Honda ST1300 Transmission Problems (Explained and Solved!)

The Honda ST1300 sport tourer is powered by a unique 1237cc longitudinal 65° V4 engine mated to a 5-speed sequential manual gearbox.

This transmission is generally quite robust, but a few issues can arise over time. False Neutrals, Notchy Shifting, Oil leaks and Grinding Noises are the common ST1300 transmission problems.

False Neutrals

One of the most common problems ST1300 owners report is false neutrals, especially when shifting into 2nd gear.

This occurs when the shift fork fails to properly engage the gear, causing the transmission to slip into neutral between shifts.

The issue tends to occur more frequently as the bike accumulates miles and the shift forks wear.

Signs include a clunk/thunk sound during shifting and an inability to engage the next gear.

The root causes stem from weakened shift fork springs, worn shift drum grooves, and smoothening on the ends of the transmission gears over time.

How to fix False Neutrals?

Fixing false neutrals requires splitting the cases and rebuilding the top end of the transmission with fresh springs, inspecting drums, and possibly replacing the second gear.

This labor-intensive job can cost $1200+ at the dealership. Proper adjustment of the shift linkage can help reduce false neutrals in some cases.

Notchy Shifting

Owners report needing multiple tries rolling back and forth to get neutral to engage from 1st gear.

The culprit is often excessive slack in the shift drum mechanism.

Adjusting the shift lever and rear set linkages can help. But worn shift drum parts may require transmission disassembly to remedy.

Notchy shifting is another symptom, typically when moving into 3rd gear around 40mph during acceleration.

The primary cause is worn shift dogs and engagement grooves on the gears.

This progressively worsens as miles add up. Rebuilding the transmission with replaced 3rd gear parts to fix the notchy shifting issue.

Grinding Noises

Lastly, some owners report grinding noises, especially when downshifting. This tends to stem from worn shift-dog pivots.

Insufficient lubrication inside the transmission can cause grinding noises.

Using the recommended transmission fluid and changing it regularly helps reduce the grinding noise.

Oil Leaks

While not extremely common, ST1300 transmissions can suffer seal failures and oil leaks as well.

Rubber seals dry out and crack over time, allowing fluid to drip out. Catch oil leaks early and replace worn seals to prevent bigger problems inside.

Preventive Maintenance

Follow the instructions below to prevent ST1300 transmission problems.

  • Change the transmission fluid regularly, generally every 20,000-40,000 miles.
  • Inspect fluid condition Dark or burnt fluid indicates overdue changing. Metal flakes or glitter means mechanical wear inside.
  • Use the exact transmission fluid type and weight specified by the manufacturer.
  • Routinely inspect the transmission case, seals, gaskets, and o-rings for any signs of oil leaks.
  • Keep the clutch adjusted to the proper freeplay specifications.
  • Avoid abrupt clutch engagement and harsh upshifts or downshifts.
  • Install a transmission cooler if you go on tours frequently.
  • Replace worn-out transmission parts.

Know more about the transmission in our article about ST1300 Transmission Specifications.


Honda ST1300’s transmission is generally robust, high-mileage examples are susceptible to issues like false neutrals, grinding shifts, and leaks.

Staying on top of preventative maintenance steps like regular fluid and clutch adjustments, inspection for leaks, use of proper fluids, and smooth shifting technique can dramatically extend the transmission’s lifespan.

But once wear issues emerge, repairs like rebuilding may be needed, carrying high dealership costs of over $1000 in some cases.

Given the transmission’s complexity, owners should not defer addressing any problems that arise, and learn proper riding habits that reduce wear and tear.

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