BMW Motorrad Spezial

Honda CX500 cafe racer

Honda CX500 cafe racer
Honda’s CB series of motorcycles tends to get all the attention on the custom scene. But a surprising number of CX500s are also being given a makeover, as this lovely café racer spotted on ADVrider shows. The CX500 appeared in 1978; it was designed to compete with smaller capacity Euros such as the BMW boxers and Moto Guzzi’s V50. The liquid-cooled engine looks similar to a small-block air-cooled Guzzi V-twin, and the Honda bike also used shaft rather than chain drive. The bike was popular with courier riders in Europe, and rewarded them with sweet handling—plus exceptional reliability, once a timing chain tensioner glitch was fixed under recall. As supplies of CBs and XS650s and cheap SR400/500s dwindle, the CX500’s star is on the rise. The pictured bike went up for sale on eBay last year: the tank, side plates, seat and cowl seem to have been modified and repainted. The Com-Star wheels are original, and the exhaust may even be original too, apart from the upswept rear section. If you happen to know the provenance of this bike, please drop us a line in the comments.

  • Raketemensch

    The stators in these engines are also:

    a) notoriously bad, and
    b) require pulling the whole engine to replace them.

    I had an 82 GL500, the same bike dressed up as a light-weight Goldwing (called the Silverwing,) and I used to commute to work on it with a spare charged bettery in the saddlebags. Ride to work on one battery, swap at work and ride home on the other.

    A great engine, loads of fun, the only thing about these bikes is you’ll find yourself wishing for a 6th gear.

  • Scarcat

    I believe they also made a turbo kit for this bike which (I’m assuming) would also make it go like a bat out of hell!

  • I’m pretty sure that’s one of Shaun Stewart’s creations from

  • Phil

    ok – enough of the old honda’s with bandage on the exhaust, please. They were crap when new and they aren’t much better now.
    There’s a limit ….and the CX has just gone over it :)

  • Jefferson

    Second what Rake said. The CX fits together beautifully. So beautifully, in fact, that you need to start removing parts to get to other parts, which need to be taken apart in order to fix the problem part. In other words, it’s a good way to spend an hour cursing the Japanese.

    That said, I like the design and the cafe’ treatments that I’ve seen.

  • Actually, Honda made these into a turbo–the 82 model was the standard
    500 and then they punched it out to 650 for 83,
    Jerry Griiffiths–Doug Chandler’s father in law–took the reins of Team Honda’s flat track team in the late 70s/early 80s and this was the motor they started with. Yeah, I know, bad idea…..
    He turned the motor and sleeved the barrels to get the 750cc cap you need
    for the class c stuff, and they called it an NS750. It was a turd, but it was a
    fantastic start.
    By the way, an ole bud had one of the 82 500 Turbos. It was a pretty darn
    good bike, and handled extremely well for what they were.
    Great stuff on your site! I try to follow you guys regularly. Thanks for the trip(s) down mammory…er make that memory lane!

  • trentreker

    oh man! i was just telling a friend about my first bike, a ’78 cx500. it was a bit different than this bad boy, as it had a windjammer fairing with a stereo, cruise control, crash bars with highway pegs and fog lights on them. i know, not cool, but i was 18 and spent that first summer working in yellowstone park where i rode the living hell out of that thing, screaming with the stereo at 80 mph (back when the limits were 55) down to jackson hole and up to bozeman.

    a lot of folks thought it was a silverwing, as raketemensch detailed.

    never had trouble with it at all but to replace the brakes and give it a tune-up. it was configured to ride long and far and it was perfect. i rode it for a couple of years and 15,000 miles until i moved to hollywood to be a rock star and wrecked it flying through a red light.

    but what a cool scar i got!

    because of that bike, i’ve ridden nothing but honda ever since.

  • Big thanks to reader Christian Seger, who has located a detailed discussion about this bike and its build here.

  • Oricos

    I had one of the 78 CX, too, A real good bike and it was not the stators that were bad, the connection from the alternator to the rectifier was not good, melted and short-circuited the gen.

    I had two SilverWings and they were a lot handier than the GoldWing, of which I had every model from the 1000 to the 1800.

    The conversion seen here is very nice and does a big favour to the aesthetically ugly first series CX. In Germany they were made famous by a comic of a biker “family” called “Werner”, and given the nickname “Güllepumpe” which is a pump that is used by farmers to spread the liquid pigshit on their fields. In one of these comics, a farmer ends up with a broken pump and stops a biker on a CX 500 and uses his engine as such. The famous “Güllepumpe” was born.

    This link is of course in German, but you’ll get the gist of it just watching it.


  • you can also see more pics of this bike and others on his flickr page

  • Noel Woodroffe

    In the UK when they first appeared the CX was known as the ‘plastic maggot’, and for many years was the favourite tool for city despatch riders who are known for their suicidal tendencies :-)

  • mattro

    just picked up a cx500 and this bike is my bellwether for the build-out.

    the post is correct regarding the availability of these bikes, too. $500-$700 will buy a perfectly serviceable, running project bike and $1600 will buy a cherry garage queen. fertile grounds.

  • pinchvalve

    I just sold my ’80 CX500 after 8 trouble-free years on the road. Great bikes, later models did not suffer stator or timing chain issues, only the earliest examples. Wish I had the free time to make one of these beauties.