1981 Honda XR500R

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by brucifer, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. brucifer

    brucifer Long timer

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    I'm giddy with anticipation. :lol3 Pickin' up an '81 XR500R today,,,or more accurately my buddy's picking it up for me. It looks to be fairly clean from the CL pics but it's not running. From what the owner told me, it's probably a fuel issue.

    The reason for the giddyness for this particular bike? You see, I bought a new '82 model as a leftover in '83 when I was 18. The first new bike purchase ever. I eventually made it street legal and rode that thing everywhere,,,loved that bike. But, as usually happens, I sold it a couple years later.

    Which brings us to now. I actually have tried to locate my old bike to possibly buy back, to no avail. So, the next best thing is to find another one. I didn't want one that needed a complete resto or a garage queen, plus these year models just don't seem to be for sale very often. So, as I was scanning CL this one popped up and I knew I had to make her mine. :D

    I guess the reason I want it is to kinda re-live that time in my life. It was a very good time for me. I don't know. Maybe some of you can relate to this?

    Anyhow, enough babbling. I'll post up some pics later.
    #1
  2. 2wheelsgone

    2wheelsgone Been here awhile

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    I know exactly where you are coming from. I bought a new 79 XT500 the year I graduated high school. Several of my high school buddies also had TT500's as well. We had the times of our lives on those bikes! I tried to find my old bike as well but had to settle for one just like it instead. But I can tell this, all I have to do is ride it down the street just a short way before the memories come flooding back to me. It is now my favorite bike to own. I can sometimes sit down in the garage and just look at it and I feel good all over. I'm glad you got another one and I know how excited you are to have it. Life is good man!
    #2
  3. Garthe

    Garthe ROCKS ARE YOUR FRIENDS...

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    My first was a 1980 Xt 500, I've thought about buying one.

    Congratulations on your new/old bike. Have fun.
    #3
  4. AlpinaE24

    AlpinaE24 Been here awhile

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    Sweet, I loved my 1980 xl500s. I've been keeping an eye out for an xr
    [​IMG]
    #4
  5. brucifer

    brucifer Long timer

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    Nice XL Alpina. :thumb

    The bike finally showed up about 8:00 last night. It's a little rougher than it looked in the pics but I'm still happy.
    With the exception of the tail light, it's all there. I happen to have the original tail light from my '82 so with that, it'll be 100%. :clap
    The PO even through in a pair of AXO boots,,score! :D

    [​IMG]
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    The first things I need to to is remove and clean the carb, the slide's stuck. Check/clean the air filter and change the oil. Then, see if she'll come to life!
    #5
  6. mcma111

    mcma111 Long timer

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    Don't forget to check the valve adjustment.
    #6
  7. brucifer

    brucifer Long timer

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    Absolutely. :D
    #7
  8. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

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    brings back memories....my first of 7 XR's was an '82 XR500R.

    the most comfortable one too, that seat was plush :nod
    #8
  9. brucifer

    brucifer Long timer

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    You got that right regarding the seat, Blake. Very, very comfortable. That's something I REALLY miss on the new bikes. That, and how narrow these bikes are at the tank. Modern liquid-cooled bikes with the rads and shrouds jutting out can't match it.
    #9
  10. Ghost_Mutant

    Ghost_Mutant looking for bionics

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    That bike looks like it's in great shape, can hardly see any surface rust on the steel swingarm. Good find.:thumbup

    I have a pair of XR500Rs, one 83 and one 84. I purchased a Honda service manual for my bikes and it came with the 81/2 XR500R manual as well. If you don't have this manual, I'd let you have it for the cost of shipping through the post office. I'll never use it, but I can see that you will. I'm keeping the binding however, you'll just get the pages:D.

    You probably already know this, but look for scratches on the fork tubes under the boots. My old XR5s have scratches from the Teflon bushing wearing out. Those fork bushing are one of the few things I haven't replaced yet, still trying to figure out how it's done. I did find some other cheap forks used and I've been playing musical fork housings to get the least worn bushings on the bikes.

    Here is a newer photo of my 84 with 83 behind:
    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. mcma111

    mcma111 Long timer

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    Replacing the bushings is a piece of cake. Just like replacing fork seals, pull the fork tubes out of the lower sliders and there are 2 bushings on the fork tube. One floats and the other sits in a notch. The one in the notch will require a slight pry to open it so you can slide it off the tube and the other one will slide off behind it. Duck soup.
    #11
  12. AlpinaE24

    AlpinaE24 Been here awhile

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    Does the 84 have a plastic tank? Damn i want an old XR
    #12
  13. techforlife

    techforlife CDI REPAIR

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    Geeeezzzzzzzz Bruce,,don`t you have enough projects going:lol3

    Do you plan on actually finishing this one....:freaky


    B
    #13
  14. brucifer

    brucifer Long timer

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    Hey! That's enough out of you! :lol3

    This ones not a project, at least not now. I'm just gonna make sure she's a runner, safe and reliable. Then I'm a gonna ride 'er!
    #14
  15. brucifer

    brucifer Long timer

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    Ghost Mutant, nice RFVC bike. :thumb

    Ahh man! I would have taken you up on the manual if I didn't buy one off ebay JUST THIS MORNING! :baldy
    Thank you very much for the offer.

    2wheelsgone and Garthe-- Thanks guys.
    I have a soft spot for XT500s too.
    #15
  16. Ghost_Mutant

    Ghost_Mutant looking for bionics

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    Yes, the tank is plastic and holds just over 3 gallons, largest factory tank on a XR from Honda I believe.
    #16
  17. Ghost_Mutant

    Ghost_Mutant looking for bionics

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    Hi Steve,

    I'll take another look at the spare fork tubes/sliders in the attic, but I can tell you that I did take one upper bushing out of a spare slider when I was last working on the forks (this slider had the worst bushing wear). As far as I can tell, the bushings on this early 43 mm fork sliders (damper rods) are pressed in placed. Note that I say the bushings are in the slider part, they don't come out with the tube. There are no notches in my tubes for retaining bushings.

    Here is a pair of photos I took at that time:
    [​IMG]
    This slider has the worst bushing wear. That black fuzzy stuff is detached teflon. The seal has already been removed. What you see in the photo from top to bottom is:
    -upper teflon coated bushing
    -spacer tube
    -lower teflon coated bushing (about 3x the area of the upper bushing)

    These three parts don't show up in the parts fiche as separate items. I don't think Honda intended them to be replaced. The parts fiche just shows the fork slider itself as an assembly. Very expensive, and I'm not sure if they were discontinued years ago.

    I modified one of my cheap slide hammer/pullers to extract the upper bushing, after which the spacer tube came out easily. I couldn't reach the lower bushing with any of my tools and I then gave up the idea of replacing the bushings. I have two extra sets of XR500 43 mm forks, so like I said earlier I just matched up the best 4 sliders I could find. Those are on the bikes now.
    Here is a photo after removal of the upper bushing:
    [​IMG]
    You can see the small upper bushing and the spacer tube below my slide puller makeshift tool. The spring/rubber band mod kept the puller jaws spread wide so it would engage the very thin upper bushing. Not much room to grab the lip on these parts. The file was used to sharpen my puller jaws so they didn't slip.

    I finally got some smarts and realized that I needed to swap in newer forks that have the replacable bushings you are talking about. I've managed to locate two cheap sets of XRL forks, but now I have to deal with the front axle and wheel bearings. I don't have those parts yet, and I put the XRL forks in the attic for the winter. My plan now is to finish up the bikes in March and get them on the road. After that I'll look into rebuilding the XRL forks and swapping front axles.

    Of course, in the meantime I'm still looking for the parts I want to add/mod the bike with, such as the FMX gearing, oil cooler, tank level sight glass, etc.:rofl

    I mentioned this bushing problem I had in Bruce's thread because I don't think he has the same option to just swap in newer forks into the 81 XR500R since they are not 43 mm tubes. If there is scratches on the fork tubes, then it's likely that the bushings are worn and I don't yet know how to replace them:cry
    #17
  18. brucifer

    brucifer Long timer

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    Good info on the forks there GM. :thumb

    I'd also like to say to anyone viewing this thread, if you have or have had an XR500 of any year, please feel free to post up pics or information or,,,,whatever.
    I don't believe there's an XR500 thread yet so this could be that thread.
    #18
  19. mcma111

    mcma111 Long timer

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    I was going by past fork work and looking at the parts fich #8 fork tube bottom has a notch for #13

    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. Ghost_Mutant

    Ghost_Mutant looking for bionics

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    Ah, very good. Bruce is all set then. Just one more thing that is different on my early RFVC XR5.

    I just looked at the fiche at cheapcycle, which is where I think your diagram is from. That fiche has a mistake in that it lists the front shock for the years 81-83. I have the 83 and it's not like that. It's like the 84 fiche at cheapcycle here:
    [​IMG]
    No notch, and no bush shown, which in this case is a bad deal:D

    Looked at the 85 XR600 fiche, it looks like it has the same setup as my 84 XR5:
    [​IMG]

    Actually, I think the 84 fiche at cheapcycle is for the 83, and I think the 84 XR5 is more like the 85 XR6 fiche. The difference is that the 83 had a few more parts in the seal section than the 84. I did not reuse those extra parts, or the 83 sliders, both my bikes have 84 sliders on them now. However there is still a difference in that the XR6 doesn't have the hub protecting plastic part, #22 that bolts to the left slider. My 84 sliders have this plastic piece.

    I did put some thought into making a custom tool to extract the bushings from the slider housings, but in the end I realized how much easier it would be to upgrade to cartridge forks:evil
    #20