MO Tested: Factory Pro Shift Kit Review

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

A simple fix for lazy shifting

KTM released the 790 Duke as a 2019 model in the U.S., but it was available to much of the rest of the world for a year longer. In that time, reports of shifting issues have circulated among Duke owners. While some riders report false neutrals between the higher gears, others have said that, although the quickshifter cuts the ignition, the shift occasionally doesn’t happen. Factory Pro has seen this before, calling the issue lazy shifting, and has created a kit to almost completely resolve the matter on a wide variety of motorcycles, including the 790 Duke. However, to understand what makes this kit special, we first need to discuss how a motorcycle changes gears.

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Live With This: 2019 KTM 790 Duke Long-Term Review

Motorcycle gearboxes allow for sequential shifting only, meaning you can only shift into the next higher or lower gear. When you toe the shift lever, it rotates the shift drum, which, through the use of channels in its surface, slides the shift forks from side-to-side. The shift forks are responsible for moving the gear sets within the transmission to their appropriate position to engage their dogs with the openings in neighboring gears. This determines which gears freewheel and which deliver power to the output shaft and the rear wheel. Precise rotation of the shift drum is required for a successful up/downshift. To facilitate this, a shift star with detents for the correct location of each gear is located at the end of the shift drum. A spring-loaded detent arm assists in the location of the drum for each gear by assuring that the roller on the arm moves completely into the star’s detent.

The difference between the OEM detent arm (top) and the Factory Pro one is pretty obvious. Where the stock roller has a bushing, the Shift Kit’s reduces rolling friction with a ceramic bearing. Overkill? Maybe, but very trick nonetheless.

In a lazy shifting transmission, the detent arm is not completely rotating the shift drum into position, leading to missed shifts. The Factory Pro Shift Kit consists of a detent arm with a special low-friction ceramic bearing in the roller plus a beefier spring. The effect of the kit is to more forcefully rotate the shift star (and hence the shift drum) into position after the roller passes the tip of the star.

In case you were wondering why the clutch basket has to be removed, the detent arm and shift star are at the top left.

Installation takes about 1.5 hours but may be beyond the scope of many home mechanics since it necessitates that the clutch basket be removed and requires a special tool to hold the basket in position while it is being torqued back in place. Aside from the shift kit, you’ll most likely need a new clutch cover gasket to complete this project. We turned to our friends at Wrench Motorcycle Service in Los Angeles to perform the work. Since the oil needs to be dumped, you might as well wait until you need to change it.

While the engine was open, we compared the OEM detent arm/spring to the Factory Pro one, and the differences were striking. The Factory Pro spring is noticeably beefier, and the stock roller has significant internal friction compared to the Shift Kit’s ceramic bearings.

With the clutch removed, replacing the detent arm is easy.

When the engine was buttoned up, the more precise shifting was apparent from the first lift of the lever. However, that could just have been the placebo effect. So, we tested the Factory Pro Shift Kit for 900 miles of riding that ranged from around town to canyon thrashes to a track day at Laguna Seca. In all those miles, there were only two missed shifts from fifth into sixth, and those could have been operator error. They were both on the front straight at Laguna, and it is possible in at least one of those instances of my toe not letting the lever fully return between shifts. Also, instead of the false neutral previously encountered there, the transmission simply didn’t upshift. Before installing the kit, I would occasionally miss an upshift on canyon rides and around town. In my extended time with the Duke, I only hit the fifth-to-sixth false neutral two times (both times at full-throttle at a track day) prior to the kit.

While the difference in spring diameter is visible to the naked eye, the Factory Pro spring is 2.5mm versus 2.33 for the OEM one.

In my opinion, the installation of the Factory Pro Shift Kit is an unqualified success, making it well worth the $140 price for the kit – particularly for those who have more frequent missed shifts. However, there is one drawback that you need to consider: Installation of the kit will likely void your warranty. That’s a big deal for some and not so for others, but you should go into this modification with your eyes open. You can find the list of motorcycles that the Shift Kit is compatible with on the Factory Pro website.

The Factory Pro detent arm slots right into place and is ready to do your bidding – without missed shifts.
Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

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3 of 31 comments
  • Mr. agusta Mr. agusta on Jul 23, 2019

    See how good it is after a few thousand shifts...the outer shell might develop stress cracks and then watch what happens when those little ball bearings start floating around..It may last 50 years but I think it might also need some further testing before I would take off on a long tour...

    • Rex Rex on Jul 27, 2019

      You have no idea what you're talking about. This is not a new product, just a new variation of it for this specific motorcycle. I'm pretty sure Factory Pro has been designing and selling these for about 20 years. I've had one in my bike for at least the last 15,000 miles and I can still feel the crispness in the shift action. I've never heard of anybody having any sort of failure with one of these.

  • Aardvark9 Aardvark9 on Jul 24, 2019

    Just had this and the lighter shift spring installed by Marc's shop (Factory Pro) this month into my 2010 Multistrada. The Multi's shifting had never been much of a snick-snick feeling, it always took a firm and methodical effort, much different than my Triumphs which only made me more contemptuous of the Multistrada's shifting. While it still doesn't work like the Street Triple, it's a very noticeable improvement. The shifting is lighter and faster. I'd do it again.