Rolling out the CB650 for 2022

The sump oil leak was still ongoing when I rolled the CB650 out of the garage for the first time today. I reviewed the shop manual and found the torque specs I had previously missed: 7-10 foot-pounds for the M6 bolts in the crankcase area, which is obviously higher than the 5 lbs. torque than I used before. So I retorqued the suspect bolt and the two next to it after running the bike enough to get it up to operating temperature. We’ll see, but I’m afraid I will be dropping the sump to put in a new gasket after all. The bike is about due for an oil change, so I won’t be wasting the oil I dump out of it.

I have to say, it felt really good riding it the 3 miles down to the FS to fill it up with fresh gas.

I will be replacing the back tire soon; however, this is presenting a problem. The last time I replaced the back tire, I put on a Bridgestone Battlax BT-45 130/80H-17; I got the tubeless model by mistake, but got it mounted with some difficulty (with a tube, of course) and all has been well up to now. Previous research indicated that the “correct” size is 120/90-17, but you just cannot buy a rear tire in that size anywhere anymore. The 130/80-17 size I’ve been running is nominally 104mm tall, while the 120/90 would be 108mm. 130/90-17 tires do exist, but they would be 117mm tall, 9mm or almost 3/8 of an inch more than the 120/90 and 13mm or right at half an inch taller than what I’ve got on the bike now.

I should say, 130/90-17 tires do exist, if you can get them. They seem to be out of stock everywhere.

I can run the tire I have for a while yet.  Hopefully something turns up.

XS650 Update

So I see I haven’t posted updates about the XS650 recently. About the time I made the last post, I bought the clutch plates via Amazon, fulfilled by Speed Addicts in Yorba Linda CA, and they came in about a week. My shop is unheated, but the weather is warming up here so hopefully I can start on the clutch job soon.

I will add a note about that Michelin Commander II front tire: I did more research over the winter, and a LOT of people complain about vagueness, shimmy, or wobble with this tire. The reviews are overall pretty good, but the reviewers are mostly riding much heavier Harleys. Virtually all the negative reviews agree with my experiences. However, there are a few people who noted the tire improves after around 500 miles, so I’m leaving it on for a while just to see if that’s true.

XS60 Has A Shimmy, Oh My…

So… still waiting for clutch parts, but I took another ride to work today, about 40 miles each direction.

The bike has a “shimmy” now, at low speed; feels like when you’re riding on grooved pavement. Strangely, it doesn’t get worse at 55, but actually a bit better, and almost disappears in the corners. Did I do something wrong mounting the tire, or is it the tire itself? The previous tire was a Dunlop D401, put on by the previous owner; the new tire is a Michelin Commander II that I won as a “door prize” about a year ago. It went on easy and balanced with just one weight I recycled (there were two weights on the wheel with the Shinko mounted, and I needed only one of them to balance the Michelin). And I did as described in the shop manual, tightening the axle nut first on the right side before doing the front and then the back of the clamp on the left.

Not sure what’s going on. I don’t think it’s dangerous (I rode on wet pavement today without trouble) but it is annoying.

After some discussion on the XS650 forum, I put it up on the centerstand, propped the front of the engine up to lift the wheel, and did the wiggle test on the head and spun the tire. There is no play in the head and no bumpiness or other visible irregularity in the tire. And I checked for the nth time that the tire is installed the right way (there’s an arrow in the sidewall on one side, and a smaller arrow on the other right at the tread edge). I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s just how this tire rides.

The rear tire is a Shinko, and it’s still installed. I never noticed any shimmy with the Dunlop.

XS650 Preparations, 2021 Edition, Part 2

Tonight I installed the new Michelin front tire I won in a giveaway almost exactly a year ago; I forget what exact model of tire it is, but I’ll post it when I get a chance to look. It went on wonderfully, which was a relief because it’s my first tubeless tire replacement. I also got that darn cam chain tensioner adjusted, and then I took it for a ride.

There was rain coming in from the north, but just the tip of a larger system that was heading southeast, so I went south and then west and picked up the end of the Bee Ridge Road and ran that to Edina, Missouri. Got some gas at the Casey’s and rolled back out for home. I had threaded the needle between two rainstorms on the ridge road, and I saw that I would have to do thread another to get home dry; the clouds were glorious ahead of me, but threatening on either side as I took Highway 6 back to my home in La Belle, Missouri. The streets were wet but the air was dry, and I got in with no unpleasant dampness.

HOWEVER… on the highway heading home I considered passing a slower vehicle, and I rolled the throttle on. Around 5,500 to 6,000 RPM the clutch started slipping. I’m using Valvoline conventional 20W-50, MA1, so I’m assuming it’s not the oil, but an actual worn-out clutch pack. Doesn’t look too hard to replace. I don’t ride on the Interstate much at all, so I may leave it for a couple thousand miles so I don’t waste all that oil I just put in. I also noticed the front brake pads are ready to be replaced, so I suppose I’ll order all the parts for both jobs and get them done, eh, maybe next year, no faster than I’m going. I have two other daily riders so if I find I have to park it again I suppose I can. Annoying to get the unfinished work done, only to discover more, but with a vintage vehicle what do I expect?

Getting the XS650 Ready, 2021 Edition

I still don’t have my XS650 ready for the new year, but today I got closer. See, last week I finally got around to changing the oil. When I originally changed the oil in this bike, I pulled the sump filter for inspection, and of course it was damaged. So I set out to fix it with JB Weld and denim, of all things, as documented on this blog previously.

I was told at the time (in replies to this post on the XS650 Forum)  that this was a bad idea, that the denim would shed fibers into the oil and destroy everything. But all seemed to be well, and a couple thousand miles later I did an oil change but didn’t drop the sump plate that time. So last week I drained the oil and dropped the plate for inspection, and this is what I found:


As you can see, it looks almost exactly like it did when I put it in. The denim is undamaged, the coating of JB Weld is more brown than it was but also basically undamaged.

So I set out to reinstall the sump plate, and I almost immediately broke off one of the screws. They all felt wrong, to be honest, and I should have known not to tighten them down when I felt them, well, not getting tight. I removed the screws I could get at, and they were all visibly compromised. I had torqued them to 7 ft.-lbs. as specified in the shop manual, and I don’t think there’s a problem with my torque wrench, but who knows?

Took some looking to determine that they are supposed to be M6-1 x 25mm, property type 8.8. I hit the hardware store today and got a bag full of them, and after lying down in the garage for a while managed to work the broken bit out of the hole. Fortunately there was just enough metal sticking out to get a grip with pliers and twist it free.


This time I torqued them by “feel” using a small quarter-inch ratchet. To be honest, I’m not sure I didn’t compromise the replacements, but I tried to be careful. The ones I took out had held the plate oil-tight for 4000 miles, so I’m going to give these a try as is. I’ve been warned in the past not to use stronger machine screws than called for by the manufacturer, but I have to wonder if I should have tried 10.9 screws instead.

Still have to adjust the cam chain tension and swap out the front tire before she’s ready to ride.


So, story time.

I pulled the CB650 out to run some errands, and while I was out I filled up with gas. It’s about 3 miles from the FS station where I filled up to my home, and I came home without incident and parked the bike for about an hour. I was planning to ride it about 25 miles to see a customer, and so about an hour later I started it up and took off.

I went about another 3 miles or so, and the bike died like it ran out of fuel. I rolled into a driveway and tried to restart it, and while the bike was cranking good and hard it wouldn’t go. It really did sound like it was out of gas, so I flipped the petcock to reserve, and it started up after a very little bit of cranking.

I turned it back from reserve to “run” or whatever you call it, and rode back home and parked it without difficulty.

I’m guessing something plugged the upper end of the petcock tube, and flipping it to reserve and then back must have cleared it.

CB650 Oil Leak

I got the 1980 CB650 out one time earlier this year. It was, as always, a struggle to get it started after it sat for about two months, and I vowed to keep starting it every few days to avoid the battle in the future. I had replaced the front tire with a Bridgestone Spitfire S11F 100/90H-19 in place of the discontinued Bridgestone Battlax BT45 I’ve been running. I hope the BT46 model is as good, since I still intend to run it on the rear. I did pinch the new tube (gah) and rather than patch it I bought a heavy duty Kenda tube instead.

So as I say, I took the CB650 for a nice 20+ mile ride, one of my local ridge loops, and was pretty happy.  Until the next day when I saw an oil spot under the bike.  I wasn’t 100% sure the oil was from that bike, so I got a flattened-out cardboard box and parked the bike on it to be sure.

Yup.  Oil leak.

Lying down on the box, I could see that the bike seemed to be leaking around the edge of the sump.  Another bad gasket, I assumed, and I started making plans to get a new one and get it installed.

Then I remembered how I quelled the top-end oil leak of my XS650 by retorquing the head.  I decided to try retorquing the sump bolts, but to do that I needed to know the torque specs.  Honda, it seems, did not publish torque specs for the sump bolts.  Gah, again.

The slightly larger bolts securing the sump plate to the XS650 had a 7 ft-lb spec, I noticed; so I set my torque wrench for 5 ft-lbs and retorqued the Honda’s sump bolts, starting with the one in the middle of the left side and working out, in alternation, first one more in front, then one more in back, and so on until I had readjusted the entire left side to that torque.  I decided, based on where I saw oil on the sump, to stop there rather than going on around, and maybe later I’ll regret that.  Who knows?

What I do know is, I took the bike out for another similar loop and parked it over a fresh clean white paper towel.  So far, after about four days, no signs of further leakage.  Keeping my fingers crossed…

XS650 Spinning Turn Signal

So back in October 2020 I ran into a new issue.  Apparently there’s normally a pin in the neck of the turn signals to keep them facing the right way.  I discovered the one for the left rear signal had gone south.  I couldn’t find any info on the fiche, so I asked on the XS650 forum and was basically told to improvise using some appropriately-sized nail or screw.  Nobody could actually say what would fit.

Today at last I finally got around to fixing it.  I tried a nail first, but it was too small, and the next one I tried was too big.  Then I tried the kind of screw used to retain CD-ROM drives in computers (an M3-0.5) and it was also too small, but only just a little bit… and this led me to try a computer case screw, SAE 6-32, and it threaded in tightly and snugged up like it was meant to be there.

Wow. That was EASY. I could grind off the head, but I’m not going to bother. Looks okay as is.

Corona Tank Bag – Tag and Instructions

I’ve talked about my vintage Corona tank bag several times (here, here, and here) but I realized I’ve never shared the scans of the hang-tag and instruction sheet. Really, the latter is as much an advertising flier as it is instructions, as you’ll see below.

Here’s the hang-tag.  You can click the picture to see the full view (in case your browser is shrinking it).

Yes, they put the hang-tag on with a nice piece of flat-braided string.

The instructions/advertisement/whatever is a single sheet of glossy magazine cover stock (the thinner kind, but thicker than a magazine page), folded in thirds. One side is printed in color, one in black and white; the color side is advertising, while the black and white side contains actual instructions.  I’ve presented them below in sections from left to right, front to back.  The bag I bought is a version of the third one depicted on the last color panel.

Corona Tank Bag Repaired

Back in 2017 I picked up a vintage Corona tank bag.  I said in that post that I didn’t know for sure how old it was, but based on the included paperwork I assumed it was an older unit, probably from the ’70’s.  I mounted it on my 1980 Honda CB650 and used it off and on over the course of 2017 and 2018, until the Honda developed an oil leak and was sidelined in September 2018.

The Honda, as I say, was sidelined until I could budget the cost to have it repaired.  In October 2019 I finally hauled it to the bike doctor to get it fixed, and after a few weeks it returned, all better.  I often ride one of my bikes to work, and so when in the spring of 2020 I rolled the Honda out for such a ride, I went to mount the Corona bag on it to carry some small items.

Sadly, the zipper started falling apart.  The fabric seemed to have dry-rotted with age.  Note that the faux leather material the bag itself is made from is still holding up fine; it doesn’t exactly feel new, but it certainly doesn’t feel old.  But this failure, disappointing as it is, underscores that the bag must be pretty old.  The zipper was a YKK unit, the best brand made (or so they tell me anyway).  I set the Corona bag aside, unsure what it would cost to repair it.

I got cash from several family members for my birthday in the fall (apparently I’m hard to buy for) and I decided it was time to get the bag fixed.  I took it to Boyer’s Boot N Shoe in Quincy, Illinois to be repaired.  They quoted me $45.00 for the repair, the same amount as for a designer bag (who knew?) and I agreed.  When I picked it up yesterday, they only charged me $35.00.  The new zipper is silver-colored instead of gold or brass as it was before, which really looks better with the other hardware already being that color, and the repair is very nice indeed.

But as I examined the repaired bag, I noticed something hanging from one of the shoulder strap loops… it was the key.  I had thought the key was lost when I bought the bag; evidently it was trapped somewhere inside, and the lady who did the repair found it. Very cool.

It will be going on the Honda at least part of the time for 2021… I’m already looking forward to it.