Unlikely hero: A Honda CX500 adventure bike from Missouri

Honda CX500 adventure bike by Brick House Builds
The best adventure bike is the one you already have. That’s the theory behind this rugged custom Honda CX500 from BJ English at Brick House Builds in Missouri. Equipped with knobbly tires, crash bars, a luggage rack, an auxiliary fuel cell, and the most ground clearance we’ve ever seen on a CX500, there’s no doubting its intended usage.

There’s no denying the Honda CX500’s inherent quirkiness and the challenges that it poses to potential customizers. But BJ wasn’t too fussed about making the awkward CX500 look pretty. Instead, he needed to make it functional—because his client intends to use it as a bonafide adventure bike.

Honda CX500 adventure bike by Brick House Builds
“The project arrived as an actual basket case,” BJ tells us. “The bike itself is a 1982 Honda CX500 Custom that the customer had previously started working on, in hopes of turning it into a scrambler, before deciding to contact me to see the project through to completion.”

“After talking with him about the goals for the bike, he noted that he had two friends recently pick up a couple of Royal Enfield Himalayans, and he wanted to be able to go on some adventure rides with them. This definitely sparked my interest, as I love adv. bikes and have a trusty KLR650 for said duty. In my customer’s case the best adventure bike is the one you have, so with the goals visualized and the budget established I got to work.”

Honda CX500 adventure bike by Brick House Builds
BJ came up with several workarounds to achieve the right amount of usability and reliability, while saving a buck here and there to avoid blowing the budget. The first step was to retrofit a set of 37 mm forks and yokes from a 1983 Honda FT500 that he had in the workshop. Between those and a set of 370 mm YSS rear shocks from a Yamaha XT500, the CX500 sat noticeably higher than before.

Keeping the Honda’s signature Comstar wheels was cheaper than building a set of laced hoops—and since the bike wasn’t destined for hard enduro use, BJ knew they’d cope with the client’s needs. But the Honda CX500 Custom’s tiny 16” rear wheel had to go.

Honda CX500 adventure bike by Brick House Builds
“I felt the 19” would be fine up front, but wanted a 17” back, along the lines of the early Suzuki V-Strom with its 19F/17R wheel combo. To accomplish this, I disassembled a 17” Goldwing rear wheel to use its rim and spoke sections with the stock CX500 drum brake hub. In total, the bike has 11 inches of clearance from the ground to the engine!”

Turning his attention to the frame, BJ decided to once again keep things simple. A set of generous crash bars surround the CX500’s V-twin motor, and its airbox has been ditched in favor of a pair of foam pods from UNI Filter. Keen eyes will notice that the fuel tank’s been repositioned ever so slightly too.

Honda CX500 adventure bike by Brick House Builds
A solo seat sits up top, with a tidy electronics tray mounted lower down. The open triangle under the seat isn’t just for show; look closely, and you’ll notice additional tie-down points for mounting an extra bag there. BJ kept the generous OEM rear fender but trimmed it at the back.

Next on the list was adding several removable accessories to make multi-day trips possible. In its most basic form, the bike includes a small tool bag that sits just behind the seat. But there’s also a rack system that can host additional luggage, a PVC tool tube, and a one-gallon RotopaX fuel cell that promises a total range of 200 miles.

Honda CX500 adventure bike by Brick House Builds
BJ showed the engine some love too. It got treated to a full service with a new water pump seal, new intake manifolds, and new O-rings. The starter clutch and carbs were rebuilt, and the foam filters were upgraded with a pair of hydrophobic pre-filters [not pictured].

An NWT Cycletronic system controls the wiring now, with separate fuses for the fan and spare auxiliary power stashed under the tank. Going deeper, BJ modified the camshaft to run with an electric fan. Finally, a custom two-into-one exhaust system with a Cone Engineering muffler was added to complement the fresh motor.

Honda CX500 adventure bike by Brick House Builds
Up in the cockpit, you’ll find a set of high and wide ProTaper handlebars, fitted with foldable mirrors and Oury grips. An Acewell speedo sits up front, mounted in a custom-made bracket. Elsewhere, grippy enduro foot pegs and a generous sump guard add to the bike’s overall functionality.

Despite its utilitarian nature, this Honda CX500 adventure bike isn’t completely devoid of style. “I wanted to keep with a vintage vibe with the large fenders and chrome touches,” he says, “but also give a nod to the adventure world with the fly screen, folding mirrors, and headlight ring. It’s definitely a mix of styles, but I feel it works well on this bike.”

Honda CX500 adventure bike by Brick House Builds
The Honda CX500 sure feels like an unlikely candidate for an adventure bike build, but BJ’s deft work on this gravel-ready custom defies that thinking.

“On my test rides, this thing has proved to be an absolute blast on any surface, from asphalt to slimy creek bottoms and anything in between. I am very much looking forward to seeing the pictures of this bike in action as the customer takes it on some real adventures!”

Get a behind-the-scenes look at this project on Brick House Builds’ YouTube channel.

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