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Honda uses a high/low dog design, and sometimes a shift is made into a low-dog. A "low-dog shift" has little dog contact to carry the forces needed to stay in gear. One of 4 things can occur. It can stay in gear, the 2/3 slider can slip-out just enough to hiccups, or burp, into a high-dog and continue on, it can slip out and into a false neutral, it can slip-out with such force that the 2/3 slider moves into a 4th gear shift. In either case, dog wear starts to occur making the next time it is road a little more likely to do the same.
Thank you for the explanation. I am surprised mainly that the reported degree of dysfunction can occur in only 10k miles. Is this limited to specific generations of Goldwing? And what do you do to fix this?
 
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Discussion Starter · #122 ·
Thank you for the explanation. I am surprised mainly that the reported degree of dysfunction can occur in only 10k miles. Is this limited to specific generations of Goldwing? And what do you do to fix the problem?
All 5th gen Wings can have transmission issues. Years 2001-13, are far more likely to have the actually ghost shifting issues, and hiccuping. Honda changed to all tall-dogs for 4th and 5th gears in years 2014-17. Those years are more likely to ghost into a false neutral.

The youngest one I've rode and experienced ghost shifting was a yellow 2010 NOS that was bought in Apr 2012. It had 2,500 miles on it when it ghost shifted from 3rd to 2nd for me. FYI ... ghost shifting is not limited to 5th gear. On 5th gens it can happen in any gear besides 1st.

Many m/c from the factory come with back-cut or under-cut gears. Both terms mean the same. Once back-cut, the dogs want to mechanically stay engaged. To correct the issue, we take OEM gears and back-cut the dogs.

The youngest repair that I've done was on a "like new" 2003 with less the 4,500 miles. As with most who have their 5th gen transmission repaired, he too had bought it used with-in the last 6 months.

I've also repaired a couple that had their trans repaired under Honda warranty. The problem with having the transmission fixed at a Honda dealer is this. The inspection is all done by eye. Here the inspection is done using magna flux. Magna flux catches all the imperfections in the metal that the naked eye cannot see ... like cracks !!! The shafts are also put on a lathe and inspected for excessive runout. Honda also allows for 0.004" runout in the shafts, our tolerances are far tighter than that. The only down-side to this level of repair is the add'l cost and time.

The upside is a far smoother shifting transmission, the shifts are much quieter, and the transmission itself if far longer wearing.
 

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In the last 2 days, I think I've have 5 calls from owner's who recently bought 5th gens only to discover that they have transmission problems. One guy bought one that didn't start because the battery was dead.
If there are a million 2001-2017 GL1800s out there in service, that means 999,995 owners did NOT call you. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #124 ·
I think if my '02 ever develops transmission issues, I'd junk it rather that going through the trouble of attempting to have it brought back to normal. Just not worth to me.
On older 5th gens, in one way or anther, most put it on the used market and pass the problem to the next owner. For an owner with a somewhat of a conscious, many will trade them in at a Honda dealer. Others will discount them for a fast sale, and somehow feel like the new buyer got a "good deal." The most popular way to get out from underneath a transmission problem is to trade it in. I often hear the old owner say, now it's Honda problem. Then there are the ones who actually disclose the issue to the new owner, and sell it at a huge discount. Some call wanting to know if I'm interested in buying their Wing.

Newer Wings, and Wings with sentimental value, and ones where the owner has put a lot of other money into their Wing (like a trike) are worth fixing.
 

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Only issue I've experienced on my 06 is the occasional missed shift from first to second (my fault for not wearing boots) and a tad more clunk noise/feel on the same gear change when hot. Never had any issue from second gear and up and its smooth as silk and barely audible up and down
 

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The GL1800 transmission design is tested and proven, by thousands of riders for millions of miles. Any transmission failure in 10,000 is due to operator abuse and/or defective component(s), not faulty design. For example, the hell-toe shifters, some riders think just because there's a pedal to stomp on with the heel, that's what they are supposed to do. Other riders shift by feel. Put another way, some folks can destroy a steel ball with a rubber hammer. Military equipment is some of the toughest in the world, but the biggest challenge to manufacturers, whether a pistol, a tank, or a plane, is to design it to be 'Soldier proof' or 'Marine proof'. Despite rigid mil specs, rest assured it can be broken, and will be. Same with GL1800s.
 

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Discussion Starter · #127 ·
Any transmission failure in 10,000 is due to operator abuse and/or defective component(s), not faulty design.
I wish I could agree with you, and long ago many would say the same. However, as time went by, and more transmissions failed, for most your theory become harder to support. For example, how do you tell that to someone who's rode m/c's his whole life, and is on his 4th new 5th gen. The first 3 had no shifting issue, but pretty much from the get go, the 4th one's transmission is noticeable more bangy, and before its 1st oil change, it starts ghost shifting. Or the reverse of that, the 1st one had serious transmission issues. It was fixed under warranty, and the same person bought 3 more that had no such issue. Such thought became known as voodoo reasoning.
 

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I wish I could agree with you, and long ago many would say the same. However, as time went by, and more transmissions failed, for most your theory become harder to support. For example, how do you tell that to someone who's rode m/c's his whole life, and is on his 4th new 5th gen. The first 3 had no shifting issue, but pretty much from the get go, the 4th one's transmission is noticeable more bangy, and before its 1st oil change, it starts ghost shifting. Or the reverse of that, the 1st one had serious transmission issues. It was fixed under warranty, and the same person bought 3 more that had no such issue. Such thought became known as voodoo reasoning.
Both of your examples indicate defective components, not faulty design, and shoulda been repaired under warranty. Not voodoo, just numbers: number of GL1800s sold/on the road; cumulative miles; number of transmission failures, and mean time between failure. At a glance, those numbers do not support design flaw, but occasional defective component failure and/or operator abuse. If Honda perceived it as a design problem, they woulda redesigned it long ago, mainly due to business greed.

You may have seen more failed transmissions than anyone else on the planet, but you are in the GoldWing repair business, have became proficient at transmission repair, and advertise, so the broken ones gravitate to you. Even if you repair one every day for the rest of your life, that number still would not add up to a design flaw. The GL1800 world is much bigger than your shop.

Also, you never even mention operator abuse but, IMHO, that's often a major factor. My 2008 has 84,000 miles and still shifts perfectly but, if I wanted to, I could destroy the transmission within the next month by abusing it. Wanna bet?
 

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All 5th gen Wings can have transmission issues. Years 2001-13, are far more likely to have the actually ghost shifting issues, and hiccuping. Honda changed to all tall-dogs for 4th and 5th gears in years 2014-17. Those years are more likely to ghost into a false neutral.

The youngest one I've rode and experienced ghost shifting was a yellow 2010 NOS that was bought in Apr 2012. It had 2,500 miles on it when it ghost shifted from 3rd to 2nd for me. FYI ... ghost shifting is not limited to 5th gear. On 5th gens it can happen in any gear besides 1st.

Many m/c from the factory come with back-cut or under-cut gears. Both terms mean the same. Once back-cut, the dogs want to mechanically stay engaged. To correct the issue, we take OEM gears and back-cut the dogs.

The youngest repair that I've done was on a "like new" 2003 with less the 4,500 miles. As with most who have their 5th gen transmission repaired, he too had bought it used with-in the last 6 months.

I've also repaired a couple that had their trans repaired under Honda warranty. The problem with having the transmission fixed at a Honda dealer is this. The inspection is all done by eye. Here the inspection is done using magna flux. Magna flux catches all the imperfections in the metal that the naked eye cannot see ... like cracks !!! The shafts are also put on a lathe and inspected for excessive runout. Honda also allows for 0.004" runout in the shafts, our tolerances are far tighter than that. The only down-side to this level of repair is the add'l cost and time.

The upside is a far smoother shifting transmission, the shifts are much quieter, and the transmission itself if far longer wearing.
The Goldwing you repaired with only 4500 miles, did you find cracks in the metal and/or a shaft with excessive run-out? If so that would suggest that Honda's manufacturing is not always what it should be. Maybe those bikes were the ones manufactured on a Monday or late on the day on Friday.

In a previous thread from two months ago DDL who repaired his own transmission wrote:
Standard cut gear dogs will allow the gears to move away from each other and not cause one to rotate slightly as they separate. Undercut dogs will force one gear to slightly rotate due to the angle of the cut of the dogs in contact with each other. As one gear applies rotation force to the other gear through the dogs, the angle of the cut keeps the gears pulled in tight to each other. This prevents any attempt for the gear to come out of gear while under a load. The load again keeps the gears in close because of the angle on the dogs. Because of this, you will not be able to even attempt to shift while accelerating. However, a standard cut dog will actually let you destroy your transmission by allowing shifting under a strong acceleration load because there is nothing to keep the gears pulled in tight from this load.
I then asked
Shouldn't pulling in the clutch lever while shifting eliminate any acceleration load on the gears?
Yes, I was using that entire write-up as a means of describing undercut dogs and why they may be a good thing.
So it appears to me the Goldwing ghost shifting problem results from a design issue compounded with manufacturing defects and operator error in making shifts while the transmission gears are still under acceleration load, or in other words not fully pulling in the clutch lever while shifting. Without an operator error the transmission would not be damaged to the point where ghost shifting now becomes a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #130 ·
The Goldwing you repaired with only 4500 miles, did you find cracks in the metal and/or a shaft with excessive run-out?
No cracks or excessive runout in the shafts, and like all 5th gens, it has high/low dogs. The high/low dog design is the Achilles heal, and Honda probably knows that ... thus their dog design change to all tall dogs in their 2014-17 4th and 5th gears.

As for it being a rider error issue, are you suggesting that members here who had bought 3 new ones, and then they buy a 4th one that had a transmission issues, had changed his riding habits ??? I could somewhat agree with that, if the reverse were true where his 1st one had shifting issues but not the next 3. In either case, I've heard multiple stories where people have bought multiple 5th gen Wings, and they had different results.
 

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No cracks or excessive runout in the shafts, and like all 5th gens, it has high/low dogs. The high/low dog design is the Achilles heal, and Honda probably knows that ... thus their dog design change to all tall dogs in their 2014-17 4th and 5th gears.

As for it being a rider error issue, are you suggesting that members here who had bought 3 new ones, and then they buy a 4th one that had a transmission issues, had changed his riding habits ??? I could somewhat agree with that, if the reverse were true where his 1st one had shifting issues but not the next 3. In either case, I've heard multiple stories where people have bought multiple 5th gen Wings, and they had different results.
Bad shifting habits may not immediately cause damage. Rather repeated bad shifting habits may cause the invisible to the naked eye hairline cracks you describe, run-out and wear on the shaft and finally intermittent ghost shifting. DDL even mentioned bent dogs. The discussion of ghost shifting reminds me in some ways of clutch failures on cars equipped with manual transmissions. I've often heard of drivers complaining of repeated clutch failures when in reality it's not the the clutch, but rather the driver's failure to operate the clutch correctly.
 

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........

So it appears to me the Goldwing ghost shifting problem results from a design issue compounded with manufacturing defects and operator error in making shifts while the transmission gears are still under acceleration load, or in other words not fully pulling in the clutch lever while shifting. Without an operator error the transmission would not be damaged to the point where ghost shifting now becomes a problem.
So, it is "operator error" for only shifting with the clutch fully pulled in as you let off the throttle, moving the shift lever as far as it physically will go in whatever direction you are moving it releasing it after it stops moving, and then releasing the clutch as you throttle back up? I can blame bad shift lever placement for some of my tranny issues; however when shift lever movement stops because the dogs hit on top of the heads and go no farther is not operator error. Having gears drift apart because there is nothing forcing the dogs to stay engaged is also not operator error. My manual 2018 physically wants to stay in the set gear and even prevent shift lever movement when gears are under load while every other Honda I have ever ridden has not had this characteristic. I have also not experienced this "drift out of gear" potential from other brands that I have ridden. I seriously wish my 2010 had the same tranny my 2018 has, even my Suzuki M50 has a better tranny than my 2010.
 

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"The shafts are also put on a lathe and inspected for excessive runout. Honda also allows for 0.004" runout in the shafts, our tolerances are far tighter than that. The only down-side to this level of repair is the add'l cost and time."
So what are your "personal" tolerances that are acceptable for shaft runout? 1 mil, 2 mils, 3 mils? How many shafts do you check before you find one that meets your "personal" tolerance for runout?
 

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Discussion Starter · #134 ·
So, it is "operator error" for only shifting with the clutch fully pulled in as you let off the throttle, moving the shift lever as far as it physically will go in whatever direction you are moving it releasing it after it stops moving, and then releasing the clutch as you throttle back up?
Nope ... not an operator error issue. Again, it's because of a high/low dog design ... casting flaws can also play a factor. For example, a fat dog can be under more stress than the others. If a fat dog is carrying the load of the m/c, instead of the load being evenly distributed among 4 dogs, and it has little contact surface also on a low-dog shift engagement, it can hiccup out, go into a false neutral, and ghosted into another gear. The low dog or dogs, are not able to handle the forces of pushing the m/c forward ... there is not enough contact surface. Thus Honda's improved high dog design on the 2014-17s for 4th and 5th gear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #135 ·
Tony from GA called. He just bought a 2002 trike with 25k. He's the 3rd owner, and the prior one rode it for about 5,000 miles. Te states that if chatters when shifted into 4th gear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #136 ·
Yesterday a guy calls with a 2016 2whl and 16k on the ODM. He reports when shifting into 5th its very notchy and that his Harley is far easier and much less noisy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #137 · (Edited)
Last week Darwin calls with a 2013 F6b with 12,000 miles on the ODM. His pops out of 2nd and 5th. He's riding his to Lawton, VA, loading it on the auto train, and riding it here from Sanford, FL for repair. From here he's catching an Ubur to TIA and flying home. When his is done ... I guess I cannot remember his plans to pick up. If I recall I think he's flying in and riding home.

If I had more time, in the last few weeks, I could probably post at least another dozen conversations regarding transmission problems.

There's a guy from UT (I think), maybe ID. He too recently bought a trike. He has other bikes and a Harley too, but his wife, for the first time in years, will ride with him on his 5th gen Wing. I cannot remember what his trans is doing. He's the 2nd owner, I think his Wing has really low mileage too, and is fighting with Honda, and the dealer, trying to get compensation of some sort. My advise ... it's not worth the battle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #138 ·
A guy just calls from Plant City. His Wing is a 2003 with 147k on the ODM, and it's in another shop for repair. Apparently it's been there for a few months, and the owner keeps saying some of his parts are on back order. He's coming here to pick up "in stock" parts that are routinely received here all the time. However, some of the parts on his parts list, I've never replaced, and cannot help but wonder why they are needing to be replaced.
 

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GoldWingrGreg said:
"The shafts are also put on a lathe and inspected for excessive runout. Honda also allows for 0.004" runout in the shafts, our tolerances are far tighter than that. The only down-side to this level of repair is the add'l cost and time."

So what are your "personal" tolerances that are acceptable for shaft runout? 1 mil, 2 mils, 3 mils? How many shafts do you check before you find one that meets your "personal" tolerance for runout?
I have yet to see an answer. Inquiring minds want to know, Greg. What is your "acceptable" tolerance for shaft runout if your tolerances are far tighter than Honda's 0.004"?
 

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Nope ... not an operator error issue. Again, it's because of a high/low dog design ... casting flaws can also play a factor. For example, a fat dog can be under more stress than the others. If a fat dog is carrying the load of the m/c, instead of the load being evenly distributed among 4 dogs, and it has little contact surface also on a low-dog shift engagement, it can hiccup out, go into a false neutral, and ghosted into another gear. The low dog or dogs, are not able to handle the forces of pushing the m/c forward ... there is not enough contact surface. Thus Honda's improved high dog design on the 2014-17s for 4th and 5th gear.
Is a casting flaw / 'fat dog' the same as a defective part?
 
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