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Author Topic: Sprag Clutch woes  (Read 1129 times)

tjt4792

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Sprag Clutch woes
« on: October 07, 2013, 03:12:17 AM »
Greetings everyone. New Bullet owner here in Austin, tx. I bought a used '08 classic Bullet es with only 6000 miles on it a little over a month ago. I've had problems with my bike from day one. My bike has run a total of 6 full days. Otherwise it's been in the shop. My most recurring problem is my sprag clutch. It has been replaced twice and hasnt worked properly for more than 4 days in a row. Is this a common problem? What can I do to avoid another occurence? I love my bike and understand that I must maintain it more than a modern bike, but thus far this sprag issue seems to be totally out of my control. ANY advice whatsoever would be extremely appreciate. My bike is in the shop for at least 2 more weeks getting a 3rd sprag installed. PLEASE HELP :-[

ace.cafe

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2013, 03:17:23 AM »
Yes, this is one of the most common problems with the Bullet.

Please use the search function, or look at the threads which were being discussed over the last few days that gave all the answers to the several owners with this problem that were asked last week. There will be hundreds of threads in the archives for you to choose from, all asking the same question. The electric starter was a flop.
The short answer is that you have to remove the whole thing and use the kick starter the way it was intended to be started.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 03:21:34 AM by ace.cafe »
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tjt4792

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2013, 03:38:16 AM »
Thank you for your swift/informative response. I found a ton of useful info. but would you recommend keeping the e-start but primarily using the kickstart? I was thinking I could used the e-start on cold mornings etc. Thanks for you help. It is very much appreciated!

young gun

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2013, 04:34:47 AM »
I have a 2006 Bullet 500 and gave up on the electric start. I would say that it works maybe 1 out if every 3 times I tried using it, so I just kick start the bike now. It looks and feels better and so long as I've primed the bike properly, it starts first kick every time :) a lot more reliable!

Blltrdr

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2013, 04:35:07 AM »
The only reason for keeping the ES is if you have a problem with your leg. I have kick started my bike by hand. If it's cold use the enrichener.
2003 Classic 500 5 spd
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ace.cafe

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2013, 11:33:17 AM »
Thank you for your swift/informative response. I found a ton of useful info. but would you recommend keeping the e-start but primarily using the kickstart? I was thinking I could used the e-start on cold mornings etc. Thanks for you help. It is very much appreciated!

Keeping the e-start in place but using the kick start does absolutely nothing to help protect the e-start system. You could never ever use the e-start, and the sprag system could be destroyed at any time, because it is engaged with the primary gears 100% of the time.

There is no way to protect it from destruction, except to remove it. It can break during starting, during any kickback(especially on cold mornings is when it happens), when you shut off the bike, or when the bike stalls out.
It breaks on cold mornings because most people aren't experts on jetting, and they leave the summer jets in as autumn falls, and the cold morning temperatures require richer jets, so the bike is too lean in cold weather, and it kicks back during a cold start, and the sprag gets wrecked. Every year at around this time we see a spate of killed sprags from this. I even usually write a warning post around this time each year to remind people to watch their jetting because it's "sprag killing season".
If it gets destroyed, and you leave it in there, then it can lock up or drop little metal parts into the primary gears and wreck more things.

The whole electric start thing was a bad idea from the beginning. As stated above, unless you have a physical handicap, these bikes are easy to kick start. Even if you have a physical handicap and decide to keep the e-start in there, it is likely going to cost you thousands of dollars in multiple repairs over the years as it breaks and breaks again and breaks again, with several hundred dollars in parts cost and similar labor charges each times it breaks. And it will break a lot. We have one person here who is on his fifth sprag.

The best answer is to follow the directions given in the other threads about how to remove it from the bike forever, and forget that it was ever on there. This thing has been a constantly recurring nightmare here for at least the last ten years. It's probably the number one topic regarding unreliability and breakdowns.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 12:31:54 PM by ace.cafe »
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GreenMachine

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2013, 02:25:45 PM »
And to think they're was a short run of ES machines only ...Yeah I could see those needing 3-5 sprags over the years...
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neil

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2013, 05:45:09 PM »
Hi Sprag-Clutch sufferers:

Just to further discuss and explain the issue from my perspective, Mine crashed twice while I was riding. Was downshifting while approaching a stop sign preparing to start off in first. Got down to 4th ok, but next down step brought a loud bang from down under and everything locked up. No shifting, no go power, nothing. I pushed to a friends house and called home for the utility trailer and retrieval. Took the thing to the dealer where it sat all winter long. Next spring I called for status and learned he lost his mechanic and could I come and get it ASAP. I did and learned how to get the sprag out and to remove all of the E/S stuff, including the inner primary, with the hump on it, --- to get the bike back to the way God and the Queen intended. I've never regretted it since. Kicking it is easy and not using the E/S will  not guarantee a long life for the sprag whether it is used or not. Getting it out is the only safe way to ride without sprag worries. Again, just my tuppence and my experience.

Neil and Buzzy the Bullet.

barenekd

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2013, 05:57:25 PM »
The carbed engines are always pretty decent kick starters, assuming the carb is right.  If I had a an ES on a carbed bike, the ES would be history.
Unfortunately the EFI version isn't quite so forgiving with kick starting. It also needs a manual compression release.
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cyrusb

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2013, 09:54:29 PM »
The other benefit of removing the Hand Grenade is less weight. Small battery, is another weight saver. My factory ks only, weighs in at 360 with some gas and oil. It's a PIA, but while your primaries apart you may want to change the drive sprocket  to some count that better suits your riding conditions.

tjt4792

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2013, 03:53:26 AM »
Wow, thank you all so very much for this priceless info. I actually dropped the bike off at a vintage repair shop 2 days ago. Luckily my mechanic has not ordered the replacement sprag so i should be able to call in the morning and ask that they remove the entire es. One more issue though(I remind you all that my knowledge on enfields is very limited) when my sprag was broken for the last 2 weeks, I attempted to kickstart several times. I even looked up the "proper" kickstart technique on several forums, but could not for the life of me ever get the  bike to start. Is this a normal issue? Should my kickstart not turn my bike on if my sprag clutch is broken? I am a fit 25 year old male, so manual power is not an issue (I broke a heavy sweat several times trying to kick start her) Again, thank you guys all so much for your input. It is all greatly appreciated. :)

Arizoni

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2013, 04:12:42 AM »
The broken sprag clutch should not keep the engine from starting but the wisdom of starting it with the defective clutch depends on how it is broken.

If the electric motor would just wind up in speed without the engine turning over, the clutch is failing to lock up on the crankshaft.  If you run the engine with this sort of clutch defect usually there won't be any damage to things.

The other failure mode is where the clutch is locked up and remains locked up.
Starting the engine with this type of failure will overspeed the starter motor and destroy it.  Even removing the electric starter motor won't help much because the gears that the motor engage with will still be turning while the engine is running.

If the clutch has locked up it can be detected by kicking the engine over with the kick starter.  You will hear a 'whurrrrrrrr'ing' sound as the motor is being spun.

Needless to say, running the engine with this condition is not good.
Jim
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tjt4792

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2013, 04:29:57 AM »
Thanks for the info. I can hear the engine motor turning when I hit the E start, but I do believe that the clutch is locked up. I do hear the whurrrring sound when I attempt to kick start but the bike is seemingly impossible to start in it's current state. Any advice on what to do? You say that removing the e start motor wont help much?

Arizoni

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2013, 05:01:48 AM »
Just removing the E start motor and leaving the gears that drive it and the old defective clutch in place won't help.

Removing the motor, the gears that it is connected to and the defective clutch will solve the problem as long as you can figure out how to start the engine with the kick starter and plug the hole where the motor was.

I suppose it would save some money to just remove the clutch and the gear it resides in, leaving the idler gear and motor in place.  The idler gear and motor won't cause a problem without the sprag clutch and its gear.
Doing it that way does solve the problem of how to plug the hole that the electric motor fits in.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2013, 05:08:22 AM by Arizoni »
Jim
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ace.cafe

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Re: Sprag Clutch woes
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2013, 12:09:13 PM »
As Arizoni already stated, removing the starter motor won't solve your problem.
The cheapest way out is to remove the entire primary chaincase off the engine, and then take off the backing plate behind the E-start "hump", and withdraw the whole sprag cluster and shaft out of there, and then put it back together with the starter motor in place. Or you can leave the starter motor off and plug the hole with something. The starter motor won't start the engine after doing that because it's then disengaged from the system when the sprag cluster is not there, but it will plug the hole and look like it always looked. It will still spin when you push the button, but it won't turn the engine.

The other possibility is to get a KS primary chaincase and drill/tap the new bolt pattern into the engine case, which is more expensive and more difficult, but you end up with a more vintage looking bike that doesn't have the E-start or the E-start look. If you plan to do this, you need to ask questions about it, because you have to get very specific parts for whichever year you have.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2013, 12:14:26 PM by ace.cafe »
Home of the ACE Fireball 535 Bullet,  Ace GP Hi-Lift Roller Rocker Head . Pistons, cams, etc. Highest performance Bullet engine mods available .  AVL mods. Redditch 700/750 Twin mods. UCE kit soon.

Please visit my new website:
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