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Offline JMo

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Heritage Hybrid US bike build - hints and tips
« on: July 07, 2016, 10:39:06 AM »
As many of you will be aware, I bought my own CB500X in the USA towards the end of last year (a new old stock 2014 model, non-ABS) - choosing the white bike specifically as I always had this colour scheme in mind for my own LEVEL 3 build.

I've dubbed this the 'Heritage Hybrid' - in that it is essentially a replica of Rally-Raid's own 2016 model demo bike with the red/white/blue Heritage graphics and gold wheels, but built on a 2014 model that I bought for a great price - a double bonus as personally I prefer the original shape headlight/screen and red tail light, I'm a stickler for things like that ;o)

I did however update the original side panels with the 2016 version - which being two-piece visually look slimmer, but are actually a direct replacement as you'll see during the build...

So I thought you might be interested in seeing a few photos taken during the build - that will hopefully offer you a few handy hints and tips regarding your own build. Note. this complete conversion was carried out in a typical garage/workshop, with just a lift and basic hand-tools.

My LEVEL 3 kit and associated parts and accessories arrived in San Jose just a day before I headed to Moab for a week of trail riding and mountain biking...

...unfortunately, while I was in Moab I twisted my ankle badly - tearing a ligament and putting me out of action for the second half of the week, and with a very real concern that I'd still be in pain and with a weak ankle for the subsequent ride to Bend Oregon and down to Arizona just a week later.

So with the ankle bandaged up, on my return home it was time to start unboxing the goodies and get to work!

photo. extras to be fitted included Barkbuster Storm hand guards, Renthal Fat-bars, a Garmin cradle for my Montana GPS, and a radiator guard and shock tube from R&G products.

John had also included a few low-cost accessories from the Rally Raid range - including the rear master cylinder cover, fork quick-bleed valves and the trail/under-seat sized wheel nut wrenches:

Fork boots

In addition, I had had the forethought to bring with me (from the UK) a pair of fork boots that I'd purchased on ebay, with the following dimensions: 42mm upper diameter, 60mm lower diameter, and 250mm length:

I have to say, these really do fit perfectly on the LEVEL 3 forks - as if they were made for them!

Front Brake

Since my 2014 model bike is a non-ABS version (ah the joy of buying a CB500X in the USA) this would also be the perfect opportunity to experiment with an alternative front disc, which is something John and I had been talking about for the non-ABS bikes (note. the ABS bikes obviously need to retain the ABS ring, which is why the spoked wheel kits come with a spider to mount the OEM disc rotor and ABS ring).

photo. this is a 320mm O/D floating disc, which has the same six-bolt PCD as our front wheel hub.

John had cut me a prototype spacer that would then mount the disc at the correct offset for the Honda front calliper, and I have to say, everything lined up perfectly!

photo. prototype in raw alloy...

photo. Test fitting for alignment...

photo. A coat of satin black (production rings will be anodised/powder coated in future...)

Underseat tool kit

Although I had access to a garage full of workshop tools for the actual initial build, I also took this opportunity to put together my 'trail toolkit' that would fit under the seat, and hopefully allow me to carry out any adjustments and repairs once I was on the road:

Taking a leaf out of Dave Lomax's 'Overweight is Underprepared' travel seminars, shown above are the two key tools that he feels are all you really need to get you going again - the Motion Pro Metric Trail Tool, and a Leatherman multi-tool.

I have to say, the Motion Pro tool really does seem to be designed for the CB500X, incorporating all the key box wrench/socket sizes - 8mm, 10mm, 12mm and 14mm - plus it has a series of allen wrench inserts (5mm & 6mm as standard, I added the accessory 3mm & 4mm size), and a pair of flat blade and phillips/cross-head screwdriver tips. The Motion Pro tool comes with 10mm and 12mm sockets, plus a drive adaptor for additional 1/4" or 3/8th drive sockets.

I supplemented this core kit with a 17mm (engine guard bolts) and 19mm (rear axle) socket, the fuse puller from the woeful OEM tool pouch contents, and two open ended combi wrenches (actual Honda OEM tools) in 10/12mm and 14/17mm sizes.

In combination with the pliers/wire cutters/blade and additional screwdriver tips in the Leatherman Fuse, that ought to cover all eventualities*

The only additional tools I elected to carry (not shown) were my trio of Motion Pro T6 tyre/lever combo ring-wrenches, in 22mm, 24mm, 27mm ring sizes (the typical wheel nut sizes for Hondas, Suzukis, Yamahas and KTMs) and a 3/8th inch drive adaptor for the 24mm size - as these not only work as excellent tyre levers of course, but offer a lot more leverage for cracking wheel-nuts, and being around 12" long, are also useful as a general pry-bar should you bend anything (such as a gear shift or rear brake lever) out on the trail.

*Finally, once the build was complete, I also elected to bring a 13mm wrench (the Rally Raid kit includes M8 nyloc nuts to replace the headlight mounting bracket dome nuts, plus the locking nuts on the rear axle adjusters, and this are 13mm size not the original 12mm), and a DRC spoke spanner which has various tips (the Rally Raid spoked wheels are 6.4mm size), and I included the 6mm and 7mm size tips to act as wrenches as required - eg. the nuts on the Garmin cradle/RAM mounts are actually 7mm size.

It's not a unicorn as such, just a little mule with a bump on it's head...

Offline JMo

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Re: Heritage Hybrid US bike build - hints and tips
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2016, 10:50:40 AM »

So, confident I had everything I'd need in the garage for the build (including a litre of 5w fork oil), it was time to unpack the key contents:

photo. Packing list included with the LEVEL 3 kit.


The first job - other than removing the front fairing assembly to gain easy access to the forks and triple clamp, was to replace the OEM fork internals with the new Rally Raid parts...

I won't go into blow-by-blow details here - there are downloadable PDF instructions on the Rally Raid website for all the key elements of the kit, plus Juan Browne's excellent instructional videos on Youtube of course.

However, I will endeavour to offer a few hits and tips as illustrated during my build below:

First of all, the Honda forks have a useful flat face on them that allows them to be held securely in a traditional bench vice:

This allows the fork legs to be held securely while you 'crack' the bolts at the bottom to release the damper rods:

photo. Note. I used a 1/4" socket adaptor and 6mm allen bit on a T-handle to reach inside the bottom of each fork leg, which offers sufficent purchase to release the bolt first time.

Once the original parts have been removed and the damper rods replaced (in this case with the longer LEVEL 3 components), the shim valves are dropped in and seat in the top lip of the damper rod - you'll know when they are seated correctly because they should look like this:

You then drop in the upper section/spacer, and again, make sure they are all centralised and seated together:

Then it is simply a case of following the instructions to part fill with oil, purge the air, and complete the final assembly, including the adjustable fork preload caps, which in this case I also fitted with the quick-bleeder valves:

photo. Note. It is necessary to tighten the fork caps prior to fitting the fork bleeders, and similarly easier to adjust the preload/lock nut before fitting the valves too.

Steering/Top Triple Clamp

While I had the fork legs out, I thought I'd remove the complete triple clamp, and grease the head-bearings, as typically they have little grease from the factory...

Sure enough, they were pretty dry - and as you can see, are pretty basic conventional ball and race style bearings. Ultimately I intend to replace these with heavier duty All Balls tapered roller bearings in the future, but for now, time was of the essence...

In my experience, the hardest part of fitting the top triple clamp (and indeed the whole kit) is drilling out the security bolts that hold the ignition key barrel to the OEM top triple:

You can be lucky or not - but certainly don't scrimp on the quality of your drill bits - get the sharpest toughest ones you can, and drill slowly and with a lot of pressure - and ideally the metal is cut in a continuous ribbon of swarf. They can be drilled out with the OEM triple still bolted in place, and using that method I've seen John drill both these bolts out in around a minute... Me, well, lets just say in this instance it took a lot longer, and a lot of swearing - before ultimately I flipped the triple over and pushed down to get those bastards out!

photo. the Rally Raid billet top triple clamp fitted, complete with the +30mm Fat-bar risers that allow the Renthal RC High bend bars to clear the tank and fairing.

photo. RAM mount ball with the AMPS pattern base fits directly to the Rally Raid bar clamp.

So with the triple clamp fitted, it was time to slide the fork legs back in (don't forget the gaiters if you plan to fit them), and get the rest of the front end built up:

Along with removing the front brake hose bracket from the lower triple clamp (and using a zip-tie through the right hand hole to secure the hose), another useful hit and tip to free up valuable cable/hose length is to do away with all the brackets on the triple clamps:

...and ultimately even the loops either side of the ignition key barrel:

And instead just use the OEM cable ties and some additional zip-ties as required. Note. if you do remove the cable guides either side of the ignition barrel, I suggest using either 5mm shorter M5 screws, or cut the ones supplied by Rally Raid down by 5mm, to secure the ring around the ignition barrel.

It's not a unicorn as such, just a little mule with a bump on it's head...

Offline JMo

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Re: Heritage Hybrid US bike build - hints and tips
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2016, 10:56:21 AM »

Rear shock (and linkage)

The TracTive rear shock really is a thing of beauty:

I can say it here (since this is the Rally Raid vendor thread ;o), but honestly I've not seen a nicer machined/build-quality shock for the CB500 from any other manufacturer... it's almost a shame to cover it up with that R&G shock sock!

The shock fitting really is straight forward - it's a bit of a jiggle getting the socket and allen socket into the upper mount of the shock, ideally you'd use a 3/8ths or even 1/2" drive socket set with the corresponding extension bar to reach into the depths of the subframe.

Similarly the replacement dog bone (don't forget to reuse the OEM bearing bushes from the original dog bone) and linkage plates all are bolt-off bolt-on...

One little hint I'd like to share (it's also on Juan's recent video when I do a walk-around of the finished bike at the end of the CBXpo ride report) is to take a little time to thread the reservoir mounting jubilee clips through from behind - that way the clamps are out of sight and won't snag on your boots or pants:

Just make sure the clamps are above the hose as shown above.


With the rear suspension fitted and torqued up, it was time to start on the bling...

Not only does it look way cool (in my opinion), but the Scorpion Taper silencer also offers a lot more heel clearance and ground clearance; and being almost half the size of the OEM can, is also significantly lighter in weight too. It also sounds great - deeper in tone, but not appreciably dB louder (well not at low revs anyway) and is certainly not tiresome on a long highway journey for example.

The supplied link pipe also offers plenty of room for the swing-arm when fitted with the longer travel LEVEL 2/3 rear suspension, and even comes with a stop for the centre stand if you're fitting one to a LEVEL 1 bike:

photo. I elected to cut/grind off the centre stand tab to improve mud clearance with the TKC80 tyre fitted.

While I had the disc cutter out, I was inspired to employ it's little brother Dr Dremel, and remove the rearmost portion of the plastic chain guard too, to make cleaning and oiling the chain easier:

So by early evening (bearing in mind I didn't start the build until after lunch) the bike was starting to look a lot more like I'd always envisioned...

I would have to wait until tomorrow morning for all those finishing touches...

It's not a unicorn as such, just a little mule with a bump on it's head...

Offline JMo

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Re: Heritage Hybrid US bike build - hints and tips
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2016, 11:11:51 AM »

R&G Radiator guard - simple and effective:

Rubber boot (for a Yamaha XT225, although it is also a listed part on other models) for the clutch cable adjuster - keeps things neat, tidy and dust free:


First of all, it was time to finish off the front end:

The LEVEL 3 wheel kit comes complete with a dedicated 19" front fender, and associated brackets/covers to mount to the existing fork tabs.

My personal preference is to use the OEM fender screws to mount the covers to the fork legs, but use the lower (shorter) ones in the upper position with the new fender, and cut the original upper (longer) ones down to 20mm, and use those on the lower position:

This keeps everything looking factory, without any unnecessary thread sticking out.

With the fairing and headlight remounted, it was time to get on with the elements that inspired me to call this the Heritage hybrid build:

As I have already illustrated during our original 2016 model Heritage demo bike build, the 2016 two-piece side panels are actually interchangeable with the earlier one-piece design.

Although the overall size is the same, the visual element of the new panels makes the bike look a lot less slabby from the side (again, in my opinion)... and fortunately they are not too expensive as spare parts from Honda:

The idea was not to try and make this 2014 model look exactly like a 2016, but rather use the elements of the latest version which propotionally I feel make the bike look more balanced, and in the case of the windscreen for example, hopefully improved aerodynamics and reduce wind-noise and/or buffeting.

However, I'm also a stickler for the way things look (which is why I actually prefer the original red rear light and earler headlight/beak shape of the 2013-15 models), and rather than bodge on a 2016 screen, chose to fit the original Honda Accessory Tall/touring screen for the earlier models - a lot more money, but visually I think it was worth it (and having ridden many thousands of miles with it now, feel it is certainly an improvement over the OEM shorty screen):

The tall/touring screen is 100mm (4") higher than the stock screen,and also has a pronounced forward/more upright curve to it too:

I like it.


photo. Solo luggage brackets fitted as an easy on/off location for my Giant Loop Coyote luggage bag.... only the Barkbusters are still left to be fitted.

So now it's starting to look like a complete bike again, it was time for those finishing touches - the 2016 'Heritage' graphic set.

And as if by magic!

photo. You can see the effect of the trimmed chain-guard in this photo.

note. Ultimately I chose not to fit the rear under-seat stickers, as I felt they might get rubbed/damaged by my luggage during the ride down to Overland Expo...

Hand guards

The Barkbuster fitting kit for Fat-bars is essentially a 'universal' kit, and I'm aware this has caused a degree of head-scratching for some people...

Therefore, my recommendation (in regard to fitting them to the Renthal RC High Bend bars) is as follows...

First of all, as Barkbusters actually describe in the depths of their fitting instructions, in certain instances [they cite Magura], it may be necessary to mount the inner bar clamps upside down, and corresponding switch them over from left to right so that the taper profile is retained.

This is certainly the case with the Renthal bars and CB500X front brake master cylinder combo too (see above), as fundamentally it allows you much more adjustment of the lever position, while retaining proper knuckle coverage, which is the main purpose of the shields of course.

With the bar reach and lever angle set to my preference, in an effort to have the shields and backbone spines square to the ground, I elected to drill a second hole in each spine 20mm inboard, which results in a neat installation over the brake hose (and clutch cable on the the other side of course):

The result is the spines themselves clear the screen on full lock (with the screen in the lower position), although depending on the angle you like your bars, you may find that once the Storm shields are fitted, they just touch the screen on full lock.

Following on from the above - in my tireless pursuit of perfection, having drilled the new holes 20mm inboard, I thought I'd try something...

Sure enough, the new holes actually allow you to fit the inner clamps the other/usual way up - that is with the right hand clamp on the right hand side after all!

Similarly, the left hand assembly (which as you will recall was upside down and on the right originally) sits nicely under the clutch cable and wiring on the left hand side too:

Again, the key here is to drill a new pair of holes 20mm inboard of the originals - as the clamps don't line up properly/clear the hose cables if you try and connect them to the original M8 holes.

ps. For neatness you can always cut the excess backbone with the original M8 holes off, or perhaps use those holes to mount a pair of RAM balls for example? (or even a Gremlin Bell if you really must ;o)

So that is pretty much it for the build - the bike was already fitted with the Rally Raid shorty billet levers, Heavy-duty platform foot pegs and the Adventure engine guard (plus the R&G tail tidy); and as you can see, the spoked wheels are shod with our recommended Continental TKC80s front and rear, in 110/80 x 19 and 150/70 x 17 sizes...

If you have any questions, you know I'm always happy to help and advise...

Jenny xx
It's not a unicorn as such, just a little mule with a bump on it's head...

Offline Susi_X

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Re: Heritage Hybrid US bike build - hints and tips
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2016, 04:20:17 PM »
great info, great pictures

Offline CB-500-X

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Re: Heritage Hybrid US bike build - hints and tips
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2016, 02:24:17 AM »
Great job Jenny you do strive for perfection. Great job with the pictures too good focus and good lighting. I do like the stripes but I wish the vertical part would extend lower since they seem a bit cut off at the bottom, but maybe that would have thrown the aesthetics off  ? All in all you do excellent work. Enjoy your beautiful bike !!  :821:


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