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Thread: Primary - Gears? ChainClutch?

  1. #1
    Hi All.. New member here, first post.. I need some opinions to consider, please. I've searched and read through various threads, but can't seem to find a problem similar enough to mine. I'll try to keep it as simple and short as I can..

    I put my bike away for the winter last year, stored in a heated room in a buddy's warehouse, and it was running just fine. It's a 2007 XB9sx with about 10,000mi on it and I've owned it since 2009, never had any problems. The first day I took it out this season, I noticed (aside from a nasty oil leak) an unfamiliar sound: When I put the bike into gear, it immediately makes a "whirring, kinda harsh, sshhhhhhsshhh" sound in the primary. I decided to park it, as I had to wait for time to do rocker cover gaskets and fork seals anyway.

    So here I am, gaskets done, seals done, oil change and fresh gear oil.. Still making noise. Did some searching online and came to the conclusion that it must be the chain tension, so I made adjustments.. Tried it tight, tried it loose, and everything in between; still making the noise. So I figured maybe it's "just one of those Harley things", perhaps something that develops over time. But now I'm not so sure, as there's an even more alarming noise that I assume must be related:

    When I'm out on the road (especially once the bike has warmed up quite a bit) it sounds like someone would've thrown a handful of nuts and bolts (maybe some marbles too) into my primary and they're just getting chewed up in there. Seems like the more I ride and the hotter the bike gets, the more harsh the noise. It gets pretty nasty at 2500-3000 RPMs, particularly on decel. It's in every gear, at any speed, but doesn't necessarily seem to be 100% constant / consistent.

    Any thoughts on what the issue(s) might be??

  2. #2
    Senior Member lunaticfringe's Avatar
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    frankie: for starters i would NOT ride it any further until proper diagnosis is done by either you or someone familiar with buell/sportster drivelines. it could be anything from the front rotor attachment nut coming loose to rear input shaft/clutch pack nut coming loose. i would also lift the bike sufficiently so that rear wheel could be spun by hand. do that and see if you have a loud grinding type noise emanating from the front pulley area. if so it is the output shaft main bearing. out of curiousity did you find excessive amount of metal shavings on the primary drain plug when you did fluid change?

  3. #3
    Thanks for the reply Lunatic, I appreciate your input. I did not find excessive metal shavings, only a very, very small amount on the magnet. What I did find though, was some thick, gunky buildup on the clutch inspection cover. I attributed this to moisture having gotten into the case over the winter and I figured it'll probably be fine after changing the lube. I'll try to spin the wheel when I get home from work today and report back..

  4. #4
    It may also be worth mentioning that my clutch "feels different" this year.. It feels as though the friction zone is now way out at the end of the lever, whereas before it seemed to be more in the middle. It may be my imagination or foggy memory but, I'm pretty sure I'm letting the lever out quite a bit more now before I begin to pull off from a stop.

  5. #5
    lift the bike sufficiently so that rear wheel could be spun by hand. do that and see if you have a loud grinding type noise emanating from the front pulley area.
    I put it up on the rear stand and rotated the wheel as you suggested.. Nothing bad coming from the front pulley nor the primary, in neutral or 5th gear. I suppose it's time to pull the primary cover and inspect everything. What do you suggest are the first couple of things I should be looking for?

  6. #6
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    Since you have an 2007 you might look for the Small things first like Primary Chain AND the Tensioner, for wear or looseness. If you are sure nothing there is wrong next step!
    If you do pull the Primary (transmission) cover.
    Check the Front Rotor nut and behind it the bolts for the Stator that hold it to the Engine case. The Rotor nut is Left handed threads. I have seen the Rotors Magnets chip and so on.Then on to the Clutch basket and Inner bearings inside the Basket. Before you take the Parts completely out of the Primary.
    TRY THIS TEST You can remove the Chain (2 screws) inspection plate, Now in Neutral only at this time Start the Engine(only if the bike is level) on an Pitt Stand. Do not rev the bike or Tranny Fluid is going to go out of the inspection Covers. You can Also just REMOVE only the Primary Chain Inspection Plate and listen while IDLING, JUST let it Idle and listen and LOOK.
    No fingers inside those holes please. You can Gently put it in 1st Gear with only the Chain inspection plate Removed. I have done it with Both inspection covers off But I have tricks some don't so TAKE your TIME!. please Lock your front tire or Caliper from moving for safety!
    EASY on letting out on the Clutch LEVER making sure to be able to pull it in Quickly if needed when the noise starts.. You can if on a PROPER Stand Front Wheel Disc Locked or Tire Chocked and Bike level, Kinda Ride the Clutch Lever letting it out just a little, then pull it back in listen and look.
    DO NOT Rev the Engine let it idle for this test. The Primary Chain Tensioner the slack on the chain should only be 3/8 up and down play on a Dead cold engine .not running.. Please use Safety Glasses so as not to damage your eyes. There are Manuals at the top of the page to help you operation wise are pretty much the same for several years. Post up when can.*Jimi

  7. #7
    Thanks a lot for your input Jimi. I already drained the gear oil yesterday evening, in preparation for removing the cover for the first time. It's not always easy for me to find time to wrench (especially during the midweek of course) so I'm taking it in steps. I ordered some stuff from ASB last night (lube, gasket, shift shaft seal, clutch cable and o-ring). I'll try and make time tonight to pull the cover and I'll post whatever I come up with.. I kinda hope there's something obvious that just jumps right out at me! And I do have a service manual already, thankfully.

  8. #8
    Senior Member lunaticfringe's Avatar
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    frankie: let's pause here for a moment: according to your original post something seems to have gone awry while the bike was in a heated storage building. let's assume nobody knocked it over or rode it/abused it during that time. is that correct? if so, problem should be minor. THE FIRST THING you want to do is compare your new primary cover gasket to the OEM one you'll be removing. new one must be approx. same thickness or the shift lever will feel bulky and cause problems for you. after draining primary fluid remove the cover and cable and lay it aside. i'm betting you will find either a loose front rotor/pulley attachment nut or loose rear input shaft attachment nut. jimi above posted good info...BUT....the large nut on engine shaft is standard right hand thread....the large nut on rear trans shaft is left hand thread. both should be red-loctited and torqued to specs.

  9. #9
    Lunatic: Yes, I'm positive that nobody rode the bike or damaged it in any way while it was in storage.. And I pray that it's something minor because I just can't afford parts and crazy labor right now. At this point, I am becoming much less confident in my ability to diagnose / repair this myself and I'm afraid it might be time to truck it to the dealership :(

    I was able to remove the primary cover today and, upon a simple visual inspection, did not notice anything alarming..





    I'm afraid I don't have the skill set, nor the tools, to start playing with these parts.. I just read in the manual to "remove the clutch, clutch shell/hub, primary chain and engine sprocket as a unit". Correct me if I'm wrong but, this cannot be done without a sprocket locking link and some compressing / pulling tools, right? Do I need the locking link even to just check the torque on the engine sprocket nut?

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    The front Rotor Gear/Sprocket and rear of the Clutch basket need to be locked together by the proper tools. I made mine years ago from a flat piece of steel Made several of those and beveled them so it will stay in the correct position, between the gear teeth .
    I have made plenty of tools in the day to save a buck.
    Nice pictures by the way. While you have it down where it is at roll the rear wheel in Neutral, move it around see if there is a wobble noise or something of that sort. I was hoping to catch you before it was taken apart, for a few Tests to hopefully keep it out of the shop.
    The cheap tools for now and again work Say a place like Harbor Freight will do fine for now and again work. It is very rare the Front sprocket nut is loose in front of the Stator, it is a (Left handed thread).. Depends on how many owners etc, may have been working on it. If you are willing to buy a cheap Quart of Transmission Fluid. And some black RTV silicone sealant and just reuse the Transmission Gasket make sure it is clean and dry all around, put it back together only use the sealant very thin amount on the gasket .
    Then if you like do the Testing .
    The cheap fluid will not hurt the Tranny for testing OR a short ride(less than 200 miles. Since you are thinking about going to the dealer anyway just put it back together cause they will replace the necessary parts once figured out on your problem. At least will be put together and you won't waste your money from the new parts. Never tell the Dealer you worked on it !. hope the Dealer is Buell Friendly. .Make sure to get an Est., only & what is wrong before you do have them work on it. I also believe it is a simple fix. Good Luck.*Jimi



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