Reader Question: ’83 Honda Maintenance?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Tom asks: Thank you for your post about the Honda GL650. I’m looking at one right now, and wondering about maintenance needs and costs.What are typical maintenance requirements? How about more major issues? I read somewhere that service of replacement of the water pump is an “engine out” item. Sounds expensive. Any advice about what to look for in a used bike for sale?

My reply: These bikes are legendary for being almost maintenance-free. I speak as an owner, so this isn’t anecdotal. The bike will, of course, need the usual things every now and then: Oil and filter; spark plugs and air filter, coolant replacement, brake fluid and pads. All small stuff – and inexpensive stuff.

The water pump (and alternator) are exceptions. They are both very long-lived but replacing them does entail cracking the cases and that means pulling the engine. But, this isn’t a technically difficult job; if you’re handy and don’t mind getting greasy, this is absolutely a DIY project, if it ever becomes necessary. And it may never become necessary, depending on the bike you end up with and how long you own it. If you buy one with low miles or one that’s been rebuilt recently, you should be fine for 40,000-50,000 miles at least. That’s a lot of miles for a bike.

The parts aren’t particularly expensive, either. The main expense is the labor – so if you do that yourself… .

There is one thing to watch for with these bikes: The shaft drive. If that goes bad – or you buy one with a bad one – it may be both difficult and expensive to fix. When you are looking at a prospective bike, pay close attention to the shaft drive; check the boot for tears and the whole thing for evidence of leaks. Check the fluid, if possible. If the reservoir is low or the fluid is filthy… be cautious. And of course, ride the bike and make sure everything is working properly and smoothly and not making noises that you shouldn’t be hearing!

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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