Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Built Forward Controls!

This is the design I envisioned
The finished product was more elegant than the crude square brackets in my drawing

This linkage worked remarkably well

Not enough room to use Harley ends here, so I welded OEM ends together
The brake side flexed a little. I should have used a beefier rod
The shifter linkage was a straight shot of solid rod, so it didn't flex at all

The brake arm connected to a chopped up OEM brake pedal

Here's the one you've all been waiting for. Foward controls on a CX500. The CX500 is difficult to add forward controls to, because the shifter is rotated 90 degrees from what most other motorcycles. Where a normal bike's shifter rotates forward and backwards (with respect to the bike), a CX500's rotates left and right. For most bikes, attaching forward controls is a simple matter of extending the shifter arm and moving the footpegs forward. Not so with the CX500. Some way to change the direction of shifter movement is required. What's more, the CX500 has no frame downtubes to which one may bolt or weld mounts for footpegs or controls. The engine is a stressed member, and there are no supporting tubes anywhere around it.

My solution is simple. But the making of it was not. I went through many different designs for these forward controls. I started off with trying to use Ace 750 footpegs and levers, but could not come up with an adequate way of mounting them. I tried Yamaha pegs and finally decided my best bet was finding a set of foopegs from a sportbike, where the lever rotates on the footpeg mount. I found some controls from a mid-80's Kawasaki ZX600 on eBay that suited my needs.

I took a 1/8" wall 1" square tubing piece from Home Despot, and welded brackets made out of 1/4" thick 1" wide plate to the bar. The bar mounts to the underside of the engine, on the two unused nubs. I welded bolts to some square blockoff plates, and welded these plates to the end of the bar. Then I used drilled-out pivots from a ZX600 Ninja and welded them over the bolts. The levers pivot on these perfectly, and then a washer and a footpeg keeps the levers in place.

The shifter lever had the tab for mounting a linkage on the top, and I needed it to be on the bottom. I cut it off with my angle grinder and re-welded it on on the bottom. I used some silver paint to protect the cuts, and this blends in with the chrome so as to be almost unnoticable unless you look closely. The brake pedal is made out of aluminum, so I could not cut and weld it in the same manner. But fortunately it already had the tab in the proper place.

Setting up the brake-side controls was easy. I took a stock CX500 brake pedal and cut the pedal arm completely off. Basically I left only the spring mount, stop, and the part with the splines that bolts to the shaft. I then welded on a 2" long piece of 1/4" thick steel so that it hangs straight down, and then drilled a hole in the end. Then it was just a matter of connecting the pedal at the front of the bike with this new lever where the stock pedal used to be. For that I used a pair of early 80's Harley Sportster shift rod ends, a piece of hollow steel tubing from Home Despot, and some bolts from the hardware store. First I bent the bar into shape so that the bar clears the exhaust system and reduces the angle that the harley rod ends are forced into. Then I cut the bolt heads off the bolts from the hardware store, and welded them to each end of the bar. The Harley rod ends threaded right onto the bar, and bolted to the pedal and to the new brake arm I made. I painted everything black, and that was it.

The other side was much more difficult. I knew I wanted to change the forward/backward movement of the new shift lever to an up/down movement. My plan from the start was to make a pivoting "L" attached to the lower motor mount. I just happened to have an EX500 Ninja parts bike lying around, and noticed that the shifter arm was shaped almost perfectly, and had a nice bushed pivot. So I cut the shifter peg off the shifter, and drilled a hole in the end where the peg used to be. I welded the EX500's pivot bolt to my lower motor mount bolt, and bolted the EX500 lever on. I had to extend the EX500 shifter down about 3" with another 1/4" thick pice of steel. To make the linkage between the EX500 lever and the CX500 shifter, I welded together a bunch of EX500 ninja linkage parts. Then I made another rod using Harley ends, and bolted it all together. I gave everything a coat of wrinkle-black paint and that was it. You can see the results in the pictures on the left.

This all sounds easy, but in reality it took me several months to come up with a working design. I went through many different linkage ideas before coming upon one that actually worked, and I wasted a ton of steel and just about every weekend for a few months trying to come up with a workable system. All in all, I'd have probably been better off buying the $550 set of forward controls from Germany. But I have no complaints, these controls work flawlessly.

Parts Breakdown:
•  Square Steel Tubing $10
•  1/4" thick steel plate $10
•  ZX600 Controls $30
•  Hollow Tubing $10
•  Solid rod $10
•  Harley Linkage Ends $25
•  Can of wrinkle-black paint $7
•  Misc hardware (nuts, bolts, etc)   $15
Total $107

Running total for Chopper: $1965

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