V Star 650 Spline Lube

One of the drawbacks to owning a shaft driven bike is that if your final drive fails it is EXPENSIVE! Unlike a chain, the only way to fix a final drive failure is with a new one or replacement parts which usually need to be ordered. That is one bad way to end a road trip. However, properly maintained they should last the life of your motorcycle.

One reason I like shaft driven bikes is that the drive train doesn’t need a whole lot of maintenance, much less than chains. That does not mean they need 0 maintenance, however. On a V Star 650 there are several sets of splines that need to be lubed with a high moly content grease.

With an 8000ish mile trip coming up I decided it would be best to check and lube all the splines so I wouldn’t have any surprises and have a catastrophic breakdown 1000’s of miles from home.

TIP: If you dont have money to spring for a real bike lift you can easily make due with a wooden poor mans bike lift like this.

First I took out the four bolts holding the final drive to the swing arm. Make sure you keep track of which one goes in which hole, this makes the alignment process during reassembly much easier.

Next loosen up the axle. These are really torqued on there and can be a bitch to loosen. TIP: Use this old mechanics trick in a pinch. Lock two combination wrenches together for more leverage.

Now to remove the rear wheel and drive assembly remove the rear bolts on the fender stay where they attach to the frame. You can then loosen the front ones and lift the whole fender. Tightening the front bolts back down should hold it, some people recommend bracing it with something but I’ve never had a problem with the fender falling.

I’ve crudely circled in red on this parts list the parts that need greasing. The one with an X next to it is the one that seems more prone to failure, notice that it can’t be bought separately. I’ve thoroughly cleaned off any existing grease on these parts and put on new Honda Moly 60 paste. Be sure not to get any of that on your skin, it wont come off. Another more expensive alternative that works well is Krytox.

These are the problem splines right here. Luckily mine have plenty of grease on them still after 30,000 miles. Mama Yamaha has gotten better about greasing these properly from the factory on later model bikes.

Heres what the splines look like cleaned up. You can just make out a bit of wear on the load bearing sides of the splines but otherwise these are in nearly brand new condition. This is how they should look.

If the splines are left dry for too long they could wind up looking like this. Unfortunately PianoV from the V Star 650 forum found this out the hard way, here are pictures of his splines and the coupling that goes with them.

These were just about gone, I’m amazed they still worked at all. Once all the splines are gone the drive shaft will just spin without budging the rear wheel.

PianoV’s worn final drive splines

PianoV’s worn coupling

The splines on this one are well worn also but not near as bad.

Be sure to clean and regrease the hub splines too!

Another example of what could happen if these parts are not maintained. This is Starship01’s clutch hub, the part that attaches the final drive to the wheel hub.

Starship01’s worn clutch hub

Now is a good time to clean off all the gunk and brake dust out of your hubs and shine up your wheels while you have easy access!

Next just follow the steps in reverse to reassemble and put back on the bike.

Make sure you put the bolts that hold the drive to the swingarm back in the same holes they came out of. Whenever I’ve done this everything aligns perfectly.

Check the gap between the hub and the wheel at the 6:00, 12:00, 3:00 and 9:00 positions, it should be even all the way around. If not you may need to follow these steps to properly align the drive.




In response to a comment I’m updating this post to show what happens if you over lubricate the splines.   You just need a little bit of Moly grease, just enough to coat the surface.  If you put a bit too much on there it will get liquified and most of it flung off and this creates quite the mess.   Heres some pics I had of when I put too much grease.


24 comments to V Star 650 Spline Lube

  • Joe Q

    Thanks a lot for the info. I’m going to change my rear tire and re-lube my 17,000 V-Star 650 next week. I’ll certainly be checking everything above. Ride safe and remember: Shiny side up!

  • cluffy16

    Thanks for this write-up. You really have a way with writing. Keep up the great work. Thanks.

  • starship01

    I wonder about just normal wear and how my habit of using the clutch to aid braking added to the wear. Lubing is a definite but after 50,000 miles like tires isn’t spline wear going to happen but slower with good lubing ?

    • Lynx

      You may see some wear after high mileage but with proper care it’ll be very minimal. I’ve seen other brands final drive splines well over 100K miles that still look pretty much like brand new. I’m hoping my new to me BMW’s splines still look good when I tear it apart this spring with 87K miles or that’ll be an expensive headache

  • Juan

    To secure the raised rear fender I first raise the fender considerably, then partly reinsert the rear fender bolts, and then slip down the rear fender to rest on the rear bolts.

  • Todd

    Wow! This is great. I had to replace my final drive at 34K. I have run in to dealers who say you do not need to do this. Yamaha had issued a tec update that states everytime the rear wheal is off this should be done! Great Job!!!

  • hugo vazquez

    how hard would it be to drill a pilot hole and install and grease fitting not the best for look but better then having to strip everything everytime you have to work on it

  • cluffy16

    Getting ready to do this for the first time. How much grease do you put on each lube point?

  • bmunoz84

    does anyone know where I can get a step by step on how to disassemble the final drive system for my 2001 Yamaha v-star 650????

  • Roy Ennis

    I have a question and a suggestion:
    When I take the final gear box apart to re-grease and check the splines, are there any gaskets I might wreck in the process?

    The suggestion is this:
    The plank you use to hold up your bike looks unsafe to me. What I do is stack 2 X 6 boards up until they reach the undersides of the two frame pipes. Then I get astride the bike and tilt it about 45 degrees so my helper can shove another 2×6 under the framing pipe on the high side. Then I tilt the other way so she can put another one in on the other side. Keep doing that, adding more lumber until you have the height you want. It is very solid, and an accidental nudge from any direction won’t knock it all down.

    • Lynx

      There is no gaskets in the part that I showed in this post, it is all dry there is no liquid lubrication which is the reason why we have to do this extra maintenance to begin with.

      I like your suggestion but it wouldn’t have worked for me, I did not have a helper to put the boards under while I shift the bike. The poor man’s bike lift does work pretty well, the plank is held at an angle as part of the triangle with the ground and is very stable. The main thing I didn’t like about the way I did mine was the board was made up of multiple layers and screwed together with many screws from both sides, my thinking was the laminate would be stronger than a solid piece. However when the bike is on it the whole weight of the bike is on the pipe pushing out and trying to bend the board in half lengthwise. This makes my laminate solution crack and pop every time I levered the bike up or down, I think a solid board now would have been better. It doesn’t matter now because I was finally able to save up and get a harbor freight bike lift, although that has its own challenges because the bottom of the engine hangs below the frame rails and the bike will not sit flat on a lift and really has to be tied down and secured to prevent wobbling and falling off.

  • J.Riddle

    I have a 04′ vstar custom around 12k miles on it, this past weekend I noticed some gear oil showing up on my rear tire, I’m not able to figure out the exact leak location, but it seemed like it was comeing from the dust boot around my drive shaft. I’ve been doing some net search and plan to tear into it soon to find the issue.

    My thoughts were the seal on the shaft had gone bad but after reading this and similar accounts I’m seeing that the shaft areas are actually dry? Is that correct. What would be a likely leak spot for gear oil?

    • Lynx

      Are you sure it is gear oil? If the splines are overlubricated with too much grease it will liquify and most of it gets flung out, I have done it a couple of times. I’ve updated the post to show what too much grease can do.

      If it is oil then it could be coming from either of the seals, there is one in the front where the drive shaft connects and one on the side where the hub connects. I’ve not had to replace these yet so I’m not sure whether they need to be pressed in or not, if so any shop could do it for you cheaply if you brought in the pieces.

  • J.Riddle

    Thanks, I just bought the supply’s for the poor mans jack hopefully will start pulling stuff apart tomorrow night. I’m not much of a mechanic so I can’t say for sure gear oil, but some was def clear that wasn’t mixed with dirt. And it seemed to be comeing from the dust boot at the time. It goes away fast two days of sitting there’s no sign. I’m gonna have to run it again

  • J.Riddle

    Thanks for the photos you added, I can say that what I saw was similar in appearance but not even half the amount so you may have hit the head on the nail. I checked my final drive fluid level and it was right up too the bottom thread on the fill hole and looked very clean. Plus the gear oil had a more yellow tint than the fluid I found that was clear. The day I found the strange leak were on the return stetch of a 200 mile trip running about 80 where my avg speed is 65, so the prolonged high speed could have caused what you describe. This is my first bike and I’ve had it about a year, put about 3500 miles on it. So it’s been that long at least since the last spline lube… Does all this add up to a maybe or not likely this long into owning it.

    Right now as the fluid is full I’m going to plan on running it till I see it happen again and can pinpoint closer too where it’s comeing from.

    Side note, I built the poor man jack, and worked great to hold the bike, how the heck did you get it up on it by yourself I had a buddy come over and slide the wood in place as I lifted from the back wheel lol

  • Jonathan Kim

    Thank you for the indepth post on spline lube. I managed to replace the final drive and lube it.

  • ronrider

    Hi buddy, Thank you so much. I have a new to me black vstar 650 classic and she is a beauty to me and sweet as can be. She has 7000 miles and looks brand new but I am afraid to take a trip to Nashville to see my daughter because of all I’ve read about the drive shaft. I took it off to see if it had grease. Thanks for your directions. It had a small amount of white grease and the splines look new. I couldn’t find any honda 60 so I used the valvoline red with molly and thats what I’m worried about. I don’t know if it will hold up or not because it WILL come off the skin. I made sure I put it back together correctly. Any Input would be great.

    • Lynx

      I’ve never found Honda Moly 60 at a store, even at the Honda dealerships, always have to order it. A full tube is 10 to 12 bucks and will probably last the rest of your life though. In a pinch I’ve used brake caliper grease which is also high in moly.

      Your red grease will probably be fine but order some of the good stuff to have on hand for next time.

  • Paul

    I did everything as instructed. I torqued all bolts and nuts in a proper sequence but my hub is still misaligned. I used feeler gauge to check the gap and 12 and 6 o’clock positions are couple thousands different and 9 and 3 as well. Any idea what’s wrong? I repeated the whole process several times. No success. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Does it mean I will need to shim the 4 bolts in order to have a perfect gap. Or perhaps these couple thousands off is not a big deal.

    • Lynx

      Paul, a couple thousands is no big deal. Also if it is a visible misalignment what works best for me is to loosen the axle bolts and give a good shove to make sure the axle is all the way forward on both sides then snug up the axle so it won’t move and then do the final drive bolts and lastly torque the axle.

  • Dave

    I would like to reiterate Lynx’s comment of July 8, 2015 about torquing the axle (and other bolts). I did not have a torque wrench when I replaced my flat rear tire, and tightened them by feel. It took a few tries to get it right where it did not feel as thought the shaft was binding. Then, I took it to my mechanic to make sure that all of the bolts on the final drive housing and axle were torqued properly.

    So, if you don’t have a torque wrench (or you are in a situation like mine where you cold not get the bike to the shop due to a flat), have the final drive system torqued by a shop as soon as possible. The labor charge will be less than the cost of a new rear end.

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