Honda 500 Four
I have owned this fine machine for 24 years.
I bought it from a friend in 1987 and he had owned it for quite a few years before that.
It is registered as an Historic vehicle so it is road tax free.
As classic bike insurance is very cheap and its Tax free, your annual costs could just be an MoT – so cheap motoring.
As BIKE magazine said then the 500 was launched – why buy the 750? The 500/4 is lighter, has a better power to weight ratio and is quicker to 60 mph. It also handles incredibly well for an early Honda or indeed any bike of the era. I have (when younger) had both footrest touching the tarmac and you can even get it over further and touch down the underside of the exhaust – which is a hell of a lean angle.
It is a UK bike from new and was registered on 11th April 1973.
In 1998 it was stripped down and checked over and rebuilt. My father did it and he had been an aero engineer since 1939, rebuilding Merlin’s – so the Honda was deemed a simple little engine. He replaced the primary drive chain, the cam chain and sprockets, lightly honed it and fitted new rings, stripped/rebuilt the head and probably a few other bits that I don’t now remember. We had a factory workshop manual and the Haynes one to guide him. It had all new plugs, filters etc. The carbs were set up on vacuum gauges and it ticked over very sweetly. After a gentle running in it did an indicated 110mph sitting up which was deemed to be healthy – I’m 6ft4 so a smaller rider may have gone faster.
The front brake calliper was stripped and rebuilt with new seals and the original brake master cylinder/lever assembly was swapped for a Brembo one from a Ducati in an attempt to improve the braking. It did improve matters and is indeed much better than 99% of drum brakes, but it is only a single disk. The bike comes with the original Honda brake master cylinder and lever assembly and also a second spare one. You could refit the original and David Silver does a rebuild kit for them. The brake hose was replaced with a two part stainless braided Goodridge hose – with the brake light switch in the middle of the line. We tried everything to update the brakes!
The exhaust I have always believed to be an early Yoshimura system. It is a 4 into 1 and easily passes an MoT for noise. It has a deep pleasant burbly noise that is sweet to listen to but won’t annoy the neighbours.
The seat is a special period Giuliarl seat designed and branded for the 500 Four. I have not seen another one like it and it looks really good on the bike. It is in good condition with no holes.
The rear light lens has been changed and is probably a US spec one as I don’t remember the UK ones having side reflectors – but no doubt a 500Four expert can correct me if I am wrong.
Apart from the above and the paint, I think the rest of it is all original.
After rebuilding it and doing a few hundred miles on it I bought a Ducati and it was parked up. It was last on the road in 1999 and has sat collecting spiders since in the garage.
Last week I decided to pull it out and see if it would start. I drained the fuel tank of 10+ year old petrol and threw in a handful of stainless bolts and give it a good shake around to clear out any sediment then thoroughly flushed it out. I removed stripped out the fuel tap (it comes with a spare original one) and changed the seal that connects the tap to the tank. While the tank and etc was off I gave a good look over it on the work bench and all seemed good. The tyres still had 1999 air in them and pumped them up to 40psi to ensure they held firm – all was well. I connected up an old battery and removed opposite plugs and found we had a spark. The headlight park, low and high beam worked as did the rear light. The brake light worked on the rear brake but no on the front. The front brake light is an inline simple pressure switch. The horn made a feeble parping noise so probably needs a few spiders removing. The electric start turned the engine over quickly. Even though I had cleaned out the tank I wanted to ensure no “crap” reached the carbs so bought a couple of inline fuel filters and fitted these. Refitted the fuel tank added new petrol and after reminding myself which way the choke is on/off the old Dinosaur bust into life with that lovely distinctive four cylinder burble. I let it warm up looking for any leaks and then went for a gentle ride around the garden – the first time it had moved under its own steam in 10+ years. I had bought a new battery from David Silver.
I then sat back with a celebratory mug of tea to look at it – its a lovely looking bike. I noticed that fuel was dripping from a carb and despite tapping the carbs and all the usual tricks (tapping the float bowls etc.) It still was leaking from somewhere. A closer inspection revealed that fuel was trickling down from the fuel tap even with the tap turned off so I have ordered a new fuel tap on/off seal to see if that cures it. Either way I think it would benefit from having the carbs stripped and rebuilt as the seals inside are over 10 years old. The front brake is a little “sticky” and I think it would benefit from pumping out the brake piston and cleaning it out and adding a new seal. David Silver sells all the bits and a piston seal is just £3.95. the bike comes with a spare used front brake calliper.
The tyres as good and the tubes are still holding pressure so other than the above I think she is ready for the road.
The paintwork and chrome are not concours/new and have some pitting and marks and rather try and list them all I have added lots of high res picture here
The pictures make it look shinier than it is.
The Honda has now has a happy ending as I have returned it to the orginal owner that I got it from 24 years ago. He had to give it up when he joined the Navy. He seems very happy to have it back although his wife is now too pleased!
In October 2011 I published a few pictures of old bikes - my father and his pals riding around Europe in 1953 on a Brough Superior, Triumph Thunderbirds etc and in just a couple of months the page has had over 13 million hits!
That web page is here - http://www.go-faster.com/SS100.html
If you like even older bikes, then you may be interested to read about my exploits on my 1914 4hp Triumph. I bought it in November 2011 and being a novice to such ancient machines have started to record my experiences of owning and riding it. It is quite an experience riding a bike with no gears, no clutch and almost no brakes!
I have also created a page about a 1911 Triumph that was once owned by my grandfather,
As people have contacted me asking where they could a similar Veteran motorcycle, I have created a web page listing any that are for sale or recently sold - so you can get an idea of values.
I have now (January 2012) I bought a 1954 Triumph T110 and created a page about Triumph T110's.
As people have contacted me asking where they could buy a Triumph T110, I have created a web page listing any that are for sale or recently sold - so you can get an idea of values.
See - http://www.go-faster.com/TriumphT110ForSale.html
I have a page about the TVR Griffith 500, see http://www.go-faster.com/TVR_Griffith_500.html
I have a web page about the VW Golf GT Tdi 170, see http://www.go-faster.com/VW-Golf-GT-TDI-170.html