Church of MO: Come Forth, Lazarus the CB550!

1976 Honda CB550F Supersport: Turning a Sow’s Ear right into a Totally different, Extra Costly Sow’s Ear

Jesus, as soon as extra deeply moved, got here to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid throughout the doorway. “Take away the stone,” he stated.“However, Lord,” stated Martha, the sister of the lifeless man, “by this time there’s a dangerous odor, for he has been there 4 days.”

Then Jesus stated, “Did I not inform you that when you believed, you’d see the glory of God?”

In order that they took away the stone. Then Jesus seemed up and stated, “Father, I thanks that you’ve heard me. I knew that you simply all the time hear me, however I stated this for the good thing about the individuals standing right here, that they could consider that you simply despatched me.”

When he had stated this, Jesus referred to as in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The lifeless man got here out, his arms and ft wrapped with strips of linen, and a material round his face.

let him go.” -John eleven:38-forty four (New Worldwide Model)Take a look at this heap. What was I considering? Nicely, I figured each motojournalist wanted a classic bike venture to occupy his storage.

I had a silly, romantic picture of myself on a snarling, barely-tamed classic bike, held collectively by baling wire, electrical tape and sheer guts.

I might be in contact with each nut and bolt on the factor, constructing a bond with it just like the Lone Ranger and Silver.

The difficulty started once I noticed an advert on Craig’s Record for a 1976 Honda CB550 SuperSport. The advert described the bike as operating, however needing work. It was arrange as a Café racer, with clip-on handlebars and a cool solo seat. Within the image, it appeared OK.

Craig’s Record 

What was I considering?

If in case you have entry to a pc, you’ve in all probability checked out Craig’s Listing a few times. It’s a exceptional web site that instructions an enormous presence on the World Large Net, an unimaginable achievement for such a low-tech, low-price range operation.Craig’s Listing was based in 1995 by Craig Newmark, a pc programmer in San Francisco, Calif. He initially began it as an occasions-associated bulletin board, nevertheless it expanded to incorporate job listings, condominium vacancies and categorised advertisements for automobiles and motorcycles. Extra lately, Craig’s Record has expanded to virtually each main metropolis on Earth, with tens of millions and hundreds of thousands of individuals taking a look at it day-after-day. A function-size documentary, be in theatres quickly, additional boosting the recognition of this international website.

The “motorcycles and scooters” on the market itemizing is a tremendous factor, with much more bikes listed on the market by personal sellers than another categorised advert website I’ve seen. (Cycletrader has tens of hundreds of advertisements, however the nice majority of them are dealerships promoting new bikes.) Yow will discover many terrific bargains in there, and I’ve purchased many bikes there in close to-good situation for nicely under Kelly Blue Guide Worth.

Posting advertisements could be very easy. The old style, HTML-solely website masses shortly and is straightforward to navigate. You simply sort textual content into the right bins, add any pictures, and your advert posts in minutes. There are not any advertisements, banners or pop-ups to sluggish issues down. The advert stays up for 10 days and is then deleted routinely.

It’s not all a dream-come-true. Like another public area, there are criminals and hustlers ready to benefit from the unwary. Once you see a motorbike or scooter priced so low that it’s too good to be true, it often is. An emailed inquiry to certainly one of these advertisements will produce a response in badly written English informing the customer that the motorbike is out of the country and can be air-freighted as quickly as half the cash is both despatched to the vendor Western Union or positioned in an escrow account. I don’t understand how they get the cash from the escrow account, however I do know you’ll by no means get the bike or your a refund. Scams exist to reap the benefits of sellers, too: pretend cashier’s checks in quantities exceeding the bike’s sale worth are despatched with directions to money them and wire the change to someplace. The examine bounces 30 days later, leaving the unlucky (and never-so-brilliant, for my part) vendor liable to the financial institution the place she cashed it.

The underside line is to make certain and examine a motorcycle in individual earlier than you commit any cash and don’t be afraid to stroll away from a deal, regardless of how candy it’s. With hundreds of thousands of readers and hundreds of advertisements, one thing else will pop up quickly.

Some sellers aren’t rip-off artists, however they do grossly misrepresent or overprice their motorcycles. Right here’s information for you in case you’re promoting your motorbike: “Like New” or “Good” means completely flawless, as-new situation. A motorcycle with the unique tires and four,500 miles is neither good nor like new. It’s going to wish new tires, and the chain is no less than 25% worn. And no motorbike makes it that far with out at the least one little scratch someplace. Right here’s one other tip: the Kelly Blue E-book retail worth represents what a supplier would promote that bike for in a showroom, with a restricted guarantee, an implied assure of clear title and lemon-regulation and different guidelines and laws defending a potential purchaser. A personal vendor provides none of this. So why achieve this many Craig’s Listing sellers add 20-forty% to Kelly retail once they worth their bikes? Who is aware of? Ignore the worth they ask: most sellers will come right down to an inexpensive worth as soon as they understand they’re coping with a critical purchaser.

The underside line is to make certain and examine a motorcycle in individual earlier than you commit any cash and don’t be afraid to stroll away from a deal, regardless of how candy it’s. With hundreds of thousands of readers and hundreds of advertisements, one thing else will pop up quickly.

The bike was a few hundred miles away, close to Yosemite. The proprietor was prepared to deliver it right down to my home in San Francisco, and after negotiating a worth I felt was extra affordable for a dodgy, 30 yr-previous bike that wanted plenty of work, he advised me he was on his approach.

Six hours later a automotive and trailer pulled up in entrance of my home. On the again of the trailer was a reasonably unhappy-wanting motorbike. Each aspect covers have been lacking, a lot of the wiring harness was coiled up uselessly subsequent to the headlamp, the flip alerts and horn have been lacking, the headlamp brackets have been non-unique, the speedometer was gone, and the entire bike was coated in grime and grease. Additionally, there was a dent on what appeared like a repainted fuel tank and the starter button was damaged. I’ll have solely shelled out $four hundred, however I used to be beginning to assume the vendor ought to be paying me for disposal.

I attempted to look on the brilliant aspect: it’s not on a regular basis you will get a operating motorbike for $four hundred, proper? So I straddled the bike, and with the vendor directing me, kick-began it for my check journey. It fired up, filling my road with a particular CB sound coming from the Supertrapp exhaust.

OK, perhaps this will probably be OK, I assumed as I kicked it into gear and let loose the clutch. The bike pulled away easily, with a pleasant hit within the midrange and no dangerous stumbling. The body and forks appeared straight; higher nonetheless. All of the gears labored easily, and the brakes…nicely, they have been brakes. After a 4-block check journey, I felt ok to know the bike was principally sound, even when it seemed prefer it had been dwelling in a small condo in Hong Kong with William S. Burroughs for the final 15 years.

Cash modified palms, a cardboard field of principally ineffective spare elements went into my storage subsequent to the opposite packing containers of principally ineffective spare elements, and I used to be as soon as once more a Honda proprietor. The subsequent day, I gave my new bike a great cleansing so I might begin to stock what it will have to make it a suitable member of the motorbike group as soon as extra.

 It might want lots. I took it on an extended check experience, placing about ten miles on it. I observed the clutch wasn’t disengaging like a clutch ought to, so I ordered new clutch plates and comes. It additionally had no horn, functioning lights or flip alerts. Dangerous. It wanted aspect covers, and overlook about discovering these within the unique “shiny orange” 1976 paint (to not be confused with the 1975 “Flake Dawn Orange”). The chain guard was lacking, and I additionally observed recent oil dripping from the shifter shaft.

I gave it a very good tub, rinsing off years of accrued grease and dirt. Beneath all of it, I discovered some excellent news. The primary bit was a rear IRC tire in virtually-new situation, which suggests I didn’t should spend $25 shopping for a brand new rear tire. The chain was an O-ring mannequin that additionally didn’t look too dangerous. The subsequent good shock was a motor that had in all probability been rebuilt, evident by new-wanting gasket materiel right here and there and a leak-free cylinder block, a rarity on mid-70s Honda fours. I additionally found the tank was unique and didn’t look half-dangerous.

Every week later, armed with a recent shifter shaft oil seal, new clutch plates and comes and a wholesome sense of optimism, I got down to repair my new bike up. After I acquired the tank off, I attacked the cheese-head screws securing the engine and clutch covers.


One of these bikes without a leaky cylinder block is as rare as Sean telling a clean joke.One among these bikes with no leaky cylinder block is as uncommon as Sean telling a clear joke.

9 minutes later I used to be upstairs on my sofa with an enormous glass of Scotch watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood at three within the afternoon on a Tuesday.* I’m not a affected person man.

I’m not a very robust man. I’ve returned jars of pickles as a result of I couldn’t open them. Nevertheless, give me a screwdriver and I’ll destroy the heads of screws, twisting and rending the metallic with the delicate torque from my small-however-bushy palms.

If only I were as tough as these little screws. If solely I have been as robust as these little screws.

Intelligent individuals, these Japanese. They actually didn’t assume anyone would journey a Honda sufficient miles to wear down a clutch or entrance sprocket, so why make the screws detachable? Heck, why not simply use rivets? I personally assume the heads of those screws are designed to strip out as punishment for American motorcycles being so giant and noisy. Both that, or the man who designed these screws owned property in Nagasaki in 1945.

Three weeks later, the frustration had pale from my thoughts sufficient to make me need to take one other stab at these screws, so I pulled out my trusty previous influence driver and hammered away. And hammered. And hammered. After an hour of hammering with three totally different sorts of hammers, I noticed it’s a must to push the driving force in the direction of the screw and take up the slack within the spring, in any other case it doesn’t work. With that in thoughts, the cussed screws fell to my will, one after the other.

This Supertrapp might be worth more than the entire bike. This Supertrapp may be value greater than the whole bike.

Till the final one, that’s. Quantity 26 (or no matter quantity it was) wasn’t shifting it doesn’t matter what, as I had disfigured his tacky little head with all types of screwdrivers and hammers. It wasn’t shifting, nohow. I might virtually hear it singing “We Shall Overcome” in a tiny metallic voice as I slammed the hammer onto the top of the impression driver to no avail.

Phillips head screws have been designed to not be straightforward to take away, however straightforward for meeting line staff to put in. Stick a Phillips screwdriver right into a Phillips screw and it virtually magically winds up appropriately aligned, the place a slotted screw must be rigorously aligned and held good, or the screwdriver slips and jabs a supervisor within the neck. Hey, it was an accident. Nevertheless, attempt to get a Phillips-head screw unscrewed, and you’ll extra typically then not find yourself with stripped slots.

I made a name to Ohanlon Motorcycles in San Francisco. Dave Ohanlon has been engaged on 70’s Hondas for a few years, and has handled tens of millions of those cussed little guys. Chris, one of many mechanics there, informed me to ensure I had three issues in my toolbox to get these screws off. One is an enormous can of penetrating oil. Spray this on earlier than you try un-screwing, after which give every screw head a pleasant whack. The subsequent factor you’ll need is an effective-high quality (and we’re speaking Snap-On or another skilled-grade producer) #three Phillips screwdriver. Utilizing the mistaken-sized or crudely-made screwdriver will virtually definitely strip out the slots. The final line of protection is an impression driver. They’re low cost and infinitely helpful.

Chris additionally stated a whole lot of guys simply exchange these screws with Allen head fasteners: entire units of them, pre-sized for numerous 70’s and eighty’s Japanese motorcycles, can be found on eBay and different sources. Nevertheless, this appears type of unsporting to me. If I see a man with Allen head screws on his previous Honda, I’ll secretly scoff at his lack of will. Crushed by some little fasteners, huh?

All else had failed, so Mr. Screw, meet Mr. Dremel.

With a minimize-off wheel put in, it was time to get all Medieval on cussed #26. Metallic shrieked and sparks flew as I carved into the screw head. Lastly, after three cutoff wheels broke and went flying throughout my storage at supersonic speeds, barely lacking my head, (put on security glasses!) the screw gave up the ghost. The covers have been off. Free finally!

Who's laughing now, #26? What's the matter: lost your head? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha Who’s laughing now, #26? What’s the matter: misplaced your head? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha

My clutch plates have been certainly worn previous their service limits, however all the things else seemed OK. Even the clutch springs had life in them. I changed them anyway with sturdy Barnett models, stacked the clutch pack again collectively and buttoned all of it up. I then observed a lacking spacer thingie, and took all of it aside once more. After buttoning the motor up (once more) and getting the exhaust system again on, I famous a suspiciously oily washer sitting on my bench. Was it imagined to be contained in the bike, quite than outdoors? Or had it simply been there because the final time I “fastened” one thing myself? Who is aware of. The one factor (to my mind-set) can be to start out the bike and see if the clutch labored.

After some half-hearted poking round with the electrics, during which I made a decision the perfect factor can be to switch a lot of the wiring harness and simply attempt to return every thing to inventory, I slapped the seat and tank again on and rolled the bike outdoors. Within the mild rain, I shoved on the kickstarter, time and again, gently muttering “come on, come on” underneath my breath. Lastly, the previous Honda fired up with a rattly, wheezing sigh, like a nursing house affected person having fun with a cigarette.

After letting it heat up for a couple of minutes, I pulled within the clutch — which now had a pleasant, clean really feel to it — and put the bike into gear. There was no dragging, or jerking. I launched the clutch and the bike eased ahead, with no pitching or juddering. I headed up the block, shifting as much as third after which again down. Good!

So now it has a very good clutch. It nonetheless wants a couple of issues, like sidecovers, new shocks, a fork rebuild, steering head bearings and swingarm bushings, a tail mild, turnsignals, horn, starter button, entrance and rear brake rebuilds a brand new entrance tire, new tubes back and front, and a functioning headlight. The camchain is noisy and who is aware of when the valves have been final adjusted. The factors are pitted and worn. It should in all probability take me years to complete all these things. And on the finish of all of it, I’ll have a sluggish, buzzy, uncomfortable deathtrap that I’ll know find out how to repair.

All of it makes about as a lot sense as driving a motorbike.

Coming subsequent: Brakes, tires and suspension.

*By the way, I extremely advocate watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood at any time of the day. He was such a pleasant man.

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