For better or worse, some mods have become commonplace. Air boxes get removed, smaller batteries get installed, and subframes are almost always redesigned. Especially when you’re dealing with the Honda CX500.
No one ever accused the CX500 of being pretty, and it’s the awkward flow of its rear end that carries most of the blame. The solution is usually to hack it off and start over—but what happens when your client asks you really nicely not to?
This 84-model CX500 comes from Kerkus Cycles, and was brought in by a lady rider looking for her first cafe racer. But Kerkus founder Azahar was under strict instructions: anything his crew did had to be reversible. Because, in Malaysia, the CX500 is rare.
And by rare, we mean really, really rare; there are only four known CX500s on the road. Legend has it that the bike was never officially imported, but the big wigs at the Malaysian Honda distributor brought a few in for personal use.
Azahar’s actually an architect, but Kerkus is where he really gets his creative juices flowing. “Custom bikes are my passion,” he says, “it’s where I channel my stress, gain calmness and polish my design skills.”
Together with his partner-in-crime Raveen, Azahar manages a four-man crew out of ‘The Garage’ [instagram.com/thegaragekl]—a “hub for petrolheads” in Kuala Lumpur. And they were more than happy to take a crack at this CX500.
After brainstorming with the owner, it was agreed that while nothing was getting hacked, a lot was coming off. So all the original bodywork went into storage, save for the fuel tank. (It survived the cull, but was repositioned to sit at a more attractive angle.)
Then it was time to fettle the CX500’s tail section—without using an angle grinder. Kerkus fabricated a new seat pan and rear hump, working with the Honda’s stepped frame. The seat’s been finished off with a gorgeous diamond-stitched leather.
Things still looked a bit gawky at the back, so the guys made a pair of number boards to draw the eye and hide more of the frame. Lower down, they removed the air box and built a new electrical tray to tuck everything away under the seat. It took an extensive rewire—and the addition of a Lithium-ion battery—to get everything to fit.
The rest of the bike underwent extensive tweaking, and a fair whack of restoration work too. Kerkus dropped the front suspension a bit to correct the stance, but kept the Honda’s 18” Comstar wheels. They’ve been repainted in gloss black, and wrapped in classic tires from Swallow (a popular brand in Malaysia).
Up front are new clip-ons, grips and controls, and a slick new triple clamp sporting Kerkus’ logo. The headlight’s an off-the-shelf item, but the brackets holding it are one-offs.
There’s a low-mounted Bratstyle taillight doing duty out back. And then there’s the exhaust: an exquisite two-into-two system, ending in two reverse cone mufflers, all built in-house.
Kerkus went for a timeless livery on this CX500: a classy mix of matte and gloss black, offset by gold pin striping. Pretty much everything’s been refinished; the engine’s been sandblasted and repainted, and the frame and swing arm have been aqua-blasted and powder coated in matte black. Every nut and bolt’s been cleaned up and treated to fresh blue zinc.
We tip our hats to Azahar and co. for transforming the Honda CX500 into something far more stylish, without tearing it apart. And we’re not the only ones that like it: the bike took top honors in the Cafe Racer class at the recent Wilayah International Motofest.
Now let’s just hope it never gets returned to stock.