In this week’s installment, we continue to follow the progress of the CB500t’s refurbishment from sitting in the corner of my parent’s garage into a road ready cross-country tourer.
The CB500T represents the evolution of Honda’s famed CB450 “black-bomber” motorcycle and, as such, is the largest displacement Honda twin of its era. Many motorcycling aficionados affectionately lay waste to the CB500T and consider the CB450 to be the true darling of the lot. If we’re talking evolution and looking at it from this standpoint, then the CB450 can be considered the Homo sapiens of Honda twin primates and the CB500T the Neanderthalensis. Like Neanderthal man, the CB500T flickered briefly and died out, having a production run of only two years. It’s younger, fitter counterpart, the CB450, was sold from 1965 to 1974.
However, we all know that the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And, as such, there is no shame to be seen riding a CB500T. Plus, Neanderthals had bigger brains and were stronger than CB450’s.
At any rate, I would like to examine the vestigial appendages of Honda’s legendary primate.
Firstly, know that the CB500T’s exhaust crossover box is a terrible thing. From a design standpoint, it is clearly an afterthought. It is garish and ugly and I hate it. I don’t know what it does. Balance the exhaust gasses? Maybe.
Fine, whatever, but the box makes it extremely difficult to put the exhaust back together after taking it apart. Sometimes, you just need to take the pipes off to access things, such as engine side covers. It shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes to put them back on. Neither should this involve lots of cursing and anger. Soichiro, you are smarter than this, man! To the rubbish bin of history with your exhaust crossover box!
In addition, know that the CB500T has no oil filter. It has a sludge trap, which collects sludgy oil. This is easily accessed via the right side engine case cover. Basically, this thing spins around, trapping all the sludge via centrifugal force. You take off the cover, pull it out, and clean it. That is all. Of course, in terms of practicality, this is great because it takes 2 minutes to do and you don’t have to buy anything other than oil when you do an oil change. However, oil filters are really nice because they extend the life of your engine by filtering out all the bad parts, such as metal shavings. We all know that pieces of metal floating around in your engine are bad and I will say no more. The CB500t also has an oil screen. This is located inside of the crankcase and is placed horribly for routine maintenance. An oil screen is just that, a metal screen that filters the oil for nasty bits. To get to it you have to remove the right side engine cover and, usually, make a new gasket by hand when you put it back on. This is awful. My 71 VW beetle engine had an oil screen also, but this was placed in an easily accessible spot. Why not just place the oil screen in a more accessible spot? Why, Soichiro, why? It should be noted that my old 1975 Goldwing had the oil screen in an even more horrible spot, which required bending the frame back with a crowbar so that you would then have to wedge in a screwdriver to take off the cover.
A two-man job.