I've removed and replaced gearboxes on my and other people's airheads maybe 10 times over the past 10 years and have always undone the exhaust pipes, taken the carbs off and engine bolts out to do so.

I've never tried to take a gearbox out by moving the motor, except when the motor is coming out for repair too. I just pull out the swingarm pins and remove the brake pedal pivot bolt then walk around behind the bike, grab the rear wheel and give a mighty pull. The swingarm will come back about 1-1/2 inches, enough to get the clearance needed to remove the gearbox. Of course I have already unclamped the driveshaft boot and removed the four driveshaft bolts before disconnecting the brake, as I hold the brake when I loosen and tighten the bolts.

Many years ago I participated in a warehouse recall/exchange of 1800 /6 gearboxes. This meant removing the gearbox and installing a new one while the bike was still crated, working through the holes cut in the plastic on each side. After a couple days, we got it down to about 20 minutes per bike with two guys working and one handing up tools and parts. I learned a lot about how to change gearboxes in Airheads. We joked that we could swap a gearbox at a long red light.

The trick to the job is the same as all repair jobs: don't do or touch anything that isn't necessary for the job at hand.

-Tom Cutter

(Originally posted to the Airheads list)