The Bullet: Mysteries & Myths -
Don't just love but get to know your bullet more

- by B. R. Gurunandan


The Neutral Finder
For once, the adjustment is easier than use !!!


The neutral-finder is a very ingenious device found in the Bullet gearbox. The non-believers are fond of saying that it is the only box to need one, but we can dismiss that as jealousy. For the neutral-finder is a device anyone would be thankful for in traffic. The heel-and-toe shifter or rotary-shift-mechanisms pale in comparison for sheer convenience.

You can approach a halt in any gear, and when you are just about to stop moving, a gentle trod on the neutral-finder puts you effortlessly in (the correct !) neutral, free to idle the engine or kill it. No squinting at the neutral-light, no frenzied search for the neutral/first, no slipping-clutch-take-offs, nothing. And Macho guys, with a bit of practice (and probably more than a bit of repairs) do an impressive show of going to neutral during a harsh braking operation, and thence to second with a single sweep of the foot.

For all it's remarkable attributes, it is a very simple mechanism. Basically, it just consists of a lever that operates directly on the gear-selector, sort-of short-circuiting the ratchet-mechanism thru which we normally shift up or down. There is a stopper which stops the lever exactly in the neutral position. This stopper consists of an eccentric sleeve which can be rotated to adjust the "neutral" position of the lever.

Now I can guess the doubts & questions forming ! In order of decreasing frequency, they are :
• Hey, it's never worked in my bike ! OK, I never bothered about it too.
• Hey, you forgot to say it works only from the upper 3 gears.
• Hey, how can you stop a "1-up, 3-down" in neutral ?
• Hey, how does it actually work ?

Hey, how does it actually work ?
I said it is a very simple mechanism. Simple to the point of being crude.
But who cares, as long as it works as nicely as it does !!!
However, there are some ifs & buts. If you stomp on it at speed or with the clutch engaged, you will hear alarming sounds, and maybe do damage to the gearbox.
Because it simply shifts the gears from (say) top, thru third, thru second, to neutral ! All with a single push down to the stopper ! Because it goes thru intermediate gears, the gearbox should not be transmitting power when you use the neutral-finder.
Which means the clutch should be completely dis-engaged.
Which also means you should not do this at speed, because even the dis-engaged clutch has enough drag & inertia to create noises. Of course, when the clutch is engaged, it could be much more serious than noises.

Hey, how can you stop a "1-up, 3-down" in neutral ?
Good question ! How do you reach the other side of the stopper ?!!!
I said it is an ingenious device ! See the picture closely. You see a big gap around the pointer of the neutral finder. You are forgiven if you thought it was just another typical example of REM shoddiness ! Hahahahahaaaaaaahahahaha ! Actually, it is intentionally created lash, so that the lever can remain on the stop while the selector goes to first-gear position !
Excuse me while I harp on this again, but I REALLY love this brilliant bit of engineering ! Not since the day I understood why the coaches of a train are loosely-coupled have I been SO thrilled by any mechanism !

Hey, you forgot to say it works only from the upper 3 gears
No, fella ! It works from the first gear as well !
Consider this : When operating from higher gears, the neutral finder rotates the selector shaft to the neutral-position based on stopper position.
When the selector-shaft in first gear, the lever is ALREADY on the stopped position. So all you have to do is to HOLD it there, with your heel, and press the gear-lever with your toe towards the second gear, whence the neutral-finder acts as the stop and stops it in neutral ! Try it !!

Hey, it's never worked in my bike
That may be because nobody bothered to adjust it.
I said it is easy to adjust, but first start using it consistently. If you sometimes coax it gently to the stopper, and sometimes stomp on it swiftly, it makes no difference to the lever which anyway stops at the same place, but it does make a difference to the selector assembly, which has some mass and thus inertia. It could overshoot or bounce, causing erratic results. If you use a gentle prod each time, you may well find it is already fine and needs no adjustment !

Diagnosis
Let us take a case where the neutral finder really does not work. Which means that the bike remains in gear after the neutral-finder has been correctly used. There are two possibilities...
It remains in SECOND gear, which implies that the neutral-finder the lever should move further down to get the bike into neutral. OR
It goes thru to FIRST gear, which implies that the neutral-finder the lever is moving further down than it should to get the bike into neutral.

Adjustment
Simple, eh ? Loosen the bolt holding the eccentric, turn to correct position !

Newbie-Hint
Park the bike with some "packing" under the centre-stand, so that the rear-wheel is free to rotate. Loosen the bolt holding the eccentric, turn it so that the "big-side" is down. Now start the engine and engage second gear. Slowly pull the neutral-finder down till it slips out of gear. Turn the eccentric to stop the lever at that position. Tighten the bolt.

Note:
The above applies to RH shift gearboxes. I have never used a LH shifting Bullet, so I do not know how far all this is applicable.


By B. R. Gurunandan

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