2003 Bullet Electric Start sprag clutch

Baz

Total noob
Location
Forster Aust
Hi crew,
Just wondering if anyone here has replaced the sprag clutch on an ES model. Mine was so totalled that I couldn't count the bits. The Snidal manual warns against reinstalling the wrong way around but it seems to go into the gear only one way. Any advice welcome, Baz.
 
Hi crew,
Just wondering if anyone here has replaced the sprag clutch on an ES model. Mine was so totalled that I couldn't count the bits. The Snidal manual warns against reinstalling the wrong way around but it seems to go into the gear only one way. Any advice welcome, Baz.
Bit late to the party, but honestly those slapdash later Iron Barrel starter sprag clutches are SO prone to repeated failure that it's generally accepted that it's best to just remove the sprag gear cluster and starter motor (just extra weight), blank off the starter's hole with a press-fit plug sold by Hitchcocks, and revert to "kick start only" just as The Lord and Redditch intended.

There is some sort of "heavy duty" starter gear kit sold by Hitchcocks for something north of £500, but I personally know of noone who's used it, successfully or otherwise.
 
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Roy Gavin

Well travelled
Some of the problem was that not everyone used the valve lifter when they were using the starter.
But they are any easy kick start, once you learn to use the valve lifter!
TEC Hima cam anyone?
 
Sure, I know all the little tricks and hacks folks have tried to keep that sprag clutch from grenading: making sure the battery's always tip-top, trying to avoid kickbacks or roll-backs (the "Sprag Killer") by both stopping and starting the engine with the decompression lever engaged (during starts just allowing the crankshaft an easy spin or three to build up a bit of momentum), running about 800 ml to a full quart or liter of Type F Automatic transmission fluid in the primary case instead of the 420 ml determined by the fluid level plug, invocation of the ancient Sumerian god Oannes "The Drippy One", et cetera, etc., &c.

Thing is though, my '05's sprag went wonky all by itself though it hadn't been used in weeks, and then only as a test. That story is found here: https://forum.classicmotorworks.com/index.php?topic=26991

Honestly, I don't miss that electric leg. Having already been made aware of its foibles, I scarcely ever used it anyhow, though I gather the previous owner NEVER kick-started the poor old thing for its first 4,200 or so miles.
 

Eatmore Mudd

Moderator
Staff member
A donks age ago there was an Aussie transmission builder that figured out that the sprag was a lower spec copy of the one used in old school Borg-Warner automatic transmissions. Dropping in a higher spec original AT sprag solved the problem.
 

petespace1

Well travelled
Location
Syd Aus
I had a 2005 ES model that was diagnosed as having sprag issues within 3 months by the dealer (as I got my dealer to do a bit of mod work on the bike, he would tell me what problems could be expected) so he changed the sprag and some other electronic bits associated with it all under warranty the same year. It was ok after that. Due to a dicky knee I needed the electric start.
The main issue was that people treated the electric start on the Bullet as on any other modern bike and that led to many sprag failures and that in turn drove many to drink or removal of the electric start completely. Only joking about the drink 😁 - no real proof of that happening anyway.
This is what I learnt:
first morning start:
1) pull in the clutch lever and kick once or twice till it felt free;
2) release clutch and gently kick the bike over one full kick,
3) then another gentle half -ish till you felt the pressure, that got it to TDC. now hit the electric start and it would start no dramas. On cold days all this should be done with choke on.
subsequent starts only part 3 was required. Never had to change the sprag or anything associated with the electric starter in the 12 odd years (about 20K ks) I owned the bike. had to change the battery once and that was about it with electrics overall. Changed a few tyres and tubes and one headlight unit after it was damaged by a stone sttempting a bit of offroading :sneaky:. Some say I might have gotten one of the few good ones, some say I was just lucky, all I know is that it's called the stig - no not that ! My mechanic said 'it is about knowing the limitations of a machine and respecting it'.
I call it learning from the mistakes of my youth when I used to actively indulge in destructive testing of bikes.
Sorry no other pearls of wisdom from me. ;)
 
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