Project Café: 1973 Honda CB500, Part 2

Rebuilding the forks

| March/April 2009

In part 1 of Project Café 1973 Honda CB500, we had the bike stripped to the frame and we were making a parts list. We’d just gotten our frame, swingarm and centerstand back from Stuart Armstrong at Custom Coatings & Metal ( in Lawrence, Kan. That’s the frame pictured above with a collection of new parts from, and we’re still drooling over how well it came out. Now we just have to get the engine back in and all the other parts back on without ruining Stuart’s great work!

A cold winter has kept our progress down, so most of our time since last issue has gone to making lists, ordering parts, looking around for paint and finish ideas, and doing a bit of prep and cleaning on original parts we’ll be reusing. Our next step will be to take apart our wheels in preparation for sending them to Buchanan’s Spoke & Rim ( in Azusa, Calif. Buchanan will be building us a great set of wheels using black anodized Sun rims and lacing them to our stock hubs with new stainless steel spokes. We’ll tell you more about this process in our next installment. We also hope to have our new piston installed and our engine back together, and hopefully have it bolted back in the frame. Wish us luck!

Fork rebuild
A major goal for this project is to give step-by-step instructions and advice on rebuilding and installing certain components. This issue, we’ll show you how to rebuild the front forks through photos in the image gallery. The fork tubes on our bike were ruined. When we removed the headlight brackets, we discovered they had trapped moisture inside them, rusting the upper 4 or 5 inches of the tubes. Although probably structurally sound, there’s no way we’ll give the bike away with bad parts on it, so we called up the friendly folks at Forking by Frank (847-475-1003) and ordered a brand new pair of fork tubes for the CB. Custom-made (Honda no longer makes them), the tubes are excellent, and at $179 a set, they’re a bargain. So follow along and learn how to rebuild a set of Honda CB500 forks!

We’re building it, but you could own it: When we’re finished, the Classics Project Café Honda CB500 could be yours! Just click here to enter! We’ll be giving the bike away at the 5th Annual Barber Vintage Festival Oct. 17, 2009. Enter now for your chance to win, and check our May/June 2009 issue for another update on Project Café! No computer? Just send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Project Café Honda Sweepstakes, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265, and we’ll send you an entry form and full contest details.

Click here to go to Part 3 of our 1973 Honda CB500 build. 

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