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’80 Honda CX 500 Cafe Racer – “All Business”


Posted on July 29th, by Andrew in Café Racer. 52 comments

If Pipeburn was a wild animal, and you were a custom bike builder looking to trap it, you’d have to lure us with something we’d find tempting. Really tempting. Now blind Freddy could see we like cafe racers, so that’s a baiting given. Then there’s CXs which Scott and I both seem to have a “thing” for. I’m currently building a bike with R1 front forks on it, so that’s also a pretty tempting inclusion for me – not to mention that my build is also a v-twin and a shaft drive. Add that to the fact that the number 7 just happens to be the combined IQ of Scott and I, and you’re probably starting to see that we don’t so much like this bike as want it like a hipster wants a beard. Quite frankly, this bike is a perfect storm of Pipeburn temptation. And who, I hear you ask, is the genius poacher behind this irresistibility of a bike?

Here’s the bike’s owner, Mr Greg Volkmann from Sacramento, California. “Back in October of 2011 I bought a bike off eBay from a ‘customizer’ in Denver. Upon receiving the bike, I realized it would have to be completely rebuilt as the work was sub-par and it didn’t even run. Luckily, I found www.choppercharles.com and a builder in my neighborhood, aka Larry Cargill. Larry has built many bikes and had the skills to help me bring the bike’s quality up to the dream I had in mind.”

“First on the list was to get the bike running. Rebuilding the carburetors and making adjustments to the motor brought it back to life, however many other issues started to arise. Wiring problems (a birds nest wrapped in black tape) as well as bodywork and paint flaking off just to name a couple. So the venture began to rebuild. With the motor running now it was apparent that it had internal problems. So it was torn down and rebuilt including the stator and broken cam chain components. Then the stock front suspension was replaced with a front end from a 2005 Yamaha YZF-R1 coupled with a triple tree from a CBR954RR which did the job nicely.”

The business end of “All Business”

“Next came replacing and relocating the CX 500 gas tank and moving it back for fork clearance. Larry even manufactured a center mount for the headlight that makes it look like it’s floating on the front end. Using an digital speedometer, a custom panel was handmade that would line up with the future paint theme. Next came relocating the battery and building a custom wiring harness to hide neatly under the seat, as well as shortening all of the control cables for the cafe-style short bars. Last was to build new pipes and custom made internal baffles for the exhaust so it looked like it had open straight pipes.”

The shining

“Once all the mockup work was done, the frame was stripped down to bare metal so corrections could be made as well as other modifications that make this bike a one-of-a-kind. After weeks of preparation to get the frame and tank ready for paint, we decided on Pearl white with satin black stripes. But like any artist, Larry waited for the bike to tell him exactly what it wanted as far as design goes. It had to be classy, understated and retro, but still racy. What the bike got was all that and more!”

The Shining II

“During assembly the bike begged for more detail. With the exception of the rims, everything that was aluminum was hand sanded and polished to a brilliant shine.”

“The bike is short, stout and mean. The straight pipes have a guttural roar that sounds like no other CX. During this build the bike has earned the nickname “All Business” with the CX crowd. And that’s just what it is, “ALL BUSINESS”, no frills.”

“On its first debut showing at the CJMC Classic All Japanese Motorcycle Club swap/show in Auburn CA, on 1 July 2012 (one of the largest Japanese bike events on the west coast) the bike won 1st place in th ecafe racer class against some very tough competition. I couldn’t be happier with it.”





  • John in Pollock Pines

    Ultimate. Nice to see some other Nor Cal machines here. I’d like to ride her up HWY 50 through Placerville, and make a left up Ice House road. All the way to Loon lake is where I’d ride…

  • SmokeyTheBear

    Its so stocky, the lines dont really seem to work together. All of the parts, each snapshot, are beautiful. The bike as a whole seems awkward. I wish they had done something with the rear part of the frame as that big awkward hoop and the number 7 keep drawing my eye.

    • Mike Cambareri

      Took the words right out of my mouth. It has a lot of positively brilliant elements. The gauge cluster is lovely, the paint scheme is elegant, the whole front end just looks fantastic. But the aft section just adds so much visual weight. Might as well just weld on an anchor and be done with it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Stark/100003079960619 Tony Stark

      I totally disagree. The stub of the rear end is the perfect length and the elements balance nicely with the front. If it wasn’t done that way, the bike would appear way too tank/engine heavy.

  • http://ridedualsport.com/ Manxman

    Wow – this is one of the nicest CX cafes I’ve seen. The Rive Gauche CX is another one of my favorite CXs but for different reasons. This one has just the right proportions – reminds me of a vintage bol d’or long distance endurance racer but without a fairing. Good job on taking an ugly duckling and making something cool out of it.

  • pushrodmofo

    That thing’s a brute (and I mean that in a good way)! If you decide to change the name I’d suggest “The Albino Bulldog” or something far-fetched like that :)
    I’m not fond of shiny shiny but with the contrast to the black motor parts and the white paint it looks awesome. A set of shorty reverse megaphones would be the only change I’d make.

    • Dale McVey

      I like the Jap Guzzis a lot! Everything here is 1st rate. I mentioned before that you can dump the exhaust wrap for a fairly inexpensive ceramic coating that would give a similar effect. The drawback would be that leading surfaces may chip, but that was the reason that you didn’t powdercoat frames 20 years ago! I guess we might be in a “re-learning process.”
      BTW, googling “industrial ceramic coating” will provide more info.

  • WillyPs

    I’d probably hate it if I didn’t like it so much.

  • davmo

    Tight little bike. Must say I like it. Never been able to appreciate these bikes until now.

  • Kacper

    Anymore info of that headlight mount? I have a 1980 Cb750f that is running an RC51 front end and I want to mount the original headlight but have a hard time finding any mounts that don’t suck. I know I will eventually have to cnc something but would love to see what they’ve done.

  • Rob Love

    this bike should be called GorillaPunch2–the Reckoning

  • Glocker

    its stocky, clunky lines are actually why I like it. There is something so 60’s/70’s Jap about it! I love it!

  • grub

    i wish someone would swap out those trashy carbs for something much better.

    • http://www.facebook.com/greg.volkman.1 Greg Volkman

      the carbs have been completely tuned, balanced, and rebuilt by Larry Cargill. The bike runs perfectly.
      http://www.donlhamon.com/carbbook.html

  • Helge

    The stance reminds me of an old Jawa – they, of course, were running drum brakes, though of seemingly similar size. CX500s are not my cuppa, but this in my eyes looks great. Love the paint scheme! The other thing that strikes me is the cooler – typically it stands out like a sore but here it complements the mastiff-like stance. Would love to see it in person…

  • revdub

    The motorcycle equivalent of a BBW.

    • arnold

      You do like them lean and mean rev.ald

      • arnold

        But I must say that, I know that I weigh twice what these guys weigh.

      • revdub

        No denying it, I like ‘em “petite”. This may be big, but it’s still beautiful!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1302855933 Dave Hargreaves

    It’s still a CX…. sorry- One of the worst bikes Honda ever produced.

    • nvr2old

      You’ve probably never owned one. The earliest ones had a few hick-ups, but were fixed easily and immediately by Honda. The CX500 is actually a bullet-proof bike. People have put hundreds of thousands of miles on them. The CX Customs were ugly, but the Standards are really good bikes, and my CX500 Turbo, especially, has been a wonderful bike for 30 years now.

      This one featured is a fine example of what can be done to enhance them even more.

    • Matt

      Man I’m sorry you can’t get over your mindset. Seems you’ve made it your life to knock the CX. I don’t take it personal I just feel sorry for someone close minded as you.

    • david blankenhorn

      Worst LOOKING, stock for sure.
      This one is more of a silk purse than a sow’s ear.

  • Zundap

    Attention to detail is great. A lot of talent here. After all that effort,why did you give up with the Tag? ..Z

    • http://www.facebook.com/greg.volkman.1 Greg Volkman

      Not sure what you mean?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=772271336 Andy Taylor

    Those engines look great cleaned up, good job.Thursdays are standing ‘bike night’ at TechShop in San Francisco, and 3 of us have CX’s that we’re chopping up and swapping parts on. I’m taking mine on her maiden voyage tonight. Come by, we can burn out in the parking lot.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Stark/100003079960619 Tony Stark

      I’m jealous. I can’t finish my ride yet. I’m so sad for me :(

  • Richard Brandt

    I’m torn – that subframe is gorgeous. So why a set of shitty $15 EMGO pod filters instead of UNI or K&N socks to let this thing breathe? Those CV carbs suck air through a spot where those filters have a big flange blocking the air.

    Like I said, though, it’s beautiful.

    • Richard Brandt

      Also, I came back half a day later to look at the engine again. :)

  • arnold

    Superior workmanship. And award winning. And an unlikely candidate for so much attention. Well done.ald

  • http://geokan.tumblr.com/ GeoKan

    “All business” have “all the look”.
    Kudos !!!

  • NorthofNowhere

    Looks too fun to get much work done. Id be on it all the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Miller/100000952005408 Bruce Miller

    Nobody does flat-head Juang Changs from China – the big old BMW copies? Lilac bikes saw one once only? What does China build today that would make an interesting import? The make any bigger bikes? Saw a diesel trike once ? India’s Royal Enfields today? Even their diesel models? No show-bikes based this way? Are Harley engines really made with Asian parts? Guy at home here calms his has Japanese carbs, Asian cylinders, pistons, crank, and cases, is this possible?

    • http://ridedualsport.com/ Manxman

      “?”

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Stark/100003079960619 Tony Stark

        Uh…maybe it’s a haiku???

    • arnold

      It is tough learning English from motorcycle blogs.

  • vwmaniac84

    i just love the turn lights, where can i find those, im in a cafe-proyect at this moment…

  • Chris Saddler Sam (simpleman.g

    just lovely!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Stark/100003079960619 Tony Stark

    I just emailed a pic and link to this site to a friend who has one of these. Well, not one of THESE, but I want him to see what his CX could become…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Stark/100003079960619 Tony Stark

    Beautiful bike. The only thing I personally would do differently is the exhaust. And no, it has nothing to do with the wrap. I think IMHO that the pipe should be parallel to the ground and end in some sort of muffler set up. That would create some visual balance top to bottom and save me a ticket while ripping this thing through town.

  • nobby

    Nice bike, unfortunately I despise radiators….

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Stark/100003079960619 Tony Stark

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a radiator on a motorcycle that looks “good.” Unfortunately, water cooled engines can’t be modified to be “unradiatored.” Even worse is the California emissions on my 87 Shadow. I’m going to lose all of the plumbing, including the PCV valve and just put a filter where the hose attaches to the case.

  • nobby

    The more I look the more I like it. Real polished look to it. I’d love to take it for a spin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/phil.gilbert.73 Phil Gilbert

    Great job Larry.

  • Mike.

    OMG, I LOVE this!!! I also have a cx500 from ’78. If I may be so unpolite; where did you get the back end with that seat?

  • Santiago

    The motor is powder coated black mate or painted??

  • Paul Buceta

    Great job on the bike! I just finished customizing a CX of my own and I agree about the sound. – It’s like no other. Pics of before, during and after here: http://www.paulbuceta.com/blogs/honda-cx500-cafe-racer/

  • Eagle_Driver
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  • Greg

    Actually she’s quite petite. This the name, “All Business”