1980 Honda XL500S
From: "Columbro" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My name is Corey Columbro from Victoria in Australia. I am 16 years old, This is a story and some pictures of my newly restored XL 500S 1980 Model. This bike took me about 7 months to restore working on it after school, holidays and weekends.
I brought my 1980 Honda XL 500S about June 2000 $250. It was running pretty good when I saw it, but it wasn't really for sale until I asked the owner. He said "well anything is for sale", so I asked him how much?.
He said $300 and I said $250 but he was not sure. I took it for a ride and it went ok but it was jumping in and out of first gear all the time above idle but the bike didn't blow any smoke. I told him not to go selling it for the next few days while I thought about it.
The next day came and I wanted to buy it for sure so I called his wife and she said somebody else was buying it. So I offered the money right there and then because I had it in my wallet. Well, these people are not real reliable so the next day came before I heard a reply,
Living next door, She came over to our house on the way back from somewhere and talked. She rang her husband and it was not sold yet so she said $250 to him and he agreed and I brought it. I went and rode it back right then, it was shaking around a bit when I got to about 60 Km/h. It turned out that the back rim was buckled bad. I checked the oil before I went for another ride and I saw "@!$^&** NO OIL AT ALL IN THE GEARBOX", so I topped it up with what we had around and started it up. Again, it blew heaps of thick blue oily smoke! The old owners wife was still there and she said do you still want it? I said yeah for $250 you can't go wrong, so I kept it.
Really it was way to smoky to ride, it was about three times as smoky than an over oiled 2 Stroke, so I only rode it occasionally for the next 2 weeks until I decided to go for a complete tear down and fully rebuild the beast.
When I rebuilt the engine I spent over $650 on parts, and I bead blasted the entire engine with a homemade bead blaster that we whipped up in not long in a 44 gallon drum. To do this everything needed to be totally dismantled. It took a while to rebuild the engine because I kept finding other worn parts and then getting money and the time it takes to get the parts.
When I pulled it apart there were gouges scratched on the torque side of the cylinder, obviously from running dry for a short time, I needed to re-bore from standard to .75mm over size (3 sizes). Every thing else in the top end was fine, except the inlet valves that were really pulled into the head, so I put new after market valves in it. The cam was also in good condition. Of course I replaced the timing and balancer chains with new ones.
When I pulled the gearbox apart it all looked fine, but it took a really good look, the first gear selector fork was twisted and bent and the 4th gear what meshes into first was rounded on the ends where it actually goes into first. I replaced the fork and gear with second hand ones. I also put brand new oil pump gears and a sprocket oil seal in.
While I was looking for a new back rim, I found a friend who had one so he gave it to me for free (well it think it was for free). When I saw it, it was a disc brake wheel and he had all the bits to make it work so he gave me them too. From there on I was looking for a later model disc brake front end, because you can't just have rear disc, can you?
So I went onto repairing the side covers as one was cracked pretty bad, my father is a panel beater/spay painter and he had some glue to glue it up with, I had heaps and heaps of trouble with it cracking back through the primer after a few days, even now it is still cracked.
All the other bits were fine and just needed some chips filled and a good coat of filler primer. I even painted the switches on the handle bars metallic black and all the red lettering again. They look better than brand new. The front guard that I had was off something else so I needed another one. I got a second hand 81-84 model XL 250 front guard. I was having a lot of trouble with the primer falling off, but anyway I just needed to be careful.
I got the frame sand blasted and applied a coat of primer straight on and sat it aside for a while until I had finished with the other bits. I then shoved the engine into the frame to get my grandfather to make some spacers for the axle to line up the front and rear sprockets to suit the disc brake hub. He is a retired fitter and turner by trade and has all the machines in his garage.
After that we started to fit up the brake caliper and master cylinder, I used the same old pedal and just cut off all the other bits what used to pull the cable. After I mounted the master cylinder I made a bracket and welded it to the pedal to push the piston. It is virtually set up like a new bike these days. We then needed to make and extra bracket off the original caliper bracket to make up for the extra space of where the stopper to stop the caliper from going around with the disc. Because of the twin shock, the caliper could not be put in its proper position. We made the bracket and welded some bits to the frame and there you go, a disc braked rear XL 500S.
Well now, the front end also needed a disc brake to match the rear. I asked the man who I got the rear wheel off of if he had a front wheel, he didn't. So I looked again for a front end, without wanting to spend too much. A swap meet was coming up so my father, a friend and I went to the meet. We had almost lost hope in finding something because all that was there was early model stuff like pre 60's. Well we stumbled across a shiny thing and checked it out, unbelievably it was off a 84 XR 500 with everything on it except a front wheel, even the speedo, caliper and master cylinder was on it.
We asked how much and they wanted, $200. That was pretty cheap but we ended up getting it for $150, a BARGAIN! So we carried it around for another 2 hours. When we got home the rim with the 18 on it fit perfectly into the forks disc and all. I eventually found a secondhand wheel at a motorcycle wreckers for $75, the spokes were really rusty but I had ideas and brought it. I accidentally broke one spoke and needed to buy one new one. I ended up cleaning off the rust and polishing and clear coating them. I then put the wheel together myself with a new knobby tyre.
When it got to fitting up the front the head stem on the frame was too short for the shaft in the triple clamps by about 20mm Another job for my grandfather to make a spaced out cup to take up for the extra space. Well that all worked out fine. Now I could get it rolling.
Little bits went on and it came to the rusty old exhaust system that was on it. I could not put that ugly thing on it, so I fabricated a full stainless steel exhaust out of inch and a half pipe for the headers, two inch for the exhaust and three inch at the muffler and a two inch tail pipe. I got all this for free from a friend of mine's father.
Now that everything that needed to be welded to the frame is done, the bike was painted extra course metallic silver, the same as the tank, side covers and guards.
Painting the guards and side covers was pretty easy except for even more trouble with that stinking side cover. I put straight orange paint on the pinstripes around a sunset red metallic stripe as you can see.
The final assembly took the best part of one day. It all went together, no dramas, just a leaky fuel tap for about 10 minutes until the seal wet up a bit.
I kicked it over and on the third kick it fired up sounding really good and more like a later model bike. It was running a bit rich so I lowered the float and leaned it off but it was still rich. Then I lowered the float just a bit more and it was better but not perfect. I then leaned it off to the leanest notch it was the next one anyway, well its running ok now but not 100%, I think the needle is worn. I ended up finding a vacuum leak in the manifold, after I fixed that it made it 100% better again.
There's more to talk about but if anyone has any questions or anything to ask about these XL's you can E-mail me at email@example.com
From: "Columbro" <firstname.lastname@example.org>