The Long Haul Part 9: Keeping It on the Road

Posted by W. D. Hesser on 10/17/2018 to CB450 / CL450 / CB500T
The Long Haul Part 9: Keeping It on the Road

The Long Haul Part 9: Keeping It On The Road

Checking up on our 1974 Honda CB450 after 5000 miles.

After getting back from the 23 day, 5000 mile road trip, I let our Long Haul CB450 sit for a while. Catching up on tech support questions and getting my pictures, videos, and thoughts together naturally took time. The autumn months rolled around, as did our favorite Texas rally - the annual Harvest Classic 200 miles away in Luckenbach TX. Long Haul CB450 would make short work of a run like that. There was just a little maintenance needed on the bike to make it ready for the next trip.

The figure below shows Honda's recommended service intervals for the CB500T (basically the same bike as the CB450) as per the factory service manual. All of the 500-mile operations were done along the way: inspecting / tightening / lubricating the chain, checking the tire pressure, and a general inspection of the lighting and nuts, bolts, squeaks, rattles, etc. At 1500 miles you are to change the oil and check the electrolyte level in the battery. I kept up with the oil changes, doing one in Ohio and again in Minnesota. The sealed Motobatt AGM battery never showed any sign of weakness, even when I got lazy and laid on that electric start button.

Honda CB450 / 500T Service Intervals
500T Service Intervals

The next column over, the 3000-mile one, is the interval where most of the regular maintenance operations live. Some of this stuff is simple inspection which, if you pay attention to your machine and ride it regularly, you should have a fairly good pulse on. Other more involved procedures are best to do all at once while the tank, carbs, and covers are already off.

Much of the work is a repeat of stuff I did before the trip, so I will not go into it with much detail. In short, the engine got a tune up with the cam chain tensioner, valve clearance, and ignition timing checked and adjusted. None of them were far off spec. I topped off the oil, which still has a few hundred miles before the next change.

I removed the carburetors and inspected them for rust particles and grime in the float bowls, or if the slides were sticking; everything checked out clean. The leaky float bowl gaskets got replaced with ones from a different supplier, and the carbs were re-synchronized before they went back on the bike. The mufflers needed to come off so that some better gaskets could be fitted and the rear mounts could be inspected which were loose.  Most aftermarket mufflers have a thin sheet metal channel where the head of a bolt slides into to holding the bracket to the muffler in place. These channels can crack with a lot of vibration from riding. I have found its a good idea to fit a small washer under the head of the bolt and between the mounting bracket to increase the surface area that is grabbing on the muffler mounting channel. I beefed up the mounts on both mufflers and fitted new gaskets at the header pipe.

While the exhaust was disassembled I was able to access the chain cover / clutch push-rod assembly. I had installed an extra-long clutch cable from the swap meet at Mid-Ohio to accommodate the taller handle bars, its smoothness at the clutch lever was lacking. It was swapped out for a Common Motor clutch cable and it made a world of difference in how the clutch lever feels. While the chain cover was off I replaced the drive chain, which had stretched so much it exceeded the adjustment limits of the chain tensioners. After lubing up the new chain, adjusting the rear brake pedal and adding some air to the tires, the bike is ready to ride once more.

If I were to do it all over again, here is what would have been done differently: 

  • Install and aftermarket oil cooler:  When the engine spins at high revolutions all day long the oil gets very hot and has a greater tendency to leak out of the engine (which it did). The problem is not nearly as severe at lower speeds in the city as it is cruising on the highway.
  • Use good tires: While expensive, a high-quality pair of tires will outlast and outperform most of the cheaper options on the market. The Kenda Challenger tires we used on the bike were value priced but were a bit lacking in performance. A noticeable vibration in the front wheel was present at lower speeds (while truing as well) although we balanced the tires using balancing beads. Our test CB550 was equipped with the same tires and had the similar issues.
  • Test rides: Multiple over significant distances and even some short overnight camping trips beforehand go a long way in knowing what you need to pack and how to organize it on your bike.

This beautiful motorcycle was originally purchased at the Mid-Ohio Vintage Days swap meet the year prior for $800. The work done to the bike enabling it to make the return trip back to Ohio and beyond took roughly 5 months and nearly $1500 worth of repair parts. With the exception of a set of Kenda Challenger tires and a few parts from the swap meet, all of the parts came straight off the shelf at Common Motor.

Long Haul CB450 Repair Expenses
1008Rubber Brake Hoses$65
1027Caliper Rebuild Kit w/ Stainless Piston$85
1028Master Cylinder Rebuild Kit$45
1031Front Brake Light Pressure Switch$20
1015Rear Drum Brake Shoes$45
2007Speedometer Cable$25
2026Throttle Cable$50
2046Tapered Roller Steering Bearings$55
2073Handlebar Dampers$25
2253Tachometer Cable$25
3023Regulator / Rectifier Combo$65
3045Headlight Lens & H4 Bulb Kit$65
3053Ignition Rebuild Kit$55
3058Ignition Coils$104
3071Electronic Flasher Relay$15
4006Drive Chain$45
404633t Rear Sprocket$50
4054Clutch Rebuild Kit$100
4064Service Gasket Set$35
407417t Front Sprocket$25
4132Deluxe Allen Bolt Kit$55
4172Black Hole Oil Drain Plug$45
5007Exhaust Gaskets$8
6072Carb Gasket and O-ring Kit$10
6074Single Carb Float$30
6248Carb Rebuild Kits$45
6450Intake Manifolds$60
8008Fork Dust Covers$20
8010Standard Fork Seals$20
8023Factory Style Shocks$100
1000618" Inner Tube / Rim Strip$18
1000619" Inner Tube / Rim Strip$18
Kenda Tires$120
Parts Subtotal$1,683
Initial cost of Motorcycle with Title$800

You have heard this a million times before, it's what's on the inside that counts. Our Long Haul CB450 does not look much different than it did when we bought it, but now it is in superior mechanical condition. Admittedly the bike was in decent shape to start with, but it needed all the same work that any 40+ year old machine requires. For less than $2500.00, we now have a reliable, (relatively) fuel efficient, super cool daily driver. Beyond that, I have furthered my knowledge and experience needed to make nearly any future repairs myself when the time comes. For me, and probably most of you who have followed along with us, that is far more valuable than the dollar value of the bike itself.

Before and After


This brings us to the end of our Long Haul Honda CB450 series, in which we did a full mechanical restoration on a 1974 444cc ( twin cylinder Honda CB450 K7 motorcycle and rode it damn near across the country. We sincerely appreciate you following along with us on this adventure, and hope that we can continue to help you on your own journey of mechanical self-reliance. If you wold like to revisit the work we did and/or live vicariously through our 5000 mile summer road trip, here are all of the Long Haul installments that have brought us to this point:

The Long Haul Part 1: From Houston to Mid-Ohio & Beyond on a 1974 Honda CB450

The Long Haul Part 2: Servicing the Honda CB450 Engine

The Long Haul Part 3: Fuel & Spark for a Honda CB450

The Long Haul Part 4: The Rear End of a Honda CB450

The Long Haul Part 5: The Front End of a Honda CB450

The Long Haul Part 6: Finishing Up our Honda CB450

The Long Haul Part 7: The Road to Mid-Ohio

The Long Haul Part 8: The Ride Continues

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