At first glance, if it wasn’t for those telltale cylinder heads, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a modified Ducati Sport Classic 1000. The shape of the tank and seat, flat black reverse cone pipes, the upside down front end with clipons and twin black clocks, but then the penny drops. Jesus. A Honda CX?! Yup, a Honda CX650 Cafe Racer it is!
What’s even more astonishing is that it was built in Hochiminh City in Vietnam by TrungNT – also known on many forums as VietHorse. With the cafe/custom world being so focussed around Japan and the West we see very little from Asia that isn’t built by an ex-pat so this build is refreshing in every respect. We first saw the build many months ago, and we ran a few grainy shots in a Facebook album, but we decided to wait to do a proper feature on the Bike Shed main site until we had some higher resolution photos, and we’re glad we did, as now you can see the bike in all it’s glory – and read’s Trung’s story.
“I am an Engineer, working in the oil & gas industry but in my own time I like to work with bikes. I have owned various type of bikes from Cruiser, naked, sport, touring, and adventure. I started looking for a bike to build into a café racer in early 2012. I wanted a bike which would be reliable with a robust-looking engine and simple chassis with simple electrics and controls.”
“The Moto Guzzi is my favorite bike, however, there are almost no mechanics in Vietnam who can take care of them. I also like Ducatis, but they’re a bit pricey. Then I realized that the Honda CX was the best fit for my needs. I found a CX650 for sale in California back in February 2012. There were some issues with the shipping, and I had to wait a few months for delivery.”
“While I was waiting I searched the internet, asking on the forums about mods, as well as updating my AutoCAD sketches. I also started buying parts. The most important elements were the inverted front forks, which were sent to me from a forum friend, Timmy,in Maryland, US. The bike finally arrived in August 2012 and the modifications began.”
It’s a 1983 CX650 with a little over 10,000 miles on it. Trung replaced the front-end of the bike, except for the front wheel and installed dual-discs brakes. The headlight and clocks remained from the original – keeping the mileage. Trung really loved the Ducati Sport Classic bodywork and set about building his own tank and seat unit. Considering how many SC owners are looking for replacement tanks and are struggling to get them made, we have some idea how difficult that must have been. What was equally unexpected is how good it looks sitting over the CX engine.
The rear shocks and supports were removed and replaced by a monoshock setup taken from a 1098 which required the back end of the frame to be rebuilt. The home built Ducati style seat hump hides all the ugly electrics, and like the later Ducati Sport Classic bipsto the hump is removeable to allow for a pillion ride. The battery box is hidden under the chassis. The exhaust headers are original but mated to home-built steel and aluminium end cans, which TrungNT tells us sound awesome. The original radiator was refurbished and reused, but the original coolant reservoir was replaced with a steel tube, set parallel with the radiator.
“I chose to paint the bike orange to make it looks a bit different from other café racer bike. And it is also my favorite color as my car and my BMW 1200GS are also orange. I painted the front brake calipers and rear shock spring in red as the highlights of a sporty Café Racer bike.”
The bike was ready for it’s first test ride in late April 2013. “It was unforgettable feeling. After more than a year, I can really feel the bike, my own brainchild, how it sounds, how it pushes me on the street… It’s really great machine, smooth and powerful, especially with the new exhaust system.” According to Trung this is the first properly prepared, designed and reported cafe racer built in Vietnam, but the end result looks like the work of a seasoned pro. We’re extremely impressed and very grateful to Trung for sharing with us all, and going the extra mile to get quality photos.
Story by the Bike Shed
The CX650 Custom was a one year model produced in 1983 for the US market. Like other CX customs, especially the CX400C designed for Asia-Pacific, this model was a cruiser. The frame is completely different, and the styling was marketed to accommodate the American desire for the low stretched look of American cruiser bikes. Its semi chopped fork, tear drop tank, low seat and truncated exhaust gave it a very rakish look. However, it was very similar in styling and price range to the 750 Shadow and Honda elected to have only one cruiser bike in that class, thus the reason for its short model life.
The CX650ED or Eurosport was also introduced in 1983 and was cosmetically very similar to the CX500 Sports produced the previous year. It was aimed at the UK, European, Canadian, and Australian markets. The brakes, suspension and handling were advanced in comparison to CX500 variants. The model shares many common features with the CX500TC. Tubular frame design, TRAC anti-dive forks, Pro-Link rear suspension, twin-pot brakes and disc front and back. Though this model was not sold in the US, some have been imported by private owners.
For the 1983 model year, the engine of the CX500 Turbo was increased to 673 cc, together with an increase in power. In addition to the increase in displacement, the compression ratio was increased and the maximum boost pressure was lowered thus making for a smoother transition from off-boost to on-boost. The fuel-injection control system was substantially revised for the CX650 Turbo, and the rear shock received an update as well by adding a manually operated damping control mechanism in addition to the “air” pre-load of the previous model.
Cosmetically, the CX650 Turbo differs little from its predecessor other than in colors and badging. However, in a cost-cutting exercise, Honda manufactured the 650 Turbo fairing from ABS plastic as opposed to the 500 turbo’s GRP. Honda built 1,777 models, with fewer than 1,200 imported to the U.S. and Canada.