Need Help DCT malfunction; Stuck in gear and refusing to shift after 40 mins of riding [Resolved 4/26/21]

16DCT

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2016 NC700X DCT ABS, 48,600 miles, engine warmed up

After roughly 40 minutes of city riding, the DCT will begin to struggle and then eventually not shift at all. For instance, I'll be coming to a stop from 25 mph in 3rd gear, slowing to 6 mph, and the bike is still in 3rd gear when it should be in 1st. Then at the last minute at 2 mph, it'll clunk down to 2nd and then 1st, but way too late. Then when I take off, the upshifting is perfectly fine, but again as I'm coming to a stop it'll stay in whatever gear I was traveling in, this time not downshifting at all. So in this case I'll come to a stop in say, 5th gear. At this point is when the bike goes into "limp mode" with a flashing "-" symbol in the gear indicator box. Sometimes the MIL light will come on too. It is able to be ridden, but only in whatever gear it got stuck in. The paddle shifters do nothing and the bike cannot be switched between ride modes, including MT mode.

At this point is when I turn off the bike. When I turn the bike back on, the gear indicator shows 5 (or whatever gear it got stuck in) and of course the bike will not start if it's not in neutral. The only way I have been able to get it back into neutral is to wait for the bike cool down for several minutes, then turn on the key, wait for the noises coming from what I believe to be the shift motor near the front sprocket, and rotate the rear wheel. If the bike is cooled down enough it will start clunking down the gears. If it's too hot then nothing happens. Sometimes it will find neutral, other times it will go down to 1st. As long as it goes down into 1st I'm able to start it by holding down the front brake lever and the starter button, which I believe bypasses the need for the bike to be in neutral to start the engine. At this point, the bike begins to ride 100% normally again. The limp mode flashing "-" symbol is gone and so is the MIL light. The bike shifts up and down flawlessly in automatic modes, and manual mode works fine too.

I'm no mechanic but if I had to guess I'd say the shift control motor is going bad. Something is causing it to not work properly when it gets too hot. Particularly the downshifting aspect of it. I currently have it in the shop and hopefully any codes that are stored will point to the issue at hand.


  • Happens after engine is hot; 40 minutes of riding or so in normal city riding conditions
  • Appears to mostly affect downshifting
  • Can only be remedied after bike has cooled down a bit
Edit: 4/26/2021
[*Problem solved*]
:
Another 91 miles on the clock which puts me at 309 miles total with the new shift motor without a single hiccup. I can now say with confidence that the issue is fixed. As expected, the Shift/Ratio Control Motor (Part: 31300-KVZ-631) was the sole problem in my particular case. The part is roughly $225 dollars on Partzilla, but I paid extra for expedited shipping. I also paid for 6 hours worth of labor costs at the dealer, and my bike was at the shop for over 2 weeks. They were unable to get the old shift motor to fail despite multiple bench tests and test riding the bike, so in theory that was a total waste of time and money. My theory for this is that they never rode it (or tested the shift motor under load) long enough to get it to the failure point.

So if you are facing similar issues as described in this thread, combined with DTC codes 24-1 and 57-1, you may have a problem with the shift motor. It's very easy to replace at home. You will need to remove the left side belly pan, the front sprocket cover, the exhaust guard, and after that it's just 3 bolts to remove the old motor and install the new one.
 
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16DCT

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And if it wasn't obvious enough, I'm not a very mechanically inclined person. So if this issue requires doing anything inside of the crankcase, clutch or engine I will probably just take it to a Honda service center so they can do it. I just hope the issue can be pinpointed right away so they're not changing out a bunch of parts that doesn't even solve the issue.
 

lootzyan

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A situation like yours is described in the owner's manual in the troubleshooting section. Sad, but don't look for a solution on the forum. This can lead to more serious damage to the DCT. Better to start looking for a respected dealer. And don't be persuaded to play with the battery. Your problem with DCT is when you are riding with an alternator as your primary power source, which means there is enough energy for the proper operation of the gearshift mechanism.
 

670cc

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Agree with lootzyan. If you’re not likely to be one to dig in to the transmission yourself and do your own repair, you would need to seek out a competent repair person if this issue continues. However, your careful observation of symptoms and conditions under which the failure occurs can help with diagnosis.
 

16DCT

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Yeah I'm gonna do some more testing tonight and see what happens. I really hope it's not something serious, though I fear this may be the early signs of a more severe DCT failure. This bike has been amazing for me for the past 2k miles since I bought it without a single hiccup. Luckily I have two official Honda service centers somewhat near me so I'm hoping that if I do have to take it in, that their techs know a lot about DCT bikes and are able to fix the problem ASAP..

Wish me luck :)
 

lootzyan

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... I really hope it's not something serious, though I fear this may be the early signs of a more severe DCT failure. ...
The gearshift parts that can be damaged, such as the shift control motor or the shifter pin, are accessible from the outside of the transmission housing and are relatively easy to replace. If, however, the shift drum or shift fork was damaged, it would require separation of the transmission from the engine.
 

16DCT

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The gearshift parts that can be damaged, such as the shift control motor or the shifter pin, are accessible from the outside of the transmission housing and are relatively easy to replace. If, however, the shift drum or shift fork was damaged, it would require separation of the transmission from the engine.
The shift control motor and shifter pin are accessible after removing the right side crankcase cover right? I assume the oil must be drained first to access this area? Is there any chance you could provide me with part #'s to these two pieces or is there a diagram where I could see where these parts are located on the bike? Thank you for this info btw. I'm jotting everything down that could possibly need replacing because I don't want to be in a situation where the dealer can't diagnose the issue and it sits in the shop for months on end like others have reported.
 

lootzyan

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Getting familiar with the Service Manual can save you a lot of money.

Gear 3.jpg
Gear 4.jpg

Then Google or Bing search engine are helpful. Here are examples from PartsFish.
Gear 1.jpg
Gear 2.jpg

Years ago, when I was looking for parts for my modifications, the technicians at Honda's dealer parts department were very helpful. Many of them have a policy that you can return the part you order as long as it is still in the original plastic packaging.
 

16DCT

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Very helpful information, thanks! I'm hoping it's just the pin that's bad.

I just got off the phone with someone from a nearby Honda dealer service dept and he wants me to change the oil first before I bring it in. I told him that when I bought the bike I had changed the oil and two filters and I used Honda Pro GN4 10w-40 instead of the recommended 10w-30. He insisted I change the oil to 10w-30 first and see if that does anything. I personally don't think it's an issue but I'm willing to try it. The only reason I used 10w-40 is because it's what I had left and it's much easier to come by than 10w-30, and also I live in SoCal with a relatively warm climate (although I do a lot of nighttime riding in low 50s). Do you think it's worth changing it? I did it when I bought the bike so it's been roughly 2k miles on the 10w-40 and it hasn't been a problem. That particular service rep didn't really sound like he knew much about DCT and he told me he rarely sees them come through his shop so I'm not entirely sure if I would take it there anyway. I have two other Honda dealers near me that I could try.
 

670cc

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Very helpful information, thanks! I'm hoping it's just the pin that's bad.

I just got off the phone with someone from a nearby Honda dealer service dept and he wants me to change the oil first before I bring it in. I told him that when I bought the bike I had changed the oil and two filters and I used Honda Pro GN4 10w-40 instead of the recommended 10w-30. He insisted I change the oil to 10w-30 first and see if that does anything. I personally don't think it's an issue but I'm willing to try it. The only reason I used 10w-40 is because it's what I had left and it's much easier to come by than 10w-30, and also I live in SoCal with a relatively warm climate (although I do a lot of nighttime riding in low 50s). Do you think it's worth changing it? I did it when I bought the bike so it's been roughly 2k miles on the 10w-40 and it hasn't been a problem. That particular service rep didn't really sound like he knew much about DCT and he told me he rarely sees them come through his shop so I'm not entirely sure if I would take it there anyway. I have two other Honda dealers near me that I could try.
Early NC700X service manuals said 10w-40 was acceptable. Changing the oil sounds like a total waste of time, but . . . whatever. That tech doesn't seem to be DCT savvy. Their next suggestion might be to unhook the battery to reboot the "DCT software". Duh.

I'd move on to the next shop.
 

lootzyan

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Don't waste good oil. Tell them you changed the oil as recommended by them.
(We think the same way)
 

lootzyan

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Differences in viscosity between oils can be taken into account when the clutch hydraulic system and gear changes are not working properly. But this is why there are oil pressure sensors that tell the PCM if the pressure is normal for proper DCT operation. If they think the oil is a problem, tell them you agree to use their oil. If that fixed the problem, this would be the cheapest solution.
 

16DCT

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Update: Just came back from a 1 hour and 40 minute ride and did roughly 58 miles. I tried various conditions (different speeds, throttle input, brake input, etc) and could not replicate the issue at all. I tried getting up to 6th ASAP and then immediately coming to a complete stop to see if it would cycle down through the gears and it handled it just fine. I tried giving it throttle and brakes at the same time to "confuse" the DCT and it still handled it fine. I did lots of stop and go traffic too and it was fine. I tried a little bit of manual mode too and that was working fine. So I'm not really sure what to think at this point. They say not to find problems where there are none, but I'm hard pressed to think that the issue just solved itself overnight. The last thing I need is to be thinking the issue is resolved but then get stranded a few weeks later.

I guess for now I can purchase that $7 shifter pin just to have it ready in case something does go awry and I can just have the dealer replace it if needed.


Read post #16
 
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Griff

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Very helpful information, thanks! I'm hoping it's just the pin that's bad.

I just got off the phone with someone from a nearby Honda dealer service dept and he wants me to change the oil first before I bring it in. I told him that when I bought the bike I had changed the oil and two filters and I used Honda Pro GN4 10w-40 instead of the recommended 10w-30. He insisted I change the oil to 10w-30 first and see if that does anything. I personally don't think it's an issue but I'm willing to try it. The only reason I used 10w-40 is because it's what I had left and it's much easier to come by than 10w-30, and also I live in SoCal with a relatively warm climate (although I do a lot of nighttime riding in low 50s). Do you think it's worth changing it? I did it when I bought the bike so it's been roughly 2k miles on the 10w-40 and it hasn't been a problem. That particular service rep didn't really sound like he knew much about DCT and he told me he rarely sees them come through his shop so I'm not entirely sure if I would take it there anyway. I have two other Honda dealers near me that I could try.

I have been using 10/40 from the getgo thru winter and summer with no issue on my 2017. The only difference I understand is that with 10/30 the gear change might be a little smoother when the motor is cold. I doubt very much if it is the oil.
 

lootzyan

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...I guess for now I can purchase that $7 shifter pin just to have it ready in case something does go awry and I can just have the dealer replace it if needed...
There have been a few changes to the shifter pin over the years (possibly improved dimensional tolerance) so if you really want one then maybe consult the parts department at your dealer. From many reports on forums the pin is loosening. This is not at all said to be the case for you either.
In your first post you mentioned: "Then after a few seconds the gear indicator changed from 2nd to the" - "symbol and was flashing". This suggests that there may be trouble cod (DTC) stored in memory. I would start by checking it out. But I don't think there is a DTC for a DCT mechanical fault except that PCM triggered limp mode.
 

16DCT

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Update: It happened again while on a ride last night about 40 minutes into the ride. I've noticed that it happens when the engine is warm and when I'm doing lots of stop and go traffic in the city. This time it got stuck in 2nd gear as I came to a stop. I was able to still ride it and pull over to the side of the road, but the gear indicator went into "limp mode" (- symbol flashing) and then the MIL light went on (which is new). In this state the bike will still ride, but it will remains stuck in whatever gear I'm in. Like last time, I pulled over and I waited for the bike to cool down. Then I was able to get it to clunk down into 1st by rotating the rear wheel right after turning on the key (can hear clicking noises from the bike trying to find neutral). That temporary fix seems to only work when engine is cooled down a bit. After that, I was able to use the button to get it into neutral and start the bike, to which the MIL indicator and limp mode were no longer showing. I was then able to ride home without incident.

While I was waiting for the bike to cool down, I removed the front sprocket cover to access the Ratio Control Motor and it was extremely hot to the touch, scathing hot! To the point where spraying some water it on evaporated the water instantly. I'm not sure if that's normal or not. My guess is that this may be the culprit, but what do I know?

I have little to no mechanical knowledge so I took it to a nearby Honda dealer and now it's in their hands. I told them about the common fail points on these bikes such as the control motor and the shifter pin. He told me that DCT bikes don't come in often but in the few instances that they have, they've been able to resolve any issues. I think the bike is in good hands and I really hope they're able to figure out what the issue is and fix it ASAP. Thanks for the help everyone. Wish me luck please!
 
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Griff

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The intermittent aspect of the issue plus that it happens when the motor is hot is suggesting to me that it is a problem with the shift control motor or the connector to that motor.

I remember a similar issue on a Triumph Explorer where that bike intermittently ran poorly when hot, but showed no such symptoms when cold. it was eventually traced to moisture in one of the main wiring loom connectors. I may have this wrong, but I think the moisture was allowing conductivity when the connector was cold (under the tank) but not when the connector got hot. A good clean out and spray with electrical contact cleaner sorted it. Needless to say the real culprit on that bike was an owner who was over zealous with a power washer.
 

16DCT

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The more I research about this particular issue, the more I believe that the problem will end up being a faulty Shift/Control motor and not the shifting pin. I'm told that the shifting pin coming loose or breaking was a common issue on DCT models prior to 2016, although I'm not entirely sure if that's the case.

I found a thread made by forum member @Helix who has the same year, make and model as mine and even somewhat similar mileage (36,000 mi). He described similar issues with his bike failing to downshift and getting stuck in gear after getting warm, and low and behold, the issue was the Shift motor. Once it was replaced, the issue went away.

Link to Helix's thread

Then of course there's the nightmare case that forum member @telecam had undergone. He too described similar issues with his NC700, however his had much lower mileage and was of a previous generation. The dealership he took it to ended up changing a bunch of parts to no avail, but eventually they pinpointed the issue to the Shift motor and the problem was fixed.

Link to telecam's thread

I've also been reading up about the Shift motor failing on Africa Twin's and CTX700's as well. There's quite a bit of chatter about this particular part across the board on all the DCT bikes it seems. I sent an email to the service dept of the dealership I took my bike to with links to those threads and hopefully they can pinpoint the issue to the Shift motor as well. That way they don't have to open up the crankcase and drain & replace all the oil and filters to access the shifter pin (which is likely not even the problem).

But with that being said, there's no guarantee of what the issue may be. Hopefully they're able to get an idea of where to start looking via the fault codes. BTW do fault codes get erased when doing a DCT clutch initialization reset?
 
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lootzyan

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Now you have the chance to do something on behalf of yourself and other Honda DCT motorcycle owners. Report your case to NHTSA as "a defect which could cause a crash or could cause injury or death". This is recommended by Honda in the Owner's Manual under "Reporting Safety Defects".
 

16DCT

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That is a great suggestion, thanks lootzyan


I've updated the OP with more detailed and hopefully relevant info as to when and how it happens.
 
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