XL 500 S

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XL 500 S

shinyribs
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First thread in the Singles forum.

Stumbled on to this bike yesterday.Went to check it out today and it barked to life on the first kick. The carb was too dirty to let it idle, but I brought it home all the same.

Used the semi-stale gas in the tank to clean out the carb (it needs a full kit, really) and put some fresh oil in the sump.Two kicks later and it was whoolie time!



This bike is a hoot. The 23" front tire is a riot. It's a bonafide log hopper. The torque is what you would expect from an XL or XR- instant and everywhere. The clutch is slipping, but it'll still loft that big front tire in 3rd gear. Considering that the accelerator pump and the air cutoff diaphragms are completely rotten, it is amazing how well this bike runs. That big front tire is wacky handling. The bike feels very planted until you hit full lock, then the front end just goes away. It's fun in a weird, terrifying kind of way.

None of the lights work ( headlight lens is busted, so I removed it), and there's no battery in the bike currently. The neutral indicator works, but I'm not sure how much of the lighting circuit is DC ( relies on the battery) and how much is AC ( I know the headlight/taillight is AC).

The brakes are hilarious. All the cables need adjusting, but I'm pretty sure that tiny front brake will be nothing to write home about. The rear brake works well if you can ever find the tiny pedal hidden under the clutch cover.  For a 300lb bike it holds it's weight extremely well. It feels much lighter in the woods than my '98 XR400R with cartridge forks, monoshock and 256lb dry weight. I'd never ridden one of these big bore XL's until now. I think they are very underrated bikes. If I can get this thing sorted out completely it may be the bike that can make my KLR go up for sale. Even with a slipping clutch and a bald rear tire....this thing hauls. Long live the big bore thumpers.



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Re: XL 500 S

TOOLS1
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That front wheel does look funny. A lot of those were converted to 21" wheels. They handled better, and the 23" tires were hard to find.

http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/model/Honda/honda_xl500s%2079.htm

TOOLS
Life is not about the number of breaths, you take, but the moments that take your breath away.
I don't have an anger problem. I have an idiot problem. Hank Hill
Never confuse education for intelligence.
Happiness is a belt fed weapon.
I just can't imagine what could go wrong.
No fire? No explosions? So whats the point of your story?
Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. ~Plato
It couldn't be done, but the darn fool didn't know it, and did it anyway.
We all got problems. Ksharp
I like vintage bikes because they take me away from the clutter of technology that I work with everyday and back to a simpler time of mechanical elegance and simplicity.. "ninadm"
Darkwing Duck: The worst part of public transportation is the Public.
"That is awesome shit there" Re-Run
"Fear nothing, attack everything" Eric Berry
" Oh, you read that on the internet? Clearly it IS a massive problem. Of course it CAN’t be normal operation."

1976 CB 750-A X 2
1977 CB 750-A X 4
1977 CB 750-K
1976 CB 750 F
1981 CB 750
1966 Kawasaki SG 250
1981 KZ 750 LTD
1973 CB 350
1979 CM 185 Twinstar
1982 Honda XL 80
South of Eden (Kansas City MO)
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Re: XL 500 S

shinyribs
Administrator
I bought this bike hinging on the idea of a fork swap. The front brake was pitiful when new. These forks have some pits and flaking that would require rechroming. Throw on top of all that the very limited tire choices for 23" and there you are. I figured I'd toss the KLR forks on here. The KLR forks were undersprung and the brake was weak, but this bike is 130 lbs lighter.

Yes. Same ground clearance, same amount of suspension travel, same same top speed and same cruising speed....but it's 130 lbs lighter! God bless you, Honda. The range is definitely less on the XL, though. That 6 gallon KLR tank spoils you day.
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Re: XL 500 S

shinyribs
Administrator
Found an adjuster for the front brake. The cable adjustment thingy was missing from perch, but a spare one out of the Kawi parts stash fit. This front brake ain't so bad when it's working correctly! The internet lied.
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Re: XL 500 S

TOOLS1
Administrator
Just lace a 21" wheel on it and ride the crap out of it. That bike won the Dakar in 82. My buddy has an 82 that he has fully restored that he keeps in his living room.
TOOLS
Life is not about the number of breaths, you take, but the moments that take your breath away.
I don't have an anger problem. I have an idiot problem. Hank Hill
Never confuse education for intelligence.
Happiness is a belt fed weapon.
I just can't imagine what could go wrong.
No fire? No explosions? So whats the point of your story?
Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. ~Plato
It couldn't be done, but the darn fool didn't know it, and did it anyway.
We all got problems. Ksharp
I like vintage bikes because they take me away from the clutter of technology that I work with everyday and back to a simpler time of mechanical elegance and simplicity.. "ninadm"
Darkwing Duck: The worst part of public transportation is the Public.
"That is awesome shit there" Re-Run
"Fear nothing, attack everything" Eric Berry
" Oh, you read that on the internet? Clearly it IS a massive problem. Of course it CAN’t be normal operation."

1976 CB 750-A X 2
1977 CB 750-A X 4
1977 CB 750-K
1976 CB 750 F
1981 CB 750
1966 Kawasaki SG 250
1981 KZ 750 LTD
1973 CB 350
1979 CM 185 Twinstar
1982 Honda XL 80
South of Eden (Kansas City MO)
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Re: XL 500 S

shinyribs
Administrator
I'm not opposed to the 23. I haven't shopped to see what tires are available. I would like for the bike to sit higher, so I'd hate to go with a 21 unless I get longer forks.

But honestly, I can rock this bike bone stock and be happy. It lightness is amazing. The 23 is growing on me. I like the odd, funky look.

There will be a full refurb on this bike soon. The engine is healthy, but very weepy. Aestheticly, it is ROUGH! There's a reason I'm not taking any close up pics...yet lol.

Gasket kits are cheap. Carb kits are cheap. Researching longer shocks for out back now. I can get custom springs on new new dampers from progressive for about $250. That's dirt cheap, in the motorcycle shock world. But again, the originals are still holding their own!
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Re: XL 500 S

shinyribs
Administrator
Not surprisingly, even though gaskets and carb kits are cheap, nothing else is available for these things lol. I need new head pipes. Mine are salvageable, but not worth it. I'm trying to determine if XL500R head pipes will work on this S model, or if the early XR500 head pipes will work. Same engines, but I don't know if the chassis' vary or not. R pipes can be had much, much cheaper than what people hold you up for on S pipes.

Midpipe and muffler I'll fab up myself, but building head pipes is not in the cards for me currently, for various reasons.

If anyone has any definitive answers it would be much appreciated. Not much info floating around on these bikes.
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Re: XL 500 S

shinyribs
Administrator
Got a few carb parts and an engine gasket set on the way for this bike. I've decided what I want to do with it, so it's game on.

My head pipes were rotten, but I found a replacement. The S model (street legal) had dual walk pipes to kill a little engine noise. I ended up with early XR pipes instead. Single wall and much, much lighter. I don't know who chromed these things, but I think it'll look sharp on a bike of this age. I will end up fabbing up the rest of the exhaust system. Likely will be a hand built muffler since I can find anything that suits me.



Gonna give the frame a fresh coat of paint while I reseal the engine. I'm going to be swapping on a KLR front end, so I'll have a 21" tire, good brakes and the possibility to gain about 2" of ground clearance/seat height. Not sure I'll be able to raise the rear that much. Need to play around with the chain run to see what it will tolerate, but I know I can gain an inch.



The rear wheel will stay. There's nothing wrong with that brake, and the whole setup looks right. Modern shocks would be very nice, but I don't want to change the aesthetics any. Proper vintage piggybacks wouldn't hurt my feelings, though....
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Re: XL 500 S

TOOLS1
Administrator
That looks like a good place to put a CB750 engine.
TOOLS
Life is not about the number of breaths, you take, but the moments that take your breath away.
I don't have an anger problem. I have an idiot problem. Hank Hill
Never confuse education for intelligence.
Happiness is a belt fed weapon.
I just can't imagine what could go wrong.
No fire? No explosions? So whats the point of your story?
Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. ~Plato
It couldn't be done, but the darn fool didn't know it, and did it anyway.
We all got problems. Ksharp
I like vintage bikes because they take me away from the clutter of technology that I work with everyday and back to a simpler time of mechanical elegance and simplicity.. "ninadm"
Darkwing Duck: The worst part of public transportation is the Public.
"That is awesome shit there" Re-Run
"Fear nothing, attack everything" Eric Berry
" Oh, you read that on the internet? Clearly it IS a massive problem. Of course it CAN’t be normal operation."

1976 CB 750-A X 2
1977 CB 750-A X 4
1977 CB 750-K
1976 CB 750 F
1981 CB 750
1966 Kawasaki SG 250
1981 KZ 750 LTD
1973 CB 350
1979 CM 185 Twinstar
1982 Honda XL 80
South of Eden (Kansas City MO)
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Re: XL 500 S

shinyribs
Administrator
 No way!

A SOHC 750 engine is 220 lbs by itself. This entire bike is only 300lbs, on the road.
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Re: XL 500 S

Hondoo
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Nice one. any updates about it?
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Re: XL 500 S

shinyribs
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It's stripped down to nothing at the moment. Ordered a gasket set for the engine and picked up paint for the frame. I doubt I'll get much done until winter starts setting in, though. Trying to get the new shop all up and running before winter, then this bike will get some love.