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Author Topic: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?  (Read 1507 times)

Arizoni

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2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« on: March 27, 2013, 10:02:35 PM »
There is a 2002 Iron Barrel for sale in my area with about 2000 miles on it.
It has the funky left/right, shift/brake setup and dual leading shoe front brakes.

The owner has taken good care of it and added a few things like a solo seat and although the price is a little higher than I would like to pay I am still toying with the idea of getting a RE from the days before the UCE.

I know that RE is continuously changing and improving things which brings me to my question.

What improvements has RE made to the iron barrels newer than 2002?
Are these improvements worth having?

Any information is appreciated. :)
Jim
2011 G5 Deluxe
1999 Miata 10th Anniversary

Blltrdr

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 10:13:48 PM »
That is a good year. Generally from late '99 on are better. In '04 or '05 they changed the breather. This was not looked at as an improvement. I think '03 was the first year for ES so I would presume the '02 is KS which is a plus. The later 2k bikes have mostly metric fasteners. The '02 will be somewhat of a fastener frankenstein with lots of different types. A parts book is essential to figure out what most of the fasteners threads are. The left shift cob should be changed over to RS but many leave it be. Another thing is that bike might not even be fully broken in. Hopefully the owner took great care in doing the recommended break in. Not done correctly could mean early doom for that 500. You can do a forum search on the break in procedure, which has been posted about many times. I would ask the owner what kind of riding he did from the get go and also frequency of oil change. Hopefully he says he dumped the oil at 100/500/1000 mile interval during the break in period. Hopefully he also kept the revs up and didn't bog the motor around town. Keeping the rpm's up through the break in period should produce a Bullet that will want to go fast (for a Bullet). Some owners keep notes during the run in period.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 10:23:54 PM by Blltrdr »
2003 Classic 500 5 spd
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ace.cafe

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2013, 10:32:18 PM »
Good year, but it has the 4-speed gearbox. The 4-speed is okay, but it has a Rube Goldberg left shift, so the only way to get real decent shifting is to convert to right shift and left brake. It has a very wide ratio gap between 3rd and 4th that I call "the hole", and it's pretty expensive to convert to close ratio too.  A 5-speed can be swapped in to that year, but the cost for a 5-speed gearbox is pretty high. If you can get one with a 5-speed in it already, then you are ahead of the game by about $700.

The 5-speed would be worth looking for. It's a better box that has less transmission losses, smoother shifting, nice ratios, and has a proper shift linkage that works  well on the left side. The main remaining issue is that the under-hanging right side brake pedal is still there because the brake is on the right, and the brake rod to the rear brake is on the left side of the wheel from the olden days. This under-hanging brake pedal is a dragging hazard, so I always recommend to change over to right side shift anyway, even when there is a 5-speed box, to get rid of the under-hanging brake pedal. We do a lot of these right side shift conversions to the 5-speed box for this reason. I don't know how you feel about right side shift, but those are the reasons we use it.

Best years to look for would be 5-speed models from 2005-2007.
Any 500 Bullet can be re-configured to what is best, but these years will be the easiest to get them where they need to be.
They need to have the engine breather restored to the old type, but they pretty much have the best of the feature sets.
If you are looking to do a Fireball, one from these years are what you will want.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 10:41:21 PM by ace.cafe »
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Mike_D

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 11:02:14 PM »
Seems like I'm the only one who likes the 4 speed gear box.  Granted, I've never tried the 5-speed but I've riden other bikes so I can imagine what it's like.  Personally, I love the 4-speed box (with the shift on the right).  Shifting feels great and I love the neutral finder.  Yea there is the "whole" but it's not that big a deal (to me).  When I Fireball I'd like to convert the ratios (good idea no?) but I like my four speed box fine.  Please don't take my neutral finder....

I'd say go for the bike, especially if no electric start.  Put the shifter on the right and you are good to go.  But yea, like everyone says, make sure it was broken in and whatever....

ace.cafe

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 11:17:13 PM »
Seems like I'm the only one who likes the 4 speed gear box.  Granted, I've never tried the 5-speed but I've riden other bikes so I can imagine what it's like.  Personally, I love the 4-speed box (with the shift on the right).  Shifting feels great and I love the neutral finder.  Yea there is the "whole" but it's not that big a deal (to me).  When I Fireball I'd like to convert the ratios (good idea no?) but I like my four speed box fine.  Please don't take my neutral finder....

I'd say go for the bike, especially if no electric start.  Put the shifter on the right and you are good to go.  But yea, like everyone says, make sure it was broken in and whatever....

The 4-speed can be converted to close ratio and also to right shift, and sealed bearings with gear oil, all of which make it a much better box than standard. So, if you like that box and want to keep it, and upgrade it, it's do-able.
It may not be much less money than buying a 5-speed gearbox, but it's the owner's choice, and the 4-speed does have the neutral finder if you like to have that. And the 4-speed is the vintage period gearbox, if that is a concern.
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Arizoni

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2013, 11:30:21 PM »
Thanks for the answers. 
The bike has ES and the owner (who bought it new)  said that after he rode it for awhile, it trashed the sprag clutch.  I don't know if it was replaced under warranty or not.

Was there any electrical improvements worth having in the 2003 + models?

I don't expect disk brake performance from the two leading shoe drum brake but is it something that works well, for a drum brake?

I know the Iron Barrel is happiest at speeds below 55 mph but does the bike have any quirky issues at speeds up to 65 mph?
Jim
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1999 Miata 10th Anniversary

ace.cafe

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2013, 11:56:58 PM »
Thanks for the answers. 
The bike has ES and the owner (who bought it new)  said that after he rode it for awhile, it trashed the sprag clutch.  I don't know if it was replaced under warranty or not.

Was there any electrical improvements worth having in the 2003 + models?

I don't expect disk brake performance from the two leading shoe drum brake but is it something that works well, for a drum brake?

I know the Iron Barrel is happiest at speeds below 55 mph but does the bike have any quirky issues at speeds up to 65 mph?

The ES has a higher output alternator and a bigger battery.

The front brake can be set up correctly, and will work okay. It's twin leading shoe. But it will never be as good as a disc brake. Leave some room to stop from speed.

The quirks on the Iron Barrel models don't really come directly from speed. They can do up to about 80mph. The issues come from sustaining speeds over 60mph. It can't do that without mods. So, the general rule is to keep it about 55mph on roads which have speed limits like that, and stay off interstates. Short bursts for passing and stuff like that is no problem. Just don't sit on speeds higher than about 60mph, and it's happier at 55mph.

Arizona in the summer is going to be tough on it. It struggles with cooling issues in high heat.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 11:59:58 PM by ace.cafe »
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Ice

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2013, 01:50:51 AM »
 My oldest boys trials Bullet is an '02, K/S four speed with the sealed bearing conversion.



 True it's left hand shifting is not as taut as on my 5 speed Military, it is still quite good of a machine.

I would not let the transmission be a deal breaker.

« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 01:55:01 AM by Ice »
I can break it better,,,,at night, in the rain, on the trail,, 20 miles from nowhere.

REA #136

"TIMEX", the '06 Iron Barrel Military that takes me everywhere I want to go... and some places I shouldn't.

High On Octane

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2013, 03:41:13 AM »
+1 ^^^
Scottie J
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cafeman

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2013, 11:22:07 AM »
I rather  like  my left  hand shifting 4-speed Bullet. When I got it you needed kung-fu grip to pull the clutch lever, the shifter was stiff and gear changes were hit and miss (even though the previous owner installed the linkage bushing upgrade), but after taking it all apart and cleaning the rust and grunge from the bushings and shafts, lubing everything and properly adjusting things, not to mention doing the Hitchcocks gearbox cover stiffener mod, and installing the needle roller bearing for the pressure plate I find it works fine. Neutral at a stop is simple to find, I can sit at a stop in gear if need be with the clutch lever pulled in, and it snicks through gears easily.  I've got none of the typical problems with mine, but that's only after setting it up properly. It's not a given that the left hand shifting Bullets shift like crap, you just have to check everything and make a few sensible upgrades. And it will be a whole lot cheaper than converting to right shift. :)

ace.cafe

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2013, 11:54:17 AM »
All right, all right, you guys!
The 4-speed isn't a bad gearbox!
  :D

I just think that it's easier to start off with the 5-speed, which was designed to have the left shift, and already has the closer ratios in it.
That's all I meant.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 11:56:55 AM by ace.cafe »
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Blltrdr

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2013, 05:53:50 PM »
I rebuilt my 4 spd with close ratio gears, RS conversion w/sealed bearing. I have to say, it is the slickest, smoothest gearbox one could imagine. Perfection! Perfection that is, for a 30's designed box. I acquired a 5 spd box with a new motor a few years ago and have to say that it is an upgrade. But does it shift as smooth & slick and look as cool as a an Albion box.  Not quite. But for the price of converting a 4 spd you could throw a few more $$$ in for a 5 spd.

You also have to look at the type of riding your going to be doing. If you plan on riding in areas with lots of hilly terrain, you will be frustrated with the crazy amount of shifting you will be doing between 3rd & 4th. If you ride mostly flat terrain you will probably be fine. Even with the 5 spd I find myself trying to shift into 6th sometimes. If you can find a Bullet for the right price with a 5spd then go for it. If this '02 with the 4spd is a smokin' deal then don't let the 4 spd deter your purchase.
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Blltrdr

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2013, 05:56:56 PM »
All right, all right, you guys!
The 4-speed isn't a bad gearbox!
  :D

I just think that it's easier to start off with the 5-speed, which was designed to have the left shift, and already has the closer ratios in it.
That's all I meant.

Very Diplomatic Ace!
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1977 Yamaha XS 360-2D (Cafe Project)

Arizoni

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2013, 08:15:14 PM »
Well, I got to ride the bike today and I can see why some people dislike the gearshift.

The owner mentioned that false neutrals were fairly common with this bike but I really didn't have very many.  I did have problems with knowing what gear it was in and there was no feedback at all to tell me that it had actually shifted gears. Many times I didn't know what gear it was in.
I didn't put a lot of miles on it just riding around on residential streets but I know a definite learning curve would be ahead of me if I buy it.
(Damn!  That UCE of mine has a nice gearshift.  Riding this old Iron Barrel made me appreciate how good it actually is. :) )

The brakes, or seeming lack of a front brake has me very concerned.
I have ridden other motorcycles with front drum brakes and they at least felt like they were doing something.
On this bike, although the front brake lever had more travel left when it was grabbed hard, the front brake just acted like it didn't have its heart into stopping the bike.
 I think it would take well over 120 feet to stop the bike from a speed of 35 mph.
In fact, I actually tried it from around that speed and it took something like that to bring the bike to a halt.  It kinda reminded me of one of those dirt bikes with the little tiny front drum.
I know why dirt bikes have those puny brakes on the front but on a street machine like this one they are ridiculous.

I asked the owner if he had ever been into the front brake to lube the pivots and cams and he said no.  Maybe lubricating things would improve it?  It sure couldn't hurt.
It might also be a case of just one brake shoe contacting the drum?  That and a lack of lube is the only thing I can think of that could cause such poor braking.

In any case, I can honestly say I wouldn't feel safe riding this bike in city traffic with the brakes it has at the moment.  In fact, I think I would have to have the "death wish" my wife accuses me of having to ride this bike in Phoenix traffic.

A semi classic like a Lean Burn AVL with a front disk brake is looking like a better idea to me all the time.  :-\
Jim
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1999 Miata 10th Anniversary

ace.cafe

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2013, 08:39:47 PM »
2 things.
The brakes on that bike were probably never adjusted, and they are probably not bedded in.
The drum brakes aren't great, but they do work if they are bedded and adjusted.
They will never be like a disc brake.

The disc brake from the AVL can go right on an Iron Barrel front end, along with the hub and spoked wheel. If you want to, you can use the AVL fork sliders with it. If not, you have to carefully grind off the part of the fork slider that holds the drum brake plate stationary. Then you can put on the disc system.

Regarding the AVL, that engine is not as friendly to modding, so be aware.
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noisymilk

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2013, 11:02:01 PM »
Hello there Br Arizoni,

I ride my 03 Iron Barrel with drum brakes in Phoenix traffic all the time. I can tell you that a properly adjusted front brake is sufficient. Like Ace said, and I have proven (to some expense), the heat is the real problem for you and I. I am hoping my current iteration will help me out there, while I wait for the modified crank bushing they are working on to get out of R&D.

I have the left shift Albion, with the improvement kit for the shifting action, and sealed bearings. I get a very positive sense of change of gears. I suspect it merely needs a little attention. Perhaps that little screw thing in the gear box needs adjusted inwards, or sharpened a hair depending on miles ridden.

Cleaning and lubing the front brake parts and cleaning the drum real well significantly improved my action and stopping power. Plus, Hitchcocks has a good primer on their site for how to properly setup that little adjuster bar for good solid drum contact.

If you wanna come ride mine around the block for a comparison, you are more than welcome. I'm no master mechanic, but I feel like I have mine in a good place right now, and might make a good basis of comparison.

Be safe man.
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Ice

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2013, 12:47:34 AM »
Congrats on your Iron Barrel Br. Arazoni and welcome to the club.

 My break in was a lot of on the brakes-off the brakes-start-go-stop-honk the horn so by the time the engine was bedded in so were the brake shoes.

 The "Hitchcock mod" is pretty popular and allows for optimal front brake shoe adjustment.

http://www.hitchcocksmotorcycles.com/pictures/content19/front_brake_overhaul.pdf


I can break it better,,,,at night, in the rain, on the trail,, 20 miles from nowhere.

REA #136

"TIMEX", the '06 Iron Barrel Military that takes me everywhere I want to go... and some places I shouldn't.

cafeman

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2013, 01:15:03 AM »
I'd also make sure the brake cable is properly lubed, and that the lever/cable freeplay is'nt such that you can't get good grip or leverage because it's too tight or that it's so loose that you bottom out the lever trying to get hard braking action, this along with what others have mentioned about the brake rod adjustments. My brake cable was really stiff, and at first I thought "wow, these brakes on these bikes truly are horrible like everyone says", but after thoroughly lubing it and setting the freeplay, the action is smooth and relatively easy, but I still have to lay on it to get good bite for anything I'd deem aggressive. But it's worlds better than it was, and under normal use, adequate. I really believe it is poor owner (or mechanic) set-up and maintenance than the actual brake system itself, and I think just another unwarranted strike against the bike. I wouldn't worry about any of this stuff, it can be adjusted out or fixed for very little money.  You'll just have fun remedying it all and marvel at how you were able to sort things out and what a fun bike it is! 8)

baird4444

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2013, 04:49:46 AM »
yea, these front brakes aren't perfect but that is part of the fun, you get to
bond and become one with your machine. Definitely needs some attention,
prolly hit the inside wit some emery cloth, I'm betting on some rust or corrosion....
   Gosa  is easy to to tune and adjust for better shifting. A loose chain can cause
bad shifting as well. Yea, these older jobs are not plug and play like the UCE;
you get to do more than just ride....
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AgentX

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2013, 10:27:43 AM »
Arizoni, you'll love the bike like a troublesome woman.  Welcome to the frustration and obsession.  (I also swapped a UCE for an iron barrel...the UCE 350 in India, in my case.)

The brakes can be sorted out; the drums actually can work surprisingly well in the face of the abuse heaped on them.  I'd recommend checking out what www.vintagebrake.com offers if you're going to overhaul them...

That said, I swapped my drum for a disc because 1) I [kind of] needed new fork sliders and only disc setups were available new and 2) the cost of doing so in India was cheaper than having work done on my brakes in the US. in the future.


You may wish to consider an electronic ignition as well.  The points can be fussy IMHO.  Tried two sets and both had manufacturing problems that made accurate timing setting very frustrating.  Waiting on my Boyer in the mail now...

You have to come to terms with a personal philosophy with the bikes...are you going to ride it and sort things out as they become unbearable, or are you going to try to head off potential problems at the pass?

There are degrees of and merits to both attitudes.

barenekd

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2013, 05:18:41 PM »
http://phoenix.craigslist.org/wvl/mcy/3705293548.html

A nice looking 2000 for sale in Buckeye, $2500
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Arizoni

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2013, 10:01:45 PM »
I thank you all for all of the good information I've recieved.

After mulling things over for awhile I decided not to buy this one.
I'm sure I could sort out the front brake issue and get it working at least as good as my old Ducati but I think Ace made some good points about looking for a 5 speed.

It might be tough finding a 5 speed in the condition this 4 speed was in.
Except for a slight yellowing of the exhaust chrome the rest of the bike looked to be in brand new condition.  It also had a brown solo seat (plus the old two up seat) that looked almost new.

Oh well.  It seems used RE's come on the market around here about 5 times a year.

bare:  I saw that one over in Buckeye.  It looks like it has the aftermarket disk brake on the front.  Still, it's a 4 speed.....
Jim
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1999 Miata 10th Anniversary

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2013, 09:50:44 AM »
All the old chesnuts coming out again.
The drum brakes cab be set up so they make the tyres squeel.how much braking do you need!
Theengine is very flexible so notmuch gear changing is required, think of the fourth gear as an overdrive. The gearbox has been around since the 1920s, the rest of the world copes with it ok.
 ;)
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single

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Re: 2002 U.S. 500 Iron Barrel?
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2013, 03:47:54 AM »
Glad I do not realize how deficient Jolly is.
Wont stop,wont shift.I will bet you plenty that i will see no evidence of any of this tomorrow on my first ride of the year.Probly be too pleased to notice.Never can say for sure,tho'.