'78 Special - Kickstart/Gear Question


XS650 Enthusiast
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Good morning! Been while since riding the XS, put it away last fall running after I had what I thought was a float issue. Turns out, had a bad petcock which drained my gas tank into the case. This spring got all new fresh oils, replaced petcocks, etc. Have had the bike running, just not out for a ride.

My issue is, went to take the bike for ride this morning, when kick starting it, there was nothing there. The kick start lever just rotated. Thought it was weird, hit the starter button and the bike fired up and idled. Then I got ready for the ride, pulled clutch and put the bike in gear and it didn't want to go at all, engine rev some and didn't feel like it was in gear. So stopped it, jumped on another and here I am at work asking the question. Is there two separate issues, something specific to the kick start lever and then clutch adjustment that is out? Or are these both related (more serious gear box issue)?

Sounds like your clutch is disengaged.

Sometimes for laughs, mostly, I'll pull the clutch lever in and then kick the motor over. If the bike has been sitting for a while the clutch plates will be stuck a bit and there will be a bit of resistance to the kicker until they're freed up, usually a couple kicks free them to where there's no resistance like you're describing.

Having had you're plates setting in a gas/ oil mix for who knows how long may have created an issue.
I believe I'd be looking into the clutch adjustment for starters.

Not being able to put it in gear could be as simple as not turning the rear tire as your trying. These go into gear better when the rear tire is moving- not static.

Tags: what oil was used, has the clutch cable been lubed, gremlins
thinking of issues from a "set up" a rusty clutch cable could be the root cause of both issues (they are as NJ sez, the same issue) a slipping clutch, the kickstarter drive goes through the clutch pack..
PS I've had that happen.
Tags: what oil was used, has the clutch cable been lubed, gremlins
Pennzoil 20/50, yes lubed cable this spring.

after getting home, pulled clutch lever while kicking and noticed no difference. Kicking has little to no resistance.

Also put bike in gear, heard engagement, still able to turn wheel both forward and reverse with some resistance. It does keep rotating and won’t lock in place, this is with and without clutch lever pulled. This points more towards clutch pack?
It's possible to get the clutch cable attachment to the worm arm caught on the cable sleeve adding tension to the cable, I'd start looking under the LH cover for clues.
Pop the chrome cap on the LH cover, the adjuster bolt should be at least a little loose when the clutch lever isn't pulled.
I'll add that clutches need to be entered with the right tools and discipline if one has never been in there before.
Impact driver to get the Phillips heads out, a schematic of the components and some way of keeping it all from turning. Make it the last resort. It'd be a pisser if you dived in, buggered the bolt heads, lost or misaligned the washers, spacers, fibers and plates - only to find it was an adjustment at the side case.
Keep us updated.