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Last spring my starter took a dump so I installed a new one.That’s quite a job striping the trike down just to replace the starter. The starter starts the enginIIe every time but after reassembling the entire trike I wanted to go for a spin only to find I couldn’t back up. I hit the reverse button and the starter-reverse lever (N to R on dash) all I hear is the starter whirling. I checked the reverse gear actuator in
front of the radiator and that goes from N to R every time. This activates the reverse gear mechanism under the seat OK. With the trike in neutral I adjusted the neutral cable for 0 clearance and set the reverse cable for .025. When I activate the reverse switch, the neutral cable becomes slack and the reverse cable tight.
I hope these symptoms of something with a quick fix - I hate to have to tear the trike down again. Any help I can get from anyone out there would really be appreciated,
 

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There are 2 possibilities. The first is if an aftermarket was starter. The only starter for 5th gens that have consistant reliability are ones ordered from Honda, and those always come in a Honda package. The 2nd possibility is where the reverse idler gear gets broke when the starter is installed. Some will force the starter into place, or draw it in using its mount bolts, and the idler gear gets broke. It often happens when someone unfamiliar with replacing the starter, replaces it.

To resolve, if an OEM starter was installed, I'd assume it to be the later. If an aftermarket starter was installed, remove the starter to inspect it. The reverse idler gear can be inspected with the starter removed.

To repair the reverse idler gear, the engine must be pulled, and the rear case removed. In your case a section is probably missing. The one below was cracked but still working. Since most trike riders use their reverse more then 2-whl riders, it may not have been a trike. Thus it being cracked but the chunk did not break off.

Below is a link where I was helping an owner broke down in Eastern WA, from last week where the same thing happened. The owner didn't pass on the warning in post #8 to the tech.

BIG HUGE WARNING ... be sure the shop you take it to has pulled 5th gen engines, and done this repair. Sometimes I'll get one in where a prior shop pulled and engine, for whatever reason, and the routing of electrical harnesses and hoses is so messed up, I'll refuse to work on it until it's all corrected (which is costly).

https://goldwingdocs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=53339
 

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GL1800 Doctor
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Last spring my starter took a dump so I installed a new one.That’s quite a job striping the trike down just to replace the starter. The starter starts the enginIIe every time but after reassembling the entire trike I wanted to go for a spin only to find I couldn’t back up. I hit the reverse button and the starter-reverse lever (N to R on dash) all I hear is the starter whirling. I checked the reverse gear actuator in
front of the radiator and that goes from N to R every time. This activates the reverse gear mechanism under the seat OK. With the trike in neutral I adjusted the neutral cable for 0 clearance and set the reverse cable for .025. When I activate the reverse switch, the neutral cable becomes slack and the reverse cable tight.
I hope these symptoms of something with a quick fix - I hate to have to tear the trike down again. Any help I can get from anyone out there would really be appreciated,
Welcome to the board. Ok, let’s confirm something first. When you engage the reverse shift switch, your neutral light goes off and the amber “R” comes on solid? If so, then when you hit the starter/reverse all you get is the sound of the starter spinning? Did you install an OEM starter? Did you force it into the engine using the mounting bolts or just worked it in with your hands. If it was an OEM starter then it sounds like your reverse gear possibly got broken. Before we condemn it, you need to verify the position of the pulley and the lost motion plate at the rear of the engine.
 

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And make sure the reverse mechanism under the right side cover is properly lubed.
 

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GL1800 Doctor
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If the gap looks like this in the mechanism at the rear of the engine with it showing the solid “R” on the dash, then you need to pull the starter to see if the gear is broken.

 
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