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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone, I’ve lurked on this forum relentlessly both while searching for my first bike and after my purchase and “restoration” of a 1981 GL500. I use purchase loosely…I traded a firearm for this ride and couldn’t be happier I made the trade. Let me start out by saying I’ve never had a motorcycle befor and my mechanical skills would be rated at a weekend warrior, but I’m willing to learn anything that will save me $$$$ from having to use a local mechanic shop. I was always interested in these old school rides and work midnights 6 months of the year so I finally gave myself something to do to pass the time during the late night hours of my days off. This was also a budget build for sure; I didn’t want to spend huge money as my kids suck most the money out of me! Huge thank you to all the posts I’ve read, and re-read several times along with all the resources this forum led me to.

Upon arrival home with my new project, it hadn’t been started in roughly 8 years. The previous owner used the bike to commute back and forth to the space center in Cape Canaveral, FL (35 miles one way) during the big recession of the 2000’s when gas was $4 a gallon. Something seized up with the front brake during a ride home in 2011 and in the garage it went. Until I showed up knocking in mid-2019. The bike had just shy of 35K miles, had good compression and a decent amount of rust, corrosion and grime everywhere although not as bad as I though with spending the majority of its life in salty Florida. Should’ve taken more before pics…guess I was too excited to tear it apart and learn how to fix it!! This was all new territory for me and I figured I’d finally speak up on this forum and share my project.

As for some details….
-Used POR-15 on the frame
-Replaced all cables and lines. Made a huge difference in the “feel” of the controls
-Mechanical seal via the Shep Method
-Primed/Painted the comstars and engine casing. (should’ve spent more time getting into the hard to reach area of the wheel hub, behind the “stars”)
-New clutch assembly, new front brake kit with pistons, carb rebuild kit, new thermostat/rad cap, new petcock and de-rusted tank with vinegar/water solution, exhaust wrap, polished what I could
-Used a 2004 Yamaha XVS650 monoshock to replace original air shock that was shot
-New handlebar and dis-assembled stock switches for a thorough cleaning of the contacts and new grease in the right places (so glad I did this instead of buy new switches and go through the headache of wiring them up)
-Fortunately the paint was in decent shape under all the dust...not original, but it shined up.
-New tires to come soon before she hits the road

Anyhow, what a great experience and look forward to continue working on this bike and hopefully getting another soon to try my hand at building a café racer. Any suggestions are welcomed and again, big thank you to this forum!!!
 

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Nice work, enjoy the ride.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yes, but very little. The top of the shock needed nothing, just a few washers on either side for a snug fit. The bottom needed alteration. In the pic below, the arrows point at two black "collars" inserted in the bottom of the shock mounting point. (Sorry if I use the wrong terminology). The collars slide right out, and they are wider than the bottom of the shock by a few millimeters as that shock moves around the collars. The second pic clearly shows the few millimeter gap between the collar and bottom of the shock. I took out one of the collars and shaved about 1 to 2 mm off it with a hand grinder, which narrowed that gap yet still left just enough room for the shock to still move around the collars. Once shaved...it was plug and play.

The only issue is the bike is lowered, like I said, and is "tippey" so I need to either fabricate a new lower shock bracket to raise the bike or shorten the kick stand to get the appropriate lean when parked.

I haven't adjusted the shock at all but it's at 3 and can go between 1 and 7. I'm a bigger guy, 5 10 and 255 and when I sit on the bike it no longer bottoms out and feels to have good bounce absorption.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I should add, I am planning to try my hand at rebuilding the old shock or getting one of the high dollar Hagon shocks, but this was obviously a very thrifty way of getting her back on the road.
 

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Welcome to the forum. Please add your location to your profile and your bike's model and model year to your signature so that you don't have to remember to tell us every time and we don't have to keep asking when you forget.

And welcome to the world of antique vehicle ownership (they own us, not the other way around). Your bike is 39 years old and aside from being neglected for the last 8, its Previous Owners may or may not have done the maintenance necessary to keep it safe & reliable so it is highly recommended to download the Factory Shop Manual for your model (available through the CX Wiki - link in my signature) and go through all of the service procedures, regardless of whether your bike has reached the specified mileage.

I also recommend looking on all rubber parts with suspicion because rubber does not age gracefully. I can't tell from the pics but if you didn't replace the tires you should replace them before you start using it because old rubber simply cannot flow around the irregularities in the asphalt well enough to grip, especially if it is cool or wet.
I think it looks like you have already installed a modern stainless braided brake line but I'm not sure. If it still has the original rubber brake line (should be replaced every 2 or 3 fluid changes = 5 or 6 years) I recommend shopping for modern stainless braided ones (they last practically forever and double the life of the fluid).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you and I appreciate the info. I'm currently shopping for tires now before she hits the open road. And, yes, I replaced all the lines and cables. Huge difference and feels much safer.
 
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