It seems that building a Honda CX500 Cafe Racer is becoming more and more popular. Will this be due to the cylinders that point up on either side of the motorcycle? The LC engine? Or do People just like this asymmetrical “Flying V-Twin”? We don’t know, but every builder has his (her) own story and today we bring you the story of Dallas Ziebell and his CX500 Cafe Racer, based on a Honda CX500 Deluxe, to be specific.
I got this bike right before Memorial Day weekend in 2012. I had bought a moped for my girlfriend the week prior, so I was rushing to get a bike to cruise around on with her over the long weekend. She had never ridden a motorcycle or moped, but I had several bikes in the past so I wanted to pick something cheap up off of craigslist. I have always loved the older CB’s, but I knew that for the same amount of money I could find something a little newer and in better condition (cheap, solid CB’s are getting harder and harder to come by). I saw an ad for a 1979 Honda CX500, which I knew absolutely nothing about. With its opposed cylinder configuration, tall riding height, shaft drive, and liquid cooling, the CX definitely took some imagination to envision what the bike COULD be. The maroon paint with gold decals were very hard to see past, but after seeing Dave Mucci’s amazing work, and what the guys over at Wrench Monkey have done, I knew that there could be a really cool, very stealthy build in my bike’s future. The bike’s quirkiness grows on you after a while.
Early on, I figured I would just swap out the bars and maybe paint it…eventually… down the road. I put a pair of drag bars on and drove it around the east side of Milwaukee a few times, but instead of riding the CX I spent most of the summer bombing around on my girlfriend’s moped (The Vino had some balls!). Over the rest of the summer I mostly just removed and chopped unneeded things off while I decided what direction to go with the build. After I chopped the frame rails down, I spent a lot of time staring at the bike trying to think of a way to mount a flat universal seat to the oddly shaped frame. I ended up ordering a beaver tail looking seat, but it just didn’t look RIGHT, so I returned it. Before winter set in I upgraded a few small things like the master cylinder, but for the most part the bike sat until the following Spring.
As the weather started to get nicer, I decided to kick the build into high gear. There is a great vintage motorcycle show in Milwaukee called Rockerbox, and I really wanted to have a bike to bring…even if it was a homely CX500.
I had a minimal budget, so the goal was to use as many of the original parts as possible. This was my first real build, so I knew there would be a lot of other miscellaneous tool/supplies costs along the way. I painted the stock wheels with satin black Duplicolor wheel paint, painted to OEM exhaust and mufflers, and chopped the stock front fender. The rear fender was chopped down from a mid 70’s Goldwing, picked off of eBay. The seat was from eBay and made by a company called Texavina. They are out of Vietnam, and the seat turned out great. With the help of my sister’s husband, we welded a plate between the frame rails to mount the seat, rear fender, and inner fender to. We also cut the frame ends on an angle and capped them with steel plates. It turned out much cleaner than simply chopping the frame off square, and because the frame is pressed steel a rear hoop was out of the question. Once the seat was mounted I could really see the potential.
The paint work was done by a guy that I found on Craigslist doing side jobs. He is reasonable and does good work. The paint color is Gray Storm Metallic, a GM color. I really wanted to keep the bike simple, clean, and stealthy, so I went with a black and gray color scheme with white pinstripes and a white caliper.
Here is a rundown of the some of the work that was done:
– Stock gas cap, stripped and polished.
– Wide Clubman handlebars – to clear the enormous gas tank
– Stock headlight
– Painted frame and many other related bits and pieces
– Shorty 11” rear shocks
– Tourismo Style Grips
– Painted radiator – cover removed
– Many new seals
– Lots of cleaning
I finished the bike and sold it almost immediately to fund another build, a CB360. The new owner was from Los Angeles. It was really cool to see him as excited to get his new bike as I was to build it. Turning your hard work and time into a moving piece of art for another person to enjoy is addictive and awesome. As anybody that does it knows, customizing motorcycles is an all-consuming thing.
Well dear Cafe Racer Fans, isn’t this a beautiful and clean CX500 Racer. Perhaps you’ve read that Dallas already touched upon building a Honda CB360 Cafe Racer… To be continued (Psssst, it’s a beauty as well)