Tag Archives: bike

DIY: The Lost Art of Gasket Making

Join legendary Honda twin mechanic Pipe Adams as he demonstrates how to construct a crankcase side cover gasket through ordinary means.

While you can see that in the video I am using store bought gasket paper, any similar type of paper will do the trick. A commonly available and excellent source of gasket material is the common cereal or tissue box. Scavenge it at will in a pinch to suit your needs.


Word Up: Mondo Enduro

These guys did it, and apparently did it well!


Confessions of a Pedalphile: Lonely Boy Digest Vol 2: Brooklyn Banyas and Beyond part 2: To steam perchance to dream…

If one pedals hard and fast enough they may in fact reach the land of the Banyas, but if, and only if, they are true and light of heart. Fortunately for you, Ryder Strong is made up of all of these things and more! Beets and teats and soccer cleats!

Sloughing off from Floyd Bennet field, the lonely pedalphile will soon reach Brooklyn’s Coney Island. He need only follow the Belt Parkway bicycle path. Pedal here and you have reached the land of Banyas. Reward yourself with a bagel(for the jewish influence here is strong and the bagels delish) to replenish your calories and prepare yourself for a grueling sweat. Once you reach the general vicinity of Coney Island, you have 3 public banyas within your grasp. There is:

Now, keep in mind that the Banya business can be weird and rough, strange and terrible, and the aforementioned banyas are apt to go out of business, change ownership, move, etc. so that by the time you read this, those weblinks may not necessarily work. A good guide to current Russian Baths can be found here. It has served me well over the years, but it too may vanish at some point. Of course, there is always the promisedland: know that the manboy will do his best to always provide the seeker of steam with the most up to date sweat-related info at all times.

Fair enough.

On we pedal, through the borough of Brooklyn, to 1200 Gravesend Rd. and to the Russian Baths of Neck Road! Nestled betwixt 12th and 13th Streets the baths may at first be hard to spot, as they are tucked away behind an apartment complex and playground, and set back from the road. Find them and venture forth! Do not be afraid, for the staff are extraordinarily welcoming and friendly to the solo wayward adventurer and speak perfect English.

Keep in mind that Ryder Strong has his own personal sauna (he built it in his parents’ backyard) and knows what a good steam is, but he still likes to keep abreast of the general state of steam. Of course, it had been a while since he had been to a real Russian banya, so don’t hold it against him that he forgot the entry procedure. It follows thusly: Introduce yourself, stating that you want to partake of the steam. The proprietor will then hand you a plastic baggie, into which you put your wallet and then hand back to him. He locks it up behind the desk and then gives you a key. This key is the key to your locker in the locker room and is to be worn about your wrist. It has a number stamped on it, which functions like a bar tab. If you want a juice, a beer, or a dish of dumplings you simply flash your number and pay at the end. The Russian Baths of Neck Road cost $30 for the day.

As mentioned previously, Ryder Strong, Pipe Adams, and the Manboy know steam. They are the voice of steam for their generation. They know their shit. They have detailed files.

And if one truly knows steam, they know that the majority of banyas, saunas, Turkish steam rooms, etc. are mislabeled and misidentified. You can’t trust anyones description or label, save mine, and you never know what you are going to get when you enter a banya, spa, steam room, or whatever name your place of steam goes by.

That’s fine and you expect it by now. However, what you are looking for is the general quality of the steam, no matter the conveyance. This shit just doesn’t exist anyone like it once did and you take what you can get. When talking banyas, at least in New York, what you will generally encounter are variants of the banya, Finish sauna, and “Turkish” steam room. The banya, or Russian sauna, traditionally consists of a LARGE stove within the bathing area. The stove is heated and water is thrown into it, where there are rocks inside. Once the water strikes the rocks, steam is produced. The Russian banya tends to produce steam of a fine mist like quality. It is an excellent and well thought out way to steam bathe. Out of all the aforementioned steam bathing variants (Finish sauna, Turkish steam room, banya, etc.) the banya, being a thoroughly Russian tradition, will usually bear the most accuracy to its namesake. The Finish sauna, although it has its own variants, generally consists of a small stove within the bathing area. The rocks are external to the stove and water is ladled onto them to produce an invisible vapor-like steam. The majority of spas, banyas, what-have-yous consider the Finish sauna to be a dry heat bath and this is a misnomer. A real Finish sauna will ALWAYS use steam to accentuate the bathing process. The Turkish steam room is an enigma unto itself and they truly do not exist in the states. You will find them in Turkey I hear, but I imagine they are a dying breed. Generally, what is passed off as a Turkish steam here room will consist of a tiled room pumped full of cool, cloudy, vaporous scent infused steam. They are usually weak at best, but can provide some satisfaction should the mood for such a steam strike you right.

The Russian Baths at Neck Road consist of 2 thoroughly Russian banyas, a “Turkish” steam room, and a large swimming pool. The baths are laid out around the swimming pool. The space is generally tight, but an agile hooligan should have no problem getting around. And lest I forget, sorry ladies, there is a fantastic mens-only banya just off the locker room. It is LARGE, and in charge. I would describe its steam quality as superb. And, being that it is quite large, and limited to men only, it is thoroughly uncrowded and quiet. Perfect! It might well be worth a visit to the Russian Baths of Neck Road to check this one out.

Moving on, we encounter our first Banya, located just beyond the deep end of the swimming pool. It is HOT. An observant hooligan noted its temperature to hover between 230 and 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Doting attendants bounce in and out to splash water on the rocks. Excellent! A powerful steam indeed.

Nextly, we find the second banya between the previously mentioned HOT banya and the steam room. This one is for byrds, boys. The heat is medium. While there was a ladle and bucket of water on the bench, one gets the impression that this is considered to be the “dry” banya, as no attendants came in to spash water on the rocks. Fair enough. A good transition from the HOT banya to the steam room.

Ah, the steam room. Not bad, I would say, as far as steam rooms go. Thick clouds of deliciously eucalyptic and odorous steam obscure one’s vision and clear the sinuses. This Russian Bath’s steam room is better than most, as the steam is hotter here, than most. Be careful not slip however. You have been warned.

Past the steam room, there is a nice indoor lounge where hooligans can watch soccer on quality television sets and take naps. Thumbs up!

All in all, a quality banya worthy of a second look. As noted previously, the staff are courteous and polite, which has become a shocking rarity anywhere. No shenanigans and no hijinks here. $30 and you get a great steam. Ryder Strong left satiated and satisfied, pedaling on air all the way back home.Russian Baths of Neck Road - 1200 Gravesend Ave., Brooklyn.


CB500T Metal-bit Reconnaissance Mission Vol. 2

As noted in my previous post, if the CB500T is EVER to be considered as a viable candidate for pre and/or post apocalyptic transport, its original design flaws must be fixed and its appetite for self-destruction quashed!
As such, as any responsible hooligan manboy hybrid would do, I am taking the steps to rectify the aforementioned maladies; and restore the CB to its former glory!

To do this, the first step that one must do is remove the left-side crankcase cover. This will reveal the alternator rotor. It is big and round and magnetic and looks you in the eye. You will need to remove this to get to the starter clutch. To remove the alternator rotor you must first loosen and remove it’s bolt, which holds it fast to the crankshaft. Note that this is a normally threaded bolt and follows the age old paradigm of righty tighty lefty loosey. We must apply counterclockwise pressure here, mind you. To get this bolt out you must either put the bike in gear and stand on the brake so that the engine does not turn…or if this doesn’t work, as it did not for me, apply the two penny trick! Of course, this is a pain in the ass and requires the removal of the right side crankcase cover but thoughtful hooligans truly don’t mind because this entails the double benefit of exposing the oil screen which you may now clean.

Fair enough. Get that right side crankcase cover off and place two stacked pennies between the crank pinion and clutch hub gears to arrest the engine.

The rotor bolt will now be able to loosen without the engine turning.

There is one more step now to remove the rotor.
The alternator rotor must be popped off of the crankshaft. You will either need a special “tool” for this step or a 16mm x 1.5 pitch bolt. Of course, this bolt is unobtanium at most any hardware store on earth.
Fortunately, for owners of 1975 Honda CB200T’s, the CB200T axle will fit into that rotor perfectly.
But, not the CB500T’s axle. It is too big.
Sochiro Honda is an asshole at times, but, we forgive him for making otherwise beautiful and reliable motorbikes.

Now, screw the CB200T axle/special tool into the alternator rotor and turn, clockwise. Keep turning, add some pressure, and the rotor will pop off.
Heed this warning: Go slow.

CB200T axle mmmm

If you are elderly or infirm and desire to keep your electric starter mechanism, you must be careful when removing the alternator rotor, for behind it is the starter clutch with all its various bits and pieces. These will fall and scatter and bounce all over your garage floor should you not take care.

Note: Hooligans and boy adventurers care not for electric started mechanisms and prefer to kick start all machines. As such, the electric starter clutch of the CB500T will be relegated to the dustbin of history.

sheared bolts, ovaled holes: no better than scrap!

As it now stands anyway, it is worth less than scrap.

Confessions of a Pedalphile: Lonely Boy Digest Vol 2: Brooklyn Banyas and Beyond part 1

In this installment of Lonely Boy Digest, Ryder Strong mounts his iron steed once again to take on the realms of the forgotten and the bizarre. And what better place to start, friends, than his own backyard.

Crossing the Atlantic Beach Bridge from Long Island leads one into Queens and the bygone hinterlands of New York city known as the Rockaways. Quickly, one is upon the jarring wooden planks of the beach boardwalk and hurtling towards Fort Tilden and the Marine Parkway Bridge, which secrets one into Brooklyn.

Excerpt from Ryder Strong travelogue:
The Rockaway Boardwalk: Truly, the freaks come out at all hours. Waterheads, decrepit and crumbling senior citizens being pushed in their wheelchairs by Haitian women, Russians, the mentally ill, the homeless, observant old jews, people letting their dogs shit and piss on the wooden slats of the boardwalk. These people are always here but gone are the shirtless muscular black men with perfect abs jogging the boardwalk and the doughy latinas stuffed into too-tight cheap clothes pushing baby strollers of the summertime. This is MADNESS!

Indeed, Ryder Strong is no stranger to the absurdity of it all, however the physical appearance of those encountered during this most recent pedal through the lesser Apple revealed a a truly beat down populace. People are falling apart. Things are getting worse. The end of times is coming, make no mistake.

Moving on, we encounter Floyd Bennett Field, yet another unremembered testament to a better time. Designated as part of Gateway National Recreational Area, Floyd Bennett Field is now a lightly used, and largely abandoned, airfield. Many derelict hangars and buildings dot this seldom visited park. There is an archery range there, if you’re into that sort of thing. Three people were using it. It is a well-known fact however, that all hooligans are strangely attracted to abandoned buildings.

Hmmm...the #33. Where have we seen that before..?

…to be continued.

Hudson Valley Chronic

Enjoy these vintage snaps from a little upstate New York shakedown run circa April 2009:

“History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription moulders from the tablet: the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand; and their epitaphs, but characters written in the dust?”
-Washington Irving

(Note: due to arcane New York vehicle laws, all motorcycles must be inspected each year to prove their safety. Hey Gov. Patterson, keep your filthy mitts off my bike!)

top secret location in upstate New York near Bear Mountain Bridge: For vintage motorcyclists only!

Saugerties, NY

Esopus Creek and Saugerties Lighthouse, one of the 7 wonders of ancient New York.

1975 Honda CB500T juxtaposed with $million dollar$ Harley. Now ask yourself, just who is winning the Karmic Wars?

Feeling horny? No? How about now? Give it a minute…

Required reading for all Hudson Valleyites.

Never forgive.

Never forget!

70’s tech

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!

Stress-cracked muffler flange. Likely due to constant muscling of the exhaust header as a result of cumbersome crossover box. F*&^ you 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.

Oil-screen inside!

Remove circlip