I was on the lookout for a new bike, my 500 four was still ok but I really didn't fancy having to work on a four cylinder engine. With the miles I was clocking up I felt it was just a matter of time before things would start to go wrong.
In early 1975 Honda had introduced the CB500T, it looked like a new version of the CB450 Black Bomber which had a good reputation. I traded my 500 four in to Allan Jefferies Motorcycles on the 1st August 1975 and with a new P reg suffix rode my new CB500T to the Dalesman rally at Aysgarth. I had it fitted with a Craven carrier and Golden Arrow panniers.
Barry Clark on my CB500T
The week after the rally a group of us set off for two weeks touring Scotland. We did what is now called the North Coast 500. We had an amazing time in superb weather and other than a noticeable lack of low down pulling power compared to the four all was well. I had to do my own 500 mile oil change during the holiday, which didn't go down well with Jefferies' service department.
In those days Honda's warranty was 6 months or 6,000 miles which meant I was out of warranty after 2 months! Then the problems started. I used to compare problems with Bernie from the Potteries Phoenix MCC who was a fellow CB500T sufferer. Between us we had quite a list!
I can't recall all of the things that went wrong but I know I lost a side panel and had to replace the seals in the front master cylinder, then fit two sets of fork seals and do two top end rebuilds - firstly new rings and a cam-chain and then new valves, valve guides and seals and another cam-chain plus a cam-chain tensioner. Then the clutch started playing up.
I only occasionally suffered from blown head and tail light bulbs and had a dodgy rev counter, firstly the cable broke but then the whole inside of the unit began to rotate, but not for long!. Bernie on the other hand, used to blow lots of bulbs and had both rev counter and speedo vibrate apart and destroy themselves internally. Eventually Bernie's bike blew up big style and he had to get something else. He bought an early CX500, some people have no luck as they had dodgy cam-chains too!
I have to admit my bike always got me there and back, it may not have sounded well at times but I always got home. However, this was a new bike, less than a year old. I really wanted rid of it but the word was out and you couldn't give them away. Even Jefferies refused to take it back in part exchange, they were still trying to get rid of their new stock.
My problems with the bike ended when I crashed and wrote it off on the A9 in Scotland. This was at the end of June in 1976 and I ended up in a red cross hostel in Inverness with a broken collar bone. The one good thing about this was that the insurance company gave me top book price for the 500T which fortunately had landed on its speedo so they couldn't see that it had done 26,000 miles!
What now? I hadn't done too badly the bike had cost me £736 on the road, and I got £645 for it after the accident. I was off work for several weeks and did not get sick pay in those days so my pay out from the insurance had to fund my next bike. Summer was at its height, what could I get next?
- Ted Trett