1972 Honda CB500/4 – CJF937K
Here she is in when “new”, 5,627 miles on the clock and MOTs going back to 1982. The engine is not original as the number suggests that it is from a K2, whereas the frame/VIN is from a ‘72 (”K0?”)
“Wrong” bits [anorak mode ON]
* Tank paintwork and lack of pinstripe
* Seat (no strap)
* Hagon shocks
* Front mudguard has only rear stay so must be from a later model (probably a 550)
After 500-odd miles in the first year of ownership I was shocked to fail an MOT! The tester informed me that one of the steering lock stops was missing (broken off) on the bottom yoke which meant that the bars touched the tank on full lock. It had obviously been like this for years, but the tester was adamant and I had to take it away and get it fixed.
David Silver had an NOS bottom yoke in stock for just £23.50 and a set of taper roller bearings for £27.61 – yes, the bearings cost more than the yoke!
That fixed, I ran a compression test whilst back at the MOT station (because they had a tester and it was free). I really shouldn’t have bothered because the readings were poor:
- #1: 100 psi
- #2: 97 psi
- #3: 90 psi
- #4: 107 psi
These should all be in the 120-130 psi range so that’s a job for a winter rebuild (maybe)
Here’s a picture of the instruments
The grab handle
It has been suggested that the Japanese script on the front brake master cylinder cap says “Stop looking at this and watch where you are going!”
By January 2009, I’d had an MOT Advisory for the last two years about my front tyre which was badly feathered and almost down to the wear lines. I decided to order up a new one from Gary at www.gsmotorcycletyres.co.uk – he supplies and fits tyres for all my bikes (as well as being my IAM Observer when I was training and all-round good bloke).
I’ve gone for a straight replacement of the existing Avon Roadrunner. Thought about having a ribbed front (like in the old days) but decided to stick with the pair.
Front: AM20 90/90H19
Rear: AM21 100/90H18
Here’s a picture of Gary “struggling” with the installation (no quick-release stuff on these old bikes…)
Since then, the bike has hardly covered any miles (see my exploits with VFR Hondas and Triumph Triples) but has been begging me to sort out the gearbox, which jumps out of third gear when under load. This is bad as third is the “powering out of roundabouts” gear!
This is a common fault on these early fours and may form part of the explanation as to why the model only lasted 2 years before the “new” CB550 came along with an extra 50cc and a redesigned clutch and gearbox…
The problem lies with wear to the selector forks. These are now “unobtainium” but I have managed to pick up a complete 500/4 gearbox from Warehouse Motorcycles, a breaker in Godstone (Surrey), not perfect but between the two I should be able to put together a working replacement.
The bike is currently on SORN – I spend too much time riding my Sprint!
CJF was sold to a fellow enthusiast Malcolm Avery in September 2011. He was looking for a 500/4 that was good but that needed a bit of work. He took the gearbox bits and promised to let me know how he got on. I first met Malcolm at a Classic Bike magazine photo-shoot. His T150 Trident was being featured alongside Eamon’s CB750K0 and a Mach III Kawasaki in Jim Moore’s “Back to 1969” copy in July 2009. It was sad to see her go, but I needed the money to put “Goldie” back on the road.
I’ll post a photo of the proud new owner when I can get one.