Monday, 11 July 2016

Hacking: Honda CX500

I bought my CX because it was cheap. I have never had a great desire to own or ride one. Indeed, I think it was the mysterious movers way of getting even. Who knows, maybe God rides a CX cos he can't afford a Guzzi. You may have realised by now that I have spent more than my fair share of time saying unkind things about them and the people who buy them. In the light of experience I apologise for nothing; it was all true.

The deal was done in the traditional manner - over a pint in the local. The bike had been sat in a garage for two years, but the owner assured me that he could get it to run. I became sceptical when he mentioned that he'd taken a few bits from her, but quickly decided to take a look when he said £80, with a spare engine thrown in.

There it stood in its rusty glory. The frame was fairly tidy, at some time in its life it had been brush painted in dark blue Hammerite. Surprisingly, it did not look so bad, which is more than can be said for the pillar box red hulk of a handlebar fairing whatever reasonable handling characteristics the bike once might have had, they were surely lost the day that thing had been fitted. Who would want to be seen riding it anyway?

The tyres were worn away, I couldn't check the brake pads because there weren't any, the front guard was eaten through with rust at its mounting points (although I filled it and cleaned it up). there were thin layers of rust and copious layers of dust. There was a wooden knock which increased with engine speed - the owner admitted that this was why it had been stored away; they never admit that in the beginning. Perhaps he thought that two years spent getting rusty might have solved the problem?

I thanked the owner and retired to the bottom of the drive to discuss the evidence with a knowledgeable friend. To my mind, selling a used motorcycle always seems like trying to persuade the jury that you're innocent. This looked like a guaranteed conviction. Leaving the melodrama aside. having deduced that the knock was nothing more than a loose cooling fan, the dastardly deed was done.

The whole bike plus spare engine was shoe-homed into the back of a 2CV, resulting in many a bemused stare as we made the 70mph journey home. We then carried both rolling chassis and engines up four flights of stairs so that I could rebuild the bike in the comfort of my bedroom. Before you doubt my sanity, living in a fourth floor flat makes keeping an eye on your ground floor property difficult.

The rebuild was a painless affair. The frame got a new coat of blue Hammerite, mainly for protection rather than looks. The rust that covered everything I attacked with varying grades of wire wool, which is great stuff that always seems to work miracles on grotty metal surfaces, if you don't mind spending the next 24 hours pulling small metal splinters out of your hand.

The exhaust had been made up from what looked like an old pair of down—tubes and a length of hollow metal pipe without any kind of baffling - an old piece of car exhaust was shaped into a baffle and inserted into the length of pipe - the whole system was then sprayed in heat resistant black.

Very little was done to the benched engine. The cooling fan was replaced with a used item. Part worn Metzelers were fitted. The MOT was a formality and I had a working bike for around £130.

The first thing to tail was the front mudguard which is now languishing somewhere on the M1 just outside Nottingham, after departing at 70mph The baffles kept falling out, We now made three and am thinking of welding the last one in; the other two went on the M1 and M40.

Performance, handling, street cred? Don't be silly. It'll sit on the motorway up to about 80mph, it doesn't feel secure or precise, but then for the kind of money I paid out I don't expect it to. A few thousand miles under its belt and guess what happened? Yes, the bloody camchain went, didn't it. Oh well, just have to carry the CX up four flights of stairs again, wonder what I did in a past life to deserve this?

G. Cutmore

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