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1982 CX500 Custom
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. New to the forum. Not at all new to riding or turning wrenches on motorbikes. I bought a 1982 CX500 Custom with about 29k miles for $200. It sat in a basement without running for about 5 years. When I bought it a year ago I cleaned the fuel tank, replaced the fuel petcock, put a new battery in it and then moved on to other projects. Now it's time to get this old girl back into running shape.
It would run when I bought it, but not well. It would intermittently only run on the right cylinder. After spending some time chasing electrical causes, I discovered it was just a bit of trash in the left carb causing the problem.
Since I figured that out and got it running well, I replaced front brake master cylinder, pads and disc (good condition used), rear brake shoes, tires, motor oil/filter, final drive oil, coolant, air filter, tires, adjusted the cam chain tensioner and the valves. It starts, runs, idles, charges the battery, stops, cools, all the blinkers and gauges work. Gotta love Honda build quality.
The goal for this bike is just to ride to work and putt around town a bit. I'm not dragging knees these days. I'm not into the cafe racer or scrambler look. And I'm not gonna do the work required to put this bike back in showroom condition. It's not in pristine shape. It's got a few minor dents on the tank. Not sure if the paint is original. And it's got a fair amount of rust on the exhaust, handlebars and other chrome bits. I hated the swept back handlebars that came on the bike (very early 80s Harley Sportster looking) so I bought a used set of bars from a CX500 that are more of the standard riding profile. From the same Ebay seller I bought a new seat to replace the King and Queen style saddle it came with as well as some Hondaline engine guards. I'll get it in good running condition, remove as much of the rust as I can and give it a good cosmetic cleanup.

I have a few questions as I move forward with the rehab:

1) The front forks are shot. They rock madly while going through the gears and will bottom out at the slightest hint of front brake, There's no fluid leaking around the seals, but I suspect that's because there isn't any left. I'm going to pull the tubes apart soon to redo the seals. I've seen on the forum that its possible to put a pvc spacer in to increase preload, or there are various replacement spring options. Anyone have any suggestions on how to rebuild the forks that will give a nice firm feel and account for my 210lbs? I don't mind spending a bit of money since I got the bike so cheap.

2) Is it worth replacing the rear shocks? I see some cheap options on Ebay...are any of these worth it?

3) Are the rear turn signal lights supposed to stay on while the bike is running? Or do they only light when signaling? My front turn signals stay lit while running and blink when signaling, but the rears only light while signaling.

4) The replacement handlebar I put on is a few inches shorter than the one that the bike came with. This means that the throttle cables, clutch cable and brake line are all longer than they need to be and have an extra bend in them. With some careful adjustment and lubrication I've got them useable for now but the have more friction than they should. I want to order all new cables and a braided brakes line. I've never replaced cables with a different length. Any tips on how to measure for this? Are cables measured by the housing or the cable itself? Any good vendors to buy custom cables from?

I have a few other questions but I'll leave at this for now. Any tips or advice you have is greatly appreciated.
Tire Fuel tank Plant Wheel Vehicle
 

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Signals are operating normally. Forks “Rocking madly” suggests steering stem bearings are loose or worn out. All Balls sells replacements better than OEM. Good for you for setting reasonable goals, success seems likely.
 

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1982 CX500 Custom
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks richnct. The steering head bearings are tight and without play. "rocking madly" was a bit of an exaggeration, but it's definitely grim the front forks. Just the normal frontward rocking that happens when I let off the throttle and pull the clutch causes the forks to collapse through almost their whole range of travel. Definitely not the way it's supposed to be. I did ad about 12psi of air in the valve at the top of the forks and it didn't seem to make any difference.
 

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'84 CX650E that is evolving into a GL500
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I've seen on the forum that its possible to put a pvc spacer in to increase preload, or there are various replacement spring options. Anyone have any suggestions on how to rebuild the forks that will give a nice firm feel and account for my 210lbs? I don't mind spending a bit of money since I got the bike so cheap.
The preload spacer can be plastic pipe or metal, as long as it isn't something that pics will flake off of in use. The best way to get optimum results is to go through the calculation at the link below to figure out the exact spacer length needed for your weight on your bike's springs.

Are the rear turn signal lights supposed to stay on while the bike is running? Or do they only light when signaling? My front turn signals stay lit while running and blink when signaling, but the rears only light while signaling.
As Rich said, this is normal. In fact, this was standard for Hondas of the time (I wouldn't be surprised to find new ones with this feature too). The front signals have dual filament (1157) bulbs with the dim filaments as running/marker lights and the bright ones as signals and the turn signal switch turns the marker light off when the signal is flashing.
Why not the rears too? Well, amber lights (other than signals) are not allowed on the rear of the vehicle and studies have shown that amber signals are much more noticeable in traffic than red ones (this is why red rear signals are not allowed in most of the world) so if the rear signals are going to be as good as possible they can't double as marker lights.

The replacement handlebar I put on is a few inches shorter than the one that the bike came with. This means that the throttle cables, clutch cable and brake line are all longer than they need to be and have an extra bend in them. With some careful adjustment and lubrication I've got them useable for now but the have more friction than they should. I want to order all new cables and a braided brakes line. I've never replaced cables with a different length. Any tips on how to measure for this? Are cables measured by the housing or the cable itself? Any good vendors to buy custom cables from?
You may be able to just order cables from the same CX500 model that your handlebars are from.
I did more or less the opposite; I wanted the big Interstate fairing for shelter in cold weather and the CX650E's original bars were too low for that so I changed to ones the same height as on the GL500 & GL650. The original cables were way too short so I bought ones made for the GL models.
 

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1982 CX500C
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Hi Mike from Atlanta, subscribing to this because I'm also changing out my cruiser style handlebars with something low and want to get the best cable option
 

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1982 CX500 Custom
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Sidecar Bob. I suspected the lights were supposed to function that way but wanted to be sure.
I had thought about ordering the cables for the "standard" CX500 but I'm not sure exactly what year or submodel the bars came from. I figured that since so many people convert these bikes to cafe bikes or scramblers there must be a way to measure and verify the cable length before ordering. I hate going through the hassle of returning incorrect parts. I'll do a bit of internet research and let you know what I come up with.
 

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1982 CX500 Custom
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just finished giving her a proper wash and wax and knocked off some of the rust. Looking pretty sharp for a bike I've got a total of $650 into! Rides great too except the front suspension issue.
Fuel tank Automotive parking light Tire Plant Wheel
Tire Fuel tank Vehicle Motor vehicle Wheel

These pics show the new, shorter handlebar. I think it's from a standard CX500 but cannot confirm. You can see the extra bend in all the cables. They rise about 6 inches from the clamps and go about 9 inches rearward to the end of the grips. If anyone has a standard CX500 and could confirm these measurements that would certainly make things easier.
 

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1978 CX500 "The Grub", 1983 GL650I "Nimbus"
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That looks a bit like a Standard bar. Your measurements are a little different, but that might just be in how we're measuring. It seems like every manufacturer, vendor, and reviewer does it a different way. I use a flat board with a square backstop. The center that would be in the clamp is at the base of the backstop and the rising bend is pressed flat against it.
I measured a rise (top of the first bend) of 6 1/2", end rise (from the ends down to the board) of 8 1/2", pull back (from the ends to the backstop) of 6 1/2", and a total width of 30 1/2".
This fall, I replaced the buckhorn bar on my 650 Silverwing with the Grub's (repaired) CX500 Standard handlebar, and I'm really enjoying the bike,now. Of course, I've been riding the Standard for 15 years, so that's "normal" to me.
The Grub currently has an Emgo Classic bar, which is about 3/4 the height of stock. As I have it adjusted, the throttle cables just contact the fuel tank. That might not be the case on a Custom, so it could be a good option for you if the CX bar still seems a little high. The measurements above are of an unmolested Standard handlebar that will find it's way onto the Grub, eventually.
 

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1982 CX500 Custom
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Randall. I'm working today but I'm gonna try to re-create your measuring method tomorrow. I also found a video on YouTube of a guy shortening the cables on his CX500 for a cafe racer build. He has a method of measuring for custom cable lengths. I'll put the link below. Between all that hopefully I can confirm what I suspect... that the cables from a Standard will fit.
For the front forks I decided I'll just take them apart, clean them up and re-seal them, add new fork oil and see how I like them. If it's still too soft I'll look into buying new springs or adding spacers.
As far as the rear shock goes, I'll probably just hold off on that for now. It's rideable as is. Maybe once I get all the other things back in good writing order I'll start looking into a cheap set of rear shocks for my cheap bike.
 

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1982 CX500C
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Interested in your feedback on the forks, mine also feel extremely soft, but it could just be me not being used to that kind of ride
 

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'84 CX650E that is evolving into a GL500
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I was wondering if the differences between the standard/Deluxe frame and the Custom frame would make a difference to the cable length.

Re forks: All forks have air pressure inside them as soon as they start to compress under load if the seals are in good shape so even forks without valves to add pressure use the air inside to help support the load to some degree so if the seals aren't holding air they could feel considerably softer than if the seals are good. Which means that it is possible that the forks might feel good enough if just rebuilt per stock.
On the other hand, it would only take a few minutes while they are apart for cleaning to measure the spring wire diameter and count the coils and if you have that information and decide later that you want the spacers you would be able to make the calculation and add them without making a mess.
 

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1978 CX500 "The Grub", 1983 GL650I "Nimbus"
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I'd like to put new springs and Racetech cartridge emulators in the Grub's forks. I really haven't pursued it yet.
 

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1982 CX500 Custom
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Sidecar Bob- Measuring the springs and counting the coils is a great idea! Definitely wouldn't have thought to do that myself and I would've been kicking myself if I got it all back together and realized it was just a bit to soft for my liking. That's exactly the kind of thing that makes this forum so valuable.
A couple of questions:

1) If I do decide to put in a spacer after it's all reassembled can I do that without disassembling the whole thing? Does it go on top of the smaller upper spring?
2) While reading about installing the front fork spacers on this forum, I noticed that some people choose to remove the air valve setup on top of the fork tubes. Is there a reason people remove it? Is it prone to failure?
 

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'84 CX650E that is evolving into a GL500
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1) Yes, the spacer sits on top of the original spring.
2) When these bikes were made air suspension was a big thing because it allowed you to change the preload of the suspension easily. At least in theory. But in the real world most people don't want to adjust the air pressure every time they pick up or drop off a passenger so checking the suspension air pressure is just one more maintenance chore.
And on models that have a balance tube between the forks if one side's seal fails both sides lose air so the front end collapses (that happened to me when I hit a pothole and I still remember feeling every bump in the road on the way home almost 20 years later).

I'm one of the people that added spacers calculated to eliminate the need for added air pressure. I will say that it was MUCH harder to get the caps on the forks with the long spacers in place but it is very nice to not have to worry about the pressure in the forks.
 

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1982 CX500 Custom
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
One of the things I really like about this bike is the low/easy maintenance. No chain to lube/adjust. Heads hanging out in the breeze so the valves are easy to adjust. Rear drum brake shoes that last far longer than disc brake pads. If I can delete the air valves on the fork legs and remove one more thing that needs to be checked/adjusted I think I'll do that too.
 

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'84 CX650E that is evolving into a GL500
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No drive chain to adjust but don't forget to set the camchain tensioner periodically. You have to set the engine to the same place when you are adjusting the valves so if you do it then it only takes about 10 seconds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yep I already set the cam chain while I was adjusting the valves. Both really easy to adjust. The last bike I owned was a KLR650. Adjusting the shim and bucket style valves on that bike was a half day job when you factor in driving up to the dealership to get the right size shims.
 
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