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‘79 Honda CX500 – 502 Moto


Posted on October 9, 2014 by Andrew in Bobber, Racer. 34 comments

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It’s a truism to say that most builders have a kind of love/hate relationship with their project bikes. From the elation experienced when a seat comes together perfectly with a frame to the utter torment of broken bolts, mysterious misfires and parts that magic themselves into other dimensions after they hit the floor, it’s more than common for builds to drag their makers through a gamut of emotions. But I think it’s fair to say that Brad White from Louisville, Kentucky’s 502 Moto has a painful build story that beats most. And when I say painful, I mean just that.

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The Little Stranger build literally started as an accident. After the 450 lb. 1979 CX500 purchased by sculptor and fabricator Brad White ended up on top of him, fracturing his collarbone but only slightly injuring his ego, he knew things had to change. Even prior to the accident the vintage Honda was in need of everything; brakes, tires, fluids, and just about anything else you could imagine. Following the accident, Brad made his way down the I-71 South, from Columbus to Louisville, Kentucky; a town which is becoming widely recognized for its ever-growing vintage bike scene.

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Brad, who is known both regionally and nationally for other vintage bike builds, recently teamed up with mechanic and partner Michael Van Benten, to form 502 Moto. Little Stranger is the bike that has launched the look of their fledgling company; a look that was described by one recent observer as “metal as fuck.” The long, low stance is a result of the guys stretching the swing arm four inches back and raking the steering neck to create a more menacing look. By lowering the narrow forks internally, placing a pentagram wheel upfront and inserting bronze Paiste cymbals in the rear. Yes, you read that right. Paiste – as in drums. Little Stranger is equal parts Slayer and Salt Flats record setter.

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Paiste cymbals never looks so good. Drum roll, anyone?

At first look, what most people notice is the custom deluxe tank, which Brad gently manipulated with a ball pen hammer to create a tasty pair of knee pockets and a trick, recessed fuel filler. To visually balance out the fatty 4.5 gallon tank, the rearmost section of the frame was removed, altered with a hoop, and then new shock mounts and tail section were crafted to create a more aesthetically pleasing look. Digging into their previous chopper builds for some inspiration, the front fairing got some vintage stacked rectangle lights that have been frenched into a manipulated KZ400 fender found lying on a shelf.

Brad’s trademark black and white paint scheme wasn’t left behind, as the front forks got striped “hooker stockings” to match up with the race inspired side covers, painted to mimic last-minute electrical tape number changes seen by Brad and Michael over the years at the local races. The rest of the bike was shot in-house with Audi Nimbus Gray pearl with a “vintage Moto Guzzi” stripe on the tank and cleared in satin to keep it as punk rock as possible.

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Flames and smoke are kick ass during a rock show, but Michael wanted to make sure that never occurred while on the road with Little Stranger. To achieve this he rewired the entire bike, placing any of the previously visible electronics under a soft-leather seat with the irregular stripe in the stitch, crafted in-house by the boys at 502 Moto. The exhaust system was chopped up and rerouted as a two into one. Bespoke heat shields continue the stripe pattern and it’s finished off with an upswept Triumph muffler, which lines up nicely with all the angles and is quiet like a Honda should be.

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All up, 502 have created a good-looking, comfortable ride from a barn find that responds well in the corners and goes like hell on the straightaways. And Little Stranger doesn’t look out-of-place in the twisties with clean vintage restos or stretched out along side a chopper or five. Next time you find yourself south of the Mason Dixon line, why not stop by?

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[Photos by Nicholas Karem]








  • nerg

    Looks a bit different. I can’t really tell because he clearly needs a new bulb for his flash gun. All that hard work spoiled by terrible photography.

    • TylerB

      Hey Nerg, shove your opinion about the photography up your ass. <3

      • PatrickL

        Easy Tyler. He’s right. He just could have been more diplomatic about sayin it.

        • TJ Martin

          Photography done that badly … especially in the Digital Age is not deserving of diplomacy in the slightest . In fact .. its on the verge of being shameful

          As to Tyler’s moment of arrogance and aggression .. all I can say to Mr B is .. Shove your uninformed opinions where the sun will never shine … or bette yet … keep them to yourself … @$&hat

          • @$&hat

            Ouch, maybe I can get you to put them there for me…. Maybe you can use your alienbees and fancy lighting equipment and super awesome photography skills to take pictures while you are at it. Sorry, I guess I just forgot that there is no way that a local photographer could possibly be as good as a pipeburn critic…

          • acuity

            Cut the crap. Whatever light source used and then some sort of whitish fabric to act as a diffuser and spread the light evenly. It is not rocket science and no need to blame the “expensive” equipment of others, much of the same effects can be achieved by thinking and working just a bit harder. It is poor photography, lazy photography, and especially in consideration of a custom bike website, inexcusable. Work harder and think rather than using your perceived monetary deficiencies as an effing excuse.

          • Dacron Aorta

            Is it possible to walk down this blog without stepping in some TJ Martin?

      • nerg

        I’m here to look at the bikes. I can’t see the bike. Simple.

    • Davidabl2

      More charitably it could be called ‘mood lighting” and more pictures that actually SHOW everything would be good.

  • al gonz

    Long, low, mean & industrial!!! Love itttttt
    As a drummer I love the touch of the cymbals,also is easier to clean than any wheel jeje… and unless I’m mistaken, the fairing is a welder mask upside down, right?

    • Looks like a rear fender to me…

      • PatrickL

        KZ400 rear fender as the article states.

  • John Keegan

    Thumbs up. I do, however, have very serious doubts that the beautiful tank work was accomplished with only a ball peen hammer!! And now that the pics are taken, please remove the 502 plates that just scream of the advertising vis-a-vis those tacky auto sales lot emblems plastered on bumpers. Then kindly ship to my residence address. +1 to nerg on the just after dusk illumination of the pics. Less artsy fartsy tricks, and reveal more detail for the sake of appreciation of the subject.

  • TJ Martin

    Oh yeah . Now we’re back in business . Thats one sweet custom and yet another fine example of ; You really can make a silk purse out of a sows ear with enough talent , skill and creativity .

    Though in my opinion the Cymbals thing is a bit too tacky and kitsch for my taste .

    But errr … yeah … as nerg said … the photography is abysmal to say the least and does absolutely nothing to compliment or show off the build . Every single shot being either under or over exposed

  • revdub

    Another great looking bike from one talented gentleman. And I use the term “gentleman” in only the rowdiest possible meaning. Brad is both a builder and a musician, so the cymbals have some deeper meaning. I really like the overall stance of this bike, but the fairing and small fender really set it off. Great build!

  • I dig the overall style, nice and mean looking, but i’d ditch the fairing that covers the headlights and just leave em naked for the world to see. The cover just softens the look from the front to much for me.

  • sethasaurus

    Well, it does seem pretty interesting but its like trying to look at the dark side of the moon..

  • BleedingOxide

    Yeh, gimme danger

  • Stretching the bike give a CX a whole different attitude. Much more aggressive and mean looking. Great metal work – props for pounding out the knee dents in the tank and the cool headlight fairing – I may have to steal that idea. And I’m so digging how I don’t even notice the radiator. I kinda of like the photography – gives it a gritty look.

  • Jeffrey Wallis Bell-Zekas

    very cool… especially from the side view…

  • Justin Lantz

    Best looking kicked up exhaust I have seen in some time.

    Fork, bottom stay of subframe, and pipe….all at similar angles, complementing the long and low silhouette. Reminds me of the “not equal sign”, used in math.

    Nice work!

  • John in Pollock

    I like it a lot. Best back-half I’ve seen on a plastic maggot yet.

  • bjax

    What did it take to extend that shaft-drive swingarm?
    Looking over other CX’s, there’s always that big hole in the huge rear triangle. I’m surprised no one has remade the weird shaped frame tubes to go straight from the swing arm pivot to top shock mounts.
    Oh, I do dig the bike as I do most CX’s. Now my Pipeburn fantasy is to see a GL1000RR!

    • swiers

      Stretching a shaft drive arm is like stretching any other arm (though you gotta use a hollow slug, obviously). Its the shaft that’s the trick, but a competent welder can cut a shaft and splice in a section to stretch it by the same amount fairly easily.

      • P.J. Grakauskas

        got the pleasure of seeing this at the kickdown myself. I am a fan of it and the guys from 502! Moto heads! guys that could easily be swapped in as doubles in “on any sunday”. that is what I gathered from them. I also love the ingenuity of the use of parts.
        The first bike I did was a cx500, and like 502, many of the parts I put on it were from around the stable.
        Looks good! as far as the vis-à-vis advertisement. I don’t have an issue with it in this day and age of technology. I rather they incorporate it on the bike than water stamp the photos. Too many ppl steal photos and claim the bikes as their builds online.

        • Brad White

          Jesus! Thanks guys. My last build got crucified on here by folks uncomfortable with my absurd decisions. The new build is already done and ridiculous.

  • Spyker May

    Bikes with square lights will always be a ‘little stranger’, as if it is not meant to be, but sooner it starts to grow on you.

    There must surely now be “little” that has not been done to the CX500. I recently starting scouting around for a donor, to get done some time next year.., well let me tell you, CX500’s have suddenly got much rarer and the prices have shot up.

  • nice bile but think the headlight is too busy, symbol wheel is about as useful as a drum brake, pics are moody, like the owner

  • What constitutes a “Custom” is rapidly deteriorating. No wonder the comments turn into emotional vomit. Q: What is up with the stripes on the forks?? That’s just weird for no reason.

    • arnold

      perhaps a code readable by a laser scanner?

      • I was thinking the same thing but didn’t want to say it. I still like the bike.

    • Davidabl2

      The never-ending search for “originality’ is taking the same toll on custom bike building that it has on modern fine art. Those stripes are on there because they’re ‘original’ whether or not it’s a good idea. I think they might be a reference to the black&white horizontally striped pants that seem to be in vogue with chopper riders in Japan. Pants that make the guys look like they’re
      already in Jail 🙂 And speaking about “originality” while I’ve got mixed feelings about those stripes,i do like the Paiste cymbal as a wheel disc!

  • Nice one! Built with not more than good ideas and an ugly donor motorcycle!

  • think this should have been bike of the year