1979 Honda XL500S – Brakes 2


1979 Honda XL500S – Brakes 2

All of the brake caliper rebuild kits and new brake pads finally turned up and I have installed them and touched up the paint on the calipers. The brake pads were all in pretty bad condition and the new ones look good and should work 100% better. I ordered new pistons as well as some caliper kits don’t come with them and no matter how careful you are when you remove the old ones, you always end up scoring the sides of the old ones to get them out. I had read on a forum somewhere that you could just re-use the pistons but the new ones weren’t that expensive.

One of the things that has been really helpful during this build has been the wealth of online information available for just about anything you could need. I used the cmsnl.com site for a lot of parts lists and diagrams which has been huge in ordering parts and for reassembling. Online forums at caferacer.net and thumpertalk.com have also been awesome resources.

The frame and engine have both been re-painted and I now have a rolling frame with all new wheel bearings and seals. The original engine had been painted silver but was poorly prepared and wasn’t cleaned before hand so now was a good opportunity to give the engine a good clean and apply a black engine enamel paint. Everything else on the bike that looked bad or wasn’t painted got cleaned and had some black paint applied as well. I had originally thought about getting the white CBR wheels powder coated black as well but after giving them a good clean with Jiff they came up a bit better than they were.


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Finding a matching set of chain and sprockets wasn’t as easy as I first thought but after scouring EBay and looking at heaps of sprockets on jtsprockets.com I was able to get a set that should work fine. The CBR600 had a 510 gauge chain and rear sprocket and looked okay in combination with the original xl500 front sprocket but the chain was a bit wider and didn’t look right as there was no room around the sprocket and the chain was very close to touching the engine cases. My original XL500 had 520 gauge chain and sprockets on it and as I needed new running gear anyway I thought this might be the best way forward. Getting a new front sprocket was straight forward but finding a matching rear sprocket that would fit on the CBR600 rear wheel took a bit of time.

If I have done my sums right, with the new 17″ rear wheel and the front/rear sprocket combination, the new gearing should be a little higher than the standard XL500 gearing. I will have to wait and see how it goes although the stock engine should pull around 130-145 kph if the gearing is right. The older XL/XR engines weren’t really designed to rev so getting this right should hopefully help prolong the life of the engine.

I’m not planning on racing it and to be fair it will never be that fast but should handle better and go further than any of the scooters I currently have.