Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

Home Repair And Restoration

Pocketpete's CB500X Weekly Check List

Post Date 22 May 2016

By Ren Withnell

Sharon and I spent a delightful afternoon at Pocketpete's place this Sunday. We dined on lamb roast with all the trimmings followed by tiramisu along with an endless supply of tea. Many thanks to Pete and Paula for fattening us up. In exchange I enlightened Pete with some motorcycle maintenance advice as well as helping him change the oil and adjust the chain. Sharon did her part by going through some cleaning tips.

Pete asked me to put together a list of things to check on his CB500X. We're not here to turn Pete into a master motorcycle mechanic, we're here to provide the essential checks that any sensible rider should carry out regularly (weekly) on their motorcycle to ensure at least the basics are covered. If the tyre pressures are low he can correct this himself but if the brake pads are getting thin then he can seek help in remedying this. This isn't about fixing things, it's about finding the things that need to be fixed.


Look at the pad thickness on the brakes. A 20pence coin is 1.7mm thick so I suggest you use a 20p coin against each pad front and rear. If any pad is as thin as the 20p coin then look at getting the pads changed.

A 20 pence coin next to the rear pads on a CB500X
Using a 20 pence coin to check the thickness of the front brake pads
I'd recommend no thinner than a 20p coin.

Grab the callipers and give them a shake. There will be a hint of movement but they ought not to be loose or flopping around. Rotate each wheel. It is normal and acceptable to notice a little binding but the rotation should not be stiff.

Brake Fluid Level.

Look at the master cylinders. On the front brake lever "tank" there is a sight glass. With the handlebrs straight ahead on the centre stand, if the fluid is close to the bottom of the sight glass this will need attention.

The sight glass on the master cylinder is circled in red
You can see the level of the fluid in the master cylinder.

The rear brake master cylinder is behind the rear right hand footrest. Again check the level is above the minimum mark.

The rear master cylinder on the cb500x is behind the rear footrest
This is easy to keep an eye on too.


Make sure the engine has been off for at least 5 minutes. With the bike on firm level ground and on the centre stand check the sight glass. Add oil if required but keep the level just below the maximum mark. 


With the bike running check the headlights work, dip and main beam. Check the indicators work, all 4. Check the tail light. Press the rear brake to ensure the brake light works then repeat this with the front brake. The brake light should come on if either the front or rear brake is applied on its own.


Check the pressures (CB500X - front - 36psi, rear - 42psi check manual for other models). Check the tread depth by finding the "Tread Wear Indicators". If the tread is getting close to the indicators then look at getting a new tyre. 

The tread wear indicators in a tyre tread circled in red
When the tread is close to these, new tyre time.


With the bike on the centre stand lift up the nose of the bike and move the front wheel from side to side. You will feel a little resistance from the cables and wires but the action should be smooth from lock to lock. 


Check for signs of oil leaking around the front fork sliders. Look at the rear shock to check for signs of leaking oil too, although it is easy to mistake chain lube for leaking oil. Sit on the bike and bounce the front and rear suspension. If you do this often one day you may notice it feels odd, wrong, too bouncy or too stiff. It might start making a funny noise. If something has changed get it checked out.


With the bike on the centre stand wobble each wheel from side to side. There should be no movement at the rear and the front should only have the natural movement of the steering, no clunks or clicks.


Check and adjust the chain. You need to ensure there is *some* slack but only around 1 and a half inches on the CB500X. Lubricate the chain.


The coolant tank on the CB500X is awkwardly located deep behind the engine and in front of the rear shock. It gets dirty so it will need a wipe down and I find having a torch to illuminate the usually blue coloured coolant helps. If this is low don't be tempted to use ordinary water, use coolant supplied by a Honda dealer recommended for your bike - unless it's a dire emergency then water will suffice temporarily.

The master cylinder on the CB500X is hidden in front of the rear shock

I'd welcome suggestions as to anything you might add to a weekly check list. I'm not looking for complex or involved items just simple safety checks that can be carried out swiftly by people who aren't mechanical geniuses. 

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
Good list. I wonder how many people actually do this? And no, I don't always.

If coolant is low it generally indicates a problem somewhere - a leak or failing seal. It's worth seeking out the water pump, which will normally have a bleed hole so that if the water seal starts to leak (it's usually this rather than the oil seal) coolant will drip out rather than getting into the oil.

Tread wear indicators: most tyres are marked on the sidewalls with "TWI" pointing to where they're to be found. Although tyres (particularly rears) generally need changing before they get down to them. What usually happens is that the centre squares off, especially on a heavy powerful bike used mainly on motorways / main roads. This can cause very nervous steering. While you're looking, check to see there aren't any nails / screws in the tread. That nice feeling of security you have while it works its way through won't last for ever.....

Again, if tyre pressures drop appreciably there's a leak somewhere. Better to find it at home in the dry than at the top of Shap in a blizzard.

It's also worth checking that throttle & clutch cables move freely and have the recommended free play although maybe this is monthly rather than weekly. If find GT85 is a good lubricant for them. Not WD40 which is a good water displacer but not lubricant.

Wheels: if you can spin them look for any distortion on the rims especially if any off-road / severe potholes have been encountered. Most wheels these days are cast but on spoked types it's worth checking spoke tension every month or so - just dangle a pencil against the spokes and spin the wheel. Each spoke should give a musical note rather than a dull thunk. But they don't have to be exactly the same note and it doesn't have to be concert pitch middle "C".

Gear lever / rear brake linkages: a drop of oil on these won't come amiss, and where there is a pivot it's a good idea to take this apart occasionally and put some grease in it. Front brake and clutch lever pivots also like a drop of oil every now and then.

If you can see them, it's a good idea to clean the insulators on the plugs every now & then although most bikes these days have them buried between the cam tunnels.

My 1947 copy of Motorcycles and how to manage them suggests checking all nuts & bolts for tightness but I think this is overkill on modern bikes.

All this may sound like a bit of a faff but it all helps to understand and appreciate the bike better.
22/5/2017 4:07:23 PM UTC
pocketpete said :-
Cheers Ian, some valid extra points there for me to consider.

This article is perhaps a little more important than I actually thought. I usually pay a garage to do stuff on my car or bikes as I simply dont have the time or the tools to actually do this sort of thing.

I did buy a socket set so its a step in the right direction. My bike has over the past month been rather skitty on its handling, I thought perhaps the tyres were wearing out. I have been giving my mate a lift to work and handling has definately been an issue. Also the gear change has been a bit iffy and I occasional got a missed gear.

However since rens visit I have learned a few really interesting things.

1. Im a complete tool when it comes to even basic bike maintenance.
2. Sharon is much better at point 1 than I am.
3. taking into account point 1 and 2 anyone else has to be better than me.

So having rear tyre pressure on my bike of 22psi when is should have been 42 was a pretty bad thing. Having tyre pressure of 28 in the front when 36 was required was also bad. Hey presto my bike is handling again. its exactly 7 months since my bike had its first service nad the last time is has been checked. God I might have killed myself and my passenger.

So tyre pressure gauge is being ordered today.

Along with that a 24mm torgue wrench so I can adjust the chain now that I know how to do it.

My journey to work was a pleasant affair today. Gearbox was silky smooth with the fresh oil but more importantly the chain tensioned correctly may have helped a great deal. handling tight like is was a year ago.

Definately worth feeding Ren and Sharon who despite being tiny eats like a trooper, as I have had a big lesson and it wasnt actually to difficult.

I wont go into detail of sharons opinion of the condition my bike was in, but I did fear for my personal safety when she started cleaning the bike if looks could kill.

'Envy' certainly looks like she has just come from a bike showroom and even Rens bike had been given the Sharon once over and completely put my bike to shame with his clean exhaust and engine. Damn Ive got work ahead Im not going to allow my bike to fall into a state of disreapair and dirt.

Im going on to Amazon tonight to order the cleaning materials I need to make my bike shine once more. Hopefully I can make Sharon and Ren proud
22/5/2017 6:41:03 PM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Pocketpete's pockets are significantly lighter today. Spent £ 32 on cleaning stuff.

But just realised I've forgotten the first muc off stuff Sharon mentioned. But I can't for the life of me remember what it was.

I've ordered the Williams stuff with caruba what ever that it but it sounds exotic. I've also ordered the muc off protection spray with ptfe.

If you or Sharon remember what the first cleaner was let me know.

22/5/2017 7:40:08 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
After my outing in Wales I ordered a 20-80 NM torque wrench which is small enough to fit in my top box tool bag, I don't have to worry if my wheels are done up tight enough if I have to get a tyre changed any more. I don't think there is anything that gets tightened more than 80Nm on my bike so it should do for everything. Was only £23 on eBay. Cheapest one I have seen in Spain is around £60 so I might get one for there as well eventually.
I am not an engineer but do tend to be hands on with my maintenance once the warranty period expires.

22/5/2017 10:40:52 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Sharon picked up a Draper 1/2" drive torque wrench for around £25. It ain't tip top quality but it's more than adequate for the 3, 4 or 5 times a year she'll use it to adjust the chain.

Her ladyship has returned to work today so don't expect a reply regarding which Muc-Off she recommends too quickly. I'll have a look on this website - it's on here somewhere.
23/5/2017 10:25:27 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ah, here we go - Muc Off Bike Cleaner
23/5/2017 10:30:10 AM UTC
Bob said :-
Good advice.
When I get back from a ride I always do a walk round of the bike and check the oil level (dry sump so you can't check on a cold engine. Then top up the Scottoiler and If there are any issues that need dealing with they get fixed there and then.
Next time I wheel the bike out I know it's ready to roll.
25/5/2017 10:37:12 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
It would be fabulous if we could cover every motorcycle and what to check but with so many models out there it would take a lifetime. Could you explain why you can't check a dry sump motor's oil level when it's cold?
26/5/2017 10:15:05 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
It's not all dry sump engines - "classic" British singles & twins can be checked any time (but beware wet sumping).

Bob will be referring to the Honda Dominators and the like which do need a very specific oil level checking routine.

Just had a very pleasant run out on the Super Four but it's too hot!
26/5/2017 11:02:27 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
"It would be fabulous if we could cover every motorcycle and what to check but with so many models out there it would take a lifetime."

But you've covered the main items (especially when augmented with my list) - and these would be applicable to the vast majority of bikes. Armed with the lists and a specific bike's handbook for the detailed settings, people shouldn't go far wrong.
26/5/2017 11:04:35 AM UTC
GJ said :-
In regards to doing bike maintainance:-

Keep it regular that way you spot little things before they turn potentially serious.
When you are cleaning your bike give things a quick once over whilst you are cleaning it. More or less prevention rather than cure.

I note the mileage on the odometer and will check my bike at set intervals.
These are just five minute checks.

My motorcycle still is almost new and I have had it from the beginning of last October.

Riding the motorcycle through the winter conditions left me with no choice but to ensure bike was kept in tip-top condition. Not so much for the appearance but for safe operation.
27/5/2017 1:08:28 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Much as it pains me to admit it, cleaning a motorcycle is the best way to learn how a motorcycle should look and? then spot any changes as they arise.

You don't need to be a spanner monkey to notice that the footrest that has always been a tiny bit wobbly is becoming quite a lot more wobbly. That bit of the engine that never had oil on it now seems to have oil on it. That cable's? plastic case thingy seems to be peeling off?

If you spot a change you might not know what it means, but at least you can ask someone who does know whether it needs attention.

I daresay most motorcyclists become at least a little bit mechanical as the years roll by. Bikes do require a little more tender care than cars.
28/5/2017 6:27:36 AM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Expensive the biking lark. Just ordered tyre pressure gauge. Only £ 7.40 for a draper one.

Just ordered the muc off bike cleaner. The Williams wash and wax with caruba and muc of ptfe stuff has arrived.

Spend a very pleasant 2 hours cleaning the winter acf50 off the bike. Cleaned the chain. Cleaned the wheels and started on the rear section.

As Sharon said quite therapeutic. Bikes looking really good. The Williams stuff is pretty impressive it really cleans even oil residue with little effort. I won't be scolded by Sharon next time.

Not sure what's in the Williams stuff but it's effective. The ptfe spray seems to leave a nice finish I'm hoping as Sharon says once you've cleaned it the sprays will make it easier to clean in the future.

Just ordered the torque wrench.
28/5/2017 7:24:24 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yep - welcome to the not-as-cheap-as-you-thought-it-would-be world of motorcycling.

2 hours of cleaning! Urgh. I know we are all quite unique but the idea of cleaning being "therapeutic" as opposed to "soporific" completely escapes me. Look if you all seem to enjoy cleaning so much you should come round to my house. There's enough cleaning required here to keep you all deliriously joyous. Does anyone get off on decorating too...?

What I would like to know is how many of the people reading this actually enjoy "riding"? You know, that thing you can do once the bike has been cleaned, restored, maintained, serviced, improved and polished. I am aware that for many people involved with motorcycling the act of riding is just a small part of the pleasures.
28/5/2017 8:57:09 AM UTC
Borsuk said :-
I must admit I have not cleaned my bike personally yet. They cleaned it at it's first service in January then I took it to All Year Biker and had it treated for the winter. They do a full clean, degrease etc as part of the treatment and I haven't put enough miles on since then for it to get particularly dirty.
Maybe next leave I will wave hose in it's direction. I will probably get the treatment done again in October / November this year before the winter sets in fully.
28/5/2017 2:22:32 PM UTC
pocketpete said :-
I must admit Sharons tuition on cleaning the bike was very impressive, I realised just how dirty it was. We couldnt even read the chain adjuster marks. I'm looking forward to trying the chain adjustment next time it needs it. The torque wrench is on its ebay way.

I do enjoy the riding much more than Paula does. I can quite happily ride for 3 hours and not even bother where I end up but Paula wants to experience country side,sheep, views and stuff.

Maybe the cleaning bug will wear off after a while but for now its quite interesting. Im ready for a quick tour round scotland or the lakes. My bike seems quite clean and fairly rust free. Also the williams wash and wax is really good on freezers I defrosted ours and cleaned it with the first thing to hand from the garage ie the williams cleaner. Came up a treat spotless. Paulas very impressed.
28/5/2017 6:42:57 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Freezer?! I'm not entirely sure it's recommended for freezers but there we go.
28/5/2017 7:49:45 PM UTC

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