CX & GL MCC (UK)
Dave's Motorcycling life
My interest in motorcycles started like most small boys at around 16. As I am a 'summer' baby,
all my friends at school were older than me and so had a bike before me. One thing I did learn was
how to fix them.
Back in about 1976, my best mate bought a beautifully restored (it was only 8 years old)
BSA C15 (JRV344F). It was not long before a nasty knocking noise developed. Yes you guessed it, the
big end had failed. Anyway, we stripped this thing down and I was fascinated by just how simple and
easy to understand the inside of an engine is. We soon got this thing fixed up as good as new and he kept
it until some b%^%$£%d relieved him of one night outside his house.
He never saw it again.
My first motorcycle was a Honda CB200 (GJS367N) bought 21/1/78 from John Fisher (sadly no longer with us) in New Road, Portsmouth
for the sum of £350. I soon taught myself to ride and on 30/6/78, passed my test.
For you youngsters, the motorcycle test back then was not exactly taxing. Mine consisted of riding around the block a few times
while the examiner leant on a lamppost chatting to some old lady. I went round a few times and did the old emergency stop.
Trust me to adjust my brakes before the test, I locked up the back wheel a treat. Damn I thought, that's me failed.
I then had to ride feet-up at walking pace for a bit and answer a few easy highway code bits. I explained about adjusting my brakes which he bought.
He then said, Thank you, you have passed.
My first stop was my local clothing supplier to buy a helmet for my then girlfriend. I still have the helmet (not in use) and I still have the girlfriend (very much in use - I married her)
It soon became obvious that little Honda was a bit on the small side for both of us. My best mate (of the C15, see above) had a Kawasaki KZ400.
As I was not very confidant of handling a heavy bike, I rode his for a bit and decided on of those would fit the bill.
I found one at Bob Golner in Denmead (also closed now) and on 1/8/78 after parting with £440, I was the proud owner of JOW486P.
I regretted buying her from almost day one. It was pretty slow, handled poorly and to cap it all, as it was a Kawasaki, I had a hell of a job finding someone to insure it.
At the time, Kawasaki's had a poor reputation due to the 500 and 750 two-stroke triples which were killing large numbers of young men due to the combination of lots of power and a rubber frame.
After about a year, reliability became a problem. The KZ400 is a good old fashioned vertical twin which left to its own devices, vibrates, horribly.
To overcome this, these clever Jap buggers put some contra-rotaing bob weights fore and aft of the crankshaft, chain driven by a chain resting on the bottom 1/8th of a sprocket in the middle of the crankshaft.
Some of you may have spotted the obvious flaw, as soon as the rubber slipper pushing the chain in place starts to wear, the chain slips.
Instead of a smooth engine, I sometimes had one that would almost go along on the stand. And I still kept it.
I had a standing order with my local dealer for a pair of slipper tensioners and every three months, out would come the engine and I would fit a new set of modified tensioners.
At work one day, I was chatting to a colleague in the gents of all places. I happened to mention that I always fancied rebuilding a wreck.
He said, blimey what a coincidence, I have an old BSA in my garage. Went round to see him that evening and there was this C15 SS80 Sports Star sitting there in three
cardboard boxes plus the frame and wheels. After a quick check to see it she was all there, I phoned my dad up as he had a car and I handed over £50.
As I had rebuilt a C15 engine some 5 years before, I remembered how it went together, which it did apart from one thrust washer.
I stripped the frame and hammerited it, striped the petrol tank (100% chromed under the paint), oil tank and battery cover and sprayed a nice blue. There were
a few bits missing, like a carb. and the bit behind the engine that covered the battery. I found a carb, an Amal Concentric, and had an adaptor made at work.
I had heaps of fun on that, rode it a lot whilst the Kawasaki was off the road. Sold it for £250.
Before JOW486P, I happened to read in a bike mag (cant remember which one but I do remember the headline - 'V' sign of the times) a review of this unusual new bike from Honda. It was a v-twin, water cooled, shaft drive and I loved it from the first sight.
Yes, you guessed it, it's a CX500.
At the start of 1981, I had finally had enough of my KZ400, she really was just to go. Money was tight, I was newly married with a mortgage etc etc so my ambitions were limited.
Then I saw in the damaged repairables section of MCN a CX500 for £500. This was at Southern Motor Cycles in Woolston, Southampton. I rode over and took a look.
She had no clocks, a big dent in the tank, a dent in the front wheel and a scrape in the right hand exhaust. She did have a King and Queen seat!.
I bought her on the spot and had them deliver it to my house in North End, Portsmouth.
After a few copies of Exchange and Mart and a visit to my very friendly Honda dealer (they used to throw the head lamp cowls away when they fitted a fairing),
I had her ship shape and raring to go. It cost about another £200 to get her back on the road (clocks and wheels mainly).
I loved EPL966V from the first ride, it is that fantastic sound and the K&Q was just so comfy for both of us. Apart from snapping the cam-chain tensioner, she was so reliable.
As comes to us all, my biking days came to an end. Child and job meant learning to drive and on 13/9/1983, I sold her for £450. It broke my heart and I vowed one day to have another.
We now move on to 1997.
I started to seriously think about getting a bike again. In all the years I was off, I missed almost every day.
The hard part was persuading my wife.
At the place I worked, there was this guy with a really quite nice looking Yamaha XS250. I got chatting and he said he wanted to sell it.
I asked how much, he said £350. I had a ride on it, didn't feel too bad so I said £300 and throw in your helmet end gloves and I will have it.
1/5/97 and I was back!!
Ok, it was slow, handled poorly but it was cheap and it was a bike.
I rode her for almost 5 years (summer and dry weather only), by which time I had changed jobs and had a round trip of 50 miles.
That's a bit for a poor little 250 so this spring, I started working on her (my wife) about getting a new bike.
I had a test ride on a Kawasaki ER5, which I quite liked but it was very small. Then I tried a GS500 which I hated.
I began to think, what do I really want. the answer came back CX500.
I had a good trawl round to Internet for a month or so and found quite a few for sale. All in the £500 - £750 bracket. Within her budget, just.
On Fish4, I found one that sounded promising. An early CX500 with 15,000 only clock, laid up for 12 years. I went to see it and managed to get it for £450.
Borrowed the van from work and picked her up. I had forgotten just how heavy these things are to hump around but got her in my garage without incident.
After lots of general bit and bobs, I got her running and got her on the road at the beginning of June, just after the rally. Doh.
Boy, it is wonderful to have one again.
Over the Winter, I had the engine out to do a few jobs, one of these was to swap the stator with a spare. Yes, I now have two of these wonderful machines.
This one is a red one, just like EPL966V. It was laid up since 1984 with 28,000 on the clock. Needs a lot of work including a new seat pan and forks.
She was laid up due to a small accident resulting in a broken clutch lever, smached indicator and a bent fork leg. It does have the original seat cover though.
Work on her is progressing slowly.
But I digresss.
Now JUG582V is back on the road. She still misfired just the same. At least the stator is good, that is going back in the red one. Another few pennies saved.
Bit the bullet and purchased a genuine air filter and new plugs (DR8ESL). Runs like a champ. I have put about 1500 on her so far this season, it's only April.
So, here's to another year of CX500 riding. Next purchase is a pair of silencers. That should restore that wonderful sound we all love
At last I have sorted out all my little misfires. I have six coils and caps and the worst two were on the bike. Good coils and caps and a good earth make all the differance. Bought a pair of silencers from the club shop, sound much better but the rivets in the ends keep working loose. It's GripFill time.
This winter, it is time to do a bit more work such as:
Clean and regrease the steering head
Replace the tyres with Continentals
Replace the cam chain and tensioners
Replace the mechanical Seal
Check and if required, replace the starter clutch
Refurish the starter motor
Replace the top section of brake hose with a steel one
She now has almost 28,000 on the clock. This year, she has been to Keswick and Anglesey.
Both trips made without incident. Fancy a trip over the channel now. The bike will take it, not sure about me!
Most of the jobs are now done.
Replaced fork oil and seals. Much firmer up front, almost too firm.
Replaced silencers from club shop. Not very good :-(
Replaced tyres with Continentals. Excellent
Replaced starter motor and chrome water pipe from Hanover haul
Replaced terrible rack (it broke again) with Honda rack
Still to do.
Get her back the original colour. I have a side cover to use as a match. Just need a headlamp cowl and a left cover to go with the tail and tank I have.
Replace the top section of brake hose with a steel one
Knowning a CX, I am sure a few more jobs will crop up before the year is out.