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Hi everyone,

I am a new member and new motorcycle rider. I just bought my first 'real' bike - an 81 GL500. The past few years I have owned a 63 vespa which is super fun, but I wanted an upgrade because I can't take the scoot more than 5 miles away from my house due to it's limitations on roads around here.

In any case, on to the bike. The bike is in awesome shape, only 4300 miles and engine works great so far, starts easy (at least right now in the summer, not sure how it will cold start in the winter). No pictures right now because I pulled off the tank and seats, but it looks clean.

The bad: it was left outside for part of its life, not sure how many winters. The inside of the tank is in bad shape so I am in the process of cleaning out the rust. Paint is surprisingly good considering what the inside looks like. Brake fluid is nasty looking and gummy so I am thinking it would be a good idea to replace the master cylinder, fluids, and pads. Tires have good tread but I don't know how old they are so I'll probably replace those too.

Overall I am pretty happy with it and it's a good place for me to start. My intention is to just fix the safety stuff and some minor cosmetics so I can ride it the rest of the season, then do the cafe conversion over the winter.

Cheers
 

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'84 CX650E that is evolving into a GL500
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Welcome to the forum and welcome to the world of antique vehicle ownership (as you probably figured from the Vespa, they own us, not the other way around). Your bike is about 4 decades old and the 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. Tires should be replaced if they are over 5 years old no matter how good they look & feel (old rubber simply cannot flow around the irregularities in the asphalt well enough to grip, especially if it is cool or wet); Their age can be determined from their date codes but if the bike has been sitting long enough for the tank and brake fluid to to get into the condition you describe it is a pretty good bet the tires are too old. If the brake fluid has thickened I'd bet your bike still has the original rubber brake lines (should be replaced every 2 or 3 fluid changes = 5 or 6 years) so I recommend shopping for modern stainless braided ones (they last practically forever and double the life of the fluid). And don't forget things like the rad hoses and the boot between the engine and swingarm (they can split on the bottom where you don't normally see it).

I wouldn't worry about winter starting in balmy Portland. I drove a GL500 sidecar outfit as my daily commuter for 5 winters here in Ontario and although It had a lower rad hose heater and there was a plug where I parked I never used it unless the temperature was below freezing and it started reliably after work (the block heater was nice to have when it was below -20c, though).

If you are considering a cafe bike, does winter starting really matter anyway? I wouldn't want something with exposed air filters in sloppy wet weather.... Have a look at how mine developed specifically for winter use in the Never Ending Build thread (link in my signature) - quite the opposite of a cafe bike.

The best advice anyone can give you about customizing any vehicle is to get it safe & reliable in more or less original condition (as you are planning to do) and use it for a while before you start making any changes so it can tell you what changes it needs to make it do what you want/need better. That approach almost always results in something you actually want to keep and use but making changes based on style or on what someone else (who may or may not really understand how the changes affect the way it works) has done often results in a piece of expensive yard art that you can't stand sitting on for more than a few minutes and might even be dangerous.
 

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Welcome to the forum Kevwardo! I hope you find it informative and helpful in getting your GL500 on the road and keeping it well maintained.
Do make sure you change all the fluids and probably the tires and fork seals as well. You want to be on a safe and well maintained machine.
 

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Hi everyone,

I am a new member and new motorcycle rider. I just bought my first 'real' bike - an 81 GL500. The past few years I have owned a 63 vespa which is super fun, but I wanted an upgrade because I can't take the scoot more than 5 miles away from my house due to it's limitations on roads around here.

In any case, on to the bike. The bike is in awesome shape, only 4300 miles and engine works great so far, starts easy (at least right now in the summer, not sure how it will cold start in the winter). No pictures right now because I pulled off the tank and seats, but it looks clean.

The bad: it was left outside for part of its life, not sure how many winters. The inside of the tank is in bad shape so I am in the process of cleaning out the rust. Paint is surprisingly good considering what the inside looks like. Brake fluid is nasty looking and gummy so I am thinking it would be a good idea to replace the master cylinder, fluids, and pads. Tires have good tread but I don't know how old they are so I'll probably replace those too.

Overall I am pretty happy with it and it's a good place for me to start. My intention is to just fix the safety stuff and some minor cosmetics so I can ride it the rest of the season, then do the cafe conversion over the winter.

Cheers
Hi Kevwardo, I hope you will enjoy the GL 500. I also have a maroon 81 GL which I bought new in 1982. It currently have done 41000 km. I also bought a deregistered ( scraped) one in 2008/2009 mainly for spares if needed. I now contemplating to attempt to do the cafe Conversion with this one.
Greetings
 

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Kevwardo very wise advice from Sidecar Bob regarding modifying any motorcycle. The time and money spend should not reward us with a unsafe bike.
Greetings.
 

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'84 CX650E that is evolving into a GL500
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Don't forget to make those forum settings. They really do make it easier to help each other because there are some significant differences, not only between between models and model years but also between versions sold in different parts of the world.
 

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'82 GL500 '83 GL650 '21 RoyalEnfield INT650
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Welcome aboard! This is my "Marroon" GL500. Has just under 8,000 miles on it. Doesn't have a windshield on it currently, but a Spitfire is going on it. I also took the leather bags off and put them on my GL650, since the new trunk is good for commuting and going to the grocery store.
202947
 
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