SABRE/MAGNA FAQ      (V2.1 2006)


This FAQ is intended to supplement the Honda and Clymer manuals, NOT replace them.


Wrench at your own risk.


It is considered bad form to ask questions “on list” that are answered here.


There is a great deal of information at other places at Look around


Dave Dodge……..There are numerous references here to Dave. Much of his life has been spend with the Honda V4 engines. He will listen to your engine over the phone, he has parts, he knows where to find stuff. Contact him at  Dodge Racing Products, Huntersville, NC, (704) 892-7961,


Dale Walker has provided SabMag accessories for some time. Call Dale at 831-761-2808 Mon –Thur 9:30-5:00 PST








  Coveted out-of-production accessory for Magnas.  Adjustable in forward/backward direction on rails that mount alongside the grip rails and are attached by the upper shock mount bolt and the bolts through the underside of the fender into the grip rails (Magnas).   Used parts dealers or private purchase.






Rear Running Lights


At an auto supply store, obtain turn signal sockets that are built for running lights, like the ones that come on the front of your bike. The socket is the part that actually holds the bulb. It will have 3 wires: ground, running light, and signal light. Remove the rear 2 wire sockets and install the 3 wire sockets. Connect the ground and turn signal wires to the existing corresponding wires. Connect the running light wire to the same power source as the front running lights. Install 1034 dual filament bulbs. Viola, rear running lights.


SISSY BAR, TALL (for Magnas)


Coveted out-of-production Hondaline accessory.  About 13" tall with a little zipper pocket on the back and a tiny tail rack. Used parts dealers or private purchase, or order a new aftermarket one from Holeshot above. (?)




From one list member:

Found a K&N that is almost a perfect fit for the big Sabre.  Just a little trimming around the gasket.  K&N 33-2034.

More from the list:

V65 Sabre:

In lieu of :17210-MB3-000    ELEMENT, AIR CLEANER  $9.38 at

The KN filter for a 91-94 Saturn (KN 33-2055) fits the air box on the V65 Sabre


But Mr. Dodge says  "The V65 Sabre works best with the stock foam filter. It sells for approx.

$12.00 from Honda. All other non-foam filters will choke the intake flow."





See Jack’s Keepers for The Pelican’s discussion of SabMag alternator/regulator operation


Connector Meltdown


Common in all SabMags. The cause is a somewhat wimpy connector that would probably be OK if it never got dirty or corroded, but it does, with resulting overheating.




  Honda sells an "ACG connector repair kit" for around $15 list. Some list   members report this works well, others that the replacement also failed. (2)   Replace the connector with crimp-on spade or bullet connectors.


 Some list members report success, others that this also fails unless the connectors are soldered.  Dispense with the connectors altogether, solder the wires, and cover them with shrink tubing. This appears to totally eliminate the problem. Mild disadvantage on Magnas: to remove the battery you have to remove both the bottom and top bolts of the battery retaining bracket, to which the  regulator/rectifier also is mounted. BTW it doesn't matter if you get the 3 yellow wires from the alternator mixed up from the way they originally were.





Many batteries no longer have a place to connect the sensor. If not connected, the warning light will cycle.


The sensor needs to see a certain voltage to work.  Two options as I see it:


1.      Get a new sensor from the battery distributor and try it in each cell till the light goes out.

2.      Run a 10 KOhm potentiometer from a switched 12-volt lead to ground with the center terminal attached to the sensor lead.  Adjust the potentiometer till the light goes out.


            Others have simply connected the wire to the battery + terminal without problem.




Most procedures are well covered in both the Honda and Clymer manuals. Here are supplementary tips from list members.




The calipers have 2 single pistons; that is, there are 2 pistons that press on the outside pads, whereas the inside pads are held against the caliper body. Therefore, the caliper body is mounted on sliders or pivots to allow side to side movement. The pivot pins and sleeves often have not received proper maintenance and are corroded, sometimes to the point of being frozen. This can result in the inside pads wearing rapidly, and even eating up the (very

expensive) rotor ($360 list for a rear one). The pins and sleeves should be cleaned up with a wire brush or emery cloth and lubricated with high temperature silicone grease. If they are badly pitted they should be replaced, as they might eat into the aluminum of the caliper. The protective rubber boots should be inspected for cracks and tears and replaced if damaged. Pivots should be inspected periodically and cleaned and lubricated if necessary.


The Honda shop manual doesn't specify the torque for the caliper bolt (the one that goes through the pivot collar or sleeve).




  In the front on p. 1-6 there is a table of standard torques. The pivot bolt is   an 8mm flange bolt, for which the standard torque is 20-30 Nm (14-22 ft-lb).   Clymer gives the values 30-40 Nm (22-29 ft-lb) except for '87 Magnas, for   which the value is 25-30 Nm.




The pistons are likely to be hard to get out, but can be removed without special tools. After detaching the caliper from the bike but before disconnecting the brake line, remove the pads and put a piece of wood 1/2" or 3/4" thick in the caliper, so the pistons won't come all the way out. Using the brake lever, pump both pistons out until they are stopped by the wood. Chances are you can then pull them both out. (Don't use pliers or anything that could burr or distort the pistons.) If necessary, put in a thinner piece of wood and repeat, or, if one is stubborn and one loose, block just the loose one till the stuck one comes out. Remove the seals and clean any crud out of the inside of the caliper using a small wire brush, steel wool, fine emery cloth, etc. and brake fluid, then wash with hot soapy water, rinse, and dry thoroughly with a hair dryer or compressed air. Unless you really know what you're doing, you probably shouldn't use a hone. The caliper body is aluminum & it would be too easy to overdo it. If you do use a hone, be very careful to remove only the crud, not any metal. Be sure to get any crud out of the seal grooves. (You can make a little scraper out of something like brazing rod for this.) Clean up the pistons with hot soapy water or brake fluid and a brush or nylon dish scrubber or the like. Don't use coarse abrasives on stubborn deposits or superficial corrosion; use crocus cloth or very fine wet-or-dry paper such as 1000 grit with water or brake fluid. The pistons are hard chromed and polished, and if there is deterioration of the surface that cannot be readily polished out, they should be replaced. Lightly lubricate the new seals and the pistons with silicone brake grease and reassemble.




After replacing the calipers, bleed the system until clean fluid with no air comes out. If done as described in the manual, you may need to also bleed at the joints of the tee on the front, and you may have to crack the banjo bolt on the master cylinder as well. Drape old towels all over to catch spilled fluid. A MityVac vacuum brake bleeder is nicer.


Brake Lines


Check the hoses for cracks. It's rare for one to fail, but they are after all 20 years or more old. Consider replacing them with braided stainless lines, which can improve brake feel because they swell less under pressure.


Dave Dodge has stainless steel lines cut to fit.


I can provide ready-to-bolt-on hoses in any length. Determine the hose you want, and how much longer it needs to be and I can make it for you. I can
bundle it in a kit, or sell you only the single hose. Single hoses from a 3-hose kit sell for $36.00. If the bike has only one front disc and a
single hose, the price is $49.00 (because it is longer and has chrome ends). My hoses are DOT approved.


These are available in kit form from Russell, or you can buy components and make up your own. The Russell ones cost about the same as factory replacements, around $165. One thing about these: you occasionally get one with a banjo fitting that doesn't quite line up, putting a twist in the line. Braided lines don't like this, so it should be returned for one that fits correctly. See PARTS and/or CAMS below for sources of hose and fittings to make your own; list members report good results using AN-3 line and appropriate fittings. (Apparently there is a wide variety of bends and angles for the banjo bolt fittings when you use #3 line.) Another alternative is to take the old lines to a hydraulic equipment supplier that handles the necessary components and have them make up a set.




While you're doing the calipers consider installing a master cylinder kit. If the bore of the master cylinder is badly pitted, replace the master cylinder. If it is only lightly pitted or glazed, hone the bore with a brake hone lubricated with brake fluid. Flush thoroughly with brake fluid, or wash with hot soapy water, rinse, and dry thoroughly. Make sure to get any crud out of the hole in the bottom of the reservoir. Reassemble. Prime by partially filling the

reservoir and pumping the lever with a finger over the banjo bolt hole until mostly bubble-free fluid comes out around your finger. Reconnect the lines and bleed at the calipers. Turn the handlebars lock to lock and tap the master cylinder with a rubber mallet to free up any last stubborn bubbles, then bleed again to remove them. In especially stubborn cases, you might have to take the master cylinder off the handlebar and hold it vertically and rap it. If all the air is out of the system and the lever still feels mushy or moves slowly under pressure, the master cylinder needs to be repaired or placed. (MCN 9/96 p. 9; Rider 10/96 pp. 70-71.)




This can be a bitch to get out. Try depressing the brake pedal as far as it will go. This positions the pin into a spot where there is a little more room. The lower you can press the pedal the better. The pin will hit the exhaust collector just before it clears the spline from the brake pedal. You may be able to remove it by pushing the pin up towards the top of the collector and working it out. An easier method is to loosen the front nut of the two nuts by the push rod bracket that accepts the brake pedal pin and unscrewing the rod from the bracket.




Brake (and clutch) fluid should be changed periodically, since it is very hygroscopic and inevitably absorbs water, which contributes to corrosion in the system. Intervals? Yearly, at least in moist climates; every 2 years may be OK in dry areas. DOT 4 fluid is required. It has higher wet and dry boiling points than DOT 3, which is also glycol based. DOT 5 is silicone based and is not compatible with the systems on Sabres and Magnas.




Honda OEM and EBC greens are given favorable reports. EBC blacks are less well liked, being rated by two list members as OK but inferior to OEM. No reports on SBS or other brands.





See    “Required Reading” for Phil Ross’ discussion of cams


 Modifications to the cylinder head oil supply to prevent cam/follower damage are described on this web page. The most professional job, however, essentially duplicates the Honda Racing modification, which used AN-3 line, and is described in Tony Donisi's modification and illustrated in TONYSMOD.GIF. WordPerfect 6.1 (*.WPD) and Word 6 (*.DOC) versions are also available. This also describes how to add an oil pressure gauge. We recommend that you verify the oil pressure after doing an oil mod, since a few instances of low oil pressure after a mod are reported. (See OIL PRESSURE.)


 DRP offers both the filter adapter and drill/tap styles. Price range $159.00 to $249.00. (prices unverified)


 Dale Walker lists a V4 oil mod for $289.00, which brings oil from the oil filter adapter to the heads.


Amol Motorcycles in NJ (201-384-1103) used to offer a similar mod and maybe still does. (See OIL).


Why not just tee off of the oil pressure switch? Other list members have made pressure measurements at this engine point and have concluded that the pressure and volume is not sufficient to solve the oiling problem.





Do you have a rattle in your cold engine that (mostly) goes away when it is warmed up?


From Dave Dodge


Honda revised the design of all the V-4 cam chain tensioners as they found the tensioner would run out of tension travel before the chain reached its wear limit. The newest design for the V65 was not released until 1989, after the bike was out of production. The newest design vs. the stock 1983 tensioner has a different arm pivot angle that allows it more tension travel. Plus the tension spring has added tension and does not fully collapse, and the locking bar is thicker so as to not come loose.


To determine if you need the updated tensioners, remove the valve covers and alternator cover to do a physical inspection. Rotate the engine for 2 complete revolutions, stopping at each 90° interval. At each checking point reach up to the chain and check its tightness. If at any point you can push the chain down and away from the top guide, you should install the updates. It is possible for the chain to go loose in only one checking point, and if

it does it will cause a rattle noise in the engine. And if it gets too loose (like on the '83 with the earliest style), it is possible for the chain to jump a tooth on the cam sprocket(s).


It is not necessary to remove the cams for this, nor is it necessary to remove the engine from the frame. Changing cam chains is a bitch unless you use master link type chains, because you have to tear the engine down to the crank, and the engine/tranny of a V65 weighs around 200 lb. This is described in an article on the above web site.




Cams reground by Megacycle are available from Dale Walker's Holeshot (408-761-2808). Cams are $466 for four + $47 per follower, exchange required. (prices/availability not checked)


DRP offers numerous cam grinds from mild to wild for all V-4 Honda's 1982 to present. Cams are hardfaced and reground to proven specs with prices starting at $399.00 per set (exchange) (ibid)





See also for Cliff Koch’s carb cleaning page in Maintenance Tips & Modifications



The following description of CV (constant velocity or constant vacuum) carbs is based on an '85 V65 Magna but should apply pretty closely to other models. In these carbs there are two fuel systems for controlling the fuel/air mixture at low and high engine speeds. The low speed system consists of the starter jet, the slow jet, the air jet, and the pilot screw. In the carb throat on the airbox side of the throttle butterfly is the opening of the air jet. This feeds air into the low speed system to help atomize the fuel as it exits the jet openings. These are located in the throat just under the edge of the butterfly in the fully closed position. The one just at the edge of the butterfly is the bypass hole and is the opening of the starter jet. The other 3, located slightly on the engine side, are for the slow jet and the enrichener circuit ("choke"). The pilot screw controls the flow of air from the air jet and is used to adjust the idle mixture. At idle, a tiny amount of air passes around the butterfly and draws fuel from the bypass hole. At modest butterfly openings, up to 1/4 throttle or so, the incoming air draws more fuel from the low speed system, with the slow jet providing a larger proportion of the fuel as the throttle is opened. As the throttle is opened further and engine speed increases, the high speed system comes on line. This consists of the main jet, the vacuum piston or slide,

and the jet needle, which is held in the slide with the pointed end in the main jet. When the slide is all the way down, the fat part of the needle mostly closes off the flow of fuel from the main jet. The slide doesn't quite completely occlude the carb throat, allowing a small opening for the mix to flow through at low throttle. As the throttle is opened, the slide at first is held down by its spring. As engine speed increases, the velocity of the flow of air under the slide and across the air lift hole increases, creating an increasing vacuum in the space above the diaphragm. The amount of vacuum controls the height of the slide, which controls the position of the needle and thus the amount of fuel entering the mix from the main jet. When engine speed is high enough the slide is lifted all the way up and the flow of both air and fuel are at maximum. Thus, above about 1/4 throttle it is the slide that controls delivery of the mix to the engine; the butterfly controls it only indirectly. At WOT the low speed system is still delivering fuel, but its contribution becomes proportionally smaller as speed increases. (Shoemark P., Motorcycle Carburettor Manual, Haynes publishing Group, Newbury Park, CA, 1981; ISBN 0-85696-603-7) R&R Neither the Clymer nor Honda manual goes into enough detail about getting the carbs out of and back into the connectors. Follow the instructions in either manual, with the following additions. This is based on a V65 Magna, but should be generally applicable to others.




  While you don't *have* to remove the tank, doing so makes it easier to deal  with the airbox. The airbox top is a tight fit, and the gasket can stick   and/or snag. It's thin and fragile and would be easy to break, so watch it.  On the front connectors, loosen the bands on the carb side only. Loosen both   bands on the rear connectors.   The rubber connectors may have hardened and they may be reluctant to let go of   the carbs. The trick is to work on only one pair at a time. Work the carbs out  of the rear connectors first. If you can't get them out with hand pressure, you can use a long screwdriver or equivalent between the cylinder head and the  back of the carb assembly to exert gentle firm pressure forward. (One list   member reports that a piece of 1" x 3" hard wood like birch works well.)! Be  careful. Don't pry on the airbox itself; it is thin walled and could be damaged. Not much force is needed, just firmness and control. Then similarly lift the assembly out of the front connectors. (Some list members report that   it is easier for them to reverse this and take out the front ones first. If   you do this remember to loosen both bands on the front connectors.)   Slide the carbs to the left to gain access to the throttle & choke cables.


  Prop the carbs up with your knee so they don't fall.   Loosen the choke cable bracket and disconnect the cable end.

  Instead of detaching the throttle cables from the bracket, try using a   ratcheting offset phillips screwdriver to detach the throttle cable bracket   from the carbs. Then, disconnect the throttle cable ends, twisting the  throttle grip to gain slack.


To reinstall:


  Coat the insides of the connectors lightly with silicon grease. Slide the  carbs partway in from the left and reconnect the throttle and choke cables.  Place the carbs so that the front carbs rest centered on their connectors, in   position to slide together. Place the rear carb connectors at an angle between   the carbs and intakes so the connectors overlap the top of the intakes and the  bottom of the carbs. Press the front carbs into their connectors. If necessary use the long  screwdriver between the carbs and frame; take it easy and protect the airbox  rim with a shim of wood or cardboard. The rear carbs now line up with their  connectors and can be similarly pushed into place. (As noted, some report  finding this easier in rear-front order instead of front-rear.)   Tighten the connector bands and adjust the throttle and choke cables. Watch  the airbox gasket when you're reinstalling the top. If the connectors are old and hard the carbs may be hard to R&R. Consider replacing them; they are about $10 each list.




There are a couple of approaches here. The basic or minimum-disassembly method is recommended in the Clymer manual, which says that if you need to separate the carbs you should take them to the dealer. OTOH a complete rebuild, with a thorough cleaning by immersion in carburetor cleaner and such things as proper lubrication of the felt throttle shaft lubrication rings and replacement of fuel joint and air joint O-rings, requires complete disassembly. The Honda manual provides instructions. However, basic inspection and cleaning can be done without separating the carbs. If you do take them apart, eyeball the initial balance by lining up the throttle plates with the bypass holes before reinstalling them. Do you need 4 $30 rebuild kits? Unless you have to replace parts, this also is your call. Many list members have re-used parts like float valves and bowl gaskets successfully. According to a Honda America employee: "Don't put silicone anywhere on a carburetor. A very light coating of Gaskacinch of what is used at the factory) works good. If the gasket appears limp, or if injudicious use of carb cleaner has made it swell and become difficult to glue down, drop it in a container of hot soapy water for several minutes to normalize it. Then lightly coat it with Gaskacinch, let dry, and very lightly coat the bowl groove, and let dry, and put them together." Note that the Honda manual says to remove the starter jet. The starter jet is removable only on some Sabres & Magnas; on others it is pressed in. There appears to be no particular pattern to this. If it doesn't have a screwdriver slot or hex on it, take the hint. Otherwise just follow either manual. If you have a vernier caliper of the kind where the sliding part sticks out of the butt end when you open it up, the sticking out part makes a pretty decent float level gauge. Make sure carb cleaner or WD-40 blown into all the appropriate orifices comes out the holes in the carburetor throat, and don't forget the air jet orifice upstream from the butterfly. (Be careful not to get carb cleaner in your eyes.) There is something of a controversy regarding use of wire to clean jets, and technical columns in magazines don't agree on this, either. OTOH there are times when there's something in there so stubborn that only a good stiff wire will get it out. The key thing is to not damage the orifices, so it would be best to use a carb cleaning tool, which has smoothly ridged wires of various sizes. They are available by MO from various sources, and similar if not identical tools are sold by welding supply stores for cleaning the tips of oxyacetylene torches. One thing you must do: keep the parts from the different carbs separate; some of them are not the same. Large numbered zip lock freezer bags work well for this. One list member recommends replacing "all those worthless phillips head screws" with corrosion proof allen head screws--on the bowls, top plates, and especially on the airbox. See PARTS for sources of such item.




This is pretty straightforward; you mostly just follow the manual and the instructions that come with your synch tool. A big floor fan blowing on the radiator helps keep the coolant temp down while you're working, or if you have a fanstat bypass switch installed turning it on also helps. If you've had the carbs apart, eyeball the initial balance by lining up the throttle plates with the bypass holes before reinstalling them.




Mercury tools are inexpensive and never need adjustment, but mercury is poisonous and environmentally incorrect. If you're not careful the mercury can get sucked into the engine. It won't hurt the engine, and the instructions that come with the tool should explain how to purge it. Dial gauges don't contain mercury, but good ones are expensive.




You have to have some sort of angle drive tool to turn the synch screws. The Honda tool shown in the manual lists for around $60. Alternatives:   Snap On P/N TM65, $15. One end has a thumb screw and the other has a 4" flexible extension w/ 1/4" connector for a 7mm socket.   Skew tool (a 1/4" drive right angle drive tool; look in hardware stores).




There are a couple of common situations where some tuning may be needed.


  MIDRANGE HESITATION. EPA mandated carburetion can result in too lean a mix in the midrange, causing surging or hesitation at mid rpm. This seems to be more of a problem on 700s and V45s than V65s. It can be corrected by raising the needles slightly, which results in more gas when the slides are partially open. Thanks to EPA, the needles are not adjustable, but they can be lifted a little by shimming the needles with 3mm washers. List members report that there probably will be room for only one washer, which may not be quite enough. In that case you might consider installing a jet kit such as Dynojet.




 This can result from too lean a mix at low speed. Big   Brother says no-no to meddling with the pilot screws, except for adjustment   needed for different altitudes, which is why they're covered with metal plugs.  If you have to drill out the plugs, put a piece of tubing over the drill bit to prevent it from damaging the screw heads.


CLUTCH  Slipping


Don't panic, you may not need a clutch rebuild. First, make sure the hydraulic system is working properly. Air in the system and/or crud in the clutch cylinder can prevent the clutch from engaging fully. Try bleeding and flushing the system. If that doesn't do it, either the cylinder is malfunctioning or the clutch does need attention. Flushing may not remove all the junk from the clutch cylinder, so the next simplest thing to try is a clutch cylinder cleaning and rebuild. If slipping persists, disassemble the clutch and measure the plates and springs. (See MANUALS, starter idler gear gotcha.) If the plates and springs meet specs, either the clutch cylinder is still malfunctioning and needs to be replaced, or possibly the clutch plates have been ruined by an oil additive.


DRP offers performance Kevlar clutch kits available for all V45 and V65 models 1982 to present.







      '83 VF1100C V65 Magna

      Model Year1983



      Product CodeMB4

      ColorPearl Siren Blue or Candy Maroon

       Cast wheels with "Star" shaped design, headlight shel, instruments & Fr

      Fender are chrome '83-'86, speed nos. in increments of 10 ending with "0s"

      '83-'84, Fiber optics integrated lock anti-theft system '83-'85.



      '84 VF1100C V65 Magna

      Model Year1984

      V.I.N.49 State - 1HFSC1204EA100001-

      California - 1HFSC1219EA100004-

      Engine49 State - SC12E-2100001-

      California - SC12E-2102298-

      Product CodeMB4

      ColorBlack or Candy Andromeda Red

       California model designation is VF1100CL'84, Cast wheels with straight

      spoke design '84-'86.



      VF1100C'85 V65 Magna

      Model Year1985

      V.I.N.49 State - 1HFSC1209FA200001-

      California - 1HFSC1218FA200001-

      Engine49 State - SC12E-2200001-

      California - SC12E-2200001-

      Product CodeMB4

      ColorBlack or Pearl Vintage Red

       California model designation is VF1100CL'85, Speed Nos in increments of

      10 ending with "5's" '85-'86, Control levers with screw-type adjusters

      '85-'86, Push-to-cancel turnsignals switch '85-'86



      VF1100C'86 V65 Magna

      Model Year1986

      V.I.N.49 State - 1HFSC1203GA300001-

      California - 1HFSC1212GA300001-

      Engine49 State - SC12E-2300001-

      California - SC12E-2300001-

      Product CodeMB4

      ColorBlack or Candy Glory Red

       California model designation is VF1100CL'86, Engine Side Cases are polished,

      Side stand is chrome plated, FR & RR brake discs with inner cut-offs,

            Fiberoptics integrated lock anti-theft system deleted.



      VF1100S'84 V65 Sabre

      Model Year1984

      V.I.N.49 State - 1HFSC1707EA000001- California - 1HFSC1716EA000001-

      Engine49 State - SC17E-2000001- California - SC17E-2000001-

      Product CodeMB3

      ColorBlack/Pleiades Silver Metallic/Red or Black/Maroon/Silver

       California model designation is VF1100SL'84, Black/Silver unit has red stripe, Black/Maroon unit has silver stripe, Speed Nos in increments of 10

      ending with "0's",



      VF1100S'85 V65 Sabre

      Model Year1985

      V.I.N.49 State - 1HFSC1701FA100001- California - 1HFSC1710FA100001-

      Engine49 State - SC17E-2100001- California - SC17E-2100001-

      Product CodeMB3

      ColorBlack/Monte Rosa Silver Metallic/Red or Black/Monterosa Silver


       California model designation is VF1100SL'85, Color variations (red & blue) are stripes only, Speed No’s in increments of 10 ending with "5's"




Oil Dipstick Lengths


One SabMag list member reports the following data (measured from the underside of the handle to the "full" mark):


1984 V65 Sabre - 152mm (one data point)


1984-85 V65 Magna - 157-158mm (three data points)


V45 Magna - 147mm (two data points)


CA Emissions Plumbing


Should you remove it?  Only if you feel it gets in the way of the oil filter. Other than that, all it does is divert fuel vapors from the gas tank to the charcoal canister.  You will not suffer a performance penalty by leaving it on. 


The smaller jets of CA bikes should be more of a concern than the canister. Plus, you have to figure out which hoses and tubes go where, and plug them off. Forget to plug a vacuum port, and it'll run lean, and you might hole a piston. 


Just leave it alone.


Rebuilding and machine work


DRP offers several stages of engine rebuilds for hot-street, drag racing and road racing. Cylinder head porting, custom valves, crank balancing and set-up, top case boring, transmission repair, blueprinting and complete engine building.






Some (all ?) SabMags have a spare, switched lead in the wiring harness under the gauges. Very handy





If your SabMag’s electrical system is completely dead, check the main fuse.  No, don’t just look at it, physically remove it.  The fuse frequently gets a hairline crack that cannot be seen when it is in the bike.





Information from a list member on tearing the motor apart and repairing: The fan will come apart pretty easily and can usually be rescued from an early  (and expensive) grave. Remove the fan from the radiator and take off the plastic blade assembly. Locate and remove any locking rings and screws to allow separating the halves of the motor. Clean and lubricate the bushings, check the brushes and commutator and reassemble. 50% chance it'll work like new if you've never done it (90% if you've done it before).  The fan motor is a "pancake" design with flattened armature windings to allow for a shorter motor.  I think the brushes contact the rear face of the commutator which is different than most DC motors you'll see. This makes disassembly and reassembly much easier.  Be careful with solvents around the motor...  Harsh ones will remove the insulating varnish from the windings destroying the motor (don't ask how I know this).  I use synthetic motor oil/Duralube mixture (50/50) when lubricating sintered bronze bushings.  Doesn't dry out, and even if it does the Duralube should keep things happy.




There are a lot of SabMag posts related to ignition problems. The troubleshooting guide in the Honda manual is OK, but it doesn't explain how the system works. The following simplified explanation is adapted from Tranter.


The SabMag ignition system is frequently referred to as a capacitor discharge (CDI) system, but it is actually a more advanced transistorized system. Basically, there are two separate systems, one for cylinders 1 & 3 and one for cylinders 2 & 4, as diagrammed in the manual, with the major components of each being the pulse generator, spark unit, and ignition coil. Base timing is determined by the position of a protrusion on the starter clutch. (In the Honda manual for the V65 Magna, you can see it in the drawing at the top of p. 7-13 and under the left index finger in the top photo on p. 7-23.)


 The protrustion acts as a "reluctor." That is, when it approaches the pulse generator, which is a coil with a magnetic core, it induces a change in the field of the magnet that in turn induces a voltage pulse in the coil. A second pulse is generated as the protrusion leaves the pulse generator. Since the generation of these pulses is strongly dependent on the distance between the reluctor and the magnet, the air gap between the protrusion and the pulse generator must be correct.


In the spark unit, the "pulse shaper" adjusts the voltage signals from the pulse generator to give a clean cutoff of current to the primary side of the coils and to compensate for variations in pulse voltage due to engine speed. The spark unit also controls advance and dwell, amplifies primary voltage to the coils, and adjusts for variations in battery and alternator voltage. Their complexity and construction are why it is not practical to test or repair them. They either work or they don't. (Many would disagree with this statement)  The 1-3 unit controls the tach, so a sudden loss of power and a failed or screwy-acting tach indicates a failed 1-3 spark unit. From the spark units to the plugs, the system is pretty conventional, except that each subsystem fires both plugs every revolution. That is, each plug fires at the top of the exhaust stroke as well as at the top of the compression stroke.


We have one report of a coil that tested good according to the tests in the Honda manual, but which tested bad at the dealer's shop. Thus, if you're having problems with firing on the 1-3 or 2-4 cylinder pair, and it isn't the spark unit, you might want to have the coil tested by the dealer or an electrical shop.




One good thing to do with wiring harnesses is to take apart every connector and clean both sets of connectors. Get a can of good contact cleaner. A small awl for releasing the clip that holds the contact in the plastic connector, a tube of silicone brake grease, a pencil eraser (the slightly abrasive kind), and a small pair of pliers. Carefully tale apart each connector and spray the dirt out with the contact cleaner. Remove each wire from the connector, clean the male blade connector with the eraser and the wash off with the contact cleaner. Only remove and clean one wire at a time. That way you won't forget where it goes back. Very carefully tighten the curl on the edges of the female connector. If there is any corrosion clean it out with a small piece of 300 grit sandpaper. The corrosion in the blade connectors is the major cause of connector meltdown. If there appears to be corrosion where the wire is crimped to the connector, you can use a small wattage soldering iron and resin core solder to solder it. Don't over cook it. Squirt a blob of high temp grease in the connector before putting it back together and you should eliminate most electrical connector related problems.




The turn signal switch, kill switch, and rear brake switch, at least, can be disassembled and cleaned as above. Be careful when disassembling, as plastic parts can break and springs fly across the garage. Fixing a finicky ignition switch. 




As reported from one SabMag list member: There is a small circuit board inside the instrument panel. It is about 2 inches by 2 inches [ 5cm by 5 cm ] in size. There are 4 wires going to that circuit board with the following colors:


Yellow / Blue Goes to CLOCK SET Button  Yellow / Red Goes to CLOCK SET Button  Yellow / Green Goes to CLOCK SET Button  Green / Black GROUND WireNote:  The CLOCK SET BUTTON is located on the panel between the handle bars. Also have Check; Lamp Reset; and Trip Reset nearby.


There are two others wires associated with the CLOCK circuit. They are located in the plastic housing near the Clutch and choke actuator. The Sabre has a feature called Elapsed Time Clock. It can be used for timing how long it takes to get from point A to point B. For example: from mile marker 1 to mile marker 2. A switch at this housing controls whether you are in CLOCK MODE or Elapsed Time Mode. This select-switch has 3 wires going to it:

Green GROUND Red / Blue Goes to MAIN circuit board in Instrument Cluster Yellow / Blue Goes to MAIN circuit board in Instrument Cluster


I have a VF750S UK [ United  Kingdom ] Model , Colorized Wiring Schematic. It is hard to decipher the Power wires that you need identified. There appear to be a few that go into the instrument cluster and the related CLOCK circuit board. Black / Brown appears to be a power wire as it comes from the fuse box Yellow / Red appears to be a power wire Red / Blue appears to be a power wire Yellow / Black appears to be a power wire Red is a power wire coming from the main 30A fuse


EXAMPLES: Black / Brown is a Black wire with a brown stripe

Yellow / Red is a Yellow wire with a red stripe

Red / Yellow is a Red wire with a yellow stripe


BEFORE going into the Instrument Cluster again; you may want to check the wiring in the small electrical panel between the handlebars. Check the wiring for the CLOCK SET switch for good connections. Next check the wiring in the wiring-box that is located on the left handlebar. Open it up and check the wiring for the CLOCK and ELAPSED TIME toggling switch. Then go into the instrument panel for a check of those wires. I think that the Black / Brown wire might prove out to be the power wire that feeds the clock. The Black / Brown wire feeds power to the TACH; FUEL & TEMP UNIT; NEUTRAL LIGHT and SPEEDOMETER as well as the TRIP CLOCK circuit. From what I can decipher; any color code with GREEN in it appears to be a return path or GROUNDING wire. It may well be that your Clock Instrument is toast. If power is getting to it and its' ground wire is okay...... then it simply doesn't work anymore





Cage Flasher Replacement Fix




From a list member:


The fiche shows the 82 through 87 750/700 Sabres and Magnas have interchangeable starters.  The chain-drive bikes spin the opposite way so stay away from Interceptors or 500 Magna starters.  The numbers are a bit different for the 1100cc SabMags so I suppose they're slightly different (maybe bigger). Compatible part numbers: 31200-MB0-008  31200-MB0-405  31200-MN0-008 New price at Honda Suzuki North







The exhaust system can be removed and replaced without disassembly. You'll either need a helper, or use a floor jack under the collector. For removal, leave a little space above the jack, remove the fasteners according to the manual, and wiggle the system loose while lowering the jack in stages until the system is free. To replace, first put the packing sleeves on the rear headers and smear a thin coat of graphite grease on them. Then spread the openings of  the connectors on top of the collector slightly. If they are rusty shine up the insides with a wire brush or emery strip. Smear the insides with a little graphite grease. Lift the system up so the front headers are in position, being careful not to bend the gaskets, and so the connectors on the collector are carefully lined up ready to slide over the rear headers. With some jiggling and gentle upward pressure from the jack they should slide on.




Exhaust system rattles not due to loose fasteners may be caused by broken welds holding the inner tubing in the double walled headers, or to loose baffles in the collector. Loose baffles apparently are one reason for the scarcity of  salvageable collectors.




Holeshot lists Vortex 4-into-1 systems for Sabres, Magnas, and Interceptors. Chrome systems for Sab/Mags are $369-$389, and black ceramic finish ones are $379-$399. They are made by MAC and appear to be the same ones sold by MAC for somewhat lower prices. Dale Walker recommends installing a Dynojet Stage I kit with these systems. As of this writing, (?) Kerker still makes a chrome 4-1 system for Magnas, which is listed by DK (over $500). Unfortunately both have noise levels >99dB and are sold for closed course (off-road) use only. One list member who tried both systems for his Sabre reports that (1) the sound of the Kerker is better than that of the Vortex, (2) the Kerker appears to be better made, since the chrome on the Vortex system quickly yellowed, and (3) MAC apparently has stopped making the ceramic coated systems. Slip-on replacement mufflers are available from Holeshot, DK, et al.





." HONDALINE Coveted out-of-production accessory, especially for Sabres. List members that have them love them. Used parts dealers or private purchase.


If you find one, here’s how to install it.


V65 Sabre manual:


The old information on aftermarket fairings and windshields is of doubtful value and has been deleted. Ask on list.








ECHLIN FS130, about $28 from NAPA. Turns on at 191-197F (ascending) and off at 182-187F (descending). The element is about 1/2" longer than the Honda one, but it screws right in and it has the two bayonet connectors found on early V4's.




One list member reports using a fanstat from a salvaged '84 Honda Accord, and the wiring connector for it. It was stamped "92' 87'", which probably indicates that it should turn on at 92C and off at 87C. When tested, this was pretty close. The Accord fanstat runs two fans through a relay, so you also need to get the relay out of the fuse box, just behind the battery on the right fender. It is marked "Fan" on the cover. While you're there, look around the engine compartment for a connector (with all four terminals in it---sometimes they use a 4 wire connector with only 2 or 3 wires) that fits onto the relay, and cut it out of the harness with about 6" tails to work with. The bike's wiring for the fan looks like this:


      blk/blu blue black green


      fuse plug fan motor fan stat ground


It needs to be made into this:


                  1 3






                  fuse | %<-coil |4







                  relay fan stat  


Proceed as follows:

Remove both steering head covers and the left covers of the radiator. Trace the wiring to the fan, which has a connector behind the steering head cover, and the fanstat. Remove the looming from the fanstat wiring where it goes across the frame, and from the wiring between the fuse and wiring harness. Cut the black/blue wire between the fuse and the fan connector. Strip both ends and install female blade connectors on both, with a 3" piece of stranded wire siamesed in with the one from the fuse. Put a connector on the end of the 3" piece as well. The two connectors are #s 1 and 2 above, while the connector on the end toward the plug is # 3. Cut the black wire from the fan connector and "leech" it onto the green wire from the fanstat, either by soldering or with a self stripping wire connector--connection 4. Cut the black wire from the fan stat and install another female wire connector on it--connection 5. The relay will be marked with symbols like this: -|/|- for the coil, terminations 2 and 5, and something like this: -o/o- , which are the relay contacts, #s 3 and 4. If you find a 3 terminal relay, the connection between 1 and 2 is internal, and you will not need the siamesed wire. Other relays may have 4 or 5 terminals, but 2 of them may be marked "NO" and "NC". Use the "NO" contact as # 4, and insulate the "NC" contact, as it will be hot when the fan stat is open (cold).




Brand name: GP Sorenson

Part Number: 40-5001

Price: $14.99 (Advance Auto Parts- prices may vary from state to state.)

Thread pitch: M16 X 1.5

Normally open

Closes at 189 to 199 degrees F

Opens at 181 to 171 degrees F

This switch is the direct equivalant to the NAPA #FS130

This switch fits many Honda car applications,

1975-1991 Honda Civic All 3 door(hatchback) and CRX models

also 1986-1991 Acura Integra, all engine sizes.

For additional information on installing a fanstat, especially those with

single-connector OEM fanstats.




Stant brand numbers


160 degree 35366 BT 336 160 

170 degree 35967

180 degree 35368 BT 336 180




What started as an inexpensive repair for a fanstat switch is now considered a must-do. False, the cooling system worked fine when the bike was new and in proper working order works fine today. If your V65 overheats, you have bigger problems and trying to patch it with a fanstat or override switch is not the answer. DD






K&N and Uni sell alternatives to the Honda units. (The paper elements for Magnas are expensive.) Only two reports on the Uni, one recommends it and the other does not. Many list members like the K&N (in one case after using one on a V65 Magna for 80K miles), but for a dissenting point of view based on oil analyses, see Brian L. Sydness's oil test document.




An inexpensive unit that is a close replacement for the Honda one is available from DK and may be found in auto supply stores. Some Honda dealers also carry them.




You can find alternatives that are a lot cheaper and that fit on the bike, but unless you verify the flow rate and bypass pressure, you're on your own.


Also, from another list member:


Wix now has a bonafide list of motorcycle models and related oil filters. The 1334 which was for the VFR is now for the VF/VFR's thru 1986. The Wix filter for the 90-current model VFR is 1358. The price is about half ($5.50 US) and readily available.


Other alternates for the Honda "small" filter:


NAPA Gold: 1356

BIG A: 92356

Carquest: 85356

Deutsch: D-370

Fram: PH7317

Motorcraft: FL822

Purolator: L14620

Wix: 51356




This was an alarm system that used a fiber optic cable and was powered by a 9V battery. The cable was looped around some object and inserted into the alarm unit using the ignition key. If the cable was cut or pulled out the alarm sounded. Clever idea, but the cable couldn't stand being rolled up tightly and crammed into the tool box, and they failed regularly and early. Replacements cost around $150. Honda sells a little metal plate that can be used to cover the space left if you remove the unit, at least for Magnas. It's a pain to install, since you have to remove the auxiliary fuel tank to get to the bolt holding the alarm unit.





Raymond Johnson reports that a fuel pump from an 83 Honda Civic with 1.3 liter engine is good for the V65 Magna




Deal with this with a liquid tank liner. The standard product for bikes is called Kreem. It is available from MO houses. You may also be able to find similar products at auto supply stores. If you use Kreem, you basically follow the directions, with the following exceptions and cautions.   Before you start, find some way to get excess liquid out of the tank. Most  tanks cannot be drained completely. You'll need this for all 3 solutions. A  60cc syringe with a piece of 1/4" plastic tubing works.  Don't buy the kit containing one bottle of each of the three solutions. You  will need more than the one bottle of etching solution even if you don't have  a lot of rust. The stuff is just phosphoric aid, and you may be able to find it locally either as the acid or disguised as liquid rust remover. The Kreem bottle of MEK is plenty for one job. An alternative is to substitute acetone  from a paint supplier or hardware store. One bottle of the liner is plenty,  enough for 2 or 3 tanks.


  All of the solutions will damage the paint, and the process is unavoidably  messy. A heavy coat of wax might help, but be prepared for the chance that  you'll have to repaint. IOW, if the tank needs paint, do that after the Kreem.


  If the tank is badly rusted, Kreem recommends you shake around some nuts &  bolts in the tank to knock it loose. Some list members report that this works  OK, others that getting them back out was a bitch. One suggestion: use a piece  of chain instead, and hang onto the end of it. You might as well use water  instead of using up the etching solution for this, and you may have to repeat   this step. Expect to leave the etching solution in the tank longer, maybe a lot longer,  than the instructions indicate. If the metal is pretty clean, overnight to a  day or two will probably do it, but if there is a lot of rust it could take  several days. If that is the case you probably should rinse out the loosened  rust after a while and add fresh etching solution to finish up.  If the tank is badly rusted, don't be surprised if it develops leaks while  being etched. Put something under it to catch the acid if this happens. A good way to dry the tank is to set up a shop vac with the hose on the exhaust side to blow into the tank to dry it after the the MEK step. Be sure to do this in a very well ventilated area so there is no chance of the motor setting off any fumes. Before putting the tank aside to dry after the last step, make damn sure the fuel hose connections are open. If that stuff sets up in the vent hose connection you will have a fine time getting it out.



Jason’s de-rusting method


 Hi all, I've gotten a few requests for the magical gas tank derusting
 process.  Wonder if it deserves space in the faq?

 You need
 1 rusty gas tank
 1 small container of sodium carbonate, chemical compound, Na2CO3 pool/spa supplies PH+
 1 4amp or better battery charger
 1 average bolt approx 3/8 x 1.5
 1 short length of copper wire, ~ 12 awg
 1 qt naptha
 1 qt denatured alcohol

 Empty out all the gas, take out the petcock and remove the fuel cap.  Remove  any  old fuel residue and varnish with a good rinse of naptha, make it
 petroleum  free and  then drain / dry.  using a sock with a handful of small nuts/washers etc, add a little water  and shake this  all around inside the gas tank to loosen the big chunks, rinse with clear  water scrub well. In a decent pail (not oil drain bucket), dissolve some of the sodium  carbonate in water,
 1/3 cup for say a magna, 1/2 cup for a sabre in a gallon of clear water,  when its dissolved  all the way stir it a bit more!

 Seal up all but the filler cap opening on the top, pour in the well stirred mix using a funnel if you've had too much coffee.  Fill the tank right to the top with water,  set the tank so  that the cap opening is the highest part, burp out as much air as possible  and keep the  tank full for the process.

 Wrap a half dozen or so turns of the wire around the bolt to hold it  secure,  twist it tight  so the bolt won't fall off.  Attach the (-) lead of the batt charger to  the  outer shell of  the tank, attach the (+) to the other end of the copper wire, suspend the  bolt in the  solution and turn on the battery charger to a fairly high rate, an amp or  two flowing is  good, then wait.  Time to process is ~48 hours and it won't overdo itself.

 The bolt gets nasty after a day, I cleaned mine now and again  to remove the crud  but  not  sure it helps.  After a couple days, remove the leads, discard the bolt, save the wire,   drain and rinse the tank well, drag out that sock and slosh it all around to remove any loose material.  Rinse a few more times until the rinse water seems clean, shake well and then use a bit of the alcohol to fetch out the rest of the water.

 Once the tank is dry, you're all set to put it back into service. More coating not required

 Science, maybe remove this junk   The process by which rust forms is electrochemical in nature so this method employs a reverse current flow in an alkaline bath at a higher voltage to reverse the process at a quicker rate. There are actually two forms of rust: iron III oxide or red oxide (Fe2O3) and
 iron II, III oxide or black oxide (Fe3O4)(FeO). Black oxide is a smaller molecule. The electrolytic process converts red rust to black rust and in the process the black rust becomes weakly bonded to the base metal. The black rust that takes the place of the red rust can be easily wiped, washed, or brushed off leaving rust free base metal. Any pitting that has occurred will remain, this method will not repair damage, but the pits will be rust free.

 This is an alkali process and not acid, so you don't have a lot of pits in the steel filled with stray hydrogen ions which would just love to start rusting immediately instead of a much less active coating of black oxide.







This is likely to be due to a broken gear shift arm spring.


From another listmember:


"Sometimes you will have difficulty shifting due to a sticky lever or a weak return spring.  With the bike on the centerstand, operate the shift lever by hand. If the lever is sticky in both directions, the pivot likely needs to be cleaned and lubricated. If the lever shifts OK, but doesn't return to its center position, you likely have a weakened return spring. This spring is susceptible to losing it's tension due to overheating or age. It is located under the clutch cover, to the rear of the clutch. You do not have to remove the clutch to replace this spring.




This report from one list member concerning use of the K&N Nighthawk/Magna bars on V65 Magnas: "My first installation of these bars was on a 1984 V65 Magna. The hydraulic cables fit OK, but they were kind of tight when the handlebar was turned to one extreme. I had to loosen the clutch line from its clamp on the frame to alleviate the stress. When the handlebars were turned all the way to the left, there was a slight tension on the throttle cables, which increased the engine RPM by about 100. I decided to live with it. Also, the stock Honda handlebars have a little hole near the end. Into this hole fits a little protrusion from the choke/horn assembly to keep it from rotating. Instead of drilling a new hole in the handlebars, I just bent the tab back, and put some high friction tape on the handlebars at the spot where the hole was. This worked out OK. None of the wiring presented any difficulty. I used this configuration for about 1 year, approximately 25,000 miles, with no difficulty.


 Since then, I have added braided steel hydraulic lines, which I had made 2" longer than stock. Those worked better than the stock lines. With the braided lines (and unchanged throttle) I rode for another year approximately 30,000 miles. On my 1986, I noticed that the clutch and brake master cylinder were different from those on the 1984. The fitting came out the front, not the side as in the 1984. I installed the same handlebars on the 1986, with the lengthened braided steel lines from the hospitalized 1984. I don't know what difference the repositioning of the hydraulic line output would make with stock lines, but it seems that it would slightly alleviate the stress upon handlebar extremes. On the 1986 I kept the stock throttle & choke cables, which causes it to be just as tight (at extremes) as the 1984. The only time it has any affect is when I turn the handlebars fully to the left. This rarely happens to me in any type of riding. When I first bought the 1986 V65, I wanted bars that had a really long pullback, for comfort. I bought these from Flanders Co.; I don't recall the P/N. I also bought lengthened throttle cables, from Flanders. Actually, I sent them cables, and they lengthened them for me for about $15 ea. I rode with the long pullback bars for a while, but I felt they were too narrow. The width was only 29" or so, and with the very long pullback, it put my hands in a very uncomfortable position.


 I went back to the K&N ones. I am debating whether to buy wider bars with a longer pullback, such as Dennis Kirk P/N 59-48 [Honda 750-900 Custom], since I already have the lengthened throttle cables. Only the future will tell. The K&N Magna handlebars, if you are mechanically inclined, should go on without much difficulty in a few hours of your time. If you go any larger, you will definitely have to modify your cables, including both throttles, choke, clutch line, and at least your upper front brake line. The cable modification is not that difficult a task. Flanders Co. in California was very helpful and informative, and they have a free catalog. Flanders can be reached at 800-423-4483."




For the V45 Sabre ('82 and '83 in the US and '82 to '85 in Canada) the bars are clip-on style. The options in changing them are limited. For a lower bar, you can mount them below the triple clamp, or try to use Interceptor bars. The VF500 had the same diameter fork tubes, but the Sabre has bulkier switch gear to mount, and the 750 Interceptor had a larger fork tube, so it won't just bolt up Novella sells a bracket to convert to a tube bar, but space between the fork legs is used up by the odometer and accessory switches. While you could use a tube bar with this, you would have to cut out the center section, in essence making your own clip-ons. Novella (847-359-2666) also sells clip on bars for a variety of fork diameters, but space for mounting the switch gear remains a concern.




The 82 Sabre/Magna used sealed beam headlights (rectangular for Sabre, round for Magna). There are direct replacement reflector assemblies available for each to convert to H-4 bulbs from the 83 models.


83 V45 Sabre Rect. H-4 Reflector 33120-MG5-671


83 V45 Magna Round H-4 Reflector 33100-MF5-751

These part numbers may have since been superseded, but it should point you in the right direction.


How to replace the headlight in a Hondaline Fairing by Phil Ross


Anyone with a Hondaline fairing should acquaint themselves with this procedure before he/she needs it, because the only time you REALLY need to to this is in the dark beside the road. Mike Walt used to preface the procedure by suggesting taking a few cleansing breaths while repeating the mantra, "Nothing I break can be replaced." We're way past that now, though, aren't we?

The headlight assembly is secured with a 17mm barrel nut behind the headlight adjuster and a 10mm acorn nut about four inches to the right of it. The adjuster knob is secured by a very tiny phillips head setscrew. Tools that help: a #1 Phillips bit and a 17mm deepwell socket. These should be in your mobile toolkit if you have a Hondaline fairing. It can be done with the bike's toolkit, but that's not optimal.

First, remove the headlight adjusting knob. It's held on the adjuster shaft by a tiny M3 Phillips head setscrew. It's in tight and you do *not* want to strip the head (because if you do it's NEVER coming off), so use a #1 phillips bit in a small screwdriver handle. Turn the adjuster knob so you can access it cleanly. Once you break it loose, use the bit only to unscrew it, with the setscrew hole in the knob in the 12:00 position. When it's loose, turn the knob 180 degrees and tap the screw out into your hand. You don't want to drop it. If you do, it's gone forever.

You can now access the 17mm barrel nut. Use the deepwell socket for this. Then remove the 10mm acorn nut.

Pry the lexan headlight cover out of the gasket mount with a small flatblade screwdriver. This would be a good time to clean it, and the gasket, of all of the built-up bug goop.

The headlight assembly should pull right out. You may need to tap on the adjuster shaft a little bit.

Check the reflector. You may want to clean it up a little. They seem to get a film of dirt on them that diffuses rather than reflects light. Mine worked a whole lot better after I cleaned the reflector. You can get a small washcloth with Windex inside it easily enough once the bulb's out.

Change the bulb.

To reassemble, reverse the order of disassembly. Since the barrel nut on the adjuster shaft is held in place with a lockwasher, I use the 17mm deepwell socket with hand torque only (no ratchet handle) to resecure it. Makes it easier to get off next time the headlight blows. Again, you want to be able to do this in the dark beside the road.

Getting the set screw back in the adjuster knob can be a little fussy. Put the knob back on, rotate the knob back up so the setscrew hole is at an 11:00 or 12:00 position, and drop the screw in. Start it using the #1 Phillips bit between your thumb and forefinger, and tighten it down using only finger torque. It won't be the problem getting it out next time that it was this time.

That's it.




Increased wattage bulbs are popular, from 100w/55w on up; at least a couple of list members use 130/90s. Sold by DK, Chaparral, etc. Higher wattage bulbs can also be found at NAPA, Pep Boys and the like. No problems with wiring, burnt reflectors, or tickets are reported. UPDATED:  one list member has reported a damaged reflector from a 90/100W light.  [High-wattage bulbs are illegal in many places, if you care.]


FAILURE  If the headlight fails to come on either high or low beam, check for voltage at the starter switch terminal to the headlight. (The starter switch

turns off the headlight while cranking.) Dirty contacts are fairly common; treat with electrical contact cleaner. If this fails, you can try disassembling the

switch and polishing the contacts with crocus cloth, but you may have to buy an entire starter/kill switch assembly, since the individual switches aren't sold separately.





Louder horns are highly recommended. You may see a "tip" that turning out the adjusters on backs of the stock horns (which may be covered with some kind of goop and painted over) will make them louder (MCN 9/96 p. 4). List members report this doesn't do much other than change the pitch.

MO houses sell louder horns, but Fiamms in particular are highly regarded, and several list members highly recommend them. They can be found at auto supply stores, although some searching may be required, or a dealer may be able to order them for you. Installation is easiest with a kit that includes the relay, fuse, and instructions. If you can't find one, you can get a suitable 30A relay and a 20A inline fuse at an auto supply store. The circuits are




COOLANT    An alternative to Honda hoses is 7/8" heater hose, if you can find it. This will serve for the straight ones, but the ones on the water pump are too sharply bent.


FUEL       Use bulk hose of the correct size. Honda dealers carry metric hose; it is a little expensive, but $10-$15 worth is enough to completely replace the fuel and breather hoses. We have one report that the large hose between the main and inside to keep it from kinking. Our advice is that if you're going to try this make sure the hose is neoprene. Some compounds don't stand up to gasoline. [We don't recommend using hose not specifically labeled for fuel use.]






First, check the bulb. If it's good, the problem commonly is worn or dirty contacts in the ignition switch, which has separate circuits for the taillight

and main power. Verify with a VOM. Treat by disassembling the switch (watch out for the springs) and cleaning with contact cleaner. Polish the contacts with crocus cloth if corroded. If a replacement switch is needed, you can get an alternative part from DK and probably other MO houses as well for much less than the Honda part. Disadvantage is that you would then need 2 keys.




-  One list member has a web page on repairing these expensive units.  Good luck:






Check for downloadable manuals.


Helm will sell you a new Honda factory manual.  Clymers can be obtained at your local shop or from J. C. Whitney.




The source of 1000 threads and 10,000 opinions. Many now use synthetics. Mobil 1 15W50 is popular.


The one thing you need to know is that your SabMag has a “wet clutch”.  The clutch operates in the same oil that lubricates your engine. Almost any oil is ok for the engine but additives can be bad for the clutch.


Perhaps the final word on oil from Motorcycle Consumer News Feb ‘06


“…MCN oil testing indicates that normal name brand petroleum oils, not synthetics, are all that are required for long engine life if the owner’s manual – suggested oil change intervals are followed – typically every 3000 miles.


….Synthetics oils do have greater resistance to heat-caused viscosity breakdown…..can give greater peace of mind to some riders, justifying their higher price…


….Mobil 1 automotive, as near as MCN has been able to determine, in not appreciably inferior to motorcycle Mobil 1 and even oil industry publications point out that simply packaging oils as motorcycle specific is the main justification for their much higher pricing…..”




Do not screw in the dipstick when checking oil.


The manual describes checking oil pressure at the oil pressure light switch hole. The hole is metric thread just *slightly* smaller than 1/8" NPT. You need a male M12 x 1 to female 1/8 NPT adapter ('85 V65 Magna; check on other models). These adapters are sold by auto parts suppliers to enable oil pressure gauge installation on metric engines. You attach a mechanical oil pressure gauge (the kind that connects to the engine with small tubing) to the adapter. Some list members have oil pressure gauges permanently installed. See GAUGES.TXT, GAUGES.GIF, and ADAPTER.GIF for a good-looking installation and instructions.




See Jack’s Keepers




Patches are not currently available but you can see what they look like if they were.




Ebay and Googe are your new used parts best friends.











Discount Honda Parts (800-669-2275) 

Banzai Parts (800-405-7283)  

 Southwest Parts - Pricing: (602) 305-9291, Orders: (800) 459-4522

Western Honda - (800) 279-7433

MR Cycles - (800) 359-0567

Freedom Cycles - Info.: (816) 761-6621, Orders: (800) 759-4830

Ron Ayers Motorsports - (800) 888-3084

Midwest Action Cycle - (800) 343-9065

WCC Wholesale Parts (800-438-7921)

Tire Express







(from Cycle World reviews of the '82 v45 Magna, '83 v65 Magna and the '82 V45 Sabre)


                                           V45 Magna            V45 Sabre      V65 Magna          V65 Sabre


      Power, bhp @ rpm        :80.3 @ 9500        80.3 @ 9500  116 @ 9500         93.7 (???)


      Torque, lb-ft @ rpm:      46.2 @ 8000         46.2 @ 8000   70 @ 7500         62.5 (??)



      Test wt, lb:                          518                         525                  579                    594


      1/4 mile, sec @ mph:          12.08                        12.16               11.07                11.38

                      MPH                108.82                     108.43             123.62              120.36


      Top speed (1/2 mi):           122 mph                   123 mp           137 mph          139 mph



Speedometer error


                                               V45 Magna          V45 Sabre          V65 Magna             V65 Sabre

      30 mph indicated:                28                          29                       29                               30

      60 mph indicated:               57                          58                        56                               58


Braking distance, ft


                                                    V45 Magna            V45 Sabre            V65 Magna             V65 Sabre

      from 30 mph:                                  27                             30                          29                     30

      from 60 mph:                                125                           119                        117                   127





If it goes inside a Honda V-4 motor DRP claims to make it and have it in stock. Forged pistons, racing cams, valve springs, titanium retainers, performance rods and a complete stock of OEM replacement engine parts.





Pep Boys, the Stant "11227" Swiv-el (R) Radiator Cap (4.99 or so). Reportedly fits perfectly.




Rear Running Lights


At an auto supply store, obtain turn signal sockets that are built for running lights, like the ones that come on the front of your bike. The socket is the part that actually holds the bulb. It will have 3 wires: ground, running light, and signal light. Remove the rear 2 wire sockets and install the 3 wire sockets. Connect the ground and turn signal wires to the existing corresponding wires. Connect the running light wire to the same power source as the front running lights. Install 1034 dual filament bulbs. Viola, rear running lights.





V65 MAGNA. Cycle 3/83, Cycle World 4/83, Cycle Canada 6/83, Cycle Guide 10/83,

Rider 12/83, Cycle 8/84, Cycle 1/85, Cycle Guide 2/85, Cycle 1/86


Get a photocopied set of reviews for US$16 from:


Motorcycle Reports

Ian Smith Information

PO Box 9440

Denver, CO, 80209-9440




Accuracy of info in the old faq doubtful. Check current


CORBIN (800-538-7035)  Love ‘em or hate ‘em. Expensive


MUSTANG (800-243-1392).


MAYER 916-246-7521




TRAVELCADE (800-397-7709)


UTOPIA  330-666-2602.


SARGENT CYCLE (800-749-7328).   Great service


RUSSELL   Expensive but well liked




Here’s one for late-model Magnas for sticky lifters:




Side covers are easily lost and are expensive, if available.


Check the tabs for snugness and attach a line.


The plastic tabs that hold the sidecovers in place often get broken off.


 From one list member: "After trying epoxy alone twice on a broken tab, I tried the following and the tab hasn't broken since. First, I thoroughly cleaned all the old epoxy off the base and the tab. Then I used the point of a 3-cornered file to roughen the hollow area under the tab. I used Loctite #82565, 'Plastix Advanced Plastic Bonder,' to attach the tab. This product is a Super Glue type glue with an 'activator' that you brush on the edges to be joined immediately before applying the glue. Then I filled the hollow area under the tab with epoxy putty; I don't recall the brand but JB Weld or any similar product should work."




You can replace the wires in the plug leads. Copper wire is the best; the only reason for the use of resistive type wires is to reduce ignition noise pickup in the radio, and all the fancy electronics in the average new cage. Resistive type wires reduce the intensity of the spark, ie. restrict the current flow. Unscrew the compression sleeve that holds the plug wire in place in the coil. There is an O-ring on the wire; remove and save it. There is a slot in the fitting that pushes over the threaded end of the spark plug, loosen it with a screw driver and remove it from the plug end. You can push the wire out through the rubber plug cap. Unsolder the brass washer from the wire. Cut a new piece of copper core ignition wire to the same length + 1/4" as the old wire. Strip back the insulation and solder the brass washer onto the wire. Feed the wire back through the plug end and reassemble. Put the compression fitting on the other end and replace the O-ring. Smear a bit of dielectric grease inside the plug fitting; this makes it much easier to remove later. Don't forget to check the old plugs for carbon tracks on the insulator. Nothing worse for a good spark than a conductive boot. You can replace the spark plug boots with NGK P/N SD05F and XD05F.




From Rider magazine's tech Q&A:


Q: I am the owner of a 1985 Honda V65 Sabre with a starter motor that is going bad. I spoke with my local dealer, who shocked me with the price of a new starter-approximately $300! When I asked about getting it rebuilt, they did not recommend it, stating that rebuilt starters do not last. I do not need a starter that will last another 13 years, but a couple of years would be nice. Do you have any recommendations on this and if so, do you know who can do the rebuild?A: I recommend that you or a competent friend do the re-build. If you can change the oil and filter on your bike, you can repair the starter motor. It's not that difficult, and besides-what do you have to lose? With a lot of bikes, just getting the starter out can be a nightmare. In the case of the V-four Honda it's a snap, as it's held to the front of the engine with two 6mm bolts, and if it takes you more than two minutes to pull it out, you're dragging your feet. Don't worry about the hole in the crankcase it slides into-no oil is going to run out. Here's the one great truth about all motorcycle starter motors: they're all shockingly expensive. What's more, few parts are available separately for them, and in some models, none at all. Compared to some, that $300 you were quoted is a bargain. However, most manufacturers at least offer a carbon brush-plate assembly, because that's the item that usually wears out.


For the V65 the part number's 31206-VM5-008. It sells for about $16. Your bike's starter is held together by two long Phillips screws joining caps at either end to the outer casing. Before disassembly, I recommend making reference marks where the end caps join the casing, because they're only go back together one way and finding that one way can take ages. Fingernail polish or scratch marks will make reassembly much easier. Gently tap or pry off the end caps-stay after it, they will come off. In each end cap is a small bearing that supports the spinning armature. Make careful note of any shims or thrust washers stuck to these bearings with old grease or carbon dust. Lay everything out in the order it came apart. Now blast all components squeaky clean with brake or electrical cleaner for a thorough examination. Worn out brushes will be obvious. You might even find a cracked soldered connection as the cause of your woes everything in a starter motor is pretty simple, except for the armature. It can have a broken internal winding that's impossible to see, so run it over to your local automotive machine shop or starter motor repair facility for testing. If they give it the thumbs up, have them chuck the armature in a lathe to dress down the end that the carbon brushes ride on, because it will be hour-glass-shaped. If all of this work costs you more than $10 I'd be surprised. Solder in the new brush plate and lightly grease the inner race of the end-cap bearings. If two small planetary gears are employed in one end cap, grease them, too. Reassemble everything and test the starter on the bench with jumper cables and your bike's battery. Attach the negative cable to the body of the starter and the positive cable to the hot input post. Don't be alarmed by a few sparks as you touch the post-just make sure nothing combustible (including the battery) is nearby The starter motor should rock and spin hard when 12 volts are directly applied to it. No, a rebuilt starter motor won't last like a new one. But for less than US$30 and an afternoon's work it will last long enough.Rider / April 1998





Use Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer !


All of the following are for the very anal.


      1. Wash, dry, and wax the bike thoroughly.

      2. Drain the coolant, flush the system, and add new coolant.

      3. Put some gas stabilizer in the tank (available at auto part stores).   Also make sure the tank is as full as possible.

      4. Ride the bike until it's warmed up.

      5. Change the oil and filter.

      6. Lube the chain. (Shafties take a break.)

      7. Turn off the fuel petcock.

      8. Drain the carb fuel bowls.

      9. Remove the air filter.

      10. Remove the spark plugs. Inject a small amount of 2-stroke oil into each cylinder. Crank the motor a few times.

      11. Replace the spark plugs and air filter.

      12. Seal the air intakes with duct tape to keep out mice etc.

      13. Remove the battery and put it on a trickle charger in a warm place.

      14. Put the bike on the centerstand and block it up so the front tire also is off the ground.

      15. Spray some WD40 into the exhaust pipes. This absorbs water and puts a nice oil coating on the insides of the exhaust system.

      16. Seal the ends of the mufflers with plastic bags.

      17. Put some silicon preservative on a rag and wipe down all the rubber  pieces except for the grips, pegs, and tires.

      18. Lube all cables and moving gizmos like foot pegs, levers, etc.

      19. Bleed the brakes and clutch.

      20. Cover with a breathable cover. Honda suggests that if the bike is  going to be in storage for more then 4 months, you change the oil again

      when you get it out. If you do that, you might as well put cheap oil in  for the winter, and replace it in the spring with good oil. (Some list

      members think this is a waste.) No reason to change the oil filter twice though.






Favorable report: the Pocket Pump/Gauge by Richter Performance, which has an aluminum body with an attached gauge and a hose with a screw-on Schrader valve fitting on the end. The aluminum body has a little plunger you press to bleed off air. You have a choice of interchangeable pumps that attach to the aluminum body. The pumps are basically plastic syringes of various sizes.




The fork brace is somewhat flimsy and tends to crack or break through the bolt holes, especially on V65s and most especially on V65 Magnas.

Holeshot lists a SuperBrace replacement (catalog number SB-2245, V65 Magna 1983-1986, $99.95), but as of this writing they are on indefinite backorder. Apparently the manufacturer has changed ownership and is having production problems.


SuperBrace fork brace

STD Enterprises, Inc.

Motorcycle Division

5701 Engineer Dr.

Huntington Beach, CA 92649



A few list members have gotten a machinist to make a brace from 3/8" or so T-6061 aluminum plate, using the old one as a template. You could do this

yourself by marking the holes with a transfer punch and drilling the holes in a drill press. Cutting and shaping could be done with a band saw or scroll saw, or by hand with the appropriate tools.




Snap ring pliers are a must for changing fork seals. It's hard enough with snap ring pliers, after the rings have reacted with the aluminum to weld themselves to the ring groove.  If the ring is really stuck, try using a punch and hammer to rotate the ring and break the corrosion loose.

You'll also need a seal driver, but you don't have to pay $29.95 at your local Honda dealer for a specialized tool you'll seldom use. Go to your local hardware superstore and get a piece of 1 1/2" PVC pipe. They'll sell you about 4 feet more than you need, but it's cheap and you can cut off the right amount with a hacksaw. This only works with the 39mm forks of the V45s. V65s have 41mm forks. For these, get a piece of 2" PVC and a 1 1/2" coupler. Grind or rasp the coupler down so it will fit inside the fork body and cut a piece of the 2" pipe to use on top of that. There is one report that the pro-moly seals from Leakproof have a tendency to leak, and that stock ones from Honda are better. Also see Motorcyclist 12/95 p. 72





Several list members have tweaked their suspensions to improve ride and/or handling, and/or to lower the ride height (of V65 Magnas). One reports a modest approach with a V65 Magna that decreases ride harshness somewhat without adversely affecting handling: For the front, Progressive Suspension springs, with spacers cut so as to duplicate stock preload and ride height; 10w fork oil at the stock level; and 0 psi fork air pressure.


For the rear, Progressive Suspension 17000 shocks and standard weight springs. Be sure to check whether the shocks are being sold with springs assembled. If not, you will need a compression tool to assemble them. At least a couple of list members have lowered their V65 Magnas and have

provided details. In one case, the front suspension was lowered by by 2" and the rear by around 1". The front was lowered by putting spacers in the front fork where the top out spring sits. This requires disassembling the front fork to insert the spacers. The only thing that this modification affects, besides the height, is the maximum travel of the fork, but the Magna has a lot of travel to begin with. (Sliding the forks up in the triple clamp would render the air adjustability useless.) The rear was lowered by installing shorter shocks. According to Progressive Suspension, there is a 1.2:1 ratio between the shock height and the actual lowering of the bike. The stock shocks are about 14.25" in length. A 13.5" length was used, but 13.0" probably would have been better. Even two up, at full braking & full load, neither the front forks nor the rear shocks bottom out, and speed and performance, even on the track, are very satisfactory. In the other case, the front was lowered by raising the forks 10 mm in the triple clamps, whereas the rear was left stock height.


Users of the narrow Mustang seat report that they make the bike feel lower.


Custom shocks of various grades and lengths also are available from Ohlins


(Noleen Racing, 619-246-5000) and Works Performance (818-701-1010). [Anyone tried any of these?]


NOTE: Be careful fooling around with your suspension. Unless you know what you're doing, get some help or get a mechanic to work on it. If you don't know why, see Tony Donisi's suspension disaster. 


SABRE SHOCK OIL REFILL - Remove the shock from the bike and put it in a vice so that the Schrader valve was on bottom. Use a hand pump and pump a fair amount of air into it. Remove the Schrader valve and the oil will spooge out as the air expels.  Repeat as necessary until empty.  Turn the shock the other way in the vice. Then hook the Mityvac to the valve port with a small piece of tubing. Put a honking big vacuum on that port, and then pinch off the tubing with a hemostat or vice grips, near the shock. Remove the Mityvac and place that end in a container that holds the appropriate

amount of shock oil. Release the hemostat and the shock will fill itself.




If the steering head bearings need servicing, consider replacing ball bearings with roller bearings if your bike doesn't already have them. One list member

reports that the bearings cost about $50. Follow the manual to remove the forks, take apart the stem, drive off the old bearings, and tap in the new bearings. This can take some patience, as they can be stuck tight. You will need a drift to remove the lower race from the stem (it has to go around a bend). One LM reports that a car tire iron works. Also see Motorcyclist 11/96 p. 78. You can install a grease fitting while you have the stem apart. Find a spot near the top of the stem and below the top bearing which does not interfere with cables, wires, etc. and can be reached with the drill and grease gun. Drill and tap the hole and install the zerk fitting. Grease the bearings, assemble the stem, adjust the bearings, and use the grease gun to fill the stem with grease. Stop when grease starts oozing out of the bearings. Wipe off the excess and reassemble.




Some V65s appear to suffer from a wobble or weave under certain high-demand conditions, especially high-speed (>=90 mph) sweepers. This appears to be inherent and probably is due to flexing of forks, frame, or both. Wobble under other conditions indicates that repairs or adjustments are needed somewhere. Diagnosis is as follows:


  Check that the steering head bearings aren't loose. This is probably the most   common cause of front end wobble.


  Check that the tire pressure, especially the front, is at least up to the recommended level. If you are heavier than average or carrying a load, the

  pressure may need to be higher. Some tires also seem to perform a little better with slightly higher than recommended pressures.


  Check the condition of the tires, especially the front, for "scalloping" or other uneven wear.


 Make sure they are installed in the correct direction of  rotation. Loosen all the triple clamp bolts and make sure there is absolutely no "stress" on either fork tube. Check that the fork tubes are straight while you're at it. Also check that the handlebars are straight, then re-tighten the triple clamp bolts. If the fork tubes are not even with the top of the triple clamp, make that adjustment prior to tightening. Once you're sure it is not any of the above, you're down to other, less likely items. Systematically check everything that affects damping or could develop excessive tolerances or become misaligned in both the front and rear suspension: wheel bearings, fork bushings, fork oil (you do have fresh fork oil, don't you?), swingarm bushings, front/rear wheel alignment, and wheel runout.





Temperature equivalents for the bar gauge.


Temp C/F










Warm-up, highway speed



City speeds, some stops



Heavy traffic, fan off/on



Only balancing carbs, fan off/on



Replace fan switch





The word on tires –


I haven't done a tire dissertation for a while, so here's my assessment of tire choices. Take it for what it's worth, but it's based on changing tires about every 5,000 miles for going on 300,000 miles on sabmags.

First and most important: stay away from the dealer-recommended OEM replacements. The Dunlop F11/K627 Qualifier combo was a middle-of-the-road tire 25 years ago. They were seen as a performance limiting factor when our bikes were new by nearly all magazine testers. The fact that Honda dealers still recommend them when you walk in and request a tire for your bike borders on criminal negligence. They are simply dangerous as far as I am concerned. They corner poorly, ride like they're made of wood, break loose under power with little warning, and are slick as banana peels in the rain. They also wear poorly and they're relatively expensive. I can't imagine a worse tire. Yet Dunlop continues to make them and recommend them.

One step up the ladder are the bargain replacements: Kenda, Cheng Shin, IRC and the like. These have gotten better, but the technology is still from 20 years ago. You gets what you pays for.

Next up, long life tires. The Dunlop K491 is a popular choice, but numerous listers who do long distances have had unpleasant incidents with them in the wet. They have a less-than-round profile as well, and unless you ride where you *never* encounter curves or traffic that might make you perform emergency handling maneuvers, you will find lots of shortcomings in these tires. These are sized in the quaint old alphanumeric American tire sizes, like MR90-18 and the like.

There are a whole slew of stock-size bias ply tires made by leading mfrs like Metzeler, Dunlop, Bridgestone, Avon, Michelin, Pirelli, and Continental. I list these in the order of my personal preference, and I've tried some of each except for Pirelli. Something to keep in mind is that tire compounds have evolved enormously in the past ten years especially in regard to silica compounding, so a newer model tire is going to have a real performance/handling/lifespan advantage over an older one. For instance, the Bridgestone Spitfires (one of the most popular budget tires among listmembers) or a Metzeler ME33 is not going to have as modern a compound as, say, a Metzeler ME330. Cheaper tires have lower-spec carcasses, which make for a wide range of handling responses. There is a certain wisdom in 'you get what you pay for' in this segment. Some are notably better than others. I tried a set of Avon Roadrunners. They lasted too long; I was glad to get them off the bike. Hard cornering turned them blue and the rubber balled up on the edges like on race tires. For other styles of riding, they may be fine. It's hard to go wrong with Metzelers. And as Joey mentioned, the Bridgestone BT45 is about as good as you can do in this segment. Stable, predictable, handle well, decent in the wet, better than so-so treadwear.

The Metzeler ME880 is sort of in a class of its own here, because they're very good on treadwear but have up to date compounding so they can be made to handle. You won't mistake them for radials, but they're (IMO, and I've been through several sets) the best compromise on these factors you can make. Fine in the rain too. I just got another set for the Couch Rocket.

Then there's radials. A little history here first. In the infancy of the list some ten years ago, Tony Donisi first advocated the use of radial tires from testing on his V65 Magna. Trouble was, radials have never been made in 90 series tires, which all Sabmags are spec'ed for. You have to use 80-series tires. The big Magna uses 110/90-18 front, 140/90-16 rear tires. Tony's solution was to use a 110/80ZR18 front and 150-80ZR16 rear, using Avon ST23 radials. (The V45, VF700, and V65 Sabres use the same front tire but use a 140/80ZR17 rear rather than a 130/90-17 bias ply.) Others tried them on Tony's recommendations and the response was nearly unanimous in favor. There were some dissenting voices, though, and that's because they are not a panacea to cure all the handling ills that are designed into our bikes.

One issue is an increase in speedometer error. You can expect about 10 percent, and somewhat less with odometer error I have no idea why or how this could be. Go figure. More of an issue is the range of handling characteristics. The difference in bias-ply and radial casings is huge. The smaller diameter of the tire does a couple of different things to/for the handling. Since both the V65s use a leading-axle fork design, trail (measured as the distance between two points on the pavement, a vertical line through the front wheel axle and and the steering head's extended center line; literally the distance the contact patch trails the steering axis) is decreased when wheel diameter decreases. This decreases straight-ahead stability and quickens steering response markedly. If you value sharp handling, this is a *real* plus. If you like droning on the interstate, it's not so good, because you will have to put a little more effort into keeping it tracking straight. More correction is required. This becomes automatic after a while, but it takes a little getting used to. But otherwise it's like you just installed power steering. Big bikes just shouldn't be as quick at transitional response as a sabmag with radials is. You can really surprise your sportbike buddies or, better yet, unsuspecting squids. In fact, squid hunting becomes considerably less sporting. The rear tire is slightly wider but the same diameter. There are no clearance issues.

For me it's well worth the tradeoff. With radials you get the most modern tire compounds, which stick like glue, stop on a dime, and shrug off water. You get decent tread wear, better than the OEM tires by far, and really it's only limited by your riding style. You roll over rocks rather than skitter over them. You can carve twisties in the rain, no problem. You can confidently handle the bike down to the peg feelers, and look for ways to keep parts from dragging. You break loose very progressively, so progressively that you learn how to control it. Simply put, radials allow you to use more of the bike's performance. Most people report a night and day difference in handling, as well as taking some time to get used to the way the bike wants to dive into turns. Again, after a while compensating for this becomes automatic. It also feels like the bike lost about a hundred pounds. This is a rare effect to achieve with *any* modification. Well worth it just for this.

The Dunlop D205 was the recommended radial tire for many years, and they still are, even though they're a harder to find since most sizes (but not ours) were superseded by the D220. They are stiff at the sidewalls, which makes for rail-steady handling when they are leaned over. They like to "take a set" and you can tell this because when they are worn they are characteristically beveled. This is also because of a somewhat triangular profile. For a while the only alternative was a set of Metzeler MEZ-1/MEZ-2s, which had a somewhat more rounded profile. This made for somewhat more progressive turn-in at the expense of that rock-steady line through curves. They also didn't wear as well and the rears tended to flatten in the center rather quickly. The Avon Azaro II (AV35/AV36) were introduced not long after, maybe about 1997. They were pretty similar to the Metzelers in profile and performance, but cheaper.

About three or four years ago Avon replaced the AV35/AV36 Azaro II with the AV45/AV46 Azaro ST. This was a totally different tire, and a huge improvement. It had a more triangular profile (like the D205) but softer sidewalls. They'd take a set in curves, but were somewhat more progressive in turn-in and more willing to change line while leaned over. A real bonus, for those folks who change their own tires, is that they practically install themselves. They are not nearly the effort to wrestle on and off the rims that the D205s are, which for some people is reason enough to switch. And as an added bonus, they last a little longer. These are my current favorite. I have a set of worn-out D205s on the Second Sabre, and hopefully I'll be putting on a set of the Avons next. I've been through innumerable sets of the Dunlops--I mean, like 30 or 40 total--and four or five sets of the Azaros. You really can't go wrong with either. If someone else mounts your tires, I'd call it a wash. If you do your own, you'd really rather have the Avons. They're the current state of the art.

My personal riding philosophy favors having the tire that gives me the best advantage if I get into an unpredicted situation, whether it's an evasive maneuver or a maximum braking exercise. I enjoy a sharp-handling bike as well. Still, since I live in a flatter part of the Midwest than I used to, I can see some advantage in a tire I don't have to replace every 4000-6000 miles. That's why I have ME880s on one bike and D205s on the other.

So, if you're looking for reasons to stay with the spec-size bias-ply tires or experiment with radials, I hope that the above will help you identify some factors that will help you decide which way to go.





DRP offers a transmission undercut service to repair and prevent the gearbox from popping out of 2nd and 5th gears.






You can check lateral wheel runout with the wheels on the bike, as long as the wheel bearings are tight. A quick check can be made without a dial indicator by clamping a soft lead pencil to the fork or swingarm so the point just barely touches the rim, then rotating the wheel and carefully observing the pencil point. If there is any significant runout you will be able to see it. You can also use a dial indicator similarly.





See Dave Dodge’s method in Jack’s Keepers


Rather than tediously lining up the timing marks, you can reconnect the wiring plugs that you disconnected while removing the heat shield and rear cylinder cover, so that the starter motor will work. Flip the kill switch so the engine won't actually start, then blip the starter so that the cam lobe on the

*opposite* end of the camshaft you're working on is at full lift.


 The cam profiles on the Magna/Sabre are not very radical, so you have a fair bit of leeway as to where this occurs. Now, on the end of the camshaft you're working on, install the special tool. Both ends of the camshaft are now being pressed up against the camshaft holders, so the camshaft won't be tilted. The long flat feeler gauges are flexible enough to be easily bent to ensure there is no binding when testing the clearance. ("Bent" doesn't mean putting a sharp crease in them to make an angle, just pressing down a little to curve it so that it goes straight in between the adjusting screw and valve.)


 Use two gauges at once, one under each side of the follower. When the clearance is correct, the gauge should be moveable with a slight drag, whereas the next size up should not go in at all, unless you really force it, in which case you're fighting against the valve spring. Even after carefully setting the valve clearance, there may still be a little audible ticking, especially before the engine fully warms up.


 As related on Robyn Landers's web site, some later engines had the cam bearings line bored. These can be identified by half-circle plugs in the heads where the boring tool went in. Clearances on these engines are tighter so supposedly you don't need the special tool to adjust valve clearances. You can check out valve noise with an automotive stethoscope, or the poor man's substitute: a long screwdriver held with the tip pressed into the hex socket inthe head of the rocker shaft and the other end pressed against your ear.





The VF500 engines use a 3mm square end tappet screw. Both the honda and clymer manuals specify a part number for a valve adjusting wrench which is no longer valid on Honda's order system. The invalid part number is 07708-0030400, the correct part number (as of 10/2000) is 07908-KE90200.


In the interest of frugality, however, this is a cheaper alternative: a square head drywall screw and a handle made from a door knob or small block of wood. As of  Feb. 2006there is a web page detailing this simple, elegant and cheap solution at: