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

Home Repair And Restoration

CB500X Evaporation Canister

Job Date - Week Commencing 7 December 2020

By Ren Withnell

The CB500X first arrived on the motorcycling scene in 2013. That was back in the before times, before both Covid and Euro 4 and now Euro 5 regulations. As such my 2016 registered CB500X did not come with an Evaporation Canister. However my 2018 registered CB500X does have one.

Evaporation Canister? For those that don't know, ahem... 

Back in the before times your petrol tank would have a breather, a hole and/or a pipe that connected the air above the fuel in the tank to the air outside, preferably in a way that didn't allow rain into the tank. This allowed air into the tank as the fuel is used while riding to prevent fuel starvation due to a vacuum. It also allowed for pressure to be released due to fuel vapours.

It transpires that these fuel vapours can contribute as much as 20% of the vehicle's harmful emissions. As your bike sits in the shed it is still managing to give off harmful gasses. Naughty motorcycle. 

To prevent this evaporation canisters are fitted. These are about the size of a tin of baked beans for most motorcycles and contain activated charcoal, whatever that is. Now the tank breather passes through this canister and the activated charcoal traps the harmful part of the vapours before the hopefully clean excess air reaches the outside world.

But! The activated charcoal can only hold so much of the nasty stuff. To remove the collected vapours the canister is connected to the inlet tract of the throttle bodies. With the addition of a solenoid when the bike is running a small amount of air from the outside is drawn through the canister "in reverse" so to speak thus removing the trapped vapours back through the engine to be burned. This is called purging.

A simple diagram of how an evap canister connects to the tank and engine
My burgeoning career is technical illustration is assured.

Great! Clean air while breathing while parked. And the scrubber, the activated charcoal, is cleaned when riding. Heck you could even argue better fuel economy as the trapped vapours are eventually burned too. I imagine the benefit is tiny, probably not enough to compensate for the extra mass of the canister but still.

As with everything there has to be a downside. If anyone has read my "CB500X Tappets" list or done their own tappets you'll already know that beneath the trendy fairings and fashionable CB500X tank lies a twisted, tangled, complicated and extremely unhelpful mess of wires and tubes and connectors and electrical wizardry. 

Now it's even worse.

Now there's a vacuum pipe from the inlet tracts to the evaporation canister. This pipe is interrupted by the evaporation solenoid. Now there's another block connector and wiring for the evaporation solenoid. Now there's a baked bean can sized evaporation canister too.

The canister is about the size of a tin can and located on the side of the frame
Loads of room, I don't know what I'm moaning about.A small metal solenoid squashed between the frame and the wiring on the CB500X
The Purge Solenoid ought to be cosy squashed in there.

As this motorcycle was designed in the before days these additions have merely been shoe-horned in. A little bracket here, a rubber mount there, a pipe squeezed through the only available space and another wire crushed in among the rest. The under tank area already felt overpacked and uncomfortable. 

I'm reminded of Sharon's packing when we're travelling. Both she and Honda are at risk of creating a small singularity if they try and squeeze any more items into the very limited space available.

If you're wondering how I know all this? The CB500X now has 9,500 miles on the clock and although the tappets aren't "due" until 16,000 miles I'm still doing them. Now, where does that wire and pipe go?

If you'd like to advertise with Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtavels.com

Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
Your pain is nothing new Ed, these things have been fitted in some markets for 30 years or more. The ST11 destined for Californ I A had them from around 1990. And yes, they do go wrong.

Posted Image
11/12/2020 11:06:22 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I wonder too Ed, with euro 5 if the brain on the bikes will know when things are unplugged and require faults clearing after reassembly. It certainly like that on many cars these days. I think I'll stick with 1990's tech for now.
11/12/2020 11:16:27 UTC
Upt'North said :-
And why are you doing them early, it's a Honda?!?
11/12/2020 11:17:28 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Point 1. I have always heard that Calif-orn-eye-ay has very strict emissions regs. I've been told that Harleys were designed to pass these regs but be easily modifiable by the owner, and various other tales.

Point 2. Probably, but I'm not prepared to leave the evap solenoid unplugged, spend ages getting the whole shebang back together only to find out the engine management light is on. It's a fair old job to get back in there and plug it in again.

Point 3. It's a Honda! I've experienced and suffered tightening valves on Hondas before. Admittedly while both this, my previous CB500X and PocketPete's CB500X were *slightly* tight they were far from catastrophic. Look, it's done. It's cold and wet outside, what else would I do? I've learned a lot more about this bike. I like the pain I'm presently suffering due to chaffed knuckles and sliced fingertips. I'm a nidi-ut.
11/12/2020 12:31:55 UTC
Upt'North said :-
No, no, no, you're not anidiut, I would say a cautious farkler with time on his hands. Nowt wrong with that fathe.
11/12/2020 13:24:55 UTC
Jim said :-
I nearly succumbed to time-on-your-hands syndrome today, though about changing the fork oil on the Bandit. It’s done over 40,000 miles now and for all I know the fork oil may be original. I’ve got to put new front pads on, so taking the wheel off isn’t much extra. However, I’ve been put off by some stories of difficulties on forums. Anyone care to offer a view on the difficulty of this job?


11/12/2020 18:16:18 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Like any job Jim, it can be easy, it an be hard or you can make it hard.
Has it got drain bolts in the sliders.
Some would just drain and then refill with the right amount, whilst others would have springs and seals all over the bench.
The choice is yours friend.
If you have the wheel out, I'm guessing there are pinch bolts on the axle on either side, or maybe not. When tightening these up with the torque wrench make sure you check them two or three times, one after the other to make sure they're snugged up.
I'm sure if you have any issues there'll be plenty of virtual help on offer. The other option of course it is drop the legs out and take them to a trusted person.
The third option is leave the blanket on it and have a wee dram.
Hope it helps.
11/12/2020 18:55:48 UTC
Upt'North said :-
On the note of making life difficult, on the other forum, some Norwegian posted about diff oil he had bought. Wrong colour he said.
A quick check of the spec sheet revealed its moly fortified, hence its black. Also revealed it's suitable for all gear application including diffs.
Despite being told at least 20 times, by me included at post two, to use it, he's still deliberating whether or not he should use it, AND HE BOUGHT IT. It must be winter.
11/12/2020 19:00:31 UTC
Jim said :-
Doesn’t appear to have drain plugs, Upt’. Consensus online seems to be that the forks need to be removed and upended, upon which everything inside falls out with predictable hilarious effects.

Presumably that diff oil has got something akin to Slick50 in it. Used to use that at every oil change, until the oil business got complicated by low sulphur DPF friendly oils.
11/12/2020 19:25:36 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Wee dram or two then Jim.
11/12/2020 23:29:49 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
"If you have the wheel out, I'm guessing there are pinch bolts on the axle on either side, or maybe not. When tightening these up with the torque wrench make sure you check them two or three times, one after the other to make sure they're snugged up."

It's a good idea to leave these slack on one side to start with then bounce the front end a few times, then snugging that side up. This allows the spindle to find its correct lateral position and reduces any tendency to bind.

Most forks these days have to come out (not e hard job) to drain the oil but you may be surprised how murky the stuff that comes out is.
12/12/2020 10:18:54 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Changing the fork oil is - with the simple forks on the bikes I've owned - usually quite simple. The best part is removing/replacing the big nut on the top of the forks. A friend and contributor to this blog, Ste Latchford, once arrived at the bike club with a 17mm hexagonal blood red dint in his forehead. Turns out there's a lot of preload in whatever fork leg he was working on.

I've never dealt with cartridge forks though. I don't know if your modern Suzuki has cartridge or traditional forks Jim. Surely (don't call me Shirley) there's a YouTube video out there? What's the model and year?
12/12/2020 14:45:28 UTC
nab301 said :-
Generally if i'm going to drain the fork oil by upending the forks , I'd remove the top nut , spacers and springs before removing the fork leg from the bike. I can't imagine there's much more to fall out ? Obviously , technically you'd be better off dismantling the fork legs completely instead of potentially contaminating the internal surfaces with all the accumulated gunk in the bottom of the fork leg, however , this can lead to problems with removal/ rounding of the inevitable thread locked cap head bolt in the base of the forkleg.
13/12/2020 12:48:52 UTC
Jim said :-
Thanks for all the advice, folks. I did have a look on YouTube Ren, but I didn’t find anything specific enough. It’s a GSX1250FA 2011 model. Seem like regular forks to me, the shiny chrome bits are clamped at the top and the fatter painted bits are at the bottom. There are pinch bolts at the bottom where the axle is, Ian - good call on the torquing on reassembly.

Somel videos on YouTube also talk about needing a gauge to fill the new fork oil - any thoughts?
13/12/2020 13:07:38 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Jim, sounds like an Americanism for a measuring jug to me.
14/12/2020 18:06:37 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Most forks I've done you get a measurement, x millimetres from the top - without the springs (and spacers) fitted and the leg fully slid into the stantion. A simple tape measure is accurate enough for me.

Too much? Pour a bit out.
14/12/2020 21:21:48 UTC
Jim said :-
Thanks Ren and Upt - that settles it, it’s time to bite the bullet and fork off.
15/12/2020 16:38:43 UTC
Upt'North said :-
We want, nay, need pictures.
Come to think of it you'll need pictures.
Photograph everything before you undo a single thing. What is clear when you take it apart will not be in a months time. I imagine you've read everything online for the job but a manufacturers workshop manual is a handy tool to have. DON'T buy one though, if you haven't got one you'll be able to download one from somewhere for nowt.
Good luck and keep us posted.
15/12/2020 18:03:08 UTC
nab301 said :-
I tend to use online parts books with all the exploded diagrams , handy for guidance if it does go pear shaped on dismantling.
16/12/2020 12:26:06 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Eeeeee exploded diagrams. Gearboxes ought to be simple, self explanatory and logically only fit together one way that would work. Hmmmm. Then as an inexperienced tinkerer you take apart the bottom end of a CB125T, a "side to side" splitter. You pull apart the 2 halves, being super careful to ensure the gear cluster remains in place. SPROING!! The cluster jumps out the 2 halves and disassembles itself on the concrete flags. Dog clutches, gears, bearings and worst of all washers. Washers of all shapes, sizes, thicknesses and materials.

With time and patience you can work out how the primary parts of the cluster go together. What cannot be worked out is where all the sodding washers and spacers need to be. With the help of the exploded diagram AND AND lots of trial and error it is possible to rebuild the cluster. There is however... inevitably... a spare washer come spacer.
17/12/2020 09:11:08 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , that reminds me of a neighbour who purchased a GT 250 Suzuki in a box of bits , got it running but on a test ride the kick starter wound back and nearly took his leg off, just before the transmission locked up, yes, you guessed it he'd left out one important shim .
18/12/2020 22:17:33 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Yikes! That's what always concerns me with tinkering. Yes, yes I know the principles of how a motor works. I've watched countless videos of engine rebuilds. I know about tolerances and torque settings. I know it's wise to put removed parts in order and take pictures of things as they come apart (thank goodness for modern digital cameras). I *know* a lot of things but I'm aware I make mistakes, I know my skills still lack in some areas.

In some videos the engine or gearbox rebuilder is meticulous. Everything is cleaned. The work bench is orderly. The parts are inspected with micrometers and calipers and feeler gauges. It can take them an age to do even the simplest of tasks. Then other rebuilders just "bosh bosh zoom zoom wallop" it's apart, checked and thrown back together.

Initially you think the meticulous type has the right idea. Then you see more and more and you begin to realise some people just know, they KNOW what is right and what is wrong from years of experience, practice and feel. Then I realise I am neither meticulous nor experienced enough. Then I panic.

Riding down a country lane, giving it large, then the thought pops into your head - "Whoa there dude, remember which muppet fitted the wheels and brakes on this thing..."
19/12/2020 11:30:18 UTC
Kerry said :-
Reminds me of a machine repair at an electronics factory I worked in. A high speed half a million pound smd placement turret machine (100,000 components per min) crashed in operation and resulted in mechanical strain and loss of accuracy. The repair was entrusted to the European engineers but after many failed attempts they gave up. Two lads from the factory in Japan were called in. They spent 3 days on it and casually asked us to load up for full production. We questioned this and offered some blank pcbs and suggested commissioning at test speed 30%. No they wanted a regular production run but at the machines max speed of 100%. Bang away she went. Result perfection. We had around 15 of these lines and this was now the most accurate. Never saw anything like it. Just as you said some people just know from practice,feel,meticulous patience. Zen like.
29/01/2021 21:38:07 UTC
said :-
Just read again. It was probably 100,000 components per hour.
29/01/2021 21:49:19 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I wish I could find my "thing". I'm handy with a spanner but not a wizard. I'm an OK computer programmer but not uber excellent. I can ride OK but I'm no Rossi or Lampkin. In fact I have recently discovered something I do excel at. I excel at being average. Average height and weight and build. Average skills on 2 wheels and 4. I'm even middle of the road politically. Average is my thing it seems.

Gosh darn it, I just wish there was something I could be so good at that it might even render others "marginally impressed". Ho well, back to mediocrity.
30/01/2021 13:51:27 UTC
Kerry said :-
Overall sounds like balance and way above average total skill set. Add to that good health & special people in your life that love you and its as good as it gets.IMO.
30/01/2021 15:28:01 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
While I may be frustrated with my mediocrity Kerry I am undoubtedly lucky in many ways. For starters I have food in my belly and a roof over my head which puts me ahead of millions of folks. The UK is far from perfect but I have a vote and I am free to protest peacefully and say bad things about my our leaders. I wouldn't be alive without our NHS. I come from a now "broken" family but I was loved and nurtured without abuse, I wasn't spoiled but I never went without. For all this I am indeed thankful.

And yet Elon Musk with his billions still hankers after Mars and I strive to be better than average at... SOMETHING!!
31/01/2021 18:33:13 UTC
Bogger said :-
You're really good at being average.

31/01/2021 21:19:53 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I excel at being average! Yay! Great! Harumph.
01/02/2021 09:09:31 UTC
Borsuk. said :-
Afraid I have to disagree Bogger. I think he is only average at being average.
It is still head and shoulders above being mediocre at being mediocre.
03/02/2021 22:31:40 UTC

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