Master Cylinder Rebuild: 1973 Honda CB500
Rebuilding the master cylinder on a 1973 Honda CB500
This is what our CB500 brake master cylinder looked like after removing it from the bike. Removal is straightforward, requiring only that you disconnect the brake line from the master cylinder after either draining the fluid out through the brake caliper bleed screw or by sucking the fluid out with a vacuum pump.
This rebuild came about as part of Project Café, the 1973 Honda CB500 Four we’ve been morphing into a street café racer with help from BikeBandit.com. We covered rebuilding the brake caliper in the September/October 2009 issue, a project you can also find here on our website.
Although this particular rebuild deals with the master cylinder from our ’73 CB500, Honda used basically the same master cylinder (and caliper) on just about every disc brake-equipped Honda starting with the CB750 in 1969 up until about 1978, when they started making significant changes to their hardware, although the GL series used a different style master cylinder and caliper. As with any project like this, we highly recommend having a manual on hand to help guide you through the process and to give you exploded images of parts so you can better understand how they all go together. Pay particular attention to cleanliness. You don't want to contaminate the brake system with any dirt, grease, water ... anything. Brake parts cleaner is cheap: use plenty of it as you work along and allow plenty of time for parts to air dry before moving on. Use brake fluid as a lubricant when you're honing the cylinder bore and when you're putting internal master cylinder parts together and into the master cylinder bore.
The image gallery will take you through our rebuild step-by-step. And don’t forget, if there are issues we’ve neglected to point out or tips you can add to our rebuild, just use the “Comments” feature to add your input to the discussion. – Richard Backus