Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

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Easter
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Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#1

Post by Easter »

Several years ago a friend who knew I worked on old Hondas offered me a 96 GL1500 that had been sitting in his garage long enough his wife was complaining. It had belonged to his father-in-law and had been partially dis-assembled and sitting in his garage for some time as well. Anyway I helped him smooth relations with his wife and haul it away. No one remembered what the original problem was or where all the parts were. The brakes were both frozen and the clutch would not release. A winch and two healthy old-timers managed to scoot it onto the trailer. Then it sat at my place. Over the last three years I have occasionally messed with it a bit. First confirming the engine would turn over, then doing a compression check (all good) and spark at the plugs. Then sitting another year. Gradually assorted components were removed in an effort to get back to the basic motorcycle.

About a year ago I managed to get the carbs out and cleaned. If you are not familiar with this bike the carbs are wrapped inside the frame and covered with spaghetti. Something like 12 vacuum lines, three drain hoses, two water lines to the radiator,an air duct from the left manifold to the air box, two drain lines from the air box, and probably more that I am forgetting. Since I had removed the fairing and assorted tupperware with associated check valves and relays, I just plugged the vacuum lines with quetips. I installed a cheap after market fuel pump and a new battery. Maybe spark plugs, can't remember for sure.

Anyway, to my surprise it started up and sounded great. The clutch was still stuck and the brakes frozen but it was running. There was hope.

We migrated north for the summer so it sat several more months. Upon return, it would not start, the fuel pump quit working and the carbs had to be pulled again. The idle jets on both carbs were clogged and had to be cleaned. This time I bought some vacuum caps at O'Reileys an did away with all the vacuum lines. Left off the cooling lines from the radiator and didn't bother with the cruise control hardware. Another cheap fuel pump was installed. ($40 new vs. 350+ used OEM).

It started. Meanwhile the brakes were redone, the clutch cured itself and the wiring was sorted and modified. A test ride of forty or so miles confirmed it was going to be OK.
Attachments
IMG_0374.jpg
IMG_0374.jpg (270.24 KiB) Viewed 742 times
Bikes at present:

83 XL 600r with a 2004 XR650L engine
And a slightly worse for the wear BMW GS adventure bike awaiting repair
83 GL in process :IDTS:
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5speed
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#2

Post by 5speed »

looks great.
1982 1100 standard. (sold)
1986 Yamaha FJ1200
2000 Yamaha Roadstar
1976 GoldWing. running but not on the road
1978 Goldwing. future cafe project.
2019 Can-Am ryker (boss's new ride)

2002 Shadow American Classic(sold)
1983 Shadow 500. (sold)
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Easter
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#3

Post by Easter »

My original idea was run it as a rat bike. Maybe add a sub-frame and turn it into a reverse trike. I even bought a VW front axle. But after scrounging through my junk I came up with assorted items that seemed to fit and it just evolved. The speedo is from a BMW (seems very close to correct speed) Tank panels from a GL1000 separated by stainless steel scavenged from an old propane grill cabinet and pop riveted in place of the original metal of the panels. Fuel cap access is from an old Honda sport bike of unknown origin. Top box is GL1100 and side boxes after market from a ratty old GL1000 I acquired. Truck bed spray hides all the wear and tear. Headlight and running lights are mounted on a homemade bar that I copied from another old rat bike I acquired some years ago. The dash panel was also acquired from the propane grill cabinet but I plan to replace it with a Trail Tech Vapor enduro speedometer, which I have used before and is a bit more elegant.
Attachments
IMG_0375.jpg
IMG_0375.jpg (197.77 KiB) Viewed 735 times
IMG_0376.jpg
IMG_0376.jpg (230.1 KiB) Viewed 735 times
IMG_0377.jpg
IMG_0377.jpg (208.7 KiB) Viewed 735 times
Bikes at present:

83 XL 600r with a 2004 XR650L engine
And a slightly worse for the wear BMW GS adventure bike awaiting repair
83 GL in process :IDTS:
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Whiskerfish
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#4

Post by Whiskerfish »

Awesome! Sounds like the fabrication spirit is strong in you!!
"Agreement is not a requirement for Respect" CDR Michael Smith USN (Ret) 2017
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2008 GL1800 IIIA "TH3DOG"
1975/6/7/8/9 Arthur Fulmer Dressed Road bike
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and a whole garage full of possibilities!!

Psst. oh and by the way CHANGE YOUR BELTS!!!!
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desertrefugee
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#5

Post by desertrefugee »

Dang. Now that is nicely turned! May you enjoy many miles on that road muncher.
- Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass. It's about learning to ride in the rain.
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Lucien Harpress
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#6

Post by Lucien Harpress »

I cheated and bought a Valkyrie, but I've loved this idea of a stripped 1500. I'm surprised at how well a GL1500 + GL1000 shelter panels work. You got a genuinely cool looking bike there.
1997 Valkyrie- Light Cutomization, but Too Busy Riding
1980 KZ1300- Bike's Haunted
1976 GL1000 (Yellow)- It Runs (Poorly) and Doesn't Leak (Mostly)
1974 Velosolex 3800- Better Than Walking
1972 CB750- Broke the Chain And Ate the Motor
1969 CT90- The Most Fun You Can Have on 90ccs.
1965 CA77 Dream- Needs a Full Teardown, but Complete

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Jonesz
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#7

Post by Jonesz »

Impressive job Easter. Lots of interesting repurposing.
Jonesz

1983 GL1100 Aspencade named "Freki" currently undergoing change to a standard. Sold
1999 Valkyrie CT 1500 goes by the moniker "Valerie"
1978 Gl1000 "Loki" new project going to be a Cafe Convertible
1979 Suzuki GS850. Sold
MattMcCoy
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#8

Post by MattMcCoy »

Well done!
1983 GL1100A Aspencade
1977 GL1000
1978 GL1000
1979 GL1000

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Easter
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#9

Post by Easter »

Thanks all, it surprised even me with how well it turned out (and how fast it runs) Best of all I probably spent very little over $500 in total including two tires, two fuel pumps, a battery and misc. paint and odds and ends.
Bikes at present:

83 XL 600r with a 2004 XR650L engine
And a slightly worse for the wear BMW GS adventure bike awaiting repair
83 GL in process :IDTS:
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NotSoLilCrippseys
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#10

Post by NotSoLilCrippseys »

I love the upcycling on the motorcycle. It looks good.
Avatar is a summer '21 photo of the Blue Phoenix, our 1983 GL1100I rescue gone naked.

In the Stable and Ridable
1992 ST1100 - my longer haul tourer
1992 XJ600S - son's streetfighter
1987 VFR700 - son's latest, in blue/silver
1983 - GL1100I - naked Blue Phoenix (son's, really)
1982 GL1100I - naked bagger Cabernet
1979 GL1000 - Ginger Lynn, but not that Ginger Lynn (Wing and a Prayer)
1978 CB550K - son's cafe (carb issues still vex)

Active Project(s)
1979 GL1000 - Confirmed one owner, with original paperwork. Vetter fairing and bags, off the road in dry, heated storage for 35 years.

Sold
Not lookin' back to avoid regrets
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#11

Post by Brant »

That's awesome. And outrageous.
83 GL 1100 bagger Ugly Betty
ALL WE WANT TO DO IS DRINK OUR ESPRESSO, RIDE OUR MACHINES, AND NOT BE HASSLED BY THE MAN
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desertrefugee
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#12

Post by desertrefugee »

Definitely Valkyrie-ish.
- Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass. It's about learning to ride in the rain.
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Pedrotq
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#13

Post by Pedrotq »

Looking Great!

my "Naked 90" has taken a back seat the past couple of years, she is just a frame with wheels, but i have managed to shorten the handlebars by about three inches.

In my opinion the center of the front wheel looks ugly with the covers off, but i think they look much better with some stainless steel mesh fitted in the center.

I got the idea from another Naked 1500 i saw on the web.

All the best, Peter :-D
Attachments
My "Naked 90" as she is now.
My "Naked 90" as she is now.
101_1406.JPG (312.41 KiB) Viewed 627 times
My front wheel with fine SS mesh fitted.
My front wheel with fine SS mesh fitted.
101_0567.JPG (320.46 KiB) Viewed 627 times
Someone else's front wheel.
Someone else's front wheel.
Front_Wheel_GL1500.jpg (72.41 KiB) Viewed 627 times
Pedrotq ~ (Pedro The Questionable)

Perth, Western Australia.

1988 GL-1500 ~ HRD sidecar outfit.
1990 GL-1500SE ~ (project) ~ Stripped down to be a "Naked 90".
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#14

Post by Fred Camper »

Easter, congratulations on yet one more Bike of the Month. December is your month!
Proud member of the NGW Cartel (Rochester MI)
1977 GL1000 BADDOG (April 2012 BOTM)
1976 LTD - '993 LTD...and so it begins'

You should remember that it's peace of mind you're after and not just fixing the machine. R.Pirsig
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Re: Big Bertha, The bike Honda never built

#15

Post by wingrider »

Congrats on BOTM! anim-cheers1
2002 1800 Wing
2001 Valkyrie Interstate
1978 1200 EFI Wing with Motorvation Coupe Royale sidecar
1977 1200 Wing cafe/bobber project
1974 Suzuki GT550
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