That time of year again – MOT. No matter how confident you are the bike is all fine, there’s always a little worry in the back of your head, just in case it fails for some reason. Certainly been a well used bike with 9k gone on the clock since last MOT.
After a prior bad experience at my usual MOT garage, I decided to give Burwin Motorcycles over in Islington a go. Had heard a few good reports and they open at 8am. Big bonus, as I couldn’t afford much time off work. As it happened, they started even earlier and I was done and down the road by 8:30am – that’s what I call service. Barely had chance to drink a coffee in a nearby swanky pre/post drinks artisan coffee shop cum off license specialising in gin…
Last week when my wife tried to take her bike out she discovered the Squire padlock had seized, leaving it chained to the ground! Neither key would unlock, we tried dousing it in WD40, GT85 and Halfords Shock’n’Unlock spray, even after been left to soak for a day or two. We tried tapping it with a hammer, but nothing would make the key budge in the lock.
Upon contacting Security For Bikes who we purchased it from, they informed us it was covered by a 10 year warranty and put us in touch with an engineer at Squire. They got back to very quickly with some advice, mostly what we had tried already, but as a last resort suggested applying pliers to the key to force the lock. This worked and the padlock opened, however it wouldn’t unlock again subsequently.
As per Squire’s advice we sent it back for repair/replacement. A couple of days later a brand new padlock arrived through the post with a cheque to refund us for postage. So, a big thumbs up goes to Squire, for their top customer service, prompt responses and a warranty that really is worth the paper it’s printed on.
The front brake on Mary’s CBF500 had been feeling a bit spongy since we bought it and just didn’t inspire much confidence. At first we dismissed the poor stopping power due to a single disc and two pot caliper with some basic organic pads in it. But no, it was most definitely spongy with either old fluid, air in the system or duff rubber hose.
Since I was planning to drain the brake fluid, replace and bleed the system, I picked up some Hel braided hose to fit at the same time. With just one line to one caliper, replacement hose would be cheap and didn’t make it worth my while not changing them at the same time. With some forum discount codes floating around, they came delivered direct from Hel for £23 – bargain! Although I was a little boring and just opted for basic black lines with default silver banjos, rather than any of the multitude other colours they are available in.
The hose fitting was a doddle, all bolts and banjo joints fitted perfectly. Bleeding took a little more effort and some persistence, to finally expel all the air bubbles out of the system. The results were much better though, brakes with a nice solid bite
Hel braided brake lines definitely get my recommendation. I’ve been using them on my Fazer for the last year and now they’ve vastly improved things on Mary’s CBF.
Mary is a little vertically challenged, which can make most motorcycles a bit tricky to ride. At 5’1″ she is only just on tip toes when sat on her stock CBF500, so lowering was essential. Lowering a bike can be achieved by reducing the seat and/or lowering the suspension. Mary’s CBF500 needed both!
Lowering the rear suspension of a bike can be achieved either swapping on longer ‘dog legs’ – the struts that go from bottom of shock to swing arm; or by shortening the overall length of the shock. The CBF500 rear shock mounts directly to the swingarm, thus the latter approach was needed. MFW sell a number of lowering kits including a replacement lower shock linkage for many Honda’s. This replaces the stock linkage of a standard Honda Showa shock, shortening its entire length. The linkage came in for £65, however similarly parts by other brands sell for £100-120. Alternative approaches involve replacing the spring on the shock for a shorter one.
When it comes to hard luggage and top boxes, the name Givi is synonymous, with this leading Italian brand make some of the most popular luggage on the market. As a London commuter hard luggage is incredible useful for carrying stuff; the essential security chain, work clothes to change into, packed lunch, laptop, books etc. A top box will carry the lot with ease, whilst keeping it all dry and secure. In the event of a spill, you really don’t want to carrying all that stuff on your person.
When we bought Mary’s CBF500 it came with a cheap set of heated grips fitted, very handy for the winter. However, their installation was critically bodged. The grips were glued on using a rubber type grip glue, which although fine whilst the grips were cold, when hot the glue became tacky and no longer adhesive. Thus when twisting the throttle, the grip would slip round, and not rotate the throttle! To address this, I consulted internet wisdom and opted for the double side carpet tape method.
On buying a second hand bike it’s always best to give it a thorough service to ensure it’s in tip top condition and there are no ugly surprises. The seller had informed me this CFB500 was due it’s yearly service, so I set about completing all the usual chores: new air filter, oil change and new filter, new spark plugs, cleaning brakes, checking clutch/throttle play, checking chain tension, emptying breather tubes and generally greasing everything as needed. I like the Haynes manuals for jobs like this, both as a check list of jobs and for info on bike specifics.
I also gave the carburetors a balance and doused the bike in ACF50 whilst I had the tank off. Being a twin, balancing the two carbs was a doddle. A quick whizz round the block confirmed everything was running sweet and a well deserved cuppa was in order. Continue reading “Servicing the Honda CBF500” »
Following the summer, things haven’t been terrible exciting around here. Kids have gone back to school, work has been busy and this month has mostly been spent catching up on essential maintenance chores. The trusty Fazer has done 6000 miles since Feb, so I’ve done the regular oil / filter change, cleaned the K&N air filter, greased, checked everything and gave the bike a good covering of ACF50 ready the winter ahead.
When you buy the motorcycle of your dreams, whether it’s a high performance superbike, statement Harley or a lovingly restored Triumph, you’ll naturally want to protect your investment. Of course, not all of us have the luxury of a garage or a dry spot where we can store our bikes throughout the year. But don’t let the threat of rust, dirt, crime and careless drivers keep you awake at night. Instead, as the days start to draw in and the mercury drops, think carefully about your storage options and put the essential preparatory work in place.
I’ve had trouble with my clutch slipping lately, it’s really noticeable when trying to press on or accelerate on an overtake. I’ll give it a twist, the engine rev’s like mad for a couple of seconds, before the clutch finally catches and I shoot off like a rocket!
Of course I’ve been tweaking the clutch cable adjusters, in case it simply wasn’t engaging enough. Both at the lever and down at the sprocket cover. Next up was this new clutch cable, to eradicate any issues from stretched or sticking wire. It was a quick and simple swap and the Haynes manual was actually rather good for this job. The old cable certainly had a lot of resistance in it, plus a little kinked near the lever.
If this doesn’t resolve it, I’ll be ordering a set of new clutch plates and springs shortly, before heading down to OMC again…
Trials and tribulations of a motorcycle newbie in London