82' Honda Sabre Overhaul

This is a recent photo of the 1982 Honda Sabre that I purchased from a friend for $200 in 2013. I've performed quite a bit of modifications on this ol' girl since the purchase. I'm sharing some of the details of the process below.
I couldn't resist the purchase since I love a cheap garage project. The bike did run at the time that I purchased although appeared to have some fuel line or ignition issues thus leading to a significant loss of power. I felt pretty confident that with a little bit of time in the garage I could figure out the problems.
After doing a little research on loss of power issue I decided that I should pull the carburetors off the bike for a thorough cleaning. Pulling the carbs turned out to be quite the task on this bike. The Sabre has a V-4 engine so the carburetors are situated very tight between the four heads. In order to remove the main carb linkage it was also necessary to remove the air box located directly under the gas tank. The four main screws that held the airbox in position were extremely difficult to remove because they are positioned very snug along the inside of the top frame. I ended up using some wooden wedges to gently pry the sides of the air box away from the frame so that the screws could be removed.
Once the air box was removed I ran up against the most difficult task, removing the four carburetors that were tightly sandwiched between the four heads. I found a video on Youtube titled "Honda Magna Carbs Install" that was extremely helpful for this task. I was able to use a racheting cargo strap to pull the carbs off the two front boots. To do this I fed the strap around a safe area along the front underside of the carbs. I then fed the strap up around the top of the frame. After connecting the strap I gently racheted it tight to pull the carbs out of the front boots. I then changed the angle of the strap to pull the carbs out of the rear boots.
I removed all four bowls, floats and needles and performed a thorough cleaning with carb cleaner. I used an air nozzle to assure that the needles were all clear. I did not disconnect the synchronization linkage between the carbs since the carbs all appeared to be in sync visually.
While I had the carbs off the bike I did my best to clean up the exterior bowls and replaced some of the original screws that were starting show signs of stripped heads.
I replaced the original carburetor boots with new boots and used a little clean motor oil to help get them reattached to the engine. I then lubed the other inside end of the boots and used the same rachet strap technique to get the carbs back into the boots. Success! The carbs were back on the bike.
While cleaning the carbs I did notice quite a bit of rust color in the bowls. This made me want to examine the inside of the gas tank. After close inspection I noticed a lot of rust within the tank. To remove the rust I kept the tank off the bike and filled it with apple vinegar. I let the tank sit with the vinegar inside for about 3 days. I then emptied the tank and flushed it out really well with clean gasoline. The vinegar did a great job in removing almost all of the interior surface rust. As an added measure I installed a inline fuel filter between the petcock and the carburetors to help reduce any future debris from entering the carbs.
I decided that the tank needed a new paint job so went ahead and sanded the entire tank and removed the Honda emblems. I filled the emblem hold with epoxy filler and sanded them smooth with fine grit sand paper.
I painted the tank one coat of primer then 3 coats of automotive grade flat black spray.
I then pulled the side covers, removed emblems, patched holes, sanded and gave them a fresh coat as well.
I reattached all the painted parts to make sure they were looking good in terms of color. I eventually pulled the side covers off again gave them another light sanding and recoated them to have a smoother finish.
The instrument cluster had a few issues. Over the life of this bike the cluster developed some vibration due to too much play. I removed the cluster to see if I could tighten things up. The vibration seemed difficult to fix after tightening all of the mounts. I finally blamed the vibration on poor engineering and decided to come up with a custom fix.
I cut and formed a piece of aluminum flat stock into a "C" shape and drilled a hole on each side. The holes lined up with the same main mounting bolts for the instrument cluster. Once installed the aluminum helped to create a very tight fit between the cluster and the top of the forks. This tight fix fully eliminated the vibration issue.
I cleaned the engine up with some degreaser and a little bit of elbow grease.
Next issue was a leaking exhaust manifold. I pulled the pipes and after close inspection noticed rust holes on rear top tubes. One of the tubes was so rusted it had to be completely removed.
I wire brushed the entire assembly then worked to replace the rusted tube. I found some scrap stainless tubing, cut it to size, added slots and welded it into place.
I then coated the exhaust pipes with 4 coats of high heat exhaust paint in flat black. Installed them back on the bike and gave them a test. Success, exhaust leak was no more.
Here is the bike all back together with her nice new paint job.
Next project was the replacement of the old factory headlamp. I decided to go with a more aggressive dual headlamp approach because it gave the bike a more modern/sporty look. I found these universal headlights on eBay and they work like a charm.
After a little more thought I decided that the new flat black look would look more complete if I eliminated all the chrome. At this point the only chrome left was on the front fender. I pulled the front tire, removed the fender and prepped it for paint.
A few coats of fresh flat black on the front fender.
I then installed a new replacement seat also purchased from ebay.
After two weeks of riding my new (original) seat decided to split on the front seam. Rather than purchasing a new one I decided to do a temporary fix and covered the split with a piece of canvas strap.
This is one of the most recent photos of the ol' girl in Rabbit Hash, KY. She's purring like a kitten nowadays and has turned out to be one of the best purchases I've ever made. Hit me up in the comments below if you have any feedback or questions.
This is a video I shot while riding down some Kentucky back roads on the newly restored Sabre. I almost ate a cow for breakfast that morning, haha.

Discuss This Project: (8 Comments)

Comments

Nice work!

Daren, Great minds think alike. I owned one of the very first Sabres, '82 I think. At one time I had THE highest mileage Sabre in the USA. Honda engineering contacted me and we set up a great relationship as I was savvy enough to give them good feedback. I really liked the anti-dive forks once I got them set-up to my liking. I remember being able to stand a half dollar on it's edge on the engine case and start it up and rev it without knocking the coin over. I once blew a shift into a lower gear and pinned the tack at over 12,000 rpm as I remember. It didn't miss a beat. That was with about 80,000 miles. I never worried about the red line ever again. Just shift at the rev limiter and you'll gain about 15% horsepower ! But yours is an older girl. Mine was brand new. I bought a CT70 at the same time. Kept that for decades! IMHO, bikes should be International Orange if you have a family. NOT flat black. Baby Blue or Yellow are just as surface defect friendly and make things look great. Orange. Bright Orange. Shocking Pink. Not black. Or buy insurance. Lots of life insurance.

Love the Sabre, great work!

Thanks LDiener. This has continued to be a great running bike. Very smooth riding and my choice for easy rides with a passenger (my girlfriend Steph). :)

This bike now has some lowered fork bars. I'll update pics soon.

cool bike!

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  • maddox
    Nice work!
  • LDiener
    Daren, Great minds think alike. I owned one of the very first Sabres, '82 I think. At one time I had THE highest mileage Sabre in the USA. Honda engineering contacted me and we set up a great relationship as I was savvy enough to give them good feedback. I really liked the anti-dive forks once I got them set-up to my liking. I remember being able to stand a half dollar on it's edge on the engine case and start it up and rev it without knocking the coin over. I once blew a shift into a lower gear and pinned the tack at over 12,000 rpm as I remember. It didn't miss a beat. That was with about 80,000 miles. I never worried about the red line ever again. Just shift at the rev limiter and you'll gain about 15% horsepower ! But yours is an older girl. Mine was brand new. I bought a CT70 at the same time. Kept that for decades! IMHO, bikes should be International Orange if you have a family. NOT flat black. Baby Blue or Yellow are just as surface defect friendly and make things look great. Orange. Bright Orange. Shocking Pink. Not black. Or buy insurance. Lots of life insurance.
  • admin
    Love the Sabre, great work!
  • jalapi
    Thanks LDiener. This has continued to be a great running bike. Very smooth riding and my choice for easy rides with a passenger (my girlfriend Steph). :)
  • admin
    This bike now has some lowered fork bars. I'll update pics soon.
  • maddox
    cool bike!
  • admin
    test
  • maddox
    test