Pete and Laz

Pete and Laz
Yeah, Pete it's rough...but it's a runner.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Old pics, a little side job...

Here we have a couple of  78 Hondas. A CB550 and a CX500. Bought both of them about the same time. The 500 was running at the time and I paid $400. The 550 wasn't running and was $200. I wasn't looking for bikes at the time but was told about them through acquaintances at work.

An old friend of mine told me once that if all my bikes vanished, He could drop me off anywhere in the world, naked, (his words, not mine...imagine my embarrassment ) and come back in a month and find me living somewhere with a garage full of bikes (and hopefully some new clothes). He claimed that I was a motorcycle "magnet". Problem is, I think he's right...

 I'd owned a '71 CB-500 back in the 70's when I was wrenching on bikes to pay the bills. It was one I'd wished I hadn't sold. Actually I traded it for a really nice 64 Econoline van which I really wish I had never sold! It was the third and best Econoline I owned. It was the really nice all window version. Someone had installed a 200 CI Mustang motor in it, which really pulled so much better than the 170 original. Back to the '71 500. I think I payed about $200 for it back  in the 70's. It became a "Cafe Racer".  I hope to find a pic of it.

 I'd never owned or ridden a CX-500 before this one showed up. Reading about them , it seemed as if people despised them or loved them. It seems they were always referred to as great "Dispatch" bikes in the bike mags. "Plastic Maggots", "Poor man's Guzzi".I always thought they looked like the off-spring of a pairing between a Guzzi twin and a Royal Enfield single.
Well the prices were right, so I decided to purchase them and write-up a comparison in a blog some day- ha, ha, yeah, right-like I had any idea what "blogs" were for. Originally I had thought about hooking a sidecar to the CX and reliving my old Cafe bike with the CB. As it turned out neither of these options has happened.

The CX doesn't lend itself easily to a sidecar attachment, without some sort of sub-frame(s).I have seen one that was done without a sub-frame, but it didn't look too roadworthy. As purchased it ran badly, and handled worse. As it turned out, the previous owner had mis-adjusted the valves. He'd also doubled the amount of fork fluid (probably by just adding the proper amount again). Turns out there are no drain bolts for the fork legs. (first time I'd run into that). He also had the shocks adjusted wrong. An improperly cleaned and sealed gas tank caused a host of probs with the fuel system. That and corrosion in the wiring caused it to run on one cylinder on it's first long distance run to my mother's place down near Monterey. It did get me there running intermittantly on just one cylinder. I rode the train back to Sacramento and left the bike down there for a year. Eventually got it back home and sorted the problems. I think I was at a CX owners site out of New Zealand, where I saw some info about corrosion in the wiring harness connectors.

The CB was a mess when I purchased it. The former owner who admitted to liking beer too much, had a series of not too serious get-offs on it. The tank was raisin-like, and the original four pipe exhaust system looked like it had been used as battering rams in a demolition derby. Despite it's appearance, it responded to another tank and a RC Engineering 4 into 1 exhaust system. A new battery, an electronic ignition system borrowed from my '72 CB 750, and some jets, out of a set of 750 carbs, I had sitting in an old film can- made the bike run like a champ. My old '71 had a Hooker header on it. I really loved the look of it and the sound it made. The RC looks alright, and has better ground clearance and is quieter sounding, It also seems to produce good power. In fact it really needs stronger springs or washers added in the clutch. The difference between the way it ran as bought and now is quite different. It seems Honda started leaning the carburation way back in the later '70's. At least every bike I have experienced from that period seemed to benefit from a re-jetting.

Once sorted both bikes were used for work commuting and short trips. Eventually the mufflers on the CX rotted out, and after several repairs one fell away from the header pipe. At the time I was enrolled in a friends Adult Ed. Machine shop class. So, the CX  became my project . Some where along about here, I decided it would be better to put a sidecar on the CB, and leave the CX as a solo. In fact my intention for the CX was to see if I could "Sport" it up a little and make it look a little different. Also improve the handling. Long story shorter, the Machine shop class got axed due to budget cuts. This happening sort of put a halt to these two projects. Both bikes have been sitting in limbo tarped-up on the drive in front of my dead Astrovan, which has become another "shed".

Lately I have been seeing CX's on blogs that have been "customized", "Cafed", even "chopped". Reading about Kawas experiences on his CB-550 with side car also got me thinking. So, a side project is going to be these two bikes. I blew it, and didn't "Non-op" these bikes before registration ran out. Used to be you could fill out a "Non-op" after the fact. Now it is required you do it before the fact. So, I will pay penalties. It really ticks me off. I know for a fact that both bikes have been unused and off the highway. It is just another scam to make money. I'm sure a lot of vehicles have been abandoned because of this....ok, off my soapbox. Will return to these bike as progress is made.


  1. The "Non=op" sounds like the SORN thing in the UK....if it's not on the road you have to notify the DMV or whoever or you get a fine, even if the bike down't run at all. Like you say a big scam.

    Have seen the CX 500 and heard they were crap...never liked the looks of them...still not a fan of Jap bikes but I would definitely take the CB 500 anyday over the Maggot.

    Good to hear that you were having some good results with the bikes after the horrors inflicted on them.

    Now jsut ahve to do something with the Victor besides move it from one spot to another.

    But the good news is that everything is mved fianlly. Getting everything ointo place is still a work in progress, but getting there.

  2. Yeah Bodger: Sigh, I miss the good ole daze. When I was a kid you didn't have to register a dirt bike. Street bikes were so cheap to deal with as well. Oh well, I suppose we're lucky some well meaning bureaucrats haven't legislated bikes out of existence. I'm kinda like Malcolm Smith, I guess,(never met a motorcycle he didn't like)I like all kinds of bikes.(There was a Suzuki basket case once, and a Hodaka wreck or two back in the shop days that I didn't have a lot of love for...). I guess life would be easier if I concentrated on one make, but being used to working on all kinds has warped my brain I guess...You know the CX kind of grew on me (like an ugly wart)after awhile. I'm gonna give it a try and see if I can transform it's looks a bit. I've been missing a sidecar rig and hooking up one to the CB-550 shouldn't be too hard. I've designed and welded up four different sub frames in the past and it should go quickly.

    Moves are tough. Done so many myself. That is why so many of my projects are in such disarray. Yep, I need to get my place back to order. Stay cool if it's possible.

  3. Two middle weight Hondas from the same time, but so different, never liked the CX, the CB550 thats a different story.....
    Always liked the look of the Ford Econoline Van, we never got them over here, closest Ford I think was the Thames 15cwt for us.
    Been caught out with the "sorn" cash maker a few times!!!