Fixing my old Motorbike. Maybe


Inspired by @TheAlmightySnark’s Honda pictures I decided to dig up my own bike, a Honda CB500, and probably get it running again.
It has been standing in my shed for the last… dunno… 5 years? Six years probably? My kids don’t even know it exists I think.

Anyway, let’s see…

It must be somewhere in here, behind all that old crap…


Ok, there it is. Standby for crap removal…


It doesn’t look too dire at first glance.
I know the tires are basically new (meaning only a few kilometers used). The tank is almost full (can’t remember if that is good or bad) and if there are no leaks – looks at ground – there should be oil and stuff in there.
The battery is probably dead since I didn’t remove it from the bike.

Rolled it out of the shed. It did squeak a bit, but it rolled pretty well, so I hope that is OK…

My daughter was surprised to see that daddy has a motorbike. :smile:


I put the key in but nothing moved. As expected, the battery is either empty, or dead. Most likely both.

Ok, first things first: get the most important things:
Tools and beer.

The TÜV sticker tells me that the last official inspection has been in 2013. That means that it is illegal to ride that bike in Germany since may 2015.

I removed the battery and attached it to a charger I have.
Problem with that is: I lost the manual, the German/English/Spanish part of it anyway. So all three languages I speak halfway well aren’t there. Meh. The good news is: I can still choose between Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian!
My Norwegian is bad (I learned it for a year or so, 20 years ago, I can barely communicate) but I can still read it well enough to understand what I have to do. It isn’t rocket science after all.


Carbs or FI?



…meh. Not doing anything. There should be another light on.

If I understand the manual correctly that means the battery is too dead to charge…

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As far as I have learned:

  • Tires can expire by age, the number I have always heard is 5 years. Then again, those weren’t out in the sun being damaged by UV.
  • A full gas tank is GOOD. It keeps the tank interior from being exposed to oxygen and rusting. The catch - if the gas may have degraded and can turn a bit sludgy. May have to flush fuel lines and the tank (and carbs if equipped)
  • Oil, coolant (or is that air cooled?) and brake fluid would be good to have flushed and new.
  • Battery toast and likely too sulfated to recover. Get a new one.

Injection. The bike is from 1995 IIRC.
I do have the papers…somewhere.


Unless you added stabilizer to the fuel, I would dispose of it. Change the oil. Lubricate the chain. These things at a minimum. Then clean and lube or replace the cables. Change the brake fluid.


Liquid cooled. Coolant looks OK, I also peeked into the oil and it looks good as well.

The bike has only been driven, like, 100km since the last inspection so most parts should only be damaged from standing around for too long.
The shed is dry and dark though, not too cold or warm either.
She has a tiny bit of rust on some parts, not too severe though.

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Yeah the chain is… not quite dry but not perfect either.

I’ll call my father in law’s neighbor, he lives just 500m from me and knows stuff about engines.


Unless it is full synthetic, IMO would be best to change the oil.


Looks like you did well storing it at least!

A friend of mine that got me riding was going to inherit his dad’s Honda Interceptor (If I am looking at the right thing here it was a 80’s VF500F).

It had rotted flat tires, body damage, dead battery and the gas tank looked to be full of congealed bacon grease. In the end, he decided not to keep it and returned it to his father because he didn’t want to wait to ride, and bought something else.


I think I could have done a bit better, like for example removing the battery, but then… after 5 years it would probably be dead despite that. :smile:

I found the papers, the bike was built in June 1995.
There is also a little piece of paper on which I wrote:
“Refuel after ~320km. ~4.7 liters per 100km”.
You might wonder why I wrote that, but it is actually pretty easy: the bike doesn’t have a fuel gauge.
Edit: but it does have a fuel valve, so it stutters you can switch to reserve and get another 50km or so. Some people have it on reserve at all times but that’s a bit risky. :smile:

I called that guy and he said I should do the following things first:

  • remove the fuel
  • use chrome polish to get rid of the rust on the front suspension in order to not damage the seal rings there.

After that he will visit me and we will take a look at the bike together. He is confident that after changing the fluids and the battery the bike will run just fine.

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That is an excellent point!
I had a fork seal wear out on my bike last year, it’s not a cheap replacement (parts are but it’s a laborious task) and both should be done together while it’s apart.

I checked my papers - that was $78 in parts, and $294 in Labour. (CAD$, before taxes)


Though they will have degraded to “unuseable” state by now. They look fine but they wont have as much grip as a new set of tires and might give out on you in rainy conditions a lot quicker then you’d expect. I would recommend new tires at some point, but you can drive it safely if you are gentle and take road conditions in consideration!

[quote=“Aginor, post:2, topic:8376”] The tank is almost full (can’t remember if that is good or bad) and if there are no leaks – looks at ground – there should be oil and stuff in there.

This is very very good!

Good plan, you can likely get it to crank for a bit, make sure you remove the exciter plugs(spark plugs in non-aviation terms :wink: ) first, and crank the cylinders for a bit to get oil to go around without combusting the thing! It’s worth checking the spark plugs too and making sure they have a good spark.

Consider topping off the battery, might be low on water!

I would agree, though oil might be fine for now, don’t flush it yet until you are ready to get a fresh set in, it’s useful for diagnosing problems without wasting new oil!

Brake fluid attracts water like mad, so check that. It might still be fine though. Should be slightly brownish but not murky or dirty. Water looks whiteish.

These things can take a punch, though are you sure its injection? Honda’s from this generation are usually carbed.

EDIT: Wikipedia says carbed:

My advice would be to first get it to crank and run for a short bit before going to overhaul and replace everything. Brake pads might be a little stuck but that ought to loosen up after a few days of driving(the piston’s might be a bit dirty.

Work from the fuel tank down, see if the tank selector valve is still okay, see if it draws a vacuum, presume the carbs are clogged though.

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If you need any help or questions give me a shout…

I raced in the cb500 cup in 2002 and 2003.

Had more than a few bikes in my time (still squirreling away a few at the back of the garage)

Happy to help :blush:


You are right, it has carburetors.

The guy I talked to also recommended leaving the oil in for now, and only change it after doing careful test runs.

He is torn about the tires. The manufacturer says that their shelf storage maximum age is 7+ years so they might still OK, but we will check them carefully.

EDIT: I will be careful with them, I drive like a grandma anyway, dunno why. It’s not that I am scared, but I have always been a very careful driver, both with cars and bikes.

Next week I’ll do the polishing and drain the fuel and then he’ll come over and take a look.

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The thing with tires too is you can’t be certain how new they were when they were installed, they could have been on a warehouse shelf for 6 months before you got them.

There should be a date stamp somewhere indicating the week and year of manufacture.

More info here:

**This is a US link and the date code is near the DOT stamp, which I see here in Canada too. For Europe, I can’t be 100% but I’d gather it’s similar.


If the carbs were not drained before storage, then more than likely you’ve got some varnish in the bowls and a few clogged jets. None of this is hard to clean, but since there are multiple carbs in the middle of that beast, I don’t envy the job.


It’s a beautiful thing. Spend some coin and get her back on the road. I dont need to add to what’s been said. Just start riding easy. This is so cool.
Ok I must advise. Tires are like milk. When new they are soft, sticky and flexible. After 5 years they are dry and this makes them not stick to the road. They can easily burst because the sidewalls are sooo dry.
The battery is a non negotiable. Please dont even think of not changing it. A must unless you like walking in motorcycle clothes.
Oil has to go. I would not even go across town with 5 year old oil.
Have fun buddy

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