In our quest to do everything the hard way, we want to build a track bike for under £1000. Yes, it may have been possible to just purchase a complete bike for that money, but we are planning to have a properly prepared track bike with upgraded suspension, exhaust and weight saving modifications for the £1k budget. So where do you start? Spares and repairs listings on Ebay, a superb way to waste days trawling through other people’s scrap vehicles trying to find the perfect project.
As you would expect for the price our chosen bike was never going to be perfect but at under £200 it was really cheap, leaving plenty of money for the repairs. A 1993 Honda CB500, a little past it’s prime to say the least. The previous owners racked up 77,000 miles before killing off the original engine, a replacement engine was purchased but never fitted. The bike sat in their shed for 7 years until we took a trip to Dorset armed with the cash to buy it.
For a 1993 commuter bike the CB has more to offer than you would expect. The 499cc parallel twin engine boasts twin cams, two 34mm flat-slide carburettors and 6 speed gearbox. 52bhp is quoted as the nominal power in the Thundersport GB race series for these bikes with just an exhaust and carb jetting kit. Combine that power with the small physical size and a dry weight of approximately 175kg and you begin to understand why the CB 500 has its own race series.
Clearly someone had purchased a number of parts with the intention of putting the bike back together as some shiny genuine Honda engine bolts, throttle cable and oil filter were tucked into the boxes of parts now filling the garage.
Unfortunately the years had not been kind to the CB and the rear swing arm was more rust than metal and the frame was in a bit of a state too. Using that as an excuse we stripped everything off the bike hacked a lot of the unnecessary bits and clips off, like the centre stand mount. Then we packed the wheels, frame, fork crowns and control plates off to the powder coaters. A long debate over the paint scheme ensued but eventually we settled on visibility when its upside down in a gravel trap; white frame and luminous yellow wheels.
Months went by before we got back round to doing anything with our freshly painted parts. We did manage to polish up the fork legs and rear shocks and buy some tyres before eventually looking into re-assembly. Our aim for the first build session and for the end of this article was to have a rolling chassis. The biggest hurdle to this was preparing the frame, every thread needed re-tapping and every hole needed cleaning out to remove excess paint. All while minimising the number of greasy handprints on the excellent white paint finish.
As the original swing-arm was beyond repair we sourced a refurbished one complete with new bearings, pivot bolt and a fresh coat of paint. With the swing-arm fitted we turned our attention to getting some tyres on the wheels. Unfortunately the rear wheel bearing spacer was mislaid but we couldn’t resist putting it together to see what it looked like anyway. Now assembled its clear the silver rear swing arm doesn’t really match so it will probably be pulled back off again and given a coat of black paint to match the planned respray for the engine too. Now to track down a rear bearing spacer… keep an eye out for more progress updates soon.