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Honda CX500RR


Posted on October 1, 2014 by Scott in Café Racer. 44 comments

CX500RR_001

Written by Martin Hodgson

To create a motorcycle so good that passers-by ask you when the factory started selling them, you need a designer, fabricator and builder capable of bringing such a bike to life. With his CX500RR, Mike Meyers has proven he is all three and starting out with the much maligned 1980 Honda CX500 he only made the task harder. But with a love for the look of the CX’s engine design and ready to prove the doubters wrong he built a café racer that would easily take pride of place on a Honda showroom floor.

CX500RR_001b

As a builder myself, I always like to focus on the engine first after the design phase has been completed. Not only is there no point in building a beautiful bike that doesn’t run but it saves damaging any new paint and cosmetic modifications as you swing the spanners, leak oil and wrestle rusted on exhaust bolts. Following this rule Mike decided he’d begin with a full engine rebuild something that might not have at first appeared necessary with only 10,000miles on the clock, but the green slime oozing from the pulse generators cover was the first sign not all was well. Worn out parts, imperial bolts jammed into metric holes and a few other surprises during pull down confirmed it had been the right thing to do. With money generated from selling off some unwanted parts, Mike was also able to shell out for a set of new Mikuni’s from Murray’s Carbs and the motor was purring.

CX500RR_007

The first major change to the original design of the CX500 comes in the way of a full CBR600RR front end. The inverted forks lower the overall stance of the machine while offering rebound and compression-damping adjustability and the modern twin disc braking combination are a huge improvement over stock. Mike was no fan of the original Comstar wheels but being a shaft drive finding suitable replacements isn’t as easy as it sounds. But with some helpful hints from his fellow CX500 internet forum friends a set of GL1000 wheels were sourced and with a little milling, spacing and shimming to match the splines the new look is first class.

CX500RR_002

With modern controls from the CBR600RR attached to the front end it made sense to use them with the clip on bars for an aesthetically pleasing front end that functions like a new bike. To make it all work Mike had to splice the wiring of the switch blocks into the factory loom, a challenge he took on with great enthusiasm. With his hands on CBR600RR parts it made sense his feet rest on them too so a set of rearsets from the model were also sourced and adapted to fit. The bike now sports the moniker CX500RR requiring one extra step of fabrication smarts, grafting in a CBR600RR gas cap into the factory 80’s tank, brilliant!

CX500RR_006

Mike had always intended the engine to be the show piece of the build, but the standard looks were never going to cut it, so the tank is now resplendent in flowing red, white and black paint with striking Honda graphics. A new tail section and seat give the bike a real café racer feel and hide much of the unsightly wiring. While wrapped pipes, cone mufflers and aftermarket filters clean the overall look and make the most of the negative space the CX’s frame offers.

CX500RR_003

And then there are the details that make this bike special, encouraged by his friend Tyler to try his hand at fabrication, Mike made himself a rear caliper bracket from scratch. Designing the piece, making a template from cardboard, milling it on a CNC machine and painting it black it’s Mike’s favourite piece. You may never notice it, but what you will notice is the incredibly detailed tacho face that truly highlights Mike Graphic design skills. Once again, doubters of the CX500’s quirky characteristic and stylings have been swept aside by a creative vision well thought out, designed and executed by a man committed to proving his detractors wrong.

Mike would like to give his friend Tyler Schwarzkopf of Bleed Machine Industries a big shout out. Without his help and fabrication skills, this bike wouldn’t have turned out like it did.








  • Bonefish Cycles

    Well Done !!!! Love the paint scheme.

    • Thanks man, this is what it looked like before…. I liked it for a while but wanted to change up the seat, then when I went with real leather I had to change other stuff… because that’s how it works I guess!

      I painted it pearl silver, shaved and wrapped the seat, swapped out the clubman bars to street ultra-low renthal’s and wired new gauges.

  • Tanshanomi

    I am so glad to see this bike getting the attention it deserves. I’ve been following Mike’s build over on caferacer.net (a site not really known for suffering CX500 builds gladly). His eye for design, attention to detail, and personable attitude has won over a lot of initial critics. This bike is proof that you really can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Not only does it look the cat’s pajamas, but it has been thoughtfully designed and skillfully built into a functionally solid machine.

    • MikeM

      It was a tough crowd to please.
      Thanks for the kind words.

  • what I love most about this build is that back when these bikes were factory fresh (and most owners chose to make them mini-Goldwings) my eye passed over them like I was looking at a Honda Civic… But this? This is an item of lust. Which really leads to the ‘best’ of what builders here are doing… No, not just creating Lust, after all CBs & KZs, R bikes and Moto Guzzi start off as beautiful bikes (in fact this Sunday I quickly slowed my interstate pace to get a closer look at a 70’s Guzzi V7 750s and made sure the pilot saw the big thumbs-up I was giving him and his machine). So one day, maybe, the riding world will turn against all those who burned through what was left of those beautiful bikes. But I doubt there will ever be anybody who is going to cry at the extinction of the CX… Especially if this is what we get in trade.

  • Nic

    Brilliant !

  • TJ Martin

    Now this bike is living proof that you really can make a Silk Purse out of a Sows Ear … assuming you have both the skills and talent to do so . Which this builder most definitely has .

    Not a personal favorite again I’m afraid . But a damn fine mild custom never the less

  • Retstar

    Fantastic build!… the only thing I would like to see is a slightly smaller front wheel. Otherwise, stunning.

    • Kevin

      wOW that is rad .. you can really tell the seat pan followed the frame lines ..

      agreed a smaller front would level it out nicely

      great job

    • Luke

      Or a slightly larger rear wheel. It does seem just a little off balance, but damn – it’s a nice looking bike. Like others here, I love the tank paint/graphics.

      • Retstar

        A quick photoshop mock-up confirms it for me!

      • Retstar

        A quick photoshop mock-up confirms it for me. It’s obviously a lot more complex to achieve than this to ensure you have good suspension etc, but getting that balance right turns this from fantastic to perfect.

        • MikeM

          Now the back looks way too big

          • I prefer the smaller.
            Marvelous work!

        • jlgace

          I agree, the tank line in the original pics almost looks like it’s rising from rear to front. I am guessing the builder had a compromise to make between fork length, suspension travel, rake and wheel size. I’m sure he still wanted the bike to ride and handle well – not to be confused with some of the customs we see that appear to have the ultimate stance, yet border on unrideable.

        • MikeM

          This has rented space in my head… I am going to move forward with 17×3.5 in the front and 17×4.25 rims. Not sure if you all knew but I was hit by a teenager 2 weeks ago, not a lot of damage but enough it has to be striped to the frame. Figured it was a good to to make some upgrades. regards – Mike

          • Retstar

            So sorry to hear about the hit. That sucks and I hope it was only metal that got hurt. I’d love to see how the wheels work out. What size wheels are currently on it? It really is a stunning build either way. Photoshop is easy. Real life is much harder, but way more rewarding!

  • Gorgeous bike! What I would love to see is someone do something interesting with CX500 valve covers. New valve covers with a more interesting, modern shape would transform the bike, as they’re such a visual focal point.

  • John in Pollock

    I think it’s rad. I would totally own it, and ride it every day.

  • foiled again

    What an eminently likable motorcycle.
    I admire the use of what appear to be a set of Red Wing “Hammerhead” shocks.

    • foiled again

      Also just noticed the top of the lower serifs of “HONDA” are lined up and curved with the seam on the tank.
      Someone was using his head here. Really good job, Utah guy.

  • Brilliant! The CX always looked good to me up to the end of the tank and then…Mike took what may be the ugliest rear-end in the bike world something world class. Nice tank to seat line and color/graphics are great. And the radiator just sort of disappears – cool.

  • MikeM
  • Best bike I’ve ever seen on this site!

  • After watching the whole project progress, and the painstaking attention to every little detail, you have my respect Mike, and a big ‘thumbs up’!
    The only thing that seems to be missing is to fabricate a pair of CNC head protectors, (similar to those we see on Guzzis), just in case…

  • Hammina

    That’s just tidy! I owned a CX, which I customized. I always liked their “quirky” lines. It’s really just the rear end that ruins the bike’s stance in stock form. This seat and rear end just flow like one nice piece. The paintwork I would have never chosen, but I love it! I have seen the over-sized graphics thing go wrong on many bikes. Fantastic work, I’d love to feel the throttle response with those Mikunis.

  • Deej

    Nice CX500…
    Can’t believe I just said that.

  • Bultaco Metralla

    Back in the day, the nickname for the CX500 was ‘the plastic maggot’ and it deserved it. This is a marvellous piece of work, not just superb craftsmanship and an eye for detail but he has made the rear end of a CX500 look good.

  • SpaceJJ

    If the bike gets stolen, don’t come looking for me. 🙂
    By the way, what’s your address….

  • SportsterMike

    Great bike – best plastic maggot I’ve seen
    PS: I’ve got a black cat sitting in the coal cellar – does anyone want to take a photo??

  • Excellent………………

  • torr500

    I’m doing a build on a cx500 and I’d love to know what you used for turn signals on this.

  • superb, only one thing that is really annoying me, i can’t find anything i don’t like

  • Richard

    The paintjob is what makes this bike.

  • roscoe

    What a great bike, and a fantastic level of detail, as evidenced by the build thread, And speaking of which, boy does this builder need to find a forum other than ‘caferacer.net’ to showcase his talents. ‘Witworth’, in particular, who is so dumb he can’t spell ‘Whitworth’ correctly, needs a 2 pound ball peen hammer to the forehead.

    • Jeremy C

      I follow that guy, he’s very amusing and very knowledgeable. He’s an ex-body guard who spends half his day working out and riding, I read somewhere. The CX motor works good.

  • Ryan Forrest

    Unreal, I only wish I was at that level. I has taken me two years to get mine somewhat presentable…