Harley Hard to Shift into Neutral [Here are The Reasons]

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If you own a Harley motorcycle like me, then you know how important smooth shifting of your motorcycle is. 

However, one common problem that you can face from time to time is that Harley becomes hard to shift into neutral. 

There are many reasons for this problem. But the good news is that you can easily fix this problem. 

In this article, we will discuss the causes of hard shifting on your Harley and what you should do to fix it. 

Reasons and Solutions of Harley Hard to Shift into Neutral

Harley Hard to Shift into Neutral

1. Clutch Plate isn’t Adjusted

One of the common reasons why your motorcycle is hard to shift into neutral is the incorrect adjustment of the clutch plate. Because the clutch plate is part of the shifting process and its adjustment will affect the ease of gears shifting. 

So, if it is not properly adjusted, then it will be difficult for you to shift gears on your Harley motorcycle. Normally when you shift the gear the clutch will disengage. 

However, when the clutch plate is not adjusted properly, the clutch doesn’t disengage. 

So, this process becomes harder and makes it difficult to shift your motorcycle into neutral or into the next gear. 

Therefore to fix this problem, you will need to properly adjust the clutch plate according to official requirements.

2. Clutch Cable isn’t Adjusted

Another common reason why your motorcycle is hard to shift into neutral is an improperly adjusted clutch cable. You should adjust the clutch cable in such a way that when the lever is all the way out, there is no tension on the cable. 

If there will be too much tension on the cable, it will make it difficult for you to shift into neutral. 

So, to fix this problem you will need to adjust the clutch cable. To do this you can use the socket wrench to loosen and remove the nut at one end of the cable. 

Then turn it counterclockwise until you reach a point where all tension is released. 

Then turn your ignition key off and squeeze the handlebar’s clutch hand lever while simultaneously pushing down on your shifter pedal with your foot – this will help engage the neutral and vibration-free gear shift process. 

Afterward, slowly tighten up your clutch cable’s adjustment nut until there is just enough tension for easy shifting, but not so much that it becomes difficult or too tight for comfort.

3. Low or Too Much Transmission Oil

Your Harley motorcycle transmission needs the right amount of oil to function properly. 

So, if your motorcycle is hard to shift into neutral, then maybe its transmission oil is low or overfilled. When there will not be enough transmission oil in your motorcycle, it will be difficult for you to shift gears. 

Because transmission works through hydraulic pressure which is created by the oil and that pressure moves the gears. So, without enough oil, this mechanism won’t work properly. 

So, you should fill the transmission oil in your motorcycle. However, if the oil is too much then remove some amount from it.

Also, if too little oil is present in your Harley’s transmission it can also cause long-term damage to your motorcycle gears.

4. Damaged Neutral Spring

The neutral return spring in your motorcycle is to keep the transmission neutral while your motorcycle is at the stop. 

However, if this spring breaks, it can be difficult for you to move the transmission into neutral or from one gear to another when you’re not riding your bike. 

So, in order to get rid of this issue, you will need to replace the damaged spring with a new one.

5. Not a Big Problem When the Motorcycle is Stopped

When your motorcycle is stopped, it may take more effort to shift it into neutral. 

Because when you are riding a motorcycle its engine is running and there is more pressure from the transmission which facilitates shifting between gears. 

If you are having trouble shifting your Harley into neutral when it is stopped. Then you should not be too concerned about that. 

And you should simply move your motorcycle forward and backward while changing gears. 

However, you should also make sure that the clutch lever and cable are both properly adjusted. Also, all the cables are lubricated.

6. Disengaged Clutch

One of the main reasons why your Harley is hard to shift in neutral is because of the faulty clutch. The clutch is responsible for connecting and disconnecting the engine from the transmission and allows it to shift gears without stalling out. 

When you shift your motorcycle into neutral, the clutch must be completely disengaged, for the transmission to slip into neutral gear. 

And Harley has a different clutch design than regular motorcycles which makes it difficult to completely disengage the engine from the transmission. This increases the friction between components, and due to this, it is harder to shift into neutral. 

To avoid this problem, you should warm your Harley motorcycle up before riding it. Because this will reduce the friction and allow the components to move freely. 

Also, you should make sure that the clutch is well-lubricated because a dry clutch can create difficulties. 

Can I Shift my Harley Without Using the Clutch?

You cannot shift your Harley without using the clutch. Because the clutch on Harley motorcycles is an important part of the transmission system which allows smooth shifting between gears. 

If you try to shift without a clutch, the engine will need to work harder when changing gears which will lead to damage or even stalling. 

Therefore you should always use the clutch while shifting gears on your motorcycle.

How Do You Shift a Harley into Neutral?

  1. To shift your Harley into neutral, first, make sure the engine is off so that the bike won’t move when placing it in gear. 
  2. With the bike stopped, use your left foot to depress the shifter until you feel a slight click. 
  3. This indicates that the transmission has shifted out of gear and into neutral. 
  4. To check if your Harley is in neutral, try pushing it forward or back; if it moves easily, then you know you have been successful. 
  5. If not, repeat this process until it does move freely.


If your Harley is hard to shift into neutral, you should adjust its clutch plate, and clutch cable tension, add transmission oil and replace the neutral springs. 

I hope you find this article helpful. Please let us know what things we can add to this post to make it better. 

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