I have a 1982 Suzuki SP250. The bike "doesn't want" to shift into neutral sometimes. I have to rock it back and forth and shift up and down the gears a for a while before it shifts. I have changed the gear oil (it was very dark and had a lot of metal flakes in it).

What could be the problem?

  • 1
    How severe is the problem? I have 2011 TU250X, but it uses practically the same engine (also on GN250, GZ250, early DR250 etc.). And while the gearbox works okay most of the time, it does need a bit of rocking sometimes to switch it to neutral if it doesn't click right away. Same thing with so-called false neutrals between other gears. The box does have a bit of character to it, as they say. So is it something like it, or is it really a big nuisance, and you have hard time shifting?
    – theUg
    Sep 1, 2014 at 19:09
  • @theUg it's as you describe. I find that if I end up in neutral, I can let off the clutch lever and then try again. Same for having a hard time finding neutral: let off the clutch and try again. Sep 2, 2014 at 14:54
  • 1
    You don't even have to let go of the lever completely. I usually just release it some, and it switches with gentle rocking. It's easier with engine running, but even without it on usually works fine. I also tend to think that after I had switched to Shell Rotella T6 diesel synthetic oil it started to shift crisper (could be confirmation bias, however).
    – theUg
    Sep 2, 2014 at 18:11
  • I've switched to 50W-20 and it's either better or I have learned to manage it better (tough to say) Sep 2, 2014 at 19:24

3 Answers 3


There are a few possibilities, especially with the smaller Suzuki shift drums such as yours as well as the innate way in which constant mesh transmissions work.

  1. The detente at the end of the pawl lifter on the cam driven gear that the shifting shaft acts upon could be getting stuck as it's old and worn out. The pin costs $2.95 and is worth replacing. As well, the spring that provides force against the gear shifting cam could be worn is also only $2.95

  2. The clutch could be dragging just a bit making it difficult to shift into neutral. This is very common. Ensure your clutch is adjusted properly by taking up the slack and giving the lever about 2-3mm of play when the handlebars are turned all the way to the left and right which changes play in the cable.

  3. If the bike is turned off and it is difficult to get it into neutral, push the bike forward and backward which will rotate the secondary shaft in the transmission and allow the dogs and slots on the shafts to line up in order to get into or out of a gear.

  4. The cam on the shift drum could be worn rather than the pawl. Inspect the cam for a detente that the pawl has created where it might get stuck on the cam driven gear. There's a screenshot below so if the terms I used are alien you have a reference. As well, a link to the OEM parts site.

OEM Parts Explosion Diagrams

enter image description here

  • 1
    Now THIS is an answer! Sep 27, 2016 at 14:33
  • @ChrisMcCall Cheers, hope this helps you to resolve the issue. Sep 27, 2016 at 17:59

I haven't owned a bike that hasn't been awkward to get into neutral while stationary at some point, my Bandit was the worst for it. I found that it's usually easier to find neutral while the bike is still moving so I got into the habit of engaging neutral as I come to a stop rather than after I've stopped.


I have noticed that my bike came with a #90 main jet and seemed to be too lean, also when fully warmed up hard to engage neutral. I replaced with a #92 jet. Bike pulls harder and no longer gets "hot" and neutral engages. Bike is built to run at a certain temperature. When overheated the gearbox tolerances are incorrect and neutral engagement suffers.

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