Welcome back to our Honda CL90 project bike. A few minutes on ebay provided a box of parts that will keep us busy for a few evenings. We are going to first concentrate on the chassis of the little CL, making sure that we’ve got properly functioning wheels and suspension before tackling any other areas.
While checking out the front end, the reason for the dents in the fuel tank was an easy thing to spot-the fork stop (which is unusually placed on this bike) was completely broken off. The main point of this bike project was to show how easy fixing up an old bike can be, but we had to break out the MIG welder on this one already. We built up some weld, filed it down, and used some touch up paint to give the triple clamps something to hit instead of the tubes contacting the tank. Don’t have a MIG welder? Don’t even know what a MIG welder is? No problem, a quick Google search revealed a half dozen welding shops near our garage. So the ability to weld isn’t as important as the ability to know when something has to be welded. You can always find someone to do what you can’t, or at least can’t do yet.
With the fork stops stopping, we decided to put our ebay parts to use and completely strip and rehab the front end. The front wheel and fender came off, then the headlight, top triple clamp, then loosened the lower triple and slid out the fork legs (with some persuasion). The fork boots were shot, they’ll be replaced, and the fork seals seemed okay, but as long as forks were out it’s smart to just replace the fork seals now. These were held in by a circlip, a 15 dollar pair of cir clip pliers did the job fine.
With the front wheel off, decided now’s the time to re-build the wheels. The old tires were trashed (tubes seemed okay, but were fifty years old…they’ll be replaced), and we used a giant pair of bolt cutters to cut the rusty spokes to remove the rim from the hub. Sometimes you can get away with steel wool on the spokes to bring them back to life, but these were badly rusted and would not be safe to put too many miles on.
With the wheels cut apart we used some WD40 and steel wool to remove the grim and bring a fair shine back to the hubs and backing plates. We briefly considered buffing them out, but decided that the overall condition of the bike is going to be on the patina/original side. Gleaming brake drums would look out of place. The original rims cleaned up with chrome polish and now it was time to lace up some new wheels.
Wheel lacing freaks people out, but it shouldn’t. Always take a picture of the wheel before you dis-assemble it. Or find a pic online. This will help you get the spoke pattern right when re-spoking the wheel. Always start with the inners, then the outers (or you’ll be taking the spokes out again, trust us). It’s also a good idea to put some grease on the spoke nipple threads. This will help them tighten properly and not fatigue early. We loose-laced the wheels (this means put the spokes on, but not tightened) and then trued the wheels old school. We have a wheel building stand, but for the sake of this budget/beginner project we did it like a newby mechanic would do it. Take the axle, wrap it with some masking tape (to avoid nicking it) and lock it firmly into a large vice. Slide one of the spacers on (probably from the back wheel) and then your loosely laced wheel. A piece of wire barely touching the outside rim guided us and we slowly tightened all of the spokes using a cheap spoke wrench in such a way that they were all tight and the rim had very, very little side to side or up and down play. This job definitely has a learning curve, it gets easier after a few wheels. However, it is something you can do. Just put on a good album, relax, and true that rim!
With the wheels together, and looking pretty good by the way, we spooned on some new Michelin tires and tubes. All of the front end parts went back on just like then came off. It was extremely straight forward, though we did take the time to clean all fo the original hardware with a wire brush wheel or steel wool and gave the triple clamp bearings some fresh grease before the final assembly.