London Cabbie’s Right Arm

It’s when a cab driver nonchalantly sticks a hand out of their window, when you really need to stick the anchors on. As you soon learn in London, a Cabbie’s hand out of the window is a profound gesture of biblical nature, for it will truly part the seas of traffic, across all lanes and denominations to allow the Londoner’s saviour, the black cab to perform a U-turn. Come what may, no matter time of day or Sabbath, with no fear of other infidel road users present, the tarmac in front of that cab will be thy blessed and none shall interfere nor blaspheme. Thy shall let that cab perform thy holy U-turn decreed. Upon completion of this latter day miracle the tides of chemical emissions will crash forth, the sea of traffic will return and no enemies shall follow thy holy black cab as they deliver another fair paying city apostle to the promised land.

‐ Christopher. Licensed Taxi 40666.



CBF500 Rear Hugger

CBF500-Rear Hugger - 2
Rear hugger, painted & fitted

Following the absolute nightmare I previously had removing the rear shock from Mary’s CBF500, I was adamant not to let the newly refurbished shock also get ruined by the elements. By default Honda, in their infinite wisdom leave the shock completely unprotected from the rear tyre and all the curd and wet it flings up into the wheel arch – yeah, nice one. A rear hugger is the perfect solution help keep the swing arm, shock and most of the wheel arch protected.

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Hel Braided Brake Hose

CBF500-Hel-Braided-Brake-Hose-1The 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.

Honda CBF500 – Shock Rebuild & Lowering

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!

Suspension Lowering

MFW Lowering Linkage
MFW Lowering Linkage

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.

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Fitting a Honda CBF500 Givi Rack

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.

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The Wrong Grip Glue

Heated-Grip-Glue-1When 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.

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New Year Update 2016

Second hand Givi rack gets Hammerite treament
Second hand Givi rack gets Hammerite treament

Apologies it’s been a bit slow around here, been suffering from some broadband issues which have hindered updates and have been off the bike away with family for the Christmas/New Year period.

Progress lowering Mary’s CBF500 has been good, but slow. Rear shock refurbished, shortened and refitted, front forks dropped, low seat sourced (NOS genuine Honda one found!) and dropped bike off at a local workshop to shorten side stand today. Along the way, I hit some issues with the wiring loom full of water and a join corroded away, requiring some patching up. 🙁  Watch this space for a full low down on lowering the a CBF500.

Plenty of new accessories have been purchased ready to fit to the CBF500 though: Givi rack, Acerbis hand guards, rear hugger and crash bars. Also picked up better looking front fender and fuel tank cheap to replace the current ones with a little cosmetic damage. Almost all bits have been sourced cheap second hand, some needing a lick of paint to tart up, definitely going to be a commuters hack / rat bike!

Overall, progress has been slow due to no garage and crappy weather, allowing me to only spend a few hours working on the bike at weekends. Nevertheless, Mary should be commuting into the city on the bike later this month, fingers crossed.

Mary also treated me to a Drift Stealth 2 camera, definitely better than my old Roadhawk Ride. So I hope to get round to some new videos published later this year.

Servicing the Honda CBF500

Balancing Carbs

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.
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Autumn Ride to North Wales

For this half term holiday I had the chance to undertake one last ride  for the year, out to North Wales to catch up with family whilst having a blast on the bike. I took Friday off work to ride up, but didn’t set off  until nearly lunch as I waited for the rain to abate. The roads remained wet for most of the afternoon and the weather was grey. I took things steady, even though there were many fun and technical bends to negotiate. The route was very similar to the one I undertook last time: London, Aylesbury, Buckingham, Brackley, Banbury, Stratford-upon-Avon, Droitwich, Kidderminister, Bridgenorth, Shrewsbury and finishing in Welshpool. Night fall hit I passed Bridgenorth, where upon I was glad I had the Fazer with decent headlight, and enjoyed the London’s novelty that is main beam.

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Trials and tribulations of a motorcycle newbie in London