Fun Sometimes Costs!

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There is a saying about horses for courses. It means: Don’t take a Cyldesdale to the Kentucky Derby. Nonetheless, it’s sometimes fun to do just that. 

My ’83 Honda GL650 Silverwing isn’t a Clydesdale – but it’s not exactly a sport bike, either. But I sometimes like to ride it as if it were. It’s fun to get that thing hard over in the curves, sometimes enough to scrape the underthings – which produces a nice trail of sparks. 

And sometimes, parts.

This happens sometimes, when you’re having fun. 

It was less fun when I got home and discovered I could’t get the kickstand down, necessary to hold the bike up. I found out – after leaning the bike against a tree, to hold it up – so I could get off – that the kickstand was still there. It just couldn’t be kicked, because it had retreated up into the frame of the bike, behind the exhaust pipe. There had been a tab welded to the kickstand which prevented it from tucking up behind the pipe and which was also meant to be used to extend the kickstand, via the rider’s left foot. 

But it wasn’t there anymore, because my having fun had scraped it off. More precisely, had stressed the welds that held it in place and it had snapped off, somewhere along the way. The result being a bike without a kickstand – kind of like some smaller dirt bikes – except my ‘Wing weighs about 500 pounds (relatively light for a faired touring bike with hard bags) which makes it hard to pick up if you just lay it down. 

You can’t just pick up new kickstands for 40-year-old bikes down at NAPA, either. Especially weird 40-year-old bikes like this ’83 Honda, which was only sold here for one year. The good news is, there’s eBay – a kind of online Shamballa for owners of weird old bikes (and cars) where the light always shines because it’s almost always possible to find a replacement used part for the part you broke. And so it was. I found – and bought – a replacement used kick stand that had the necessary tab still welded to it. 

But in the meanwhile – until it got here – what to do? Well, one could always just not ride the bike until it got fixed but that is not my thing. So I tossed a welding glove in the storage box behind the passenger seat, so that my girlfriend – who enjoys this sort of fun – could get off the bike when we stopped, get the glove – and pull the kickstand down for me, without burning her fingers on the hot exhaust pipe in the process.

This is an accessory Honda never thought to offer.

About a week later, the new used kickstand arrived and I went out to the garage to do the swap, which ought to have taken no more than ten minutes as there is literally just one 12 mm bolt to remove, which attaches the kickstand to the bike’s frame. But – as I quickly discovered – that bolt was going to take a whole lot longer to remove because there was maybe half an inch of room between the head of that bolt and the exhaust pipe. Not enough room to back out the bolt.

The exhaust had to come off. Not just the pipe on that side, either. The whole thing had to come off – or at least, partially lowered – because it is all connected. The two pipes – one for each of the “twisted twin’s” cylinders – feed a common plenum that just happens to be located in exactly the spot that makes removing the kickstand impossible, without getting that plenum and the pipes (plural) out of the way.

Normally, this is not a technically challenging job. Just a PITAS job. But this is a 40-year-old bike and the exhaust is original and also 40 years old. It is not improbable that something might break in the course of attempted removal. That gave me pause, because if it did, it might cost me a lot more than the $25 I paid for the replacement used kickstand, this being a one-year-only machine with an exhaust specific to that one year (the kickstand is the same on the whole series of GLs, including the smaller-engined 500 as well as the related CX series).

I could have rigged and welded a new tab onto the original kickstand, but the tab is unusually shaped, in order to align with the side exhaust pipe – and I hesitated to add to the junkyard dog look of the bike.

Then, inspiration! Why not just cut the tab off the new-used kickstand and weld it to the old/original? No having to touch the exhaust system and risk damaging it. So that’s what I did, except instead of welding with a torch – which I shied away from doing on this 40-year-old bike with slightly leaky carbs – I used the mechanics’s best friend, next to Duct Tape.

JB Weld.

Just a dab’ll do ya!

I drilled out two holes for the tab, in the same location as the original mounting points, inserted the end prongs of the new/used tab I’d cut off the new/used kickstand and then JB Welded the works. After letting it dry overnight, I gave the repair a coat of semi-gloss paint and it all looks new again.

And now Dawn can put away her welding gloves.

This is what passes for fun on two wheels, for the freaks who enjoy this sort of thing. We certainly do – and maybe you do, too!

. . .

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  1. OK wise guy. Now give me the shade tree fix for my ’83 Honda CX650 Custom. Not a thing wrong with the bike, but there are no longer any new air filters on planet earth that I can locate. Like your wing, it is a one-off bike that Honda only made 1,200 of.

    • Hi Torino,

      Have you checked to see whether the air cleaner for a GL500/650 first your bike? Same basic engine – so maybe the air filter is the same for all of them. If not, how about removing the factory air box and using aftermarket pod-type filters?

      • I am trying to keep it as original because the rest of the bike is worth it. It seems pods are a popular choice. No ‘other bike’ substitutes either. It is a unique filter/box arrangement. The filter itself is a glued together complicated shaped heavy mental frame that looks like the Cummins diesel logo. I am tempted to find a way to heat the glue and gently disassemble it, then reassemble with some (removable for cleaning) filter foam.

        • Hi Torino,

          I’m surprised Honda did that – given the shared engine (CX series and GL series). I looked around on eBay and found this – in France:

          It looks identical to the filter my ’83 GL650 uses…

          If not, you could use pods without hurting the bike’s originality, permanently. Use pods for now – and save the air box until you can find a correct/NOS replacement filter.

          • Thanks. It may come to that. It is one of those one-only Honda bikes they made from time to time and my find is a garage queen pristine black/ gold with only 20,000 miles on it. Fortunately most of the engine, suspension & drive train is typical Honda and easy to work with. The engineers did a good job of design & performance of the OEM air filter, even going so far as reversing the typical air flow from inner to outer. But they only made that system once before the Harley tax or whatever got them.

            • Hi Torino,

              This s what makes oddball bikes like ours interesting! My friend GTC – who posts here – has a bunch of them, including a weird, belt-drive Honda… I can’t remember the model… for which new belts are impossible to find. Luckily, it can be changed over to chain drive, if need be! He’s the guy I got my ’75 S1 250 from, incidentally.

              • That is what makes the sport not just go fast, yes? Had a beautiful black & perfect chrome 900 pound Valkyrie cruiser for a while. Crank it on and the sound was like a great bedroom night to feel and hear. Sold it to a Harley guy who kept drooling on it and wanted a reliable looker.

  2. Nothing in the realm of your problem but I needed to change the kickstand on my 00 1200 Sportster. Not because it was broken but because it was too short. Unlike all the profiler HD community I actually raised my XLH to the proper height in order to do “fun things” with the bike. In the years since the 80’s Harley has conformed to the HOG crowd and progressively lowered the Sportster. Great for rolling down and parking in front of the local bar or coffee shop, not so much for actual aggressive riding like the real bikers did. Decades before Harley Davidson’s were marketed to the upper class! so to get back to the wrenching part of my tale…..I couldn’t use my bike lift so I leaned the bike against my garage to do the swap! lol

    • Good stuff, Rob!

      One of the things I like about my ‘Wing is that – notwithstanding its touring/cruiser layout – the thing actually handles remarkably well. I have some nice Michelins on it that allow pretty aggressive cornering… at the price of some sparks and scraping!

      • I’ve seen many dudes, mostly hawg riders, highside after bouncing off the stand, pegs, or case covers out on the dragon.

        You are in prime country for a 600 super sport for your cornering delights. Ripping on a back road is my church!

  3. Yeah mine broke off years ago but I can reach it easy enough so I just lean over and pull it down. Just like yours I would have to drop the whole exhaust to replace it.

    • Hi Landru,

      Small problems – big hassles! It’s why I enjoy work-arounds. And since I now have an extra kickstand, I plan to piddle with welding a tab on it, so I have a back-up ready in the event the JB Weld doesn’t hold… but I am confident it will. The stuff is amazing, provided you prep the piece you want to hold together properly. In this case, I did that – grinding everything to bare metal – and did something else (drill holes for the tab ends to go into, so it’s not just “stuck together”).

      We’ll see how it holds up!

  4. Let me just say that I did a thing or three with my 1968 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that a 1968 Oldsmobile Delta 88 was never intended to do…

  5. Had a leak in the gas tank due to rust on a 1978 Ford station wagon. Emptied the gas from the tank, used a JB Weld steel epoxy to seal the leaky holes, got lucky, never leaked again. Finally, the junkyard bought it for not much. The steering column fell apart, bought another vehicle.

    The Ferd wagon could do it all, a great land yacht for work and play.

    • Hi Drump,

      Years ago, I JB’d an exhaust leak – at the manifold, which had cracked – and it lasted as long as I owned that car. The stuff works very well; not all the time – but most of the time. At least, in my experience.

      In this case, the kickstand tab isn’t subject to great weight bearing or loading. I don’t “stomp” it down when I stop the bike and lower the kick stand. I am betting it lasts for years and perhaps as long as the bike!

  6. Eric, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when you told your girlfriend that you’re kickstand has retreated! 😀 😀 😀

  7. did a jb weld repair on a ct70 engine case cause i was not a smart 12 year old trying to pry off the magneto with screw drivers. it’s still there 40 years later and still holds back the oil.
    But, even better, I still ride it 🙂

    Agree on the ‘it’s not for shear loads’ though.

  8. I’d come up with a welded fix soon! I like JB but not meant for shear loads like your situation. Recommend making or local fab shop cut and bend a tab with foot base that can be welded to the bottom foot of your existing kick stand. Two holes for a plug weld then fillet weld all around. Your parking lean angle shouldn’t suffer from an extra 1/8 inch thick foot.

    From the aerospace bible “pound to fit paint to match” (kidding! maybe -)

  9. Ahh the aging motorcycle, fun with friend yesterday pulling the fuel pump/fuel filter assembly out of the tank on his 11 year old Harley Street Glide. Online videos were a big help plus we took pics to ensure it all went back correctly. It’s a rats nest of tubes and wiring in there. Runs better but still hunts at steady speed throwing codes for O2 sensors – back to the dealer for another run at wiring, or sensors, or connectors.

    Last fall it was a fractured wire for the TPS, dealer figured that out we’re lucky to have one here in central WA that can actually diagnose electronics.

    My point is, older bikes with carbs will be much easier to maintain long term, and are DIY friendly if you pay attention to details when cleaning or rebuilding those carbs.

    Simple electrics too, push comes to shove you can re run a wire or rewire the entire
    thing for cheap.

    The “modern era” fuelies are great until they act up. It’s not specific to Harley, the guts of any electronic controlled engine management system are really the same architecture subject the same problems from time and miles.

  10. I hate to say this, but the JB weld is unlikely to last long term in such an application. But if the tabs create an mechanical lock then the worst that will happen is that won’t be as tight and it’s scrape off the JB weld and reapply. Could last years or maybe minutes.

  11. Sounds like Dawn is a keeper. The kind of fun you’re talking about doesn’t cost, it pays. The priceless dividends to your psyche come with the added benefit of cleansing your soul.

    • Indeed, Norman – she is!

      And adventures such as this are priceless. I’ve had a bunch over the years; ought to put ’em down in a book one day….

  12. ‘this is a 40-year-old bike and the exhaust is original and also 40 years old.’ — eric

    Like you, I’m fond of vintage bikes, such as the 1980 Yamaha XS-650 Special I owned for many years — itself a knockoff of classic British twins of the 1960s, but with improved Japanese engineering.

    Well, I was jolted out of my seat upon learning that an actual 1960s British 650 twin — the Royal Enfield Interceptor — can be bought NEW with mildly updated tech (disc brakes, 6-speed gearbox, fuel injection, ABS), but visually still a dead ringer for its air-cooled namesake.

    And for $6,000 (not a typo).

    Apparently the INT650 is selling well, having struck a chord with those whose archetypal image of a motorcycle is precisely this clean, classically-styled look, not a plastic-shrouded road rocket.

    Would love to hear your thoughts, if you should give an INT650 a test drive.

    • Amen, Mike!

      Fortunately, I can do most of whatever work a bike may need myself. And if not, I have a buddy who is a professional mechanic, who can!


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