Turning Japanese: Ed Turner remodels the CX500

Turning Japanese: a sharp Honda CX500 custom by Ed Turner.
Whenever a new Ed Turner build hits our desks, we do a double take. Karl Renoult—the enigmatic Frenchman behind the brand—certainly has a knack for the audacious.

Luckily, Karl also has the skills to back up his over-active imagination. But when a new client went to him with a very specific idea of what he wanted, he had trouble reining himself in.

Turning Japanese: a sharp Honda CX500 custom by Ed Turner.
“Kevin provided me with an entire folder of photos and diagrams,” says Karl. “It was well put together…but too limiting!”

Kevin’s first request was to base the build on a Honda CX500. Karl felt that a Moto Guzzi would be a better option, but Kevin held his ground. A CX500 Sport with 30,000 miles on the clock was sourced.

Turning Japanese: a sharp Honda CX500 custom by Ed Turner.
Karl hauled the Honda back to the workshop and began stripping it with Kevin’s ideas in mind. But when he had it down to the bare frame, the brief went out the window.

“There are no words to describe the frame,” he says. “It’s an affront to design.”

Turning Japanese: a sharp Honda CX500 custom by Ed Turner.
Leaving nothing but the steering column, Karl rebuilt the entire frame from scratch, with far more agreeable—and exciting—lines. The re-work also included an Öhlins-equipped mono-shock conversion at the rear. The front forks are from a Triumph Speed Triple, mounted via a set of custom, water jet-cut triple clamps.

Turning Japanese: a sharp Honda CX500 custom by Ed Turner.
All that remains of the original CX500 are its wheels and engine. The OHV V-twin has been spruced up with a mix of raw, polished and painted finishes, and Karl’s fitted velocity stacks in place of the airbox.

The otherwise unsightly wheels have been polished, and now somehow suit the revised CX. There’s also a double brake disc arrangement up front (borrowed from a BMW) to help the bike stop quicker.

Turning Japanese: a sharp Honda CX500 custom by Ed Turner.
The new chassis also hosts a performance radiator and electrical fan, and the battery has been relocated to below the swingarm pivot. Following the frame’s new contours is an exquisite stainless steel exhaust system—hand-made from tip to tail.

Up top is a peculiar, one-off tank; Karl shaped it out of resin, carbon and Kevlar, with assistance from his friend Joe. It flows neatly into a custom seat—covered in leather and Alcantara.

Turning Japanese: a sharp Honda CX500 custom by Ed Turner.
The cockpit’s now equipped with clip-ons, new levers, mini-switches and Biltwell grips. The headlight’s a vintage Marchal rally unit, and there’s an LED tail light under the rear hoop.

Small LED turn signals have been mounted at the rear, but that’s where the amenities end. There are no forward turn signals, mirrors, or a speedo or tacho. For tires, Karl’s partnered with Avon, and has fitted their ultra-grippy Roadriders.

Turning Japanese: a sharp Honda CX500 custom by Ed Turner.
The bike’s been finished in warm, brooding tones—with a splash of red on the engine block. The hydro-dipped Samurai graphics on the tank are echoed in the Oriental-style font on the engine logos. And there’s a ‘Rising Sun’ design cut into the triple clamps and custom rear-set plates.

Karl was nervous when he delivered the CX500 custom, knowing full well that it bore no resemblance to the original brief.

Turning Japanese: a sharp Honda CX500 custom by Ed Turner.
Kevin’s response? He reportedly loves it, and almost shed a tear when he first saw it.

“I tried to make him what he wanted, and not what he asked for,” says Karl. “Sometimes, there’s a difference.”

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