Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Honda CB500F Rebuild Part 6 - Gas Tank

After rebuilding the rolling chassis, I started refinishing the bodywork. The gas tank and seat both required extensive repairs, and took several months of careful work to complete.

First in line was the fuel tank. My brother had designed and applied the original custom paint job in 2005, and the years had not been kind. Chips, gasoline spills, and a failed attempt at stripping the interior KREEM coating had left the paint faded, stained, and damaged by solvents. I removed most of the old KREEM coating, followed by several days of careful wet sanding, as well as compound polishing by a much more patient friend of mine. I then touched up a few chips by hand, waxed it, and installed a new petcock.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Honda CB500F Rebuild Part 5 - Reassembly Begins

The first stage of the reassembly process was build-up the rolling chassis by reinstalling the engine, major suspension components, wheels, and bodywork on the frame.

During this stage, I upgraded the bearings on the front and rear suspension, used brand-new flanged grade 8.8 hardware, and replaced the original high handlebars with Euro-style low bars.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Honda CB500F Rebuild Part 4 - Teardown, Gathering Parts, And Modifications

I left the bike in the back of a friend's garage for over a year before revisiting it. At this point, she was a complete mess. The original rebuild was nearly a decade old and had not held up well. Because of my low budget and inexperience in high school, many worn-out parts had been reused or poorly fixed. Ignoring the wrecked engine, the rest of the bike was almost unusable.

The rattle-can paint had flaked and the entire frame required a full repaint. The seat foam and cover were disintegrating, many parts were rusting, the charging circuit barely worked, the suspension bushings were worn....the list was endless. Basically every piece needed attention.

The first step was a complete nut-and-bolt teardown, inspection, and locating the major replacement pieces.

At this time, I decided that the original engine was beyond saving, so I began looking for replacements. The CB650 SOHC from the early 80's was the final evolution of the orignal 1971 CB500 block, and used identical dimensions and bolt patterns, so I decided to upgrade the power and reliability, rather than returning to stock. I was finally able to locate a replacement engine in western Maryland, and road-tripped with my grandfather to recover it.

The CB650 engine will "just" fit into an unmodified CB500 frame, but the underside of the frame backbone needs to be slightly shaved in order to remove the middle valve cover for maintenance.

Finally, I had the frame stripped and professionally powder-coated, and could begin reassembly.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Honda CB500F Rebuild Part 3 - Changing Styles

The bike went through a few style revisions during its first year. After the initial rebuild, it sported a bobbed front fender, but was otherwise stock.

However, during my first NYS inspection, this fender was declared unsafe. Its next revision included a full fender, three headlights, and a handmade fender plate.

The extra headlights were quickly removed when I discovered that the charging circuit could handle the extra amperage. Then, in 2009, a pickup truck pulled in front of me, wrecking the fender, forks, and headlight.

 I rebuilt her the following winter, but did not replace the fender plate.

After this, the bike soldiered on for 4 more years, as the engine developed numerous unsettling rattles and knocks, and began to burn concerning quantities of oil. Finally, during a tune up in preparation for a ride to the 2013 Thanksgiving Parade, the cam chain tensioner adjuster broke. It was able to grind, scrape, and knock to Manhattan and back, but it was clear that the original motor was completely spent. I drained the fluids and placed the bike into storage, while figuring out the next step.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Honda CB500F Rebuild Part 2 - High School Tinkering

When I started rebuilding this bike (the first time!), I was heavily influenced by the Custom Bike craze on Discovery Channel. I watched American Chopper and Biker Build-off constantly, so I knew that the bike had to be customized.

Years under a ripped tarp had taken their toll, and the paint was pretty much shot. I disassembled the bike and stripped it to the bare metal, then I repainted it red with metallic blue flames. My brother created the flames by hand, drawing their shape with thin tape and masking it off for the high-end rattle can job.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Honda CB500F Rebuild Part 1 - Ten Years Gone

In 2005, on the very last day of my Junior year of high school, I bought a motorcycle.

I had first noticed it the year before...just a headlight and handlebars peeking out from under a tattered tarp. It was wedged between the garage and side fence of a neighbors house. I had seen it every day that year as I walked from my bus stop to my house, and I had no clue what it was.

On the first day of summer vacation, I walked home, grabbed what I thought was a fairly impressive stack of cash (150 bucks, living large!), and walked up to my neighbors house to make an offer on whatever that headlight belonged to.

He agreed to sell, as he had purchased it as a project and stalled years ago. We walked into his driveway, where he pulled the sun-bleached and torn tarp off of a beat-up, rusty, but entirely complete 1971 Honda CB500F. We agreed upon a price of $75, loosened the seized front brake caliper, and I pushed my prize down the sidewalk to my house.

I will document the various rebuilds, accidents, and blow-up before I decided to strip it to the bone and start over in 2016.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Honda CB500 - Shakedown Run To The 2016 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

This project is huge for me, for many reasons. This was the first bike I ever owned. I purchased it in 2005 when I was still in high school. I literally pushed it home from a neighbor's house on the last day of Junior Year. Rebuilt it, rode it, rebuilt it, crashed it, rebuilt it, wore it out, blew up the engine, stored it, and rebuilt it once more to what you see here:

She started as a 1971 Honda CB500F. Over the last two years (which will be covered in future posts), I retrofitted her with a 1981 CB650 engine, custom carburetors, intake, 4-2 exhaust system, upgraded suspension, powdercoated frame, period hard bags, upgraded electrical system, and a refinished bench seat.

And on Thanksgiving, I took her for the inaugural shakedown Manhattan... for the Macy's parade....because that seems like a good idea :-D

Drew and Maggie

The Mighty Steeds


And as anyone could have unforseen breakdown occurred on the ride home. The bike sputtered and died as I coasted off the LIE at my exit, and a quick examination showed why: All of the lights were dim, and the tank was full of fuel. The alternator had failed at some point, and she had finally run out of electrons.

So I (bravely) called my friend to pick me up, we retrieved my truck and trailer, and recovered the bike before going to Thanksgiving dinner

I have since determined that the rotor coil failed, and replaced the original with an upgraded piece from Rick's Electric.