CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby Jonno » Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:40 am

Ok now I have the beast secured in the stable and had a few good rides on it the plan is to transplant the engine into a CRF aluminium frame over the summer.
For a bike that is now 18 years old it stacks up pretty well compared to more modern bikes, one thing current bikes dont have is the incredible power and torque in a lighter easier maintainable package than a CR500 or any big bore 2stroke can, what it does lack in is the brakes and chassis suspension technology.

You can buy a CR500 all ready converted from Service Honda USA landed here in Oz for around $15k+ with brand new engine, basically a new bike with a model name of CR500AF.. Not sure if they still do KX500's and KX look a likes with the CR motor. I reckon i can build one for less than that so we will see.

The components collected so far.

1994 CR500 complete steel frame bike with engine. .

CR5 frames6.jpg


Big thanks to Laidback for picking this up in Batemans Bay and transporting it to Adelaide, awesome mate :kuda:

The above photo is when it first rolled out of Johns van, it wouldn't fire straight up so we drained the fuel as it hadn't been started for over a year but the carb bowl was pretty clean, all i had was outboard oil so a mix of 30:1 was used to get some lube into the crank bearings etc.
After a few kicks she fired into life in a window rattling fashion and a big plume of smoke, had a quick spin up and back in the street by which time every neighbour was either standing out front or peering through their window :lol:
I put it away quickly before the emergency services were called for what could have easily been mistaken as a small plane crash :lol:

Upon closer inspection the frame had indeed been re- welded as the previous owner had stated hence the cheap purchase price (more on this later), it would need lots of TLC having being neglected for some time, swingarm and rear wheel bearings were completely shot which isn't unusual for a CR500. But hey I didnt care about the frame at this point as the plan always was to transplant the donk into an alloy frame.


Anyhow....
The conversion process basically involves shifting the "ʎ" piece up higher in the CRF alloy frame to accommodate the larger exhaust, making new lower cradle tubes, new engine and head stay mounts, CDI brackets and TIG welding them in. There is a bit more to it than that but as this progresses it will be posted up.

So the hunt began for a CRF frame, preferably Gen3 or 4 CRF250 as these engines often grenade their top ends so there are a few un-economical repair bikes getting around going fairly cheap and are relatively easy to convert, found a few on ebay in fact I found one that already had been converted for the 500 motor but I suspected that something fishy was going on so I stopped bidding.
Yep I was right the seller was bidding it up and contacted me after i lost the auction and offered me the bike for a few hundred more, I told him I would pay 500 less than my last bid and he was lucky not to be reported, didn't hear from him again :x :roll:

Possum put me in contact with her dad Hank who is great bloke with lots of interesting stories and his help was mucho appreciated, he had found a CRF250 - 2007 with blown motor, when I picked it up he had a buyer for the motor so I re-couped $200, I could have got more but hey might as well offload it or I will be stuck with it :D

2007 CRF250 alloy roller minus engine. ( cr5 engine jig sitting in the frame)

CR5 frames2.jpg
CR5 frames2.jpg (218.48 KiB) Viewed 8538 times


The plastics are a bit scuffed however being a Honda there are plenty of replacement parts and decals for this model.
This frame will save about 7+ kgs on overall weight, better chassis geometry, modern suspension and brakes.

This is about where I am at with the project at the moment.

Fun with the steel frame version.

Having decided to wait until it is too hot to ride to then continue with the conversion I did a bit of work to the old steelie frame so I could get a few rides in on it before it was stripped down.
Replaced:
swingarm, rear wheel & shock bearings,
engine head-stay brackets replaced (broken, I had to make these or wait 6 weeks ex-Jap)
swingarm and axle bolt (swingarm pivot bolt had been broken and re-welded :shock: ),
every other bolt was either missing or stuffed, all engine mount bolts were tightened and just about every bolt loctited and or a nyloc nut used.
New chain and sprockets, down 1 on the front but I have been playing with the gearing a bit with interesting results.

swingarm bearings1.jpg
swingarm bearings1.jpg (143.77 KiB) Viewed 8538 times


These bearings were that far gone all that was left was the needle roller shells and they are a complete bastard to remove, assembly was methodical and properly done.

The exhaust was cracked from a few dings, the flange was leaking and misaligned slightly, replaced "o" rings and tension springs using high temp sealant and did a dodgy weld repair on the pipe and it did the job for now.

So the best thing to do was to buy a new pipe for the conversion, same as the old pipe designed for torque. Nice and shiny, no dents, so tempting to install it..
CR5 FMF Gnarly1.jpg
CR5 FMF Gnarly1.jpg (229.78 KiB) Viewed 8538 times


Shock was re-built because it was rooted, FMF powercore2 muffler re-packed and a few $$$ spent on Honda genuine parts so in the end it wasn't a quick cheap band-aid fix but it was worth it just for the ride :twisted:

The motor is in pretty good condition by all accounts, all I have done is installed a new plug, cleaned the airfilter, adjusted air screw on the carb and fresh oil in the cog box. I plan to disassemble, inspect and rebuild just so I know it's condition as a baseline, plan to do a bit of work to it but not too much as i am looking for torque and mid range out of it.

I have a modified head from Canada from a respected engine builder.
CR5 hi-comp head with decompression valve. Cant wait to get this installed :D
CR% heads1.jpg
CR% heads1.jpg (137.84 KiB) Viewed 8538 times


Squish mod.
CR% heads2.jpg
CR% heads2.jpg (153.22 KiB) Viewed 8538 times


You might ask why a decompression valve? Why not! Less pressure on kick starter casing and much easier to start for us ol'kharns.

Later on I scored a spare steelie frame almost complete roller minus front wheel and ADR plate, frame bearings are all shot too but I have a good spare steel frame if the weld repaired one broke. I thought about buying another 2nd hand engine later on to keep the steel frame bike running, amazingly you can still buy these engines brand new for $6k + from Honda USA :shock: in Hindsight it would have been better to just buy the engine, yeah sure where is the fun in that.

CR5 frames1.jpg
CR5 frames1.jpg (220.86 KiB) Viewed 8538 times


This is a 2001 frame being the only year they brought out with ADR compliance (CR500E) and last year and the end of the CR500 production, the tag is worth a pretty penny and I dont want it anyway and he didnt want to part with it either 8) Slight differences in the frames after 1994 mainly different suspension from Showa to KYB so the shock length and dog bones are the only difference from what I can tell.

The only issue with the engine was the clutch was heavy and grabbing a bit too quick, I suspect the cage is worn and will need to be updated.
Another good mod is to install a hydraulic clutch lever kit which helps a great deal in the tighter trails.

Magura hyd clutch kit. (Simular to mine.)
MGHC.jpg
MGHC.jpg (20.93 KiB) Viewed 8538 times


Build costs for alloy frame to date
CR500 complete $3600
CRF250F rolling chassis $1500
transport costs for bikes. $600
CR5 engine jig $125
CR5 nodified new cyl head $325
FMF pipe and muffler packing $275

$6425



Motard is being considered, more to come later... stay tuned.
Last edited by Jonno on Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:16 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby robracer » Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:56 am

You sir are a MADMAN! :snakeman:
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby yzr750 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:58 am

Awesome, go the 2 strokes, you are right, the modern 450's don't even come close.
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby Glen » Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:17 pm

What is it with your fascination for buying blown up bikes :)

Nice project mate, can't wait to see the finished product.

....oh and Robs right....you're nuts :)
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby laidback » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:35 pm

Great work mate...mightly impressed :kuda:

And yes you are nuts... 8)
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby timmyrocks » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:43 pm

Yeh nice mate :) :) my next bikes probably going to be a 2 banga. But it won't be a 500 u crazy bastard lol. More like a pissy 200 or something :P
anyone can go fast in a straight line,,,,

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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby dickfaber » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:45 pm

sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

bringing a arse tightening 2smoker into modern world! gold!

this is must see!
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby Jonno » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:33 pm

Glen wrote:What is it with your fascination for buying blown up bikes :)

Nice project mate, can't wait to see the finished product.

....oh and Robs right....you're nuts :)


Everything is a challenge mate, you could say I am challenged :lol:


Tim, I was looking at the Husaberg 300 which is just a better quality KTM by some accounts and would be a more practicle bike in everyway.

Somehow my world was turned upside down reliving my yoof, Glen would barely remember midlife crisis but I am sure he understands :P :lol:
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby Nelso » Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:16 pm

Where's the drool smilie? 8)
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby RustyAs » Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:40 pm

Jonno,

Thats NUTS mate :kuda: :kuda: :kuda:

Wish I had it and you had a better one :D

Would love to own something like that :twisted:

Love your work

Cheers Rusty
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby dickfaber » Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:55 pm

robracer wrote:You sir are a MADMAN! :snakeman:


nah, madman would be getting a new cbr 250 and grafting the cr into that

mwhahahah :twisted:
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby timmyrocks » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:01 pm

Haha yeh the husaberg are nice, 300 would tear my ass apart though :P hopefully husky reinvent their 2t and ill be loyal :lol:
anyone can go fast in a straight line,,,,

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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby Sulli » Sat Oct 27, 2012 12:23 am

mmmm......... jono looks like life is getting back to your normal :lol: keep picking them 2 strokes up nudder 30 yrs or so them worth big wampum $
Is there a new 2 stroke available on the market ATM? :cry:
Bty that head is running .06mm squish? or .07mm cause that will make it peakier :lol: :roll:
Nostradamus probably got it right
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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby timmyrocks » Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:17 am

Husqvarna, husaberg, KTM, beta, gas gas and a few others all make 2t enduros, only to 300cc though from what I have seen....
Actually the 2013 betas look good apart from a small tank :(
anyone can go fast in a straight line,,,,

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Re: CR500 Steel to Alloy frame conversion.

Postby yzr750 » Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:22 pm

Sulli wrote:mmmm......... jono looks like life is getting back to your normal :lol: keep picking them 2 strokes up nudder 30 yrs or so them worth big wampum $
Is there a new 2 stroke available on the market ATM? :cry:
Bty that head is running .06mm squish? or .07mm cause that will make it peakier :lol: :roll:

if that was running .06mm or .07mm squish it would last about 2 seconds.
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