How to Change the O-Ring in My Harley Sportster's Shifter


Harley-Davidson Sportster shifter shafts penetrate the outer primary drive cover. On Sportsters with mid-mount controls, the shifter foot lever mounts directly to the shifter shaft. Sportsters with forward controls have the shifter foot lever connected to the shifter shaft through intermediate linkage. Since the primary drive case contains oil to lubricate the primary drive and transmission components, the shaft is sealed with a shifter shaft seal, which looks like an O-ring when installed but is actually an O-shaped sleeve. This seal prevents oil leakage and water intrusion. Age and high usage can cause the shifter shaft seal to deteriorate and fail.

Things You'll Need

  • Allen driver
  • Ratchet
  • Spring-hook tool
  • New shifter shaft seal
  • H-D Primary Chaincase Lubricant or equivalent
  • Foot-pound torque wrench
  • Shop rag
  • Note the position of the lever or linkage on the shifter shaft splines before disassembly.

  • Remove the shifter foot lever or shift linkage lever pinch screw, using a ratchet and Allen driver. Pull the foot lever or linkage off the shifter shaft. Slide the rubber shifter washer off the shifter shaft.

  • Pull the old shifter shaft seal out of its recess in the primary chain-case cover using a spring-hook tool. Use caution to avoid scratching the finish on the primary cover.

  • Lubricate the inside and outside of the new shifter shaft seal with fresh chain-case lubricant. Slide the new shifter shaft seal onto the shifter shaft until it bottoms out in its recess in the primary chain-case cover.

  • Install the rubber washer, shifter foot lever or linkage, and pinch screw, positioning the lever or linkage as it was prior to disassembly. Tighten the pinch screw to 16 to 20 foot-pounds, using a foot-pound torque wrench and Allen driver.

  • Wipe lubricant from the primary cover using a clean, soft, shop rag.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make certain the Sportster's lever or linkage is reinstalled in its original position on the shifter shaft splines to maintain proper shifting of the transmission.

Related Searches


  • 2009 Sportster Models Service Manual; Harley-Davidson Motor Company
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