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Tech Corner

Technical Q and A for classic motorcycle maintenance and repair.


Norton Atlas Shifting Issues

Motorcycle Classics tech expert Keith Fellenstein

Editor’s note: If you’re having trouble with that old Suzuki, BSA or BMW, Keith Fellenstein is your guy. From motorcycle tuning tips to detailed motorcycle engine repair, he can draw from a wealth of experience to help guide you to success. Send questions to: Keith’s Garage, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an e-mail with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.

Shifting issues

Q: I own a Norton Atlas with a single carburetor and magneto ignition. Lately, when I shift from first gear to second, it goes into second and then as I open the throttle it jumps into neutral. When I press down on the shift lever again it will go into second gear. I should also mention that I am having some clutch issues. The lever pull is very hard and the gearbox is a bit loud when shifting gears. What should I check first? — Mike LeBlanc/Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

A: My first guess would be worn gear dogs causing your bike to jump out of second gear, but if it stays put when you push down on the lever it may be that the shift plunger that holds the gear cam in place is not doing its job. If it has been a few years since the gearbox has been renewed, now would be a good time to pull the guts out of the gearbox and inspect all the components for wear. Gear dogs get rounded off over time, bushings wear and mainshaft and countershaft bearings wear, too. The plunger that holds the shift quadrant in place gets rounded off and doesn’t provide a positive lock between gears. Bringing the gearbox back to specifications should give you more precise and steady gear changes. MC