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Old 07-03-2014, 03:21 PM   #1
brownricer OP
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Joined: Jul 2014
Oddometer: 7
Hello! Total noob with '82 Silverwing

Greetings... not 100% sure if this is the correct sub-forum to introduce oneself, but here goes...
I'm a new (pre-license) rider; just bought a decent '82 GL500, and looking forward to using it for fair-weather commuting and, eventually, touring. I have almost no 2-wheeler experience, but have enough ATV time to understand the controls and some of the limitations. I've also earned my PPASEL, PP-glider, and commercial glider ratings over the last 16 years, so I am comfortable adapting to new conveyances, and the rules and procedures that go with them. I'm cautious by nature, but not faint-hearted. I like walking that line between abandon and concentration, with a margin for error that's a bit narrower than when driving a "cage" on four wheels. As a "cager", I've driven trucks, taxis, and personal vehicles (usually 20+ yrs old) in the city, in the country, cross-country, day and night, in all kinds of weather. I know how perilous it can be on the road, although I've been very lucky, considering.
Despite all I've seen on the road, I've been yearning to start riding for years, but due to a number of reasons, I was putting it off again and again.

Last winter the worm turned... I had been driving a '90 Mustang LX (only a few times a week for work), and it was starting to demand that I either A) properly restore it, rather than endlessly doing minimal keep-er-going repairs, or B)sell it. I've been wrenching my own cars for years, but never had an indoor space to play mechanic, and always it's been "gotta be able to drive her to work Monday". The Mustang needed extended down time and a major going-over.

When an old friend offered me her '87 Chevy 4x4 pickup for free, a plan was hatched: Sell the Ford, get the truck on the road, then buy a bike.

It all came to pass, but it took longer, and cost more than I'd hoped.

I realize this is sort of a BMW-centric forum, so it's worth noting that last year, I was lusting after a friend's very clean '84 R65... but he wanted $3K, it was running but needed new tires, and the more I thought about learning to ride on a fine vintage bike that had cost me that much, the less I liked the idea. So next I latched onto another friend's '87 Rebel 450... a storage queen, but with less than 500 mi. and asking price of $500. I ALMOST went to see it recently and probably buy it, even though biker friends had warned me I'd be sorry if I took a 450 out on the highway for commuting, but the scheduled meetup was postponed.
In the interim, I started looking on Craigslist for something "just a little bigger that will be happier at highway speeds", as a retired cycle-cop friend had advised me. Saw an ad for a 1982 GL500, with all the goodies except the pillion seat. Seller had only had it a few weeks, but the guy before that had been riding it earlier this year. Wanted $700 for it. Anyhoo, I went to check it out a week and a half ago... with only $400 in hand, hoping he'd take a deposit... and hauled it away with the title for $400! Haven't brought it to a mechanic yet for a proper verdict, but knowing what I know so far, I think I made out OK. Here's the lowdown:

The good:
16K miles
Very little rust for something this age
Fairing, luggage boxes, radio all there and usable, if a bit scruffy-looking
Seat in very good consdition
Good brakes (front calipers allegedly redone recently)
Perfect fit for me at 5'9" with 32" inseam, and light enough for me to manage
Starts and idles fine,no smoke, not too noisy as far as I can tell, no leaks, all fluids looking good, doesn't overheat
All lights present and working
No apparent clutch/trans issues

The bad:
Due to dead battery and/or charging issues, it will not start without a boost. Seller had, sadly, been jumping it every day with a RUNNING donor vehicle. I've done some troubleshooting, and it seems the stator is OK, but I intend to let a pro make that determination for me. Meanwhile I have a new battery on order.
This bike was dropped or hit, possibly at speed... I'd noticed all the signs, but failed to put it all together until I took the fairing off to repair it. Fairing had been ripped off the mount on one side, but mount is OK. Someone had "secured" it with a hunk of plumber's strap between upper and lower fairing pieces (LOL). But there's a dent in the tank that aligns with the inner curve of the fairing on that same side, the fairing-mounted mirror on that side is MIA, and the very end of the front brake lever is busted off. Yup, there was an impact of some kind. But no damage aft of the engine from that (not even on the front peg), and the fairing and its mount protected the cylinder on that side.
Suspension won't hold air; definitely a problem with left fork (soapy water test verified it, and visible crack in dust seal on that side).
There are a few other minor things, but all should be cheap and easy to deal with. As long as the engine and trans are not completely hopeless, I think I will be on this thing before the end of autumn.

The ugly:

Some fool had fabricated a pair of highway pegs (and of course the one on the "bad" side had busted off)... worst welding I've ever seen. Unbolted and threw that monstrosity away, with extreme prejudice.
Paint is pretty bad, and there's the busted fairing... I've started repairing it with fiberglass, though, and it should be OK. Most of the damage is on the underside and inside, so at a glance, my modest handiwork won't be visible.
Engine needs to be cleaned, and it would be awesome to de-rust and paint the frame... but my old pickup truck is VERY thirsty, and I want to get the bike on the road ASAP to save money on fuel (also just itching to start riding, duh).

My game plan is to keep doing what I can on my own with this bike, register and take a local BRC, then bring the 500 to a local guy who seems pretty good. I'm only going to pay him to make it safe, and maybe do some of the work myself, if feasible. Once I get some local rides under my belt, I will ease into using it for my 3-4 times/week rides of 30-50 miles each way, on a combination of backroads and highways. If work keeps coming in (I freelance; stagehand/ soundman/AV tech), I want to build a shed here at the cottage I just moved into, and maybe start some resto work on the motorcycle.
I have a little space here at the end of my long dirt/gravel driveway to do some putt-putting with the Silverwing; there's a 50-foot oval between my house and the landlords' so I've been jump-starting it (with donor vehicle OFF) and doing low-speed laps to get a feel. Once I lowered the handlebars a bit, it feels real good. Goes into 2nd gear OK, goes straight, stops just fine. that's as far as I will take the "riding" until I get the endorsement... and some gear... just going down the driveway to the road will be a bit of an adventure, as it's 1000 feet of narrow dirt and gravel, with a steepish grade and a dropoff on one side. And the deer wander around here like they own the joint... bears, too, although I haven't seen one yet. My typical ride-to-work will be: that driveway, followed by a country road, then the state highway (46), then 40+ miles on I-80 and I-280, then onto the mean streets of Newark. So even before going on "adventure rides", I think I will have some adventures, lol.
Wish me luck, and by all means feel free to advise, etc. If you are familiar with Silverwings or ride anything based in my neck of the woods, I would especially like to hear from you.

Almost forgot- I only have one clear picture of the bike before I took the fairing and other stuff off... here she is the day I picked her up, when I stopped at the old place in Newark on my way home. Any old-truck lovers will recognize "Baby Blue" immediately as a 1987 Custom Deluxe 20... still more good steel than rust, and running just fine. Also very handy for hauling motorcycles, lol.
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Old 07-03-2014, 09:24 PM   #2
RustyStuff
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Nice first ride. The motor's are as tough as they come. You'll get years of riding out of it.

I would really like a GL650. It's about the only mid size touring bike ever made.

I'm looking forward to pictures of the rebuild.
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RustyStuff screwed with this post 07-03-2014 at 10:11 PM
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Old 07-05-2014, 05:01 AM   #3
Grinnin
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Originally Posted by brownricer View Post
Wish me luck, and by all means feel free to advise, etc.
Good luck.

The Silver Wing has some significant upgrades from the pre-82 CX500, mainly the simplified stator and ignition system, but also a single shock with a progressive link in the rear.

Enjoy.
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:58 AM   #4
brownricer OP
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Originally Posted by Grinnin View Post
Good luck.

The Silver Wing has some significant upgrades from the pre-82 CX500, mainly the simplified stator and ignition system, but also a single shock with a progressive link in the rear.

Enjoy.
Yah, the suspension is interesting... just wish mine was holding air (but no biggie to fix). Found some wiring/plug damage yesterday related to the stator and regulator, but did some repairs, and when I get the battery I ordered onto the bike, I'm hoping the charging components survived the shorts (and being jumped repeatedly from a running donor car by the PO).
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:58 AM   #5
usgser
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Originally Posted by RustyStuff View Post
Nice first ride. The motor's are as tough as they come. You'll get years of riding out of it.
Agreed. Flaky charging system but solid reliable motors. These will never be expensive collector bikes so I wouldn't get too concerned about cosmetics and just get it running reliably, maintain it and enjoy the heck out of it.
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Old 07-07-2014, 05:38 AM   #6
hugemoth
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Last summer on a 9,000 mile Alaska trip the aftermarket regulator on my 81 GL500 Interstate failed which caused the voltage to swing from 11 to 17 volts. Could have left me stranded had it damaged the battery before I noticed the problem, so I recommend installing a voltmeter. Other than that and an oil leak from the front cover gasket the bike has been perfectly reliable and a joy to ride. The GL is a fantastic one up touring bike.
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:03 PM   #7
asim595
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Have You bought it new?
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:43 PM   #8
mike
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Those are decent bikes. A couple of friends had CX500's back in 82. I like the truck too.
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