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1980 Honda CX500 “Testardo”

Posted on February 2, 2013 by Scott in Tracker. 19 comments

When it comes to creative Italian bike builders, the guys at Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche always bring something original to the table. For their latest build, they decided against using a local bike like a Guzzi or a Ducati and chose the humble Honda CX500. “We suggested this cheap bike to work with the customers request to have a cool but inexpensive custom” says AndreaBack in 1978 when Honda first released the Honda CX500, they used the advertising tag line “First into the Future!” to launch this motorcycle – referring to it being the first water-cooled, shaft-driven V-twin. Now 30 years into the future, these clever guys from Rome have reshaped this Honda into a street tracker the Japanese would be proud of.

The bike was quickly named ‘Testardo’, which means ‘hardheaded’ or ‘stubborn’ in english – because of the many problems they came across in the build process they thought it was appropriate. “This Honda CX500 was a commissioned project but the owner left us “hands free” to put our ideas and our design approach on the bike” say Andrea. “He asked us for something original, a short bike but with the possibility to have a small seat for his son.” This is where they came up with the idea of having a shorter more sporty looking seat that simply converted into a larger seat when the owner wanted to take his boy for a ride.

The first problem they encountered from this hardheaded CX was the frame. “The frame was difficult because of its strange form, first tubular after boxed, thin tires, big engine and so on.” he says. “Our idea was a mix of a bobber (for a comfortable drive position), a scrambler (to have off road tires) with a touch of Triumph (the owner is a big fan)”. Their first attempt at the design looked too similiar to other CX builds they’d seen, so they decided to change their approach and put a more Emporio twist on it. “We started imagining the lines and we realised we needed a small but particular front end. We finally arrived at a 1984 Guzzi 350 Carter, it gave the right “spine” to the bike – so we started cutting and welding!”. 

The next problem they had to solve was creating that single seat that turned into a double when needed. They eventually came across a Triumph fairing which they used as the removable tail. “We reformed and cut it, then added it to the frame. It has a built in quick release which can be removed to reveal the hidden seat below.” The finishing touch was adding a couple of their trademark wrenches at the rear of the seat – nuts included.

This project may have encountered  a couple of challenges along the way, but these hurdles have forced Emporio to think outside the square, creating something we think is pretty special. What do you think?

  • The CX 500 was my first motorcycle. I paid about a grand for a 1980 CX500 Custom. It had the buckhorn handlebars and a more “cruiser” looking tank. The worst part was my legs getting super hot in traffic because of the way the cylinders poke out! It was a comfortable and reliable bike though. Gave it to a friend who re-built the carbs, got new hand grips, and a few other small things. Not a bad starter bike at all.

  • arnold

    Pretty good keeper. The whimsy in the details puts it a cut above. Wrenches for the tail light holder, and piston like brake hydraulic container really do set this scooter apart. Fit and finish overall look great.Tachometer,Speedometer,Temperature or Oil pressure gauge(analog)? Would I have it in my Garage? no. Do I admire the thought and craftsmanship? yes.ald

  • Now&Zen

    Ohhhh… Hey ….. thats …. pretty darn good … downright cool even …. Could of done with out the wrenchy bolty things on the fender but …….. Yeah ! I’m liking it . A lot . Two thumbs up !

  • revdub

    Very different and cool. I really like that headlight and little fairing. Maybe we can call this a string-bikini fairing? Okay, that’s what I’m calling it.

    • nathas909

      I agree, that front light and fairing is just dam right tuff. I love it. The Choke being mounted off it in such a way is cool too.

  • New Haven Neil

    Oh, a ‘plastic maggot’, as we call them on this side. Well, I think they have made the best of it! I quite like the build, bar the tyres – I don’t really see any scrambler in the function of this bike – but it’s pretty neat considering how ugly CX’s are. The more I look, the more I like. Hell, I’d even ride it….don’t tell my mates though. CX’s are reviled here!

    • Mike Cambareri

      A joke about fat girls comes to mind…

      • New Haven Neil

        Shhh….. 😉

  • Werdna68

    Wow! Someone finally managed to kick the ugly out of a CX500. I love the overall “tear drop on its side” profile.

    • itsmefool

      Well said, but I always liked the motor with those heads askew and exhausts heading forward…so cool!

  • I’m not sure why, but I’m a total sucker for red inside the end of the exhaust pipe. Is that too Freudian?

    • Oldnbroken

      That would maybe depend on what you do with the pipe when we are not looking Andrew.

    • Now&Zen

      Hmmmn ! Lessee now . Red + Inside an orifice + Pipe ? Errrrrr… Yup ! Most definitely well within the realm of a Freudian Slip 😉

  • Oldnbroken

    Gorgeous bike, that shape just fits that motor so well. I wouldn’t mind hammering it around a dirt track to get to know its scrambler personality.


  • Leave it to thre Italians to make the best looking CX I’ve ever seen. Cool details and good color scheme. I don’t even notice the radiator too much.

  • A lot to like about this bike. It’s a little bit of everything and it works. Some nice detail, esp the spanner used as the gear lever.

  • I like the CX500 changed up. It’s ugly in its original layout so people hacking and slashing is cool to see. I wonder if anyone has tried a Silverwing to customize?

  • Yves

    Who could have guessed in the 80's what is happening now to all those CX 500 … No one, it was so hugly (I know it well, it my first "big" bike") and nowadays it's just one of the most beautiful customised bikes and they are so many of them (Revenge of the ugly duchling). But I guess performances remain what they were from the start, poor… Anyway, congrats !

  • Mikael Lewis

    Wow, very cool and original build. I spotted a cx500 at work the other day. I was not aware of this bike before then. The first thing that struck me was how cool the engine looks. The bike I spotted was in horrible shape with oil everywhere, but I immediately wanted one. Seeing this build has reinforced this desire. Love the spanners sticking out the back by the way!