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Bridge City Cycles CB 500 – “Unusual Suspect”

Posted on August 11, 2012 by Andrew in Café Racer, Classic. 38 comments

My knowledge of American geography is pretty poor. And when I say poor, I mean totally crap. It wasn’t until very recently I realised there were two Washingtons, and I really thought there two states called Kansas, but one had an “Ar” in front of it. And just when I’m feeling really down and out about it all, I then get sent this sweet-butt bike from the guys at Bridge City Cycles, which I am now told isn’t a shop in San Francisco. C’mon! That makes no sense at all…

Here’s Bridge City Cycles‘ blurb on the build. “This premier year CB500 began as a rather stock motorbike. After showing all the signs of almost 40 years of wear, leaking carburetors and a bad head gasket finally kicked this project off. Things went a bit further than expected. Equipped with a port and polished head, some top-secret carb and engine work, boasting a compression ratio of 10:1, this little CB500 is a force to be reckoned with.”

“The wheels were taken completely down, spokes powder coated, and hubs polished and detailed. A relocated, hand built master cylinder set up, HID lighting system, and a digital information system are some of the upgrades that help bring this vintage ride into the modern age.”

“The frame was shot a sliver metallic, while the stock tins were shaved, flaked and candied a remarkable “Sparkle Blood Red”. With the exception of a re-covered seat from New Church and pin striping by BCC’s good friend Jeff Wolf of the Deviants Car Club, all of the work on this bike was completed in house. The Unusual Suspect is a labor of love, some might say the illegitimate love child from the twisted minds of Bridge City Cycles.”

  • talkingbird


  • I don’t understand why they would choose to shot a dark bike on a black background.
    The parts I CAN see look good though. That’s the best I can do without seeing more of the bike.

  • Ken

    Nice photos, but the only thing that’s different or unusual is that weird cable thing on the right front fork, yet there is no closeup nor explanation?

    • arnold

      yeah, I’m glad I didn’t ask that question first……….. What is that setup on the right front fork?

      • Mr. Mau

        relocated master cylinder to clean up the bars…

    • WillyPs

      I am guessing… but I think it is the master cylinder for the front disc brake, the caliper and disc are on the other side. Look at the brake lever in the photo of the handlebars, and there is no master on the lever, so a cable is run to the master oddly located on the fork leg, then a hydraulic line loops up and over the tire to the other side. Rather odd looking, but clever.

      • You’re pretty much right. As explained to me by one of the guys at Bridge City Cycles, it’s a rear brake setup off a modern sport bike.

        • arnold

          What kind of a twisted mind would fabricate something like that?
          I like it. Thanks fer out of the box thinking.ald

      • davmo

        Agreed. That is a cable actuated master cylinder. Looks a bit like a Nissen master. Kinda funky. As far as the “bridge city,” perhaps Andrew meant “Bay city” in reference to San Fran?

        • arnold

          The only way to fix Andrew’s dementia of the USA is to send him a Rand McNally route map ( available at Walmart @ $4.95 us) or give him many places to stay when he decides to foot the bill to the left coast ( and back).

          • arnold

            It’s unfortunate, but then he will have a really good idea what we are about.

          • davmo

            OK, now you have to take the great voyage to the US, Andrew. Arnold has thrown down the gauntlet. You can bunk at my place when you pass through Texas.

        • Think about it from an outsider’s point of view – there’s only two really famous bridges in the US – the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridge, and I know NYC isn’t the “bridge city”…

          Scott and I’ll do the trip one of these days. Route 66 and all that. Make a movie, most likely. Maybe even a TV series. Actually, we’ve been toying with an idea of a documentary charting the history of the motorbike. It’d be narrated by Ewan McGregor. Now all we need is a million bucks and 5 years of spare time…

          • When I heard Bridge City I most immediately thought of Pittsburgh, the world record holder for # of bridges within a city. Even as a PNW resident, Portland never crossed my mind.

      • ttaylor

        I’m sure it’s neat an ingenious, and if it works correctly, then hey, whatever. Maybe it was a free modern part they had lying around, and made it work. People like interesting, different things.

        However, adding anything to the bottom of the fork adds unsprung weight – negative effect. Adding complexity means more parts to adjust/wear/break/replace – negative effect. Adding parts that could and will be affected by the elements, compounded by the effect of the wheel very close – negative effect.

  • Nathans909

    Seriously what is that hanging off the right fork?

    • Mr. Mau

      its a relocated brake master cylinder.

  • Pretty fancy paint and leather. I’d love to see it in the sun. Looks like it is a nice resurrection of an old bike; keeping most of the old styling cues and making them better. While my personal taste is more toward a stripped down bike, I always enjoy seeing some traditional design find a new lease on life.

  • GuitarSlinger


    • GuitarSlinger

      To reply to my own post . If this is supposed to be a ‘ custom ‘ then my name is Eric Clapton ! ( sarcasm intended )

      • Eric Clapton was my next guess.

        • arnold

          I was thinking Jerry Jeff Walker if we were dealing with real guitar players.

          • arnold

            Although I am reminded of Dave Bromberg.
            “Judge, Judge, good kind Judge, send me to the ‘lectric chair……………”

      • And all this time I thought your were Slow Hand.

      • Mr. Mau

        Hi Mr. Clapton! Because it certainly not stock…

  • PEN15RC

    I hear they stuffed the seat with M.Linder’s mustache fibers.

  • arnold

    What a revival of a old horse should look like.ald

  • Mgmue mgmu

    Paint looks kick ass – from what you can see with dark paint & dark room. Seat looks ok – stock shape but different color/material. Front brake is an interesting idea – but apart from increased complexity I’m not sure what it achieved. It wont perform better, its not a cleaner setup visually (actually the opposite is true) & just has more parts to break or maintain.

    • jack

      Not really all that complex, cleaned up the handlebars quite a bit from that ugly stock master, and it actually balanced really well against the caliper on the opposite side. I am sure if one knew how to maintain a motorcycle, it would not be a problem. Awesome job!

  • Goonies

    There are a LOT of bridges in Oregon and for some reason they’re really proud of them. Every third one seems to have a sign proclaiming it a “historic bridge” with a “historic view point” sure to follow on your way to “historic monument” at “historic point of interest”. A lot of it seems to be related to a canoe trip a couple of virginians made in 1805 to a place (oregon) the british were already running a fur trading business in. Oregon is a truly beautiful place to ride a motorcycle or buy guns.

  • mustang

    you guys know about motorcyle before put any comment? all those cable and wires supposed to be there for function…hadeeehhhhhhh

    • davmo

      No, we are all clueless here. Maybe you can pass great wisdom to us all happily.

  • nobby

    I’m not big on fancy paint but the bike is a beauty. Now if only Honda would get with the program and bring their new CB1100 to N. America so I can buy one….

  • Portlandian

    Portland is called the Bridge City or Bridgetown because we have eleven bridges crossing over a single river in the same direction, all within the city limits and relatively close to each other. And since our downtown area is on one side of the Willamette (the river) and the rest of the city is on the other, the bridges are kind of like the center of it all. I highly recommend you all come learn a little more about our great city. Portland in the summer is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Not so much in the winter though.

  • mike

    there’s at least 11 bridges from the interstate bridge, separating
    Washington/Oregon, stretching from north Portland down to Milwaukie, on
    the south region of town- most notably there are a lot on downtown
    stretch of the river that connects the east/west side.

    Portland is also referred to Stumptown, assumingly for it’s connection
    with logging. also, referred to the Rose City, for the rose
    festival/rose quarter.

    and yes, that is a master cylinder, moved to the right side of the wheel
    to clean up the bars. it’s a one-off they rigged themselves just for
    this bike. (my 77 550 has been in their shop for the last 8 months, and
    will incorporate many of the same build features.)

    and the paint is really impressive in person, pictures don’t capture the subtleties.

  • nobby

    Very slick.



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