CD175 Log 2004
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April 13, 2004 Blue 4232 miles
I changed the oil again today. I forgot I already did it at 4072 miles. Now I have 10W-30 in there. I looked for aluminum chips in the drain cap, and could not see much of anything.
Last year I bought some replacement turn signals at a swap meet. They are brand new, but not genuine Honda, although they look the same externally. Today I tried to replace my faded front turn signals but ran into so many problems I abandoned the attempt. The new signals are 12 volt, and dual filament. Many of the screws are not interchangeable with the old style.
April 23, 2004 Red 7932.2 mi.
Red Honda CD175
Blue is being mothballed showing 4255.6 miles. I took Red out of mothballs and went for a test drive, and noticed several problems.
- A rear spoke is broken. The rear tire was 20 psi, I pumped it to 30.
- I was stranded twice (in the same day, a record!) because of fuel delivery problems. I took apart the petcock, blew through the tubes, and reassembled and it seems OK.
- The speedometer was not working. I took off the front wheel because the worm gear was not turning. I bent the tabs out on the ring gear, reassembled. I also removed the speedometer cable, lubed with a mix of graphite powder and lithium grease. I rotated the sheath 90 degrees and reinstalled. The lubrication was successful, now the needle is almost steady, while before it used to waver. This speedometer cable is missing the rubber donut at the bottom end.
- There were some corrosion spots developing on the chrome gas tank side panels. I waxed them.
- I put on two rubber pads that were missing on the battery holder. I cannibalized them from Junkers.
- The battery (from Blue actually) was low on water, I added up to the top line.
April 26, 2004 Red 7944 mi.
In the last few days, I managed to replace the broken spoke in Red's back wheel with a spoke from a wheel I had sitting in the basement. I had to completely remove the back wheel because I was not able to get it together without removing the tire from the rim. But while I had everything apart, I tightened all the spokes, replaced the inner tube with a new "Duro" 3.00/3.25 * 17. I put baby powder on the inner tube, and I bought some stick-on tire balancing weights and balanced the tire with 1.5 ounces.
A test ride on the highway went smoothly except that it misfires if I run at top speed for more than 30 seconds. This is the same problem Blue had at the beginning of last year, and I managed to cure after switching spark plug caps, carburetor, condenser, exhaust pipes with Red. And putting on a new fuel line and inline filter. It looks like I might have to repeat that 2 month long troubleshooting process all over again.
I also lubed and adjusted the chain. There is still a slight low speed wheel vibration, maybe the front.
Last week I made a dumb mistake, changing the oil (In Blue) a
time because I
forgot I already changed it. From "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle
Maintenance" comes the idea that if you are not at peace with yourself
while working on the motorcycle, you will mess it up. Here are the
mistakes I made: I forgot I already had a new
inner tube in the parts box, so I went and bought another one.
When I bought the new tube today, I forgot to buy wheel weights at the
same time, so a
second trip across the city was needed. Also for the first time
years of changing tires (including bicycles), I started mounting the
tire on the
rim at the valve instead of the side opposite the valve. (Note from the hindsight of the summer
of 2007: Did you happen to remember that Red also needs regular oil
changes? I thought not. -Ed.)
April 30, 2004 Red 8002 mi.
The picture at the top of the web page in the mud was taken today. I have balanced the front tire now, using 6 weights (1/4 oz each). The tire still has a low speed lump like it is out of round. And there is still a high speed misfire like the petcock is partly clogged.
May 12, 2004 Red 8079.2 mi.
In less than 100 miles, I have another broken spoke! This time I was able to get a new one in without taking off the tire. It was a "right-back-inside", same type as last time. It was the right side of the back wheel, and an inside spoke, I had to disconnect one other spoke to fit the new one in. I was very careful to unscrew the spokes leaving the nipple in place, after deflating the tire to almost zero. I let the tube hold the spoke nipples on the rim while I reconnected the spokes.
I guess spokes are designed so that (with skill and experience) you can replace one from the outside of the tire. They have an unthreaded part at the top of the nipple that helps in realigning the spoke, and if you are careful (i.e. Zen, karma, at peace with yourself), and if the spoke is not too long, it will rethread easily. However, if you have a spoke on the left side of the back tire, you will need to remove the sprocket.
I found that most of the spokes had loosened up significantly in less than 200 miles! Probably contributed to the breakage, which so far seems to happen mostly at the hook end.
June 2, 2004 Red 8211 mi.
My current problem is very frustrating because of how it started last year. When I first got Blue on the road, it took a month or so to methodically track down a high speed misfire. I replaced almost every part one by one, without finding the problem. Then the problem mysteriously disappeared on its own. Now I have the same high speed misfire on Red, and I still have no idea what caused it last year on Blue.
June 3, 2004 Red 8217 mi.
I did a tune up, including timing, cam chain and valve adjustments, plugs, plug caps and points gap. (But not the oil??? - Ed.) The engine still runs rough at high speed, and then after the rough running, stalls when I pull off the road. If I wait a bit, it goes back to running fine, at least up to 50 mph.
June 6, 2004 Red 8217 mi. (Parked until problem solved)
I am running Blue now, and the reason is to find out what is wrong with Red. My plan is to make sure Blue still runs OK, then switch components with Red until it misfires. So far I have the spark plugs, caps, gas tank, and fuel line switched and Blue is still running perfectly.
June 9, 2004 Red 8217 mi. (Parked until problem solved)
Blue's chain is now oiled, and adjusted for the next run. Blue and Red each have their own gas tanks again.
Testing Carburetor Parts
Success! (in a negative way). I succeeded in making Blue misfire at high speed, by using the carburetor parts from Red. The parts I switched were the float bowl, floats, float pivot pin, float needle, float valve, and the main jet. One or more of those parts is causing the problem. And the suspected parts are all the ones that were originally from Blue's carburetor. (The carbs from Red and Blue were switched last year in my troubleshooting effort, and stayed that way until now)
Putting it All Back the Way it Was
I started putting the good parts back in the carburetor one at a time to see which one was critical.
I started with the carburetor floats because the suspected ones were obviously bent. One float is higher than the other, and they are both bent in. The floats are supposed to be 27 mm below the body when the float valve closes. There is no mention about how low they are supposed to hang when free. Blue's hang down about 30 mm when free, but Red's were about 35 mm. That might be an indication that Blue's floats are bent too much to adjust properly.
With the good floats in the carburetor, it runs better, but Blue still misfires a little at high speed. Full throttle, over 60 mph for about 20-50 seconds. Just in case, I also put in new spark plugs (NGK DR8HA).
Mystery Solved, the Butler Did It
Actually, it was the vent tube! After switching every carburetor part one by one and going for 6 high speed runs, with no effect, I finally switched the float bowl and the misfire disappeared! How could something like a float bowl make such a difference? Because there is a vent tube in the float bowl, which incidentally was NOT blocked, as I could blow air through it. The vent tube is original on the good bowl, and it is long enough to get down in a sheltered spot behind the engine. The bad bowl has a much shorter tube, and it's open end is exposed to the wind. From my research on the internet, I found that, according to the Honda factory training course, a misrouted tube could create low pressure in the vent that might affect the fuel delivery.
I have bought 1/4" multi-purpose black rubber hose from an auto parts store, it was not available at the Honda dealer. Also known as vacuum hose, it is claimed to be resistant to heat, grease and ozone. It is a bit loose on the carburetor fitting, but a plastic tie wrap secured it. Another use for this hose is as a battery overflow pipe. I have not tested it yet for these applications, but over the summer I should find out if there are any problems. It was about a dollar a foot.
I took out Red's carburetor and adjusted the bad float properly. You can't do that job without removing the carburetor. It's now 27 mm when touching the float valve. On both floats.
June 15, 2004 Red 8240 mi. (Red is back on the road)
Blue is mothballed again with 4488 miles (about 250 miles of testing). An interesting development is that Blue does not have any oil mist seeping out of the top gasket now. Maybe the gaskets seal better the longer they are in there.
Red went out for the first ride with the new vent hose, and newly adjusted floats, and was not happy on startup. The engine would die if I closed the choke even a little. That lasted about 2 minutes, then suddenly it was happy to run with the choke off. I drove around the block within easy pushing distance of home. As I built my confidence, I went in wider circles, and I finally decided to get on the freeway for a real test. I had two misfires (WHAT!!?!?!) from the engine, but that was the only misbehaving in a 5 mile high speed run, and it recovered fairly well each time when I backed off. I don't have an explanation right now for why there is still a misfire, but I'm going to let it be, and continue to ride for the summer. Bummer though, because I had it figured out yesterday and now today I'm not so sure any more.
It is a bit louder because I had the baffle out last week and I widened one of the baffle pipes a little. And Red starts off in first gear with more acceleration than Blue. Not exactly arm stretching, but noticeable when ridden back to back, almost like it was in a lower gear than Blue.
Part of my run today was on the new freeway flyover. It opened a few days ago, and it is fun to see the city from that height. And pretty exciting on a first ride with a CD175. Another interesting part of the ride is that there is a cold/warm air boundary just one block north of my house today.
June 16, 2004 Red 8419 mi.
A 180 mile trip today, no misfires. I put a total of 4300 miles on Red since I bought it in 2001. Before the trip, I pumped up the back tire to 28 psi. Oil level was OK.
I tried a little off-roading and hill climbing. And I found out that the reason you need a really low gear on an off road bike (or trail bike) is to go up the steep embankments. I tried taking Red up a steep one, and it got stuck half way up. It was too steep to hold with the front brake alone, and it would have been handy to have a handlebar kill switch. But I got it turned around, and pointed back down the hill. Getting stuck on hills is a good reason to go for a bike under 300 lb. for trail riding, unless you have a lot of friends to help push.
June 18, 2004 Red 8430 mi.
Oiled the chain, but no adjustment needed. One concern I have is the master link. I suspect it's the wrong one for the chain, and it has about a millimeter slack in the side plates.
The front tire was down to 15 psi, so I pumped it up to 25. It felt funny in the turns two days ago, so that's a sign of low front tire pressure. Tightened a few spokes on the front. Engine oil level still is OK.
I changed the fork oil to Mobil 1 10w-30. The old stuff was gear lube, and I see now the regular oil gives a much better feel on bumps.
The hard seat feels a lot better after a two day rest.
June 19, 2004 Red 8500 mi.
The Paris Vintage Motorcycle Swap Meet was this weekend. I bought a red CD175 chain case, and left side exhaust system, good condition except for a big hole near the end (but on the side that doesn't show too much).
I also found a nice looking seat, but don't know what it came from. The cover seems hand made, but a very good job. I managed to bend and drill it and then mounted it to the rear fender bolts. It is much more comfortable than the stock seat, and looks about as good. But a little bit of a gap between the seat and the tank.
I saw separately two CD175 (T4s) in the parking lot at the show, a red and a blue one. That was the first time I have seen CD175s at the show, other than mine.
June 21, 2004 Red 8609 mi.
There is a vibration at about 20 mph that feels like a tire is out of round. It disappears at most other speeds. I tried adjusting the spokes on the front without eliminating the lumpy feel..
I also put a piece of rubber hose in the exhaust as an experiment. You can see it in this picture:
It is quieter, and in the same picture you can see the new seat. The gap between the seat and the tank is filled with a small vinyl tool roll. I have no idea what bike this seat comes from, but it is a lot more comfortable, and has no rips in it.
I changed the master link on the drive chain. The one I had on was too loose. The next best one was off Junkers, and it fit too tight, so that the clip did not completely snap into the groove, and the link was binding. I took it apart again and scraped and ground off some of the rust, and now it's much better. It binds a little on one pin, but more important (I think) is that the clip snaps right into the grooves. Now I'll see if it loosens up with driving, and hope the chain stays together.
July 25, 2004 Red 8883 mi.
Almost another 300 trouble free miles. Added some air the the back tire.
August 1, 2004 Red 8900 mi.
Because the front tire felt out of round at 20 mph, I adjusted the spokes to compensate. In less than an hour, I had the lump on one side reduced, but now I see there are really two lumps on opposite sides of the tire. And now it needs balancing again. And I can still feel the bouncing at 20 mph. Maybe those cheap trials tires were never meant for smooth pavement use.
So I replaced the wheel with another one from the basement mounted with a regular street tire. I balanced and tightened spokes before putting it on the bike. Now the 20 mph bounce has gone. But I think I feel a little bit of bounce at 40 mph.
October 17, 2004 Red 9300 mi.
This summer I added a few miles to Red, and Mary Ann started learning to ride. It's getting cold now, 3c high today. And it rained all day, reminding me I need a project for this winter, and I don't mean painting the kitchen.
Because I have not found a good bike project locally, I decided to take a closer look at Junker's frame. I set it up in the basement. There is only the steering stem, the battery tray, tool shelf, and rectifier left on it. I thought I might clean the frame up and use it as the basis of a new version of Blue Lite. The problem with Blue Lite is that I do not have the clear ownership papers. And I don't want to waste time getting the ownership if the center stand pivot is loose. Also it has some stripped threads on the frame where the side plates are held.
I started by taking out the steering stem, as it does not turn smoothly. I found there were 36 ball bearings, 1/4" diameter. Most had rough spots on them, and I got some new ones and put them in, leaving the races in place. They're not perfect, but maybe good enough.
I also saw markings on the headstock plate: GVWR 600 lb., GAWR F 240 lb. R 375 lb. If the rear axle is limited to 375 lb., that might mean Mary Ann and I are already pushing the limit on that bike. (We are 330 together, and the bike is about 300 itself.)
October 28, 2004 Red 9401 mi.
Mary Ann did some road riding, using the headlight, and today I discovered the headlight switch was not working. A plastic tab broke off inside the switch, so the light was stuck "on". I replaced the part inside the switch with a part from Junkers, and all was well. Maybe just a coincidence, but sometimes Mary Ann can just touch something and it breaks. She borrowed my bicycle early this summer and when I got it back, my gear shifter had to be replaced. All I'm saying is I rode that bike for many years without breaking the gear shifter. Got to stop now before I get in trouble. Otherwise, Red performed very well when she was riding it, and was a great learner's bike. And I also happen to still love riding it even though I am no longer a learner.
November 17, 2004 Red 9450 mi.
Some new EBC brake shoes arrived today for about $68 Cdn, front and rear including tax. I did not install them yet, but they appear identical to the ones on the bike. The part numbers were EBC H306 front and H307 rear. I ordered them through a local motorcycle shop.
Red is still running, but there is another bike in the
garage, a 1972 Honda CL450. That is going to be my new winter
project. The CB450 is not running
right, and so far Red is able to out accelerate it from a standstill
beat it in top speed.
I had to get a new project because otherwise I have too much spare time in the winter, and I end up being drafted to do household renovations. I started looking for another CD175 back in September, but no luck. Then I started looking for a CB or CL350, but also hard to find in Canada. Finally last month the CL450 came up on eBay Canada, so I decided to wait no longer, as winter is nearly here.
In the city, Red is more fun to ride than almost any other motorcycle. It accelerates well, and all the controls are easy to use. But I have found it hard to keep up with my friends on the highways. The CD175 has a gap between third and fourth gear, at about 60 mph which is a bit too fast for 3rd gear, but not yet in the power band of 4th gear. It takes a long time to get past 60 mph, I sometimes have to wait for a downhill run or a tailwind. But when I am following other bikes, they often slow down just a little for whatever reason, and I have to drop back down to 55 and start all over again. It's kind of annoying, but as I said, only a problem riding with other bikers.
27, 2005 Red 9522 mi.
I am not putting a lot of miles on Red this year with 2 other
motorcycles on the go, and Mary Ann has not been riding this
Less than 100 miles in 9 months! Blue has no additional miles at
all, still at 4488 (+20,000 or so from the old speedometer). I
will keep Red on the road for some motorcycle driving
lessons this summer, as it is just about the perfect bike for a
The 1972 Honda CL450 now has 24030 miles, and that is
about 3,500 miles this year. The winter rebuild was successful
and the only serious problem I have with the 450 is popping out of
second gear after downshifts.
Last week I found that the CD175 battery was run down - as in
the neutral light was not visible. I had to add some water to all
three cells, then I put it on the Battery Tender. Now it seems
back to normal again. Back in the month of May, I loaned the battery to
help start a 1965 Honda 150, that had not been started in 25 years.
December 9, 2005 Red 9672 mi.
Around here, winter is a time of year when usually no motorcycling is going on. But the CD175 is so light, that's it's possible to take it in snow without too much fear of damage from dropping. With a bike like my 600 lb. BMW K1100LT, I was not going to take a chance. The CD175 has a trials tire on the back and downstairs I have another trials tire for the front, already mounted on a wheel. There is a full chain guard to keep the chain rust free.
The road in front of the house is filled with snow, it's
think I gave the bike over 100 kicks, about 10 times it started running
for a second, then quit. One backfire - not as loud as the CL450,
more like a really big firecracker. The battery was run down, so
I put it back in the garage on the Battery Tender.
13, 2005 Red 9672 mi.
The battery was fully charged by the Battery Tender (light was green). The way I got it started was by taking out both plugs, heating the tips with a propane torch, then I squirted a little oil in each cylinder (not sure if that helps), and put them back in. I noticed especially the left plug had something on it that caught fire and burned off. I had to let it warm up for a couple of minutes before it would idle with no choke.
It has not snowed since December 11, so the snow has generally
been plowed and removed or packed down. I avoided using the front
brake, and I found the trials
tire was excellent on snow. It had good grip for starting and
stopping. The front tire occasionally slipped sideways, but each
time I recovered without dropping the bike. I was able to drive a
circle in the back yard through snow about 10 cm. deep. I also
managed to cannonball through a pile of snow near the street.
Video in the Snow
I have a Canon Powershot S410 digital camera with a video option (with sound). Mary Ann came outside to take a few videos of my CD175 winter motorcycling. I got several .AVI files that can play on my Windows XP computer or my Linux computer. Click here to see or download a 4 mb .avi file of a CD175 riding in snow. I will update this file with a better one when we get deeper snow. Here is another link to a web page showing pictures of a snowy road in Labrador. I have a lot more practicing to do before I'm ready to tackle that one.
17, 2005 Red 9672 miles.
I changed the front wheel so now I have trials tires on both front and back. To change the wheel you need to undo the axle of course, but I forgot about the speedometer cable. If it passes through a cable guide, it's too short to let you pull the wheel off the bike, so I had to undo it, and forgot to put it back on when I was finished. I don't know how much the trials tire will help, because just push testing it, I could make it skid quite easily in the driveway on just a dusting of snow. I will test again when the tire has cooled off, because it was still at indoor temperature.
We got another snowstorm since the video, but the salt trucks
were exceptionally prompt doing our quiet little street this time, and
it's a quagmire of salt out there.
20, 2006, 9824 miles.
It's Saturday morning, Red was on the battery charger again last night, and the light is still red. Last time it took two days for the green light to come on.
1, 2006, 10,004 miles.
I made a discovery about the battery charger (I think). It was charging for a very long time and the light was still red, so I jiggled the alligator clamps on the battery and the light suddenly turned green! I guess the clamps weren't tight enough, causing some resistance in the circuit, and fooled the Battery Tender into staying red.
Michael has been using the CD175 for commuting to work for
about a week now
without the charger at
all. I am surprised, considering the lights are on all the time,
and much idling is involved with hardly any high speed driving.
Yesterday Red got Mike home safely through torrential rains. I
both side covers on. (They were off in the picture at the top of this
web page). Seems like they are good to have covering the battery
filter when cars and trucks are throwing up waves of
water onto the side of the bike from the flooded roads.
3, 2006. 10096.5
Just updating the mileage today, I had it wrong the last few times this time I wrote it down so I didn't forget. 10,096.5 miles
15, 2006 10407 miles
I added water to the battery. The oil level was near the top. I don't bother charging the battery overnight any more. Everything is still going great, even took an extra Sunday ride with Michael just because it was a nice sunny day.
28, 2006 10668 miles
I had some new brake shoes on hand, from November 2004, never used. EBC H306. The old ones seemed to be worn, according to the brake adjustment screw. I also changed the front wheel. Once again, the brakes didn't feel very strong, apparently I should allow a break in period of 50-200 miles. The new shoes/wheel did allow me to tighten up the lever adjustment without dragging on the drum.
I also reduced the idle speed and I dried out the condensation
inside the rear turn signals.
1, 2006 10770 miles
After testing the new brakes, they were weak when cold, and didn't do a thing when hot. I took off the front wheel for another look. The new shoes were not making full contact with the drum, as if the drum was slightly too big in diameter. So I used some 150 grit sandpaper on the shoes, especially on the contact patch. Then I used some 400 grit on the drum itself, to try to cut the glaze if there was any. I cleaned the shoes with Spray-Kleen and a paper towel. I cleaned the drum with water and paper towels. Next I took out the cam pivot shaft which was bone dry, so it went back in with lithium grease. I also sprayed graphite lube into the brake cable. I also squeezed the brake before tightening the axle nut, maybe that centers the brake better.
With all these changes I made, braking is improved, but I
can't tell exactly why. I expect the brakes will get even better
as they get
the shape of the drum, but right now I consider them safe. A
quick test of the brake is to push the bike forward by hand and lock
the brake. If the wheel stops the bike literally on a dime,
that's a good
sign. If it rolls for another 10 cm before stopping, it is
good at all.
Although Red is practically an antique, it has now become a
commuter, as it was originally designed to be. Since commuter
bikes are designed to be trouble free, and easy to use, and cheap, I
would guess this makes it one of the best bikes ever for its
category. Although I can see by
log that it took a lot of work since 2001, over the last 1000 miles Red
has been as trouble free as any average motorcycle on the
13, 2006 10987 miles
Michael has ridden through a couple of torrential rains to work now. Two of the turn signal lenses are leaking water (front left, right rear). I dried them out and decided the lenses needed a bit of filing where there was some molding imperfection around the lip. Not the lip that seats on the rubber ring, the second lip, or shoulder that seats on the metal. I am often amazed by the complexity of even the simplest part on a Honda - at first it looks like a simple rubber gasket - then you realize there is also a shoulder on the lens that fits directly against the housing, and it only permits a certain amount of pressure on the rubber ring, the rest of the pressure is against the housing. A slight imperfection of the plastic, and there may not be enough pressure on the rubber.