The Honda CX500 is a stern test of any builder’s skills: although it’s cheap and readily available, it’s not an attractive starting point. But Santa Cruz-based Noah Blum took this as a challenge, and he’s scored a convincing win. His CX500 is one of the classiest garage builds we’ve ever seen.
“I bought a 1980 CX500 as a beat-up pile of parts,” says Noah, “with the intention of getting it running and using it as cheap transportation. I was itching to get into a little project, to do some tinkering and get back to riding—even if my ride was going to be a little ‘ghetto.’”
The bike was supposed to be a quick and dirty build, but one thing led to another. “I guess the tipping point was when I found a nearly-new CBR600RR front end for a great deal,” says Noah wryly. “Suddenly the rest of the bike seemed pretty old and crusty.” A full rebuild was soon under way.
As Noah researched the CX500, he became happier about using the oft-maligned chassis as a starting point. “I grew to appreciate the simplicity of this awkward, once-futuristic 80s bike.” He started adding small details of his own, welding together homemade aluminum mufflers and headlight brackets from scrap, and rolling his own footpegs. Taking advantage of the ‘droopy’ rear frame, he hid every imaginable electrical wire (and a Shorai li-ion battery) under the seat pan.
The tail unit is now two halves of a CX Custom gas tank—split and cut, and then welded back together for a slimmer profile. Noah also fitted Mikuni VM34 carbs, the gas tank from a CX Deluxe, and 19” and 17” D.I.D. aluminum rims.
“I don’t like the look of Honda’s ‘Comstar’ wheels, and I wanted this bike to have spoked rims,” says Noah. Some people bolt steel flanges on to the stock CX hub to allow spokes and a rim to be mounted, but Noah felt that didn’t look right either. “So I used a modified GL1000 rear hub mated to the final drive. It’s a fairly straightforward install, with a couple of machined-down parts and a disc brake conversion.”
Although this CX500 is a classic garage build, there’s nothing amateurish about it. The finishing is immaculate, right down to the choice of a classic two-tone burgundy and black color scheme. “I took my time, and when there was a task I hadn’t done before—like sewing a seat, or spraying proper paint—I picked up all the information I could, before attempting to reach a high quality myself.”
I’d say Noah has met the high standards he set himself, wouldn’t you?