major problems with my tranny except for this bent circlip, hummm. So then I checked the tranny I had purchased and it didn’t have any shims or circlips that came with it so on to the manual. If you look at the breakdown of the tranny on the counter shaft (don’t know the page from the man I will check it and mail to the list tomorrow), on the outside end closest to then crankcase cover there is the circlip and shim(s). I don’t remember if the man showed one or two shims but that is not important because I went to my dealer and he has the parts on CDROM and could bring up a picture of the tranny on his computer screen and we could look at what was where. (If you have been on this list for a while or check the archives you will see this is where I raised questions about conflicting model years and serial numbers, turned out it was a mistake by the dealer.) But while we were looking at the tranny pic I had him show me a couple different models like the F, SF, D, and 2D, you get the pic. They are supposed to be the same but there were small differences, like (this I remember very well) the 2D had 2 shims on the end of the counter shaft, on on each side of the circlip and my model year, the F, only showed one shim, ?? did yammy get cheap or what?? So it made sense to me that two shims would hold my circlip in place and give it more strength than one so I ordered 2 shims and 1 circlip. Put them in the bike and off I went, 3,000 miles later no problem works great. My theory is that Yamaha got cheap and thought that it could drop the extra shim in the later model year, couple this with the fact that the bike had 25,000 miles on it when the second gear went out and that the kid that owned it before me (he was older than me but acted younger) told me that the bike wasn’t fast enough he needed more speed, he probably dropped the clutch at very high RPM’s in second for many miles.
Add it all together and you get second gear trying to leap off the shaft against this cur clip and single shim, eventually the circlip bent and second had just enough space to more out and the gears wouldn’t mess properly and you get the famous rattle that sounds like a chain whipping around inside the case (the sound that makes all triple owners quiver). Total cost for parts for my fix 5 or 6 bucks for each shim and 7 or 8 for the circlip (OEM Yamaha parts). I did all the labor myself with help from the manual, I am not experienced at motorcycle repair but I am good at following the instructions in the manual and have a good sense on how things come a part and go together and how they work together. I really enjoyed doing all the work myself, I would recommend it if you have the time space a patience it takes. So there is the long explanation of the shim situation as I have dealt with it.

Chris Sansom
Replace the second/fifth gear dog and cog on the lay-shaft from a XS650. The part numbers are the same, the 650 has less load from the chain drive. This modification requires no case splitting. If the gear selector drum is worn or the main shaft looks worn, the cases have to be split.

Allen L. Gray
1.) Remove the countershaft cover (4 bolts) located on the left side. Note: First remove the shifter lever and left side case cover.
2.) Remove circlip/washer(s) located on the tranny countershaft. Using a magnet or picks slide out 2nd gear(female). Typically “stuck” on the back of the gear is a shim that seats against a circlip affixed to the countershaft. Remove the shim.
3.) Reassemble by first placing the gear against the “inner circlip”. Next place the washer you removed on the front (outside) of the gear along with the other washers/shims. Finally, install the outside circlip. Remember that when all shims/washers are installed there should be no play in the gear. This will allow an additional .040" for the female gear to mate with the male gear.
If necessary, remove 2nd gear as stated above and have .040" machined from the inner face. This should cost no more than $30.00 from a machine shop. Pick-up another shim at your local junk yard and place on the outside of the gear. This combined with the above will allow .080" mesh. More than enough to “red-line” in 2nd with no worries!
I hope this finds itself to all the wonderful people who own triples!

The following was taken from the XS11 web site FAQ - provided by Mike Colicos - 3/22/96
One thing that has worked, that I’d like to share with the poorer XS1100 riders out there, is my Black and Decker 2nd gear fix. After removing the counter shaft with the motor still in the bike (as has been previously described), I tried the following: Using a grinding stone on a drill, I put a new face on the worn dogs on second, cutting back until all the smoothed part was gone. Then with a triangle file, putting pressure mostly at the base, back cut them a bit. Checking the mesh with 5th, I then made sure all 3 dogs contacted together, adjusting with the file. The 5th gear slots were sharpened up by taking a conical grinding bit, and running it a few times at the contact end, from the back relative to 2nd. I cleaned up the scares on the shift fork, hammered it straight, and put it back together. After putting it back together, I have about 1000 miles on it, during which I’ve hammered the living hell out of 2nd, to see if its going to fail, and as of yet, not a single skip.
This is an alternative procedure to total gear & shifting fork replacement. The “back cutting” procedure causes the gears to pull together when engaged rather than push apart, bending the fork and rounding off the gear dogs. Back cutting is a method used for years by progressional shops. Caution all the dogs must mesh evenly so no undue pressure is placed on any one gear dog.