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916 Am I The Only One That Hates Neutral On These Things??

Discussion in '748 / 916 / 996 / 998' started by John Ralston, Mar 22, 2020.

  1. Well, the 996 has taken the place of the locked up 916 motor (transmission, won't shift) on my beloved Iron Mike, and thanks to the help from ya'll, it's doin' its Ducati thing, bellowing and hauling ass. The thing that's driving me crazy is that just like it's 916 forebear, it's an incredibly large pain in the ass to get into neutral. I dealt with the 916's neutral recalcitrance for the last seven years until the stoopid thing finally locked up to the point that even large vice grips could not dislodge it from second gear - thus the 996 swap while I take my time to disassemble the 916 and hopefully find a cure...
    In the meantime, is there anyone out there that has found anything to make this thing more amenable to getting into neutral? I remember when I first got the bike and was struggling with getting the beast in neutral, I found some website with some guy in Europe as I recall that advertised some kinda mod for the shift drum selector (I think) that was supposed to improve these bitches' ability to get to neutral, but having just gotten the bike and still intimidated by it's tech (I'd only worked on 60s Hondas up to that point), I never pulled the trigger. So the question to all you brothers and sisters - is there anything I can do to make this thing shift better so I'm not reduced to holding the damn clutch in through a long red light?!?
    Thanks for any pointers!

  2. On all older Duc/s I simply snick it into neutral when rolling to a stop. If you do it when stopped it's generally impossible, as you describe ...
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  3. I typically do my best to get it in neutral as I'm rolling, some times that works, but it's still a crapshoot. I've also found that I'm trying so hard to get it in neutral at that point I've almost rear ended the car in front of me, or tipped over as I try to the very last rolling mph. Part of the deal is that all my other bikes' neutral's are easy to get into, stopped or rolling, and I haven't ridden this thing for over 8 months so I'm not in the groove again yet. But still, is there anything out there to improve this?
  4. It’s simply a function of clutch drag.
    Stop the clutch dragging and finding neural will be easy peasy.
    Usual reason is air bubbles in the clutch hydraulic fluid.
    Just bleed it out, as you would for brakes.
    Another common reason is a poorly adjusted clutch lever. A couple of mm free play is essential but that’s all you need. Any more is robbing the clutch of movement.
    Don’t blame the bike. The problem is down to poor maintenance.
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  5. John, if your 916 is stuck in gear (usually 2nd) it is usually down to a worn or slightly out of calibration selector arm (see 1st picture) or a broken selector arm spring (see 1st picture LHS) and is very common on almost all modern Ducatis as most of them share the same selector arrangement. For the former problem, the selector fork intermittently wedges against the pins on the selector drum rather than sliding across the pins and rotating the drum. If the selector fork spring has broken it will also stick in gear as the arm does not return to its rest position either side of the selector drum drive pins and sits above them without engaging. Problem is, to disengage the seizure you have to take the LH case off, once that is off it is a matter of seconds to clear the seizure but still requires diagnosis of the route cause. There is a tool to align the fork correctly and it is not easy to align it correctly without the tool. Do not use excessive force on the gear lever as that will just make it worse. For the worn arm or broken selector spring it is however an easy repair. The picture shows a typical gear selector arm assembly, this is held in position with one main screw and a second that is used to hold/adjust its position. The gear lever fits on the splined shaft on the left and the extended oval cut-out on the pointed end of the arm ride over the selector drum drive pins. The spring to the right of the arm in the first picture is the one that breaks and costs less than £5 for a new one. 2nd picture shows the business end of the selector arm where it engages with the selector drum, that is where it will have locked up
    As far as your clutch drag problem goes you need to fully bleed the system and possibly service the master. I would recommend using a band on the lever overnight to engage the clutch for a period of hours to force dissolved air out of the fluid (technically resolving/condensing the air into bubbles) before you bleed it to fully remove the air from the system. Also try taking the plates out, check the clutch drum for notching and clean out the dust.

    selector.jpg IMG_0071 (2).JPG
    #5 Denzil the Ducati, Mar 22, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2020
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  6. I, of course, was referring to the point about Ducatis in general being reluctant to provide neutral.
    Good point about binding the brake lever ‘on’ for a few hours, Denzil. It does seem to work.
  7. OR, it works quite well if done before bleeding the system, in particular the back brake. Many do it as a temp fix, but as a precursor to bleeding it is more effective as it uses physics to clear air in solution within the fluid
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  8. Bleeding the clutch can help for sure. It’s basically down to clutch drag... an easy solution, if possible is to increase the span adjuster on the lever. The further the lever can travel, the more throw you’ll get at the pressure plate. Another common cause is the clutch pack is too wide. See a lot of this with non oem clutch packs. The clutch drum needs to be protruding by about 4mm past the last steel plate in the clutch pack, not much more, but more often than not, it’s much less.
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  9. Its all down to the clutch.If set up right,it gets neutral fine.Just check pack and adjustment.
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  10. Wow, lots of good stuff! Thank you all for the great info, I wasn't able to get to digging into any of them today, but I'm setting up the list.
    I think that ya'll are right, that the clutch release is most likely the situation with the 996. Between the probability that the clutch needs to have the fluid changed and bled (its been awhile) to the possibility that the rod is dragging (Thanks Borgo!) the solution is likely there. I have the lever adjusted to get more throw but it does feel that I'm not getting the pressure that I should. Anyway, all good stuff.
    As far as the 916 locked transmission Denzil, before pulling the motor and going the replacement route, I had the LH case removed and the first thing that I noticed was the selector fork spring was broken, so my immediate thought was "I've found the problem!". I looked for a spring here in the states in all the usual places, but no joy. Being a semi-resourceful guy, I wound and bent a duplicate myself, and installed it. Not sure of the tension relative to the original but it definitely held the fork up like it was supposed to. Having dome transmission work on several old Hondas (one of the jobs was installing a Nova racing transmission in one), I'm familiar with the importance (and the pain in the ass) of getting the fork aligned properly, and after several attempts, I thought I had it in the position that the manual called for, but who knows, I didn't have the referenced tool and this was my first time inside one of these things. What was disconcerting was that even attempting to rotate the selector cage by hand using a lever that I fabbed up, it was very difficult to get it from neutral to much past second gear. I was able to pull the plugs and get a little rotation on the gears to try and help the shift, but it was still very tight, and nothing was moving much.
    So I don't know if the homemade spring didn't do the trick, or if my alignment was off, but I figure that now that I have the bike back to life and rideable, I'll be able to spend some time digging into the guts of the thing and hopefully getting to know it better. In the meantime, any source info for the spring and the alignment tool would be of great help, that stuff is certainly harder to find over here.

    Many thanks folks!

  11. +1 for clutch drag either on the rod of from dirty fluid in the slave cylinder. Especially if it's on the old rubber lines, which will be more prone to stretch or bulge under load. I would invest in a new braided line, new fluid and really carefully bleed it first and see if it improves.
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  12. John, part number for the spring was 79910251A which was superseded with 79914821A and again by 79912961A. The spring is common to virtually all models from the 851 to the 1198 and is widely available and try to avoid NOS using the original part number. I think the proper tension and action of the spring is important to the correct positioning and reduced wear of the selector arm and if it breaks it can get tangled up in the flywheel. Quick search came up with this in Florida https://ducatiparts.bmwmcjax.com/p/...MI4pGxnKGw6AIVjsreCh3PZQDOEAEYASAAEgLzm_D_BwE at an rather nice $3.63. I suspect most Ducati spares suppliers will have them as they are often replaced

    For the alignment tool the OEM ref was 887131091 which was superseded by 8871333334, second hand Ducati one on ebay in Baltimore here
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/OEM-Ducati...577111?hash=item3fc38a8e17:g:7TwAAOSwFjhc6scw at $39.99, the newer version new here https://www.ducatiomaha.com/products/887133334?_pos=1&_sid=0160c7d47&_ss=r at an eyewatering $114. There are pattern tools available such as the Laser tool 7274 https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Laser-7274-Gear-Selector-Tool-For-Ducati/143041858672?_trkparms=aid=1110004&algo=SPLICE.COMP&ao=1&asc=20200220094952&meid=c8e8b6ad39ce45dc8b6aa8c9a2464da8&pid=100008&rk=3&rkt=12&sd=352909766467&itm=143041858672&pmt=1&noa=0&pg=2047675&algv=default&brand=Laser&_trksid=p2047675.c100008.m2219 or this alternative from Germany https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/JMP-Scha...256657&hash=item522b0faf43:g:vfEAAOSwvGteBkqD however there are videos on youtube that show how to set it without the tool. I have tried it and all I can say is the you tube methods can be hit or miss, in my case miss - twice, so I would recommend the tool to avoid having to drop coolant and oil and wasting an hour or so. It will lock up again if it is not right and you wont find out until you have put everything back together and started the engine up.

    We now have lots of time to kill in the UK due to COVID 19 lock down
    #12 Denzil the Ducati, Mar 23, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2020
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  13. So is this similar in principle to divers getting a ‘bend’??
  14. OR, it is indeed. Means when you do a full system flush it takes more of the air trapped in the system out
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  15. Well so much for how hard I looked! Thanks Denzil for the direction, especially since I was looking specifically for a 916 spring, and the sites that I looked at obviously did not
    refer me to the fact that it's essentially the same spring for most of these models. Stoopid!

    Thanks again for the info, I'm hoping that this will fix the 916 shifting!

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  16. Denzil I'm confused. If one puts pressure on an hydraulic system that contains dissolved air (as per earlier post), how does applying pressure help to remove that air? To my simple mind that pressure would try to keep the air 'in', not allow it 'out'. Surely a vacuum would be better?
  17. Brake and clutch bleed in next week for my 748 scheduled. Definitely going to put a band in the levers before.
    Bled up my project bikes brakes and clutch the other week and very happy with lever feel and action subsequently.
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  18. The systems can and often do contain some air that does not or is difficult to fully bleed out, especially the rear brakes. By compressing the fluid for a period of time the air in those bubbles goes into solution with the fluid. If you then immediately bleed it or flush it through with new fresh air free liquid it takes the air in solution with it. You get the same effect temporarily by leaving the brake under pressure overnight periodically to maintain the feel on the brake. As it is a hydraulic system, which is a system filled with ideally a 100% incompressible fluid, it will/should never have a vacuum in it (theoretically).
  19. Ah, I see the logic now - thanks. Compression to get entrained air into solution then flush that fluid out. Hmmm, I'll ponder that one.
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