The ultimate show for petrolheads in the USA is SEMA. Held every year in the neon wonderland of Las Vegas, it draws tens of thousands of punters—mostly to goggle at wild custom vehicles.
Manufacturers traditionally let their design studios off the leash, but Honda’s approach this year was a little more tasteful. It hooked up with MAD Industries for a pair of custom Honda CB500Fs called ‘Naked’ and ‘Scrambler.’
The CB500F is not the kind of custom we’re used to seeing. There is nothing remotely retro about the base platform: it’s simply the kind of middleweight motorcycle that Honda does well.
Sprightly and nimble, it can handle short commutes and long weekend rides, and it’s precision-finished. What MAD has done is given the two bikes a shot of adrenaline and pitched them into the custom arena.
We reckon the Scrambler (or ‘CB500S’) is the more interesting of the two. Lossa Engineering helped out with the build, detabbing and modifying the frame, and upgrading the front end to CBR600RR specs—notably USD 41mm Showa Big Piston forks and radial-mounted calipers.
Hidden at the back is a chunky 46mm Öhlins monotube shock.
Lossa also installed a new seat unit and side panels, fabricated a stubby custom exhaust system with a shorty muffler, and blacked-out the engine. It transforms the character of the bike.
Then MAD tapped Ride Wright Wheels for the 40-spoke custom rims, which are finished to match the Honda’s black and gold theme and wrapped in Continental Trail Attack 2 rubber.
The headlight is an unusual setup: A classic 7-inch bowl, but with a Rivera Primo HedLED insert. At a glance, it looks like an old-school lamp, but the ultra-bright LEDs pump out a blinding 1900 lumens—and there are built-in turn signals and running lights too.
To give the Honda a more upmarket, enthusiast feel, MAD have installed classy ancillaries from PSR—including six-position adjustable levers, brake reservoirs, engine case armor and grips.
Supermoto bars give the rider extra leverage. They’re hooked up to risers from Joker Machine, who also supplied the ‘bear trap’ footpegs.
There are a handful of color combinations that look good on any vehicle, and black and gold is one of them. There are hints of the classic early 70s ‘JPS’ Lotus F1 cars here, with simple gold pinstripes over exceptionally lustrous BASF Onyx waterborne paint.
The wheels and plastics are protected with a coat of Ceramic Pro 9H, a permanent nano-ceramic paint with a high gloss finish.
Given the head-scratching that must have occurred when the Honda rolled into the shop, it’s a remarkably good result. And it could put the CB500F into the consideration set for folks wanting a retro vibe for their everyday ride.
Isn’t America full of surprises these days?