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I just thought I would post my findings and solution to the numerous posts I've found all over the www regarding Honda ES models and shifting problems.
I'm sure I may have some critics but take it for what it's worth.
I have a 2008 Honda Rancher 420 ES. A few years ago I had a problem with it not shifting or sounding sluggish when trying to shift. As well, the display would often flash a bar or flash the gear the machine was stuck in.
After checking the net and finding no real answer to the situation, I read that the problem may be a 'shift angle sensor' or 'bank angle sensor'. After purchasing a new shift angle sensor @$100. as well as cleaning the shift motor, the problem soon came back....today, two years later.
Today I started the machine for the first time this year, and again it won't upshift into 1st. The shift motor sounded sluggish. Back into the garage, pulled apart the shift motor, gave it a cleaning and it's shifting like gangbusters, no problems.
What I have found is that the carbon build up on the 'brushes' and the 'communicator' limits sufficient current to be passed to the motor, in turn limiting it's effectiveness to properly shift gears. My fix is to take some fine grit (600-1000) sandpaper, wrap it around the 'communicator' which is part of the armature, and turn, thus cleaning off the black carbon build up. Once cleaned the communicator will appear as a bright copper color. This will result in good electrical contact between the brushes and the communicator/armature. I then take the same paper and run a couple passes over the contact surface of the brushes. You could probably use a solvent to clean the brushes. Be careful the brushes are delicate.
Putting the motor back together takes some dexterity. Place the armature in the brush housing first. You'll have to use a small screw driver to push the brushes aside while pushing the armature back in. Then put the cylindrical housing over the armature. I think the rest you should be able to figure out.
Funny thing is I had a 2001 450 Foreman ES and sold it to a friend 5 years ago and the ES never acted up and they must of improved since then,I would think. Yet you still see alot of ES trouble posts even on the newer modles.
2001 Yellow 500 H.O
No Plastic roll cage
5.25 gas tank.
Another alternative to using fine grit sandpaper is to clean the commutator with metal polish. The reason is that fine grit sandpaper will create a course finish on the commutator, more surface area, thus possibly wearing down the brushes which would mean more frequent cleaning. Most metal polishes are finer in grit and have an additive that will protect the metal from wear and oxidation. And since the commutator is copper, which oxidizes, the polish might be a better alternative.
i have had shift problems for the last month now. I have gone threw the manual numerous times checking the angle sensor [which is just a continuity check]. The shift motor which you can check by running a hot wire to the orange wire and a ground wire to the green wire to motor . Motor should spin, reverse wires and motor should spin in the other direction.My problem came down to the computer not sending out up or down shift signals to the shift motor. Called honda and they said i need a new computer which cost roughly 450.00.Upon further research I have found that the computer looses it's internal ground.To check for this problem go back to your angle sensor located beside shift motor there are 3 wires at my angle sensor.Disconnect wires from sensor locate blue/bluishgreen wire.Insert a [small] cotter pin into back of connector.run a jumper wire from the cotter pin to a good ground.Plug back into angle sensor if shifter works this is your problem [faulty ground in computer].Make a new ground wire to the blue/bluishgreen wire. HOPE THIS HELPS HAS WORKED FOR ME
Chris, I created an account on this forum specifically to thank you for the guide. I'm a herbicide applicator and my Rancher is where I live 8 - 5. I read your fix and tried it on my machine and worked like a charm. So thank you for posting it and saving me having to drag my bike 70 miles to the nearest Honda dealer.