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1980's Yamaha XT250 Kick Start Gear problem

I have a 81 XT250 I recently got running that had a bad pick up coil. I had to change the gear in the kick start shaft before I got it running because it was missing teeth. I had a spare one, so I changed it over. I got it running and when I attempted to start it perhaps the 5th time so so it jammed up. Taking off the cover, it took off teeth again off that same gear and also the gear in front of it, I believe called the idler gear. I believe there is something wrong with the decompression cable like it is not hooked up correctly. Seems to be doing nothing the way it was. Any suggestions on what could be causing this.

It was kicking over fine for the first few starts, then the kick start foot lever would want to stay down partly, not coming all the way back up causing the gears to grind and lock up. Any thoughts on this? Am I in the right direction thinking it has something to do with the automatic manual decompression release area functioning improperly?

Also I do not think this should have had anything to do with it. But I did have a oil leak after test driving it. Was a very minor thing. I fixed it and added to much oil. Could having to much oil in the gear area have pissed it off causing this??? It was exactly after this when the kick starting problem started.

Too much oil shouldn’t break gears.

Fix the compression release and go from there.

ok will do. I was told by a bike service place that to much oil would increase the compression and cause the kick foot lever not want to spring back as well. But of course something caused the original gear to break also, and that was not from to much oil I do not believe. It was siting for over a decade.

Got the new kick gear today. Put in on but did not try to start it. The entire problem I am having has something to do with the spring for the foot kick lever. It is not springing back correctly. I tried a parts spring I have and the same thing happened. I must be installing it wrong but do not know what I am doing wrong. If you can see the picture attached, it is the spring #9. It seems to simple go onto the kick shaft, goes into a slot on one side and goes around the stopper #15. What I am doing wrong I do not know. It also likes to go to far back when I bring it back. Any clues?

The decompression cable is largely irrelevant for starting the motor. You just need to kick harder to start it, that’s all (in some cases, it can make the motor even harder to start). Have a look at this video. He shows where/what the various connections are.

I can’t see either of your links. Hopefully you can see mine.

The problem with the kick starter is the sprag that you are holding…the one that moves the gear in and out… they have an internal clutch and when it goes bad you experience these issues.

If you hold a kickstarter down while the engine is running…it doesnt grind the gears it just cycles the ratchet mechanism internal to the item you are holding. When that ratchet goes bad several things can occur…the lever wont return, the gear stays engaged…AND the ratchet mech Binds momentarily and doesnt “click” if you will but jams…when it jams…it damages teeth. The ratchet is heard when the kick lever returns…you hear that click click click…not returning exemplifies the Bind… When this bind occurs at running speeds it locks solid and shears or cracks gears. The ratchet mech in your hand has gone bad.

You have replaced or dealt with every piece EXCEPT the ratchet sprag in your hand…that is the issue…IMHO. I would be looking HARD into that mechanism that moves the kickstarter gear in and out…and its ability to slip or ratchet… it will be near impossible to detect this issue in hand…unless it is very bad indeed. The ratchet mech is tested by running engine speeds…and every so often it will find a moment to bind solid…when that happens… bye bye teeth


I should also mention to check the gear mesh characteristics between the kickstart gear and the clutch basket…make sure they jive. ALSO make sure the clutch basket and or its shaft do not have excessive play…which will result in an elliptical rotation…and not steady and centered. All sorts of mayhem can result when this happens.


Chaissos watched the video. That is a little different than my bike. My spring goes into the kick axle assembly on one side and it has a loop that goes around a stopper. The loop is opened.

I believe all the gears are meshing good.

So you think the ratchet is bad? When it took the teeth off the old gear it would stick and grind once started. Locked up after it took the teeth off. Now with the new gear, I was not about to start it until it is working, it does stay down when you kick it over. It may work for a couple times. When you manually bring the kick starter lever up, it will go beyond, further forward, where it should. I should have a extra ratchet, may be a little rusty however. I could clean it up and try it. Also I have to get a tire changed at a motorcycle shop, I will show them the parts and see if they can see if anything is wrong.

The link below shows my setup parts. I did notice I seem to be missing #16 called a oil seal. I do not know if that would have anything to do with it kicking over. I would think it would leak oil at the most. Thanks for you help guys.

If nothing else, I could just push start it all the time. It is light enough and should not be to hard to start that way.

I stand behind my ratchet comments… I was “kicking” other ideas around but my main focus would be the ratchet or “clutch” mechanism…since its engaged to the clutch basket all the time…any binding in that kick start clutch due to whatever…it binds…or locks dead and starts snapping teeth.

Sorry I didn’t notice it was a video I was yelling at my cats at that moment… I dont need any more HALF Baby Bunnies or Squirrels, Cardinals, or other wildlife coming thru the Kitty Door with them… Im honored…really…but please stop kitty’s…

Anyway…YES…that clutch on the shaft you were holding…it freewheels when the engine is running…and is supposed to lock when you kick it…THAT mechanism…The one in your hand…is the culprit.

Its called the kick starter clutch or ratchet or whatever…different names in different countries…but you get me Im sure…


While it is called a ‘kick starter,’ should that pedal be kicked or should it be pushed to start the engine? When I weighed 150 pounds I learned to start H-Ds by priming them with the key off and then ratcheting the kick starter to just above horizontal as compression became evident and then standing on the pedal with my knee bent in case it back fired on me. The only bikes I recall needing to kick were small 2 strokes that required pumping up the crankcase. So could it be that impropper starting could be the cause of the gears repeated failure?

I drove that bike for 10 years without a problem. Don’t believe I am kicking any different that before. I would say no to that.

No…the kick starter is pretty much designed to be fool proof. Personally I always allow the gears to engage before the downward sweep…but not needed really…I just know how things work and give them a fair chance TO work…but not needed…its designed for the average or below average Knucklehead

It looks like I just had the spring connected wrong. I put it together and it seems to be working good. I did try to start it but it just did not want to go. Will try again next week. Kicked it over quite a few times and it always came back to its spot. It did have spark, but it did not even fire. I did not try to many times. The tank is pretty low, could be it is not getting fuel. Will put some in next week.

Compression is very high. Problem seems to be in the part that is inside the side cover. Is there a way to manually engage the decompression? If I just hooked a wire up to the part near the top of the engine and pulled on it when I kick it over would that work? She has a mean kick.

My 1981 Yamaha 650cc twin had “kick” and electric start. It always started on the first kick. I used the electric start about once every month just to make sure it still worked. The Yamaha was very similar to my previous Triumph 650cc Bonneville. Of course the Yamaha had the shifter and rear brake on the normal sides, was always easy to start, did not leak anything, and the headlight did not almost go out at idle. I compare them to my 1966 MGB and 1996 Miata.

Now she wont start? The first suspect there is always fuel and carb…I start bikes that have been sitting 5 yrs or more at least once a month… Its a chore, but its money.

Always the carb…and fuel…maybe I find a no spark situation every now and again, but spark is ez to test for, if you have spark…its fuel and carb…I promise. Drain the fuel…and the carb…clean the carb bowl and all jets to absolute perfection. Ensure the tank isnt contaminating the fuel…put a fuel filter on it…etc…

In your instance…I would just drain the fuel and refill…and I mean drain it…NOT top it off.

I do this crap weekly…its the same game…every time. Fuel and or carb.


It was running ok before the spring problem in the kicker. The tanks pretty low, that could be the only problem.