Mate you have the same model as me 98 dirt , I believe that this model was a sort of a transition one as it had both auto decompression and the manual lever . I removed the lever as like you found i never needed it .
I have since converted it to electric start and gone 450cc with Yamaha front end along with the odd other bling!
75 Norton Commando Roadster
07 Sherco 510 called Holy Shit .450 Sherco called Bling .
13 Sherco 300i called The Bee's Knees .