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i don't really know how to remedy it but i've got a 2k1 (2001) big bear and the shift lever seems a little stiff at first but it seems to get better after you've ridden it for a while
sorry i could'nt help
I noticed the same thing on my '03. Let it warm up a bit to get the transmission oil going and it shifts smoother. also when you first take off, do it slowly and shift to 2nd slowly as well. this was really the only gear that was hard to get into- 1st to 2nd.
ya my 2003 was like that when I got it but I either got stronger calf muscles or its actually just gotten better lol the only time I have a little bit of a hard tiem but barely is reverse to neutral but thats rare when it happens and when it does I just stand up and move the b ear side to side hard while shifting up