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OK guys. Here's the deal. I've only been riding a year. My dad passed a year ago and left me his VTX 1800. He bought it brand new in '02. He only put 4200 miles on it in the 2 years he rode it before he lost his leg n couldn't ride anymore. Stayed garage kept until last year. I've put another 2k miles on it since I got it. Now it won't shift out of neutral. The pivot shifter is cleaned and greased. Looking for any suggestions as to the problem. I didn't think the clutch springs or friction plates would deteriorate that fast.
Sorry for the long post. Any help is appreciated.
 

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What does your clutch fluid look like? When was oil changed, and what kind? I’d be more prone to suspect the normal maintenance items like fluid swaps as opposed to clutch plates or basket bolts/ etc.
 

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Is the Neutral light ON???
Sometimes when engine killed it is difficult to get it back to Neutral.
Sometimes people get into a false Neutral.

Does the clutch have a good movement when operated??
When sitting on it, rock it back and forth while trying to go to a lower gear.
Pedal has some play, than you get to where it should move and release should have lever
move back to normal.
What model is it??? Info on the VIN sticker..

#5
#4
#3
#2
Neutral
#1

Toe shifter or heel shifter???
Use the Toe shifter part. Heel shifter abuse can bend/break things.
 
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With the engine off, pulling in the clutch, can you move the bike at all?

Regardless of the clutch status, with the engine off, and not pulling the clutch rocking the bike back and forth should allow you to change gears. If not there is something binding.

You will need to figure out what it is. If the shift foot lever moves freely, but the lever at the trans does not, you will need to find out why. Hopefully it is something external to the engine. Internally the lever connects to these internals ;


Sometimes the spring #8 can break, or come unhooked. This would then necessitate you manually return the shifter to it's middle position to re-index, before you can select the next gear. On very rate occasions we've seen bent shifter forks, #1, 2, 3, that will totally bind things up. These are very rare and generally involve a fair amount of abuse. It takes a fair bit of stomping to get those bent. Nothing in the transmission should ever need that much force when moving. Stationary, sometimes you can get stuck between gears and no amount of stomping will change that. Lightly releasing the clutch, just enough to spin the trans, just a bit, allows things to move into alignment. Not every rider experiences that, I had it happen occasionally.

Something internal would be worst case and least likely. Start with the easy stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It's a 2002 VTX 1800C . Clutch moves freely. Neutral light comes on. Then I squeeze the clutch , down shift into first, ease out the clutch while increasing throttle and the bike increases RPM's but never accelerates. Moving up in gears doesn't change results unfortunately...
 

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It's a 2002 VTX 1800C . Clutch moves freely. Neutral light comes on. Then I squeeze the clutch , down shift into first, ease out the clutch while increasing throttle and the bike increases RPM's but never accelerates. Moving up in gears doesn't change results unfortunately...
Goes into gear alright but does not move/accelerate.
Sounds like the clutch is slipping/ not engaging (locking up).
Bleed the clutch fluid. Weird things happen.

 
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What oil is in the crankcase? If it was changed to a non-specific oil, something not compatible for wet clutches, that could be making it slip, but are you sure it's moving from neutral into first? Sometimes they can be a little stubborn like that, even with a smooth synthetic JASO approved oil.
 
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It's a 2002 VTX 1800C . Clutch moves freely. Neutral light comes on. Then I squeeze the clutch , down shift into first, ease out the clutch while increasing throttle and the bike increases RPM's but never accelerates. Moving up in gears doesn't change results unfortunately...
You don’t feel any engagement at all? When you let out the clutch, you don’t feel friction at the point of engagement? If that’s the case, it’s hard to imagine that plates could have magically become totally slick and frictionless. In my mind, gotta be a question of travel.
 

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Okay, if the neutral light is coming on, and then going off when you drop into first, you are shifting out of neutral, so mechanically nothing is binding. That's good. Did this all happen suddenly, it something that got progressively worse. If it happened suddenly, then it's likely your clutch slave cylinder is stuck. Either that or your clutch stack "popped", that is all of the springs collapsed, or all of the bolts broke. I've never even hear of such a thing, not suddenly anyway. I have seen entire clutch baskets genade, not in a VTX, but there is one hell if a racket goes on when that happens. Most likely, it's the clutch slave cylinder. You'll likely need to take it apart, rebuild it, and then bleed the lines. Old brake fluid can cause every sort of malfunction. We've seen brakes bind up on rotors for the same reason. I bleed hydraulics every 2 years. If you go 4 or 5 years without a bleed, you're on borrowed time.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
OK. Thanks guys. I'll start with replacing the fluid and work my way up from there. It happened suddenly but I didn't hear it feel any extra banging or noise that would be considered a mechanical issue. She shifts but doesn't engage at all. There's absolutely no friction as I let out the clutch. I'm not sure what oil is in the crankcase but that'll be changed. What oil should I use?
 

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If you don't have a service manual yet, you're going to need one. You can download one from my Dropbox if you want.

On page 239, find the illustration with the push rod the clutch hand lever pushes in. Is it returning outwards as the clutch lever is released. Does the clutch lever feel at all different than it did before, does it feel harder or lighter, or sloppy, loose?

Page 235 illustrates rebuilding the master cylinder, page 240 the slave cylinder. The slave cylinder is under an engine cover. Follow the hydraulic line or the shift linkage. They both go under the same cover. Rebuilding these cylinders is not a really big job. Keep your work area clean, follow the instructions, mind the torque values is the best advice I can give you. Make sure you bleed the brakes as well. If your fluid is that old, your brakes are going to give you grief very soon, so you can stop any problems now.

Step by step instructions on bleeding the clutch system, once you get things refreshed, can be found here;

Bleeding brakes here;

Browse the site for many of the most common DIY Step by Step
There are many Step by Step posts here as well;

Most importantly. If you have questions, feel free to ask. There are many people here have done these jobs and can share a lot of information with you. Do it when you're not in a hurry. That way you won't be tempted to take shortcuts or miss steps.
 

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What oil should I use?
LOL. Such a loaded topic. Tons of good choices. As long as it is NOT energy-conserving and meets JASO standards, you are good. But the symptoms you describe are not related to oil, so I’d say hold off on that.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
OK. I do have a manual so I'll check it out and keep it close thru the process. It'll probably be worked on over the winter since riding season is pretty much done here in Pa. I appreciate the legwork of finding the page numbers for me. This forum is great 👍
 

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OK. Thanks guys. I'll start with replacing the fluid and work my way up from there. It happened suddenly but I didn't hear it feel any extra banging or noise that would be considered a mechanical issue. She shifts but doesn't engage at all. There's absolutely no friction as I let out the clutch. I'm not sure what oil is in the crankcase but that'll be changed. What oil should I use?
Any 10W40, as Dud mentioned, JASO-MA, engine oil will work. Any motorcycle oil (10W40) is recommended. Many here use Rotella T4 15W40 or Rotella T6 if you want synthetic. Both are JASO rated as wet clutch safe, and are generally a lot less expensive than motorcycle specific oil. I've used it, and my son uses it now, and zero issues. The T4 that is.

Nothing wrong with doing that while you're at it, but the problem is definitely in the clutch hydraulics IMO
 

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OK. I do have a manual so I'll check it out and keep it close thru the process. It'll probably be worked on over the winter since riding season is pretty much done here in Pa. I appreciate the legwork of finding the page numbers for me. This forum is great 👍
If you have a paper manual, it's all in section 10, starting page 10-6(y)
 
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Discussion Starter #17
That was going to be another project for the winter since I understand that you're supposed to change your oil every 2k miles. Might as well change that too
 

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That was going to be another project for the winter since I understand that you're supposed to change your oil every 2k miles. Might as well change that too
2K miles would be considered excessive by most here. The manual tells us every 8000mi. Because your oil is old as in years, I'd change it anyway, and every winter before putting it away. But 2000mi isn't required. Page 3-3 of your service manual.
 
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The neutral light comes on and I assume goes off when you activate the shift lever? Do you feel any resistance from the gearbox when upshifting or downshifting? There are no synchros in this box so it's usually clunky. Most importantly are you getting any movement of the speedo when in gear with engine running and letting out the clutch? With the bike "in gear", engine off, does the bike roll easily? My questions are meant to target the chain of components that gives your bike forward motion.
 
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