I changed the bars on my CB650 to a set of CB750K replicas; they are lower, straighter, and a bit wider than the stock bars. I knew I liked them on the Yamaha XS650, but the “wheelbarrow” handlebars that came on that bike were so bad that anything would be an improvement. What I did not expect is what a difference they’d make on the Honda. It feels like a different bike… the small change to the riding position not only makes it feel more surefooted, but amazingly made the seat more comfortable.

I took it out for a ride Saturday on some ridge roads near my home, stopping along the way to photograph my old school motorcycle in front of an old school.

Vintage Turn Signal Installation Completed

In my last post I described how I installed a vintage set of one-wire-and-ground turn signals on the front end of my 1980 CB650.  To recap, I discovered that the marker light power output on one side goes off when that side’s turn signal is on, and I tried (using a Y connection) to make the single filament blinker do both jobs.  The downside is that the marker light power bleeds through the turn signal circuit, turning the rear signals on (like marker lights) as well as keeping the turn signal idiot light illuminated.  The latter problem is annoying, but the former is actually not legal (in Missouri at least).

So I decided to use diodes to ensure that power flows only in the “right” direction.  Looking through Amazon’s listing, I found these:


They say they are for solar cells; the main thing is, they are rated for 15 amps, ensuring they have plenty of capacity for my purposes.  Better yet, the 20 pack cost me less than $7.00 US.

A smart man, one who knew he needed diodes in the first place, would have incorporated them into the Y adapter.  I’m not that smart, obviously.  So I decided to just put bullet connectors at the ends and put it between the Y connector and the blinker output connector, inside the headlight.  I used these:


I’ve had them for quite a while, as I got them to help with the rewiring of this bike back when I bought it.  Here’s what I started with:

The spec sheet for these diodes says the color band is on the cathode (negative, or in this case ground) side.  They should go toward the turn signal, and since it has a male connector the diode’s cathode gets a female.  After a trim:

I crimped them on:

I knew before I started that crimping wouldn’t work very well, since the conductors are solid, but I didn’t have solder-type connectors and did not feel like ordering any. So I just hit them with solder:

It was tricky holding the part while doing the soldering, until I thought of this:

After doing the soldering I dug up a bag of assorted heat shrink tubing. I started with the small stuff, doing this:

I added a layer of the larger size (mostly to cover the female side), then used a bit of some pretty large stuff to wrap the whole part:

The assorted heat shrink came from Harbor Freight:


As you can see, it didn’t cost me much, and I still have most of it left. The larger stuff came from Amazon:


Higher, but I got it for a different project and used about 2 inches of it, so the cost is negligible.

Now let me admit that I screwed up two of these diodes before I figured out how to make these properly. Practice makes perfect. If I hadn’t screwed up any of them, the cost each would shake out to about $0.86 US… less than a dollar each.  Not bad at all.

Oh, and they work.  Have not ridden yet, but just testing in the garage, everything worked on the first try.  Very nice.

Puttering Around…

I got in my first real ride of the year on the CB650 on Saturday (March 28th).  Made a loop in the early afternoon, north on Lewis county route K, then right on route Y aka the Deer Ridge Road.  I’ve said before, I love the ridge roads, and when I’m wanting a quick ride Deer Ridge is usually my choice.  It’s a bit chewed right now, needing some attention from the highway department, but thanks largely I think to the ongoing pandemic, it was pretty much empty.  Deer Ridge (the ridge itself, not the road or the town) ends more or less at the town of Midway; there, route Y hangs a left and becomes Irish Ridge.  Not a lot of people around here use the name; it may never have been popular, but I know of at least one landmark on that ridge that still bears the name: the St. Patrick Irish Ridge Cemetery.  It’s twisty, not as twisty as the Deer Ridge section, but enough to be fun.  It runs out on a hilltop where it connects to Missouri Highway 16, and from there I take a right back to Highway 6 at Lewistown and thence to La Belle.  If I want a shorter loop, at Midway I just keep going straight onto route H, which in turn drops me at Lewistown.

Saturday I took the longer loop.  The weather was partly cloudy and humid, and just warm enough that I thought I could go without my jacket; a mistake, as the sky clouded over and the temperature dropped almost 10 degrees.  Still a good ride.  My wife told me on my return that we needed to go pick up some groceries she had delivered to our daughter, so we did that, loading the car in a rainstorm.  We drove out of it on the way home, and when I got there it was really, really nice, sunny with a few scattered clouds, and the temperature was back up over 72° F (about 22° C), and so I rolled the CB650 back out for another ride.

South this time, route D to route U west.  I planned to pick up another ridge road, Bee Ridge, which is Knox County route T.  It’s twisty and nice, a lot like Deer Ridge but not as many ups and downs.  However, just as I came up to the intersection, a pickup truck turned west in front of me.  Naturally I didn’t want to follow him, and while I had about a mile or so where I might have been able to pass, instead I turned left and ran route E to Missouri 156, enjoying the better (curvier) parts of both, and then ran route TT from southeast to northwest.

TT is a ridge road, but if it has a name I’ve never heard it.  But it’s beautiful, less curvy and more hilly than the others but still quite nice.  It runs out at Missouri 15 a few miles south of Edina, which is where I paused to take a break.  I’d been on the road about an hour, and I always try to text my wife when I’m out riding every hour so she doesn’t worry about me.  And my butt, out of shape from a winter spent on the couch or in my car, was needing a break.

When I was done with that I headed west out of town, then took a right at the bottom of the hill onto the northwestern end of Bee Ridge Road (route T, as mentioned above).  It’s as good in one direction as the other, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Then back down U and up D to home.

It’s really nice to have the CB650 back in service after doing without it last year.  The head gasket repair seems solid, and the repairman changed the plugs while he was at it.  I had Reo’s Rides in Kirksville, MO do the work for me, and I couldn’t be happier.

Still, there are always things to do with a vintage bike.  One annoyance on the CB650 was the kickstand; the tang you’re supposed to push with your foot to lower and raise the kickstand.  You see, the original broke off a couple of years ago, just before I benched the bike because of the head gasket leak.  So I got this:

The kickstand is a bit larger in diameter than I thought, and so I had to use, um, “excessive force” to install it, and yeah, it failed me, but I’m pretty sure it’s not because of the “excessive force” bit.  Here’s what it looked like after basically one ride (the first one from Saturday, as described above):

A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words.  That bend came from pressing down on the tip of the extension with the edge of my rubber-soled sneaker.  What a disappointment.

So I dug around my shop and found a piece of 3/16″ thick, 1″ wide steel bar, got out my grinders (one with a cutting wheel, the other with a grinding wheel), and with the added assistance of my bench vice I made this:

I didn’t take a picture of it folded up, but it tucks nicely up under the exhaust with just a bit sticking out for my shoe to catch.  And it’s a lot thicker and stiffer than the Krator part.  Honestly, I cannot recommend that item to anyone… it’s just not strong enough.

The other thing I did in the last few days is to upgrade my turn signals.  If you’ve read my earlier posts, you know that the bike came with an ugly, beat-up Vetter Quicksilver fairing on it, and one of the very first things I did was pull it off.  This left me without headlights and signals, and so I bought some aftermarket parts.  But the first set of aftermarket blinkers are small and did not fit the style of the bike, so eventually I bought a second set, which are still too small but at least looked kind of like they belonged.  Here’s a pic from a couple of years ago showing them:

Last year at a garage sale in an actual automotive garage (former gas station/repair shop, long closed, but still cool) I found a pair of Honda signals.  They are from an early ’70’s CB350, or so I was told, and I’m pretty sure they came from the back of the bike; they are one-wire-and-ground, which supports that theory.  But they are smaller than the rear signals on the CB650 and fit the style fairly well, so this weekend they went on:

Nice, eh?  While I had the headlight off and was figuring out the usual installation issues, I noticed that the bike turns off the marker light function when it turns on the blinkers.  I realized correctly that I could hook both functions up to the blinkers and they would work fine, even though there’s only one filament.  What I failed to understand is that the marker light voltage would go the “wrong” way back toward the blinker circuits, making the rear signals into marker lights and keeping the turn signal idiot lights on solid when the blinkers are not engaged.

I had a similar problem with a DIY model rocket launch system a few years ago; arming one of the four launch positions would light up all the arming indicator lights, due to voltage going the “wrong” way through the circuit.  The solution was obvious… I needed a diode in each arming switch circuit, ensuring that the voltage only went the way I wanted it to go.  That answer will work here as well… a diode in each line between a turn signal output connector and the matching front turn signal will allow the blinking voltage to go where it’s supposed to, while blocking the marker light voltage from going the wrong way down that wire.

So now I have to find appropriate diodes.  It wasn’t too hard on the launch controller, so I’m hoping it won’t be too hard on the bike.  But if this works, it will be darned nice.

Rubber Donut Info — Bridgestone Battlax BT45

I don’t think I’ve made any notes about the tires I run on my CB650, and I need to so I do not forget.

The front tire of the CB650 is a 100/90-19 tube-type, while the best choice I’ve found for the rear is a 130/80-17.  About the only cost-effective tire available in tube-type for both of these sizes is the Bridgestone Battlax BT45, which I discovered back in 2016 when I was refurbing this bike.  However, there is one problem I’ve found… many sites which sell this tire can’t be relied upon to properly identify the tube-type vs. the tubeless model.  So here’s the info.

The tube-type BT45’s I run on the CB650 are these:

Front: Battlax BT45 100/90H-19, part no. 001029
Rear: Battlax BT45 “J-Spec” 130/80H-17, part no. 001046

It’s often difficult to figure out whether the 130/80-17 is tube-type or tubeless, but the part number doesn’t seem to lie.  The tubeless version is part no. 066184.  I messed up an order, so now I have one of those on the CB650 with a tube in it, and it’s fine but it was a bear to get it on.  The bead just would not seat, and I had to take it to a local mechanic who had a more potent air compressor to get it seated.  Next time around, it’s back to the tube-type.

There are very few good choices for the rear tire on the CB650, and in my opinion the Battlax BT45 is the best of them (and about the least expensive as well).

CB650 to the Bike Doctor

So my CB650 sat, I’m sad to say, all of this year.  It had an oil leak from the cylinder head that was a slow seep when I got it, and a mechanic told me how much it would cost to fix it and suggested I just live with it. So I put about 8,000 miles on the bike, filling up the oil whenever it went down, and I was happy.

Until it started spraying oil on my pants leg. Gah. This is why it sat out the riding season… I knew what the fix was going to cost, and I had to save up my pennies to pay for it. I can do a lot of mechanical stuff, but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had no business taking the top end apart myself.

Week before last I loaded her up and hauled her to Reo’s Rides in Kirksville, MO. I’m told Reo is good, and he’s just a bit less expensive than Cycle Tech up at Fremont, IA where I got the carbs rebuilt. And he’s a lot closer to home, making it less of a production to take the bike there and then retrieve it.

Here’s hoping everything goes well!

Throttle Cable Repair, and Air Cleaner Discovery

So last week I put a couple hundred miles on the XS, riding it to work (I consult, so somewhere different every day) and then taking the twisty roads home afterward. It’s my therapy, okay? But on August 15th on a twisty road on my way TO work, my throttle cable broke.


Did not know exactly where the lever was that it pulls, so I just had to kind of coast to a stop at the bottom of a hill and then push it to the top. Fortunately, even though I was in the middle of nowhere, I was just that one hillclimb away from the parking lot of the Colony story (in Colony, MO, naturally). I know the people who own it, and one of them was outside working when I arrived. He gave me the go-ahead to leave it there in the lot. My wonderful wife came and rescued me (taking about an hour off of work, and my thanks to her boss as well) and then met me there tonight with the truck and ramps so we could load it up and bring it home.

In the interim I called two local Yamaha dealerships, but of course neither had the required part in stock. One told me I’d have to wait 4-5 business days and pay $40.00 for the part. I’d have paid that to have it right away, but if I have to wait, ebay it is. $16.95 with free shipping from a 98.6% positive vendor is worth waiting.

Well, the wait wasn’t as long as I feared; the cable arrived in the mail this morning.  Installation was easy; hardest part, as always, was getting the gas tank hoses off and back on properly.  When I removed the throttle cable, the upper end was kinked. Someone had jammed the little metal barrel into its place SIDEWAYS and let the cable wrap around the throttle tube incorrectly. I’ve NO idea how it’s been working so well all along, but the kinked bit was going to break off if the other end hadn’t gone first.  Just another discovery of something half-assed by a previous owner.

While I had the side panel off for easier access, it occurred to me that I have been forgetting the thing I ALWAYS forget, namely the air filter… oops.  So I took out the one screw and removed the cover, and found this:

Obviously they couldn’t find the right foam to replace the original, so they found something that would work. I know I’ve complained about the previous owners of this bike before (like, right up there at the top of this post), but I can’t find a single thing to complain about here… it’s neatly done, with the excess bundled up in a place where it doesn’t seem to matter. And the filter looks to be in pretty good shape too, so it must have been done not long before I bought the bike.  Incidentally, both filters are done the same way, and equally neatly. I just photographed the one I had to bring into my office because the seal needed glue.

I’m wondering about just one thing here… is this the kind of foam that should be oiled? It’s not an OEM replacement, after all, and it looks like the foam from my TW200 (which is oiled).  But without confirmation, I just put it back in.

One Year Later

It’s now most of one year later, and I’ve not been idle even though I haven’t been posting either.  Here’s what’s happened with my XS650 since last time:

I ordered a couple of items to fix up the squishy front brake:

Brake line: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B073Z8GZSC/
Banjo bolt with bleeder: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DSH5N9F/

On September 19 of last year I got the new brake line installed; it’s a single line, and thus bypasses the connector on the steering head.  Here’s how it looks installed:

Works a lot better now. It’s not as positive as my Honda CB650, but the CB650 has the 14mm master cylinder. But it’s not squishy anymore, and I didn’t even have to bleed the upper fitting to get it solid.

Also hollowed out the ends of the bars for bar end weights, but the throttle tube sticks out far enough that I’m going to need a longer screw and a spacer to put a bar end weight there. Though I was going to have to go to Fastenal, but I managed to work out a spacer arrangement by digging around in my junk bins.

On October 1st I rode the XS to work; went somewhere over a hundred miles total. Don’t know for sure, because the speedo went nuts, bouncing like crazy, then broke off the needle. The trip odometer also started malfunctioning; the 100’s place would advance randomly, so that the last leg of my trip appears to have covered 560+ miles (couldn’t be much over 60, in reality).

The next time I rode it, a few days later, the speedo started getting… dark.  I realized that something inside was rubbing on something else and making smoke, which was discoloring the inside of the lens.  Gah.  Stopped at my wife’s workplace and dropped off the speedo cable in her van so I wouldn’t have to turn around and go home.

In early April of this year, I installed a new speedo, tach, and idiot light cover provided by forum member bwthor (thanks, man!).  Here’s the only “before” picture I have, of the original speedo when I got the bike home:

And here’s where I started out with the new speedo on April 8th:


The original picture above does not show how much sun damage the tach had. I’m about 100% certain the instruments on the bike when I got it weren’t all original, leading me to wonder just exactly how many miles the bike actually has on it. Things look much better now. Thanks again, bwthor!

Here’s the whole bike from the morning of April 8th:

… and then, another problem. I was about 20 miles out on my 160 mile ride on April 8th when I noticed the headlamp indicator was illuminated. I thought I might have loosened a wire while installing those replacement instruments, but I also suspected it might be the sealed beam.  But I couldn’t figure it out, even with the able assistance of many on the XS forum.  It wasn’t until I decided to remove the Reserve Lighting Unit that I figured out the issue.  See, if you remove the RLU, you have to jumper over a connector to keep the headlamp on.  If you are removing the RLU, you can make one more connection and convert the “headlamp” indicator into a “charging” indicator.  Instructions are here:


My thanks to forum member 5twins for pointing that out.

So when I dug into the bike to remove the RLU, I was surprised to find that extra connection for the charging indicator had been made, but with resistors so that either a bad headlamp or a charging problem could light the indicator.  Evidently one of the prior owners of the bike wanted it all.  Gah, again.

Here’s the crazy bit of wiring done by that prior owner:

The red wire which is wrapped in so much tape is tagged on to the green wire of the RLU, which (I checked) connects to the green wire in the harness. That wire runs directly to the headlamp indicator, as I understand it. But look close:

The resistor was connected in series with the indicator lamp, and the red jumper wire as well. The jumper went here:

So anyway… I went ahead and cut the plug off of my RLU, given that it had been adulterated already, and made a quick headlight jumper out of it; so far, so good, headlight works fine. The original jumper wire put together by some previous owner turned out to have a second resistor in it, near the plug, and I cut it off; I went ahead with the charging indicator mod using that wire since the ends seem to have been put on pretty well.  Rather than dig out my soldering iron, I just crimped bullet connectors to the wires on the RLU plug, made a bullet-connector jumper to connect them, and put a bullet on the previous guy’s lead wire so I could use it. The mod is now as 5twins described, and now I had a charging indicator.

And it indicated I wasn’t charging.

As I say, my best guess about the previous mod is that the light would come on either if the headlamp failed OR if the bike stopped charging. How you would then decide the nature of the problem, I don’t know. But I now knew my headlamp was fine.

Advice on the forum confirmed what I suspected, namely that I needed to replace the brushes.  I was surprised and pleased at how easy this was to do, and the bike is running fine as of now.

BUT that’s not all.  On practically my very next ride, the left-hand mirror started swinging freely around.  Back when I first got the bike, I noted: “Took off the mirrors, and put the left one back on… because the left mirror was attached to the right side of the handlebar on a clamp, and the right mirror was crossthreaded into the mount on the left side. You all know that Yamaha bikes have left-handed right mirrors, but apparently the previous owner didn’t. Gah. The collar nut is missing from the right-hand mirror, so I couldn’t remount it, but after running a bolt through the left-hand mount from the bottom to straighten the threads, that mirror went on fine.”  Later I got new mirrors; in fact, I bought new mirrors twice, as the ones I got in July of 18 were kind of crappy, actually.  Vibration from the XS made them entirely useless, and they would not stay adjusted.  But I had retained the original clutch perch, as the damaged threads didn’t seem to be a problem at first.  Now they were.  Over the next several rides, the mirror would repeated jump a thread and get loose, requiring gentle, judicious retightening.  Something had to change.

I went on ebay and found this: https://www.ebay.com/itm/45-4012-YAMAHA-CONTROL-CLUTCH-PERCH-45-4012-LEFT-SIDE-BRACKET-341-82911-00-00/361317819355. So I ordered one, and when it came I pulled the bad one and laid them side-by-side.  Sorry I didn’t take a pic, but trust me, the replica is almost exactly the same.  The metal is just the least bit thinner where the lever mounts to the perch, but that’s it, and it’s not thin enough to worry me.

Managed to save the left grip, too, so I didn’t have to replace it; I call that a win.

Here’s the cockpit of my XS650 now:

Emgo bars, the cheapest (and yet, in my opinion, nicest) grips on ebay, plus bar end weights, mirrors, master cylinder, and clutch perch all from ebay.  Gauges and indicator cover are used, with thanks to bwthor, and a used clutch lever stolen from my TW200.  I’d already put shorties on that bike, and when I got the master cylinder with a shiny metal lever, I felt like I needed a shiny metal lever on the clutch as well.  The only thing original there are the switches, and the plastic tiedowns for the wiring that I managed to save when I took off the stock bars.

Oil, Brake Fluid, And More Oil

First, let me start by saying that the Redneck Rope Trick has its limits, and I’ve reached them.  The oil leak on the Honda CB650 is now too much to hold back with some twine.  I’m afraid she’ll have to sit in the garage until some time next year when I can get an expert to take a look at her.

Regarding my Yamaha XS650, things are looking quite a bit better.  I mentioned a gas leak in my last post… well, I fixed it using a very cost-effective Fel-Pro radiator seal: https://www.autozone.com/cooling-he…mostat-gasket/fel-pro-thermostat-gasket/68354 which I learned about on the XS650 forum.  Sorry I don’t have a link to the original post.

So on August 15th I set out to change the oil in the XS.  When I got the bike a month earlier, the previous owner told me it had been changed recently, and the oil does indeed look, well, not fresh but pretty recent. But, considering the many sins of the PO I’ve already uncovered, it seemed smart to go ahead and change it now.

I could not budge the oil plugs, neither of them. I didn’t realize just exactly how BIG they were until I tried to find a socket to fit… nothing in my metric selection is nearly that big. I do have a high-quality crescent wrench (yes, there is such a thing) that I carry on my TW to deal with the rear axle, and I tried that, but I couldn’t move them.

The forum came to the rescue again, revealing that they were 27mm monsters.  I ordered a very reasonable 27mm impact socket, 6 point, half inch drive, from Amazon:


I learned that the original crush washers were most likely, well, crushed.  Turns out they are $7.50 or more each from Yamaha. Some digging around the forums led me to alternative sources, and eventually to this item:


Now the Amazon page doesn’t tell you much, but I looked the part number up online and found a better page here:


In short, they looked perfect, and when I had them in hand I verified that they were, in fact, perfect.

MEANWHILE, back on the forum I was told that I’d be dropping the sump plate.  Why, I asked, and the answer is that there is another oil filter in there.  In true XS650 fashion, the sump filter would almost certainly be damaged, and fixing it would be more effective than replacing it.


While waiting on the items mentioned above, I decided to see what I could do about the squishy front brake on my bike. I started a separate thread, to discuss what might be wrong:


Got just what I needed there too. According to the suggestions, either it’s the rubber brake lines (which surely need replacing anyway) or there’s a bubble stuck at the top of the brake line. So I did a bunch more parts research and ordered these items:

Brake line: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B073Z8GZSC/

Banjo bolt with bleeder: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DSH5N9F/

The brake line has pretty nice reviews; the bolt I’m taking a chance on, but for under $5.00 it seems like a good bet. It showed up in the mail the other day, and looks good as far as I can see.  Still waiting on the brake line.

It was the 29th of August before I found a good time to actually do the oil change.  I put a big breaker bar on the socket and the socket on an oil plug, then used a hydraulic car jack and a wood block to press the socket firmly onto the front oil plug.  I put some tension on the breaker bar with my leg, then whacked it a few times with my maul (the breaker bar, not my leg, thank goodness) and it broke loose.

Did the same on the rear plug, then drained the oil.  Pulled the upper filter and cleaned it, then reinstalled; then I pulled the sump plate.

Here’s what I found:

Got a few bits of the crud in the picture above out in the oil at this point, but the big bit had to wait until I pulled the sump plate.  The old gasket was not stuck too firmly to the engine cases (good news) but came off of the sump plate in pieces (bad news).  I ended up using liquid hand soap and a plastic pot scrubber, and quite a lot of elbow grease, to remove the last of the gasket.

The sump filter was blown out, too, but so neatly that I didn’t immediately realize it was blown out. It had a T-shaped split, vertical up to the top of the filter and then about 10mm left and right, with a little bit missing at the top.

Given that I was looking at more involved repairs, I oiled up the new gasket and reassembled everything gently, knowing I’d be taking it all apart after I figured out whether to repair or replace that sump filter.

I was seriously thinking I was going to have to do a top-end job, given the bits of the cam chain guide I found in the sump, but in reviewing the forum I discovered that it’s apparently acceptable to ignore the little bits as long as the engine doesn’t make undue metal-on-metal racket.  With hope in my heart I decided to move on with the oil change.

Incidentally, the computer-cut sump plate gasket I got from eBay is just a bit large, but not large enough that it wouldn’t seal. Scaling is something that’s always tricky when computer cutting.


Repairing the torn filter became my focus.  Here it is, after degreasing but before any repair:


Definitely needed a patch. I should mention that I removed the loose bits after this picture was taken, but before patching.

Most guys either apply the slow-setting JB Weld to the filter fabric directly, if there’s enough to glue back together, or if not, they glue a metal piece over it bent to carefully fit.

I had a different idea… denim.  Natural fibers won’t melt in the hot oil, and with JB Weld applied to inner and outer surfaces, no fibers should be able to escape.  The resulting composite should, I expect, be able to handle quite a bit of abuse.

So here it is:


I cut a patch out of a worn-out pair of shorts, using some of the relatively unworn material inside a pocket. I buttered it up nicely with the slow-setting regular JB Weld and applied it, holding it in place with rubber bands as shown. I removed the yellow rubber band after taking the picture, and wiped off some JB Weld that was on the lower mating surface.

After the inner layer of JB Weld was set up, I took off the rubber bands and used a shop brush to paint more JB Weld on the outside, thinly, but thick enough to secure all loose fibers in place:


And here it is tonight, with the JB Weld completely set up:


I felt around the edges and used sidecutters to trim off a few overly sharp bits, places where a thread coated with JB Weld stiffened into a point. Not so much that I think they will be a problem, but just for the sake of neatness.

Notice the area of filter fabric between the patch and the magnet (the flat metal part).  This area is subject to tearing out, now that the more vulnerable area is closed off.  I applied a coating of JB Weld to it as well, as suggested on the forum by member 5twins.

September 7th, i.e. today, I put it all together.  I had to trim a bit of the denim/JB Weld composite from the upper corner of the filter to get it in (though I think it would have gone “as is” if I hadn’t had to work around the kickstand). The gasket I got off of eBay is, as mentioned above, just a hair big but not so much that it doesn’t fit; I think it will be okay, anyway. We’ll find out soon enough.

Reviewing the various threads on oil changes AND the inventory of my local stores, I ended up with 15W-40 Shell Rotella. Filled it up, pulled the choke and started the XS for the first time in about two weeks. Raining, so no test ride today… I hate riding in rain.

Walked off to put stuff away while the bike warmed up; heard it revving, indicating the choke was no longer needed, so I looked over and saw the XS MOVING BACKWARD!!!


Ran over and realized the vibrations of the engine as it revved were causing the bike to “walk” backward on the centerstand, kind of like those football player figures in the old games. Pushed in the choke and it settled down.


I listened to the bike for a while, even revved it a little (with my hands on the bars so it wouldn’t wander away), and I’m just not hearing any metal-on-metal racket to indicate that the cam chain guide has gotten naked. So I’m hoping the bits I found in the sump are all there are, and that the guide is in fact good for a few thousand more miles; I’d like to make it to 2020 before I rebuild it (or have it rebuilt) given that I expect expenses from the Honda next year.

If I haven’t screwed anything up, my XS is fresh and ready to run. Still needs the squishy front brake fixed, but until the brake line arrives from China or Mars or wherever I can’t work on that.

Redneck Rope Trick, and Test Rides

A month or so back my Honda CB650 went on the disabled list, owing to the fact that the oil spray from the leaking cylinder head was messing up my work pants.  I looked into retorquing it, as I had done to the XS650, and saw that it was a much bigger job AND that many more experienced CB650 owners didn’t think it likely to work.


But in the process of searching for a solution, I ran across this one guy on this forum who said his solution wasn’t to fix the leak, but to stop the spray.  He shoved nylon rope (so he said) into the fins, blocking the cylinder head joint; oil that sprayed out was thus caught by the nylon rope, which he would replace from time to time, and his pants and shoes were kept clean.

Now, nylon (or poly) rope doesn’t have that high of a melting point, but I know from experience that natural fibers can actually take quite a lot of heat.  So I got a roll of sisal twine (not actual rope) at Wal-Mart and ran six wraps (really, three wraps of doubled twine) around the engine at the base of the cylinder head.

I’m calling this the Redneck Rope Trick.  Not saying the original guy was a redneck, but I am, so there you are.

So tonight, having done this oh-so-technical fix to the Honda, I decided to take time to test ride both my 1980’s.

First I did a 33.6 mile loop on the XS650, running the Deer Ridge – Irish Ridge road.  Saw some deer, didn’t hit any.  Burned 0.6 gallons of gas, so 55 MPG or thereabouts. Still no oil weeping out of the head… perfect!

Unfortunately, when full, gas weeps out of the gas cap. Guess I need a new rubber washer for that.

Also, the aftermarket mirrors from 2FastMoto I put on are crap. I really want a set just like the ones on my Honda CB650, so it’s off to eBay to see what I can find.

Next I took the Honda out, running over to Knox City, then north to Colony, a couple of my favorite roads.  Coming back down toward La Belle from Colony, I turned off and took Deer Ridge to Midway, then instead of continuing on Irish Ridge I went on down to Lewistown and thence home.  About 42 miles, altogether.  Saw more deer near Deer Ridge State Park, but again, didn’t hit any.

The CB is SO MUCH smoother than the XS.  This should surprise exactly no one.  But the XS is so much nicer on city streets… it’s geared a bit higher, and doesn’t need to be shifted as much.  And it sounds GOOD, throaty and assertive.

I am the proud owner of two frickin’ awesome vintage bikes, and I could not be happier.  So glad no one could see me laughing maniacally as I whipped them down the ridge roads…

Twisted Forks

Having taken a test ride with my wife back on the 9th, I discovered the forks are twisted a bit. Long long ago, when I weighed roughly half what I do now, I owned an XL125 Honda, and if I dropped it, the forks would twist. Then I’d just roll it up next to a tree or telephone pole and twist it back the other way, and everything was fine. I haven’t tried it yet on my XS. I asked for and got advice on the forum, but the advice kind of wandered around a bit.  I decided to turn the upper fork tubes 90 degrees to the right, which theoretically should reorient the bends “out” rather than “back on the left, forward on the right.”  Then the axle should pull it all back together.

Short answer is, it almost worked.  The front was quite a bit straighter, but still annoyingly bent to the left.

So I rolled it up to a telephone pole and straightened it… and all was perfect.  Gah.

After taking a longer ride, I noticed it had begun to twist again, so again I rolled up to a telephone pole and straightened it.  Not sure if it will eventually settle into place or if I’ll have to do something else.  Another 1/8th turn on the upper tubes might do the trick.

ALSO, on a brighter note:  The other day I did retorque the head and took a 20 mile loop ride. Oily drip from the left side of the cylinder. Someone on the forum counseled patience… so today, while checking out my straightening job, I took about a 10 mile loop. No oily drip this time. Maybe it’s good for a while… I can hope.

On a related note:  Purple Power does WONDERS getting black oily crud off of the engine!