Tag Archives: honda

Honda CB500/4 “Goldie”: K0 or K1?

First up: I am a rider, not a restorer…

I assumed that all my 1972 bikes were K0s,  1972=K0, 1973=K1 and 1974=K2 (seemed reasonable to an engineer like me).

Not the case. It seems that the K0 was only shipped in the USA, so any UK K0 was either an import or extremely rare.

The differences are important if you are trying to refurbish or restore one of these (not least in the price and availability of the parts).

Many thanks to my good friend Bryan Jones for this summary:

  1. Small reflectors on the headlamp ears with 5mm thread (later big ones were 6mm)
  2. Round pins on the electrical panel block connectors
  3. Forks have the internal threaded bar from the top nut to damper rod
  4. Different pattern on seat cover (large squares)
  5. Hook on seat lock with different lock on frame
  6. Side panels should have a transfer underneath the 500 four badge saying “Honda Motor Co; Tokyo Japan”

Here’s a K0 seat that I bought on eBay.com about 10 years ago:

Honda CB500 K0 Seat

Compared with the K1 seat fitted to the bike:

Honda CB500 K1 Seat

Note that the K1 seat has a badly fitted cover and no strap fixings.


So, I have a K1.

Honda CB500/4 “Goldie”: First Ride

Having got “Goldie” back right at the end of probably the warmest and driest September ever and with a dreadful weather forecast, it was with some trepidation that I looked out of the bedroom curtains at a reasonable hour (post Suzuka Grand Prix) to find a glorious sunny (if not warm) morning. Time for a ride…

Nervous. Last time I rode one of these was about 5 years ago and I’ve ridden a series of modern Triumphs since then. Would it go? Would it stop? Would it piss fuel all over the swingarm and the road?

The answer was “Yes” to all of those…

CB500 First Ride Oct-14 (Custom)

Fuel on. Choke on. Thumb the starter and she bursts into life.

As I remember, a cacophony of rattles at tickover with that glorious four-pipe Honda soundtrack.

First impressions? The front disc brake is absolutely useless (even on a dry sunny morning) – I’m going to have to take it apart and take a look. The throttle is very heavy and it feels very small.

I guess it is about the same physical size as the Street Triple that I rode the other day, albeit with less than half the power. I am definitely sitting “on” it and not “in” it as I do with the Tiger.

Filled it up with fuel. Yes it leaks out of carb #1 (more fixing to do). The neutral light doesn’t work and the indicator switch has no central detente.

I really need to do a few miles and then go home and check that all the nuts & bolts are still there, that the tyres are still inflated and the oil level hasn’t dropped. I needn’t have worried. It was great.

After 20 miles or so I headed home. Maxed at about 75mph (ish) which was fine. Felt good, handled OK (a bit hard) and sounded great.

All in all, very pleased. It is still filthy after 8 years in a barn and there’s definitely a “patina of age” about the bike. Love it!

Honda CB500/4 “Goldie”: Back from the dead

This is my (current) 500/4. I always wanted a gold one and have recently sold the black one (see posts on “CJF”) and the “Silver Machine”.

“Goldie” has languished for the last 34 years. There are odd MOTs and SORN notices, but the bottom line is that when she changed hands in 1980, she had 37,367 miles on the clock. Today, 34 years later, she has covered 37,420 – that’s 53 miles in 34 years…

500-4 Sep-14

This blog will form the basis of the ongoing story. I’m not an anorak and just want to enjoy riding the bike, rather than worry about whether the seat is correct for a “K0” or not. Having said that, the seat is not correct and I’ve had an original 1972 seat in my garage for the last 5 years waiting for this day…  (oops, I’ve started…)

The bike was recommissioned by Sean Brennan of SB Engineering in Woodcote (Oxon) who comes highly recommended. With a shiny new MOT, it took me about 20 seconds on the DVLA website to get her taxed. Now all road legal. Just needs riding!

You can find Sean here: SB Engineering – Motorcycle Restoration

Honda 500/4 “Silver Machine”

Honda 500/4 Silver Machine

This bike was built by my old friend Frank Cooper in Reading in the 1980s.

This is what he says:

The old Honda was a wreck, bought for £40. The camshaft had badly worn cam lobes due to lack of oil but the bearing surfaces were OK. Also the engine could not be turned over, thankfully this was only due to light rust in the cylinder bores. Other problems were badly worn swing arm bushes, rusted up speedometer; Yamaha wheels not fitted correctly, missing side panels, seat, exhaust and rear mudguard rusted out.

The camshaft was reground by a local firm; more cam followers were obtained from a breaker. Swing arm bushes, gaskets, rings, Motad exhaust etc., bought from the Motor Cycle Parts Centre in Oxford Road Reading. Being strapped for cash at the time, I made what parts I could (more later). Got it first on the road in 1988 after two years, it is now on the road for a second time after a five-year lay up. The mileage I have done at the time of writing is 21,000 miles; total for the bike is at least 40,000. It was featured in the Silver Machine magazine about 1989, this magazine went out of print years ago.

When I was riding my black 500/4 around Reading in 2001/2, I passed Frank one morning going in the other direction and set out to track him down. It was the first 500/4 I’d seen on the road for many years. I eventually found him on www.sohc.co.uk – I think his username was “Old Boy”. We rode around a bit over the next few years; Frank had a Suzuki SV650 by then and had decided to retire and wanted to get rid of the old Honda. I offered to take it off his hands (as you do…)

Frank has his own website, on which he has described his modifications to the bike. He’s an electronics engineer and also very good at fabrication (both in metal and fibreglass). His description of the work that went into this bike can be seen here:

The wheels are from a Yamaha XS400 and the headlamp shell is from an XS750

After years of searching, I found a copy of the old Silver Machine magazine which I gave to Frank so that he had a more permanent record of the years he spent with this bike. I have scanned the article and will endeavour to put it up on here. The original was all monochrome (black and white to you and me) with “photocopied” photographs – very poor quality.

In May 2013, “Silver Machine” left for a new home with Tom Exelby in Wokingham/Woodbridge who is planning on getting her back on the road.

Honda CBX550FII

Eamon had one of these:

It featured in MCN when they did a “then vs now” article and put it up against a CBR600RR (!)

The old CBX did quite well, putting up:

Standing 1/4 mile:
CBX: 14.02 seconds @ 96.4 mph
CBR: 11.48 seconds @ 126.8 mph

Top Speed:
CBX: 117.35 mph
CBR: 160.04 mph

On the dyno:
CBX: 53.02 bhp, 31.70 ftlb
CBR: 108.07 bhp, 44.59 ftlb

More here: www.nirvana-motorcycles.com/gallerycbx550.htm

The bike is in Canterbury now and still ridden regularly.

MCN Verdict (Roland Brown):
“The CBX, outdated, out-moded and out-performed or not had two massive things going for it even by modern standards: it was impressively comfortable and roomy (especially for pillions) and, better yet, it had bags of character. And maybe that’s why today’s bikers, more than ever, often have a superb modern bike – but also either own or lust after a classic from their youth too.”

That’s us then…   🙂

My Bikes

I have decided to write the definitive history with the help of a recently-discovered photo album from the 70’s and some of my old mates at the time.

1978 - Brighton & Hove Albion Scarf!

You can read it here (opens in a new page)

The bikes described include:

Raleigh Runabout RM6

Honda CB125S

Honda CB175K4

Honda CB500/4 (four of them)

Honda CB550K3 (three of them)

VFR800 Fi-1

Triumph Sprint ST 955 (4 of them)

Triumph Tiger 1050

Honda CB900FZ



Old Bikes Never Die

… they just get used.

I could have titled this “Steve visits Steve” but Steve(2) is shy so I can only feature his bike.

This is a 1974 Honda CB500/4 that is used (almost) daily and has been maintained to do just that. You won’t find many NOS parts on this bike. Everything works (but may not be original), it is taxed and MOT’d.

And it sports a Scottoiler!

Here’s  the bike:

1974 Honda CB500-4

The modifications list reads like a 1970’s dream:

  • Laser 4-1 exhaust
  • Braided brake lines
  • Avon tyres
  • Pod filters

Here’s me (Steve) on the bike in the garden:

1974 Honda CB500/4 with Steve

Note the 2004 10th anniversary SOHC4.net t-shirt!

Who Remembers Comerfords?

When checking the prices of bikes back in the 70’s, Comerfords ad was always the first stop.

In 1970, they had a regular “slot” on the back page of “Motor Cycle” – a weekly newspaper of the time.

Here’s one from the 18th November 1970:

£695 for a CB750! That’ll be the K0 – now worth in the region of £5k – £10k.