My 30 Year Old Motorcycle

Honda 550k motorcycleMy 30 year old Honda CB550 motorcycle is making me nervous. Last year its electrical system wasn’t acting normal: fuses would blow every week or so. I eventually put a higher voltage (I think) in it, which seems to have solved the problem, but it made me nervous: I fear the 30 year old part will break on me while I’m traveling fast on a highway.

I put the battery in last weekend and started it up with no problem since having it in storage for the winter, and I took it for a short ride today; however, I’m getting a major tune-up done on it next week at Irishtown Cycle:

  • Oil and filter change. I usually do this, but I’m not this time since he’ll probably have to drain the oil for other maintenance.
  • Check: spark plugs, all blots, throttle valve operation, spokes, brake caliper and pad linings, brake fluid, rear brake stopper arm, chain and sprockets, axles, wheel bearings, rear brake shoe line, front fork oil, steering head bearings, cables
  • Compression test
  • Clean oil screen filter
  • Lubricate throttle cables
  • Change oil filter element
  • Adjust carburetors
  • Adjust ignition timing
  • Adjust valve tappet clearances
  • Adjust cam chain
  • Adjust clutch
  • Clean fuel valve filter

I don’t know what most of that stuff means: I copied it from my Clymer Honda CB350-550 SOHC Fours 1971-1978 Service manual.

12 Replies to “My 30 Year Old Motorcycle”

  1. just ride man ride…. I am getting the insurance for the 71 beemer…if you have a knowledegeble mechanic all will be well…or not..just ride….

    if I had the means i would buy a later model bike mayby…but i do not so I just ride .. just ride….

  2. I rode to work this morning. It was -1. My hands were frozen. I usually wear wind-pants when it gets that cold, but I forgot. Good ride, though! My helmet visor fogged up a bit; I had to keep it up most of the way.

  3. One thing that drives me crazy about maintenance places doing work on my bike is when they adjust my breaks and clutch. I work on it over and over at every stop for weeks on end until finally it feels exactly right then some jerkface “fixes” it for me.

    I still have to pay the government to register mine, even though I pay them about 20k a year in taxes they still have a need to rip me off for more.

  4. ahhh taxes…the lifeblood of my corruption…I mean good deeds…pender every time you pay your municipal property tax I thank you on behalf of my fellow theives…I mean commited public servents there in Sackville Nova Scotia…or wherever you reside….

  5. Well, I put the bike in the shop this morning. I asked the owner of Irishtown Cycle, Roland, to “make it new again”, which is impossible. There are no major problems with it; I just want the assurance that no 30 year old part will break on it.

  6. I have never had a bill for less than 800.00…I need to get handy…Jody I have been out for the last two days on the 72 with the side car…it is a blast…took the kids to school today in it…they loved it…well…anja likes the k bike cause it ‘s newer ,86, and smoother. but I am really enjoying the ride, and there is something very satifiying when one kick starts a bike and it starts on the first kick…just a warm fuzzy feeling before you even start to ride….

  7. My bike has a kick-start and an electric start. I’ve never had to use the kick-start, although I sometimes do it anyway cause it just feels cool.

    I want a side-car.

  8. I have a 1978 Honda CB550K which has been my pride and joy for three years. At the end of the first year, it blew a main fuse, which shuts off EVERYTHING–lights, ignition, starter, etc. I discovered the bad fuse after some fooling around, replaced it with another, and that one blew so fast that I spent a lot of time checking other systems before realizing that I had a bad fuse again.

    Once I worked that out, it ran just fine through all of last year and several thousand miles with nothing but normal maintenance.

    I’ve had the bike out for over a month this year and it’s been fine. Last night it blew another main fuse. I’d learned from the first experience to carry a box of spares and so was up and running without trouble. Today (12 miles later) it blew another one! Once again, a replacement got me home but obviously I’ll be having a look at everything before trusting it much.

    I have been told that old Hondas tend to blow fuses for no reason other than to show the rider who is in charge–might it just be “moody”? Nothing has been messed with as far as the electrical system is concerned, though a Vetter fairing with lights was professionally installed at some time in the past. There are some electrical-taped connections running to the tail/brake light and turn signals–I’ll be checking these out tomorrow.

    Beyond that, should I perhaps consider a “slow blow” fuse (bike uses glass tube fuses)? Or perhaps put a higher capacity fuse on the main? Every other system on the bike seems to have its own fuse and I can’t understand why the main keeps blowing when there’s never been the slightest problem with any of the others.

    Getting about ready to try the old gum wrapper trick. Yeah, I know that’d be dumb….going to check out those connections to the rear light first.

  9. Back brake problem on the 72, I really have to learn to get handy…I miss it already…I am going to go get the 86 out…what decadance…two bikes…#$#!@ the debt…I am truely a grasshopper…

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