Author Topic: I Threw Myself Into the Deep End -SR500 Build  (Read 1435 times)

Offline hlewis1110

  • Posts: 4
I Threw Myself Into the Deep End -SR500 Build
« on: Jun 28, 2016, 14:30:34 »
A few months back I bought my very first bike, a '79 SR500. I refused to listen to the "don't get an older/project bike as your first bike" and "don't bother with a kickstart only" and "why don't you just start with a little Ninja" schools of advice.  Tell me I can't do something and I'll do it anyway. So, I found a forgotten garage queen with a box of parts on Craigslist and I was already in love. Brought along a friend who was on wheels before he could walk and with his blessing, proof it was a one-kick bike and I could (eventually) start it, she was all mine.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was already frustrated and convinced I made a horrible choice. Being a new rider,  I often stalled before I made it to a parking lot to practice and was drenched before I could get her restarted. What the hell was I thinking?

Eventually after seeing more experienced people struggle, I realized it was getting harder to start as time went on and I stopped thinking I simply sucked and started thinking she wasn't as pristine as she looked.

After poking around I found the spark plug carbon fouled. Pop a new one in and she was alive with one kick. For about a week at least until it happened again. I hit research mode and worked on some basic cosmetics in the meantime (bar end mirrors, new grips, turn signals and a quick rattle can paint job to mask the gas-eaten paint underneath.

I took her to a shop to talk about the carb on the bike (Mikuni VM34ss) and the carb that came with the box of parts (Mikuni VM32 from a TT). They insisted that swapping the carbs would solve the problem due to the 34ss running rich at idle so often (I live in the city). One carb swap later, I leave with a bike that will only run when in prime, no longer has a choke lever and will only start with the hot button engaged. When it starts, if it goes below 1200 rpm, it stalls. I should have taken the bike away when they wouldn't listen to the SR500 starting voodoo, because they also said that this issue was normal and old bikes were just quirky.

Two self-taught rebuilt carbs later, I'm back to the VM34ss, tuned and carrying a few spare plugs just in case, which I will take any day over randomly stalling.

The most recent addition is a tracker seat. I used an old stock seat pan, cut off all the excess metal for a stock-like fit and hacked off the awkward nubs the end of the frame.

And then my kickstarter failed. At this point I knew I could fix it myself with a little supervision and the promise of beer and pizza. Much cheaper than a mechanic bill.

While everyone telling me all the reasons I shouldn't have dove right into this endeavor were valid, true and probably right, this has been the most rewarding thing I've taken on. In a few short months I've learned to ride, maintain, troubleshoot and fix mechanical, electrical and bodywork issues. Maybe I'm just a masochist.

Next up: vintage speed block graphics, battery elimination to clear out the frame for the naked look, bob the front fender, clean up the rusted header and some other small cosmetics. I'm hoping to strip it down over the winter for more major modifications so I can just enjoy the ride while the weather is nice.

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Re: I Threw Myself Into the Deep End -SR500 Build
« Reply #1 on: Jun 28, 2016, 14:54:59 »
Good for you,
yes you jumped into the pool without knowing how to swim but it looks like you are doing just fine.
Lots of people to help you out here on the forum, just ask questions and don't be shy.
Keep up the good work, the bike is looking good and coming together.


Offline hlewis1110

  • Posts: 4
Re: I Threw Myself Into the Deep End -SR500 Build
« Reply #2 on: Jun 28, 2016, 15:46:25 »
Thanks! I definitely did.  ;D
Thankfully my whole family are either pro or amateur (car) mechanics so I have that foundation. Can't say it's a bad way to start off though. I'd rather know my bike in and out than rely on a dealership.

This forum has already been a huge help getting this far. I figured it was time to share!

Offline advCo

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  • Posts: 2844
  • Nick Ol' Eye
    • adventur Studios
Re: I Threw Myself Into the Deep End -SR500 Build
« Reply #3 on: Jun 28, 2016, 15:55:15 »
Tell me I can't do something and I'll do it anyway.

+1 to this  ;D. Theres a few other SR500 builds recent/still going on to check out with lots of good info. You'll get her going.
"He broke the mirrors off his Cadillac, 'cause he doesn't like it looking like he looks back."

74 CB360 - Luna - - Sold
82 GS550L - Tracker-ish - - Sold
74 XL350 - The Turd - - Sold
Suzuki FA50 "No-Ped" -
73 Suzuki RV125 -
'97 BMW F650st -
'78 Honda z50 -

Offline hlewis1110

  • Posts: 4
Re: I Threw Myself Into the Deep End -SR500 Build
« Reply #4 on: Jul 03, 2016, 09:53:43 »
Lately she's spending more time in the truck bed than on the road.

Pretty certain the kickstart guide just snapped again. Right before a road trip up to the mountains too Better that it happened before rather than during I suppose.

If anyone has thoughts on a larger problem that could be causing the issue, I'm all ears. More pictures when I get a chance to crack her open.

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