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Honda CX500 ‘Twister’ by Wena Customs


Posted on April 21, 2016 by Scott in Café Racer. 45 comments

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Written by Martin Hodgson.

There is a lot to be said about picking a model of motorcycle to customise that is already popular in the industry. Parts are readily available, there is a wealth of knowledge on what does and doesn’t work and plenty of inspiration to be drawn from other builds. The problem comes, when if like Wena Customs of Poland, you pick such a bike and hope to not only stand out from the crowd but win trophies too. But their 1980 Honda CX500 is positive proof they can take a popular machine and build a bike so good that judges at the Poznan International Motor Show awarded them the prize for best cafe racer. Even more impressive is that the Wena Customs journey only began two short years ago, but the team brings together a wealth of knowledge that means this Honda has the go to match the show.

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When Andrzej needed someone to come on a small journey with him to help him purchase an old Honda he wisely chose his mate Przemek, a trials champion and owner of Wena Moto a full service motorcycle shop. It must have been a hell of a trip because they returned with seven CX500’s and the idea for Wena Customs, a new outlet for one off custom builds, focussing largely on the quirky V-Twin Honda and bringing Prezemek’s tremendous knowledge of suspension to the custom scene in Poland.

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Born out of this friendship turned business venture is “Twister”, the stunning CX that sits before you and is a stunning sign of what’s to come. Wanting to display their suspension know how the decision to go to a mono-shock setup was a quick one and the sturdy frame of the CX is more than well suited. The frame has been smoothed out, all the collector tabs and other assortments cut free and the swingarm and frame given new shock mounts for the conversion.

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The bare engine was then fitted up to the frame, the swimgarm attached and measurements taken for the suspension components themselves and the fabrication work that was to come ensuring that clearance was available exactly where they needed it. With everything triple checked the frame and swingarm were sandblasted before receiving a new lick of paint while the engine was given a less abrasive soda blasting treatment on all the exposed surfaces.

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With the engine on the bench the all important suspension was fitted up with a fully adjustable, remote reservoir rear shock allowing Przemek to fine tune the ride as the build progressed. The front suspension is rebuilt and there is nothing wrong with standard telescopic forks other than their inherent want to flex and this has been rectified with a bulky set of custom triple clamps. The top clamp does away with the standard items riser mounts for a clean finish and a new set of clip-ons brings the rider down into a full racer position.

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With the engine now rid of decades of grease it was pulled down with the internals receiving a full rebuild before the short-block was bolted back together and then being painted and polished. The standard Keihin carbs have been rebuilt and now breathe through pod filters while a number of larger jet sizes were kept on hand for what was to come. With the mono-shock setup comes the chance to keep the rear end of the bike entirely clean, so a custom fabricated 2 into 1 exhaust system was built that runs under the seat and exits at the tail with a polished stainless muffler that sounds a treat.

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The carbs were then re-jetted to suit the extra airflow and new rubber and cooling lines added as Polish winters hadn’t been kind to the old ones over the years. The radiator wears a custom shield featuring the bikes name while a machined oil filter cover and polished clutch cover give the longitudinal twin the appearance it deserves.

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With such a mechanical masterpiece coming to life they couldn’t leave the visuals anything resembling the stock CX appearance and it’s a model that needs a clever eye for the right design. With bold colours and traditional Cafe body work having been done before they returned to a trend of the ’70s with a beautiful single piece design. Taking the standard tank and shaping it to their liking they then crafted a seat base and tail piece that would be body worked into a single element with the tank.

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Given the canvas they had to start with the lines are picture perfect, a neat parallel line running the full length of the bike and showing off the iconic CX engine works brilliantly. The paint work is just as good with a combination of platinum silver and ghosted grey to pick up the smooth lines of the metal fab, a central race stripe of chequered orange and grey, with the new companies logo on each side so you know just who built this bad boy.

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To finish it off the gas cap is a neat conversion to a pop up unit so as not to disturb the lines and the lucky rider of Twister sits on top of a hand made leather seat with paint matching orange stitching. Seated in style the rider now rests their feet on R1 style rearsets mounted further back than the stock location and doing away with the nasty big Honda items. Up on the new clip-on bars it’s all business with modern switchblocks, a billet push-pull throttle and bar end mirrors to see just how many other bikes you’ve left in your dust.

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The single speedo/tacho combo sits in another hand made piece of metal work and rests above the new headlight with integrated LED turn signals. Not wanting to clutter up the rear small LEDs are frenched into the rear section to act as a tail light and tiny indicators, all displayed in a neat polished housing.

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To add some more colour to the project the wheels were sandblasted before receiving a coat of black with orange highlight and this theme was then extended across the build. The inlet mounts, float bowls and carby tops were given the same taste of orange that was then applied to the spring on the new rear shock.

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The brakes have been totally rebuilt front and rear, including the addition of a new master cylinder and colour matching levers that have increased feel thanks to braided lines throughout. With the bike looking so good the standard wiring couldn’t be left in full view so the team underwent a full rewire of the Honda, added the appropriate resistors for the LEDs and then where the old chunky collector box once sat fabricated a new piece to hide the battery.

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But not only was the finished product so good that the Wena Customs team picked up top cafe racer at the show in Poznan but when the main prize was announced they also took home 3rd place overall in the category sponsored by industry giants Custom Chrome. It’s more than enough recognition for the team to know they are on the right track and with the trophies come more orders for crazy custom CX500s. For Andrzej it is a dream come true and his friendship with his team only gets stronger and with Przemek by his side customers can be assured that their builds will go as well as they look and have the back up of a successful racer.

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There really can’t be much better feeling than having built a bike that looks so good it wins trophies at a show and to then climb aboard and it rides and handles to the satisfaction of a man who made his name in the tough world of trials. But Wena Customs have delivered exactly that and the Polish streets are ready to rumble to the sound of a very different V-Twin.








  • John Wanninger

    If only the pipes weren’t wrapped… Better than any BMW.

    • Hardley T Whipsnade

      Definitely nowhere’s near as good as a Beemer and especially not better than the last two Beemers featured here . But like the plethora of BeemerBobber/Cafe/Scrambler customs showing up lately I am beginning to tire of these Moto Guzzi wanna be Honda customs as well . Now mind you this bike’s good and all . But we’ve been there and done that to the point of them losing any sense of uniqueness or originality .

      • Bob

        Apart from the engine shape they are nothing like Guzzis…

  • Mike Learn

    Really nice!!!

  • Woodie

    I really like it. from the use of refurbed and re-used CX parts rather than putting a mish-mash of add-ons to the cleverly engineered tail section. I’ll even forgive pipewrap but put some mudguards (fenders) on.

  • I like the lines and overall look of this job. Sure we have seen lots of CX customs in the past, and a fair few Beemers (boxers) & Guzzis too, but I think that the reason for this is that strongly visual motors lend themselves to this style of bike. I’d like to see more BMW K bike jobs… those brick engines require serious skill in order to make a custom job look good !

    • Andrzej Idkowiak

      we are on such a project already – will send you facebook link to track it

      • Thanks, I would be very interested in that.

  • Fast2Furious

    I wish I had there pipewrap business somebodys making a fortune.

    • Pipewrap is the new chrome.

      • Mo Denaro

        If heat was the real enemy, a true double wall exhaust would be nice! But to some, it gives the illusion of speed………. Or something? Never was able to quite figure it out?

        • It’s only because drag racers needed it and it was quick and cheap.

          • Mo Denaro

            When I was 16 the power steering hose contacted the headman headers I installed on a 68 Mustang. I wired a portion of my dads asbestos BBQ mitten to the hose. problem solved. But that was 1976.

        • Andrzej Idkowiak

          it was heat 🙂 I feel we need to work out dual wall as you propose 🙂

  • Bultaco Metralla

    Glorious, wonderful motorcycle that takes the old plastic maggot and brings it into Guzzi territory. Pity about the pipe wrap, but to quote Joe E Brown “Nobody’s perfect”

    • lemieuxmc

      Here’s a thought… BUILD A GUZZI!

      • Bultaco Metralla

        What puerile nonsense, surely the whole point is to take the mundane and make it exceptional.

        • lemieuxmc

          The problem is that the only way a CX500 engine is exceptional is when you have it turned sideways and punched out to 750 cc’s… and then you realize that it’s not good enough and design an actual racing motor!
          http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/2015/01/article/backmarker-honda-ns750-flat-tracker/

          • Bultaco Metralla

            The Guzzi motor isn’t exceptional. I owned a Le Mans 3 in the early nineties and no matter how much craft and money you poured into it it was never an exceptional motor. If you met a big Suzuki on the road from Braidwood to Queanbeyan, it was “Kiss this Pal” and then they motored off into the distance.

            CX500’s had a terrific motor by the standards of their day. After all they were in direct competition with Guzzi v50’s and I had a friend who cursed the day she fell for that one. On the other hand, CX500’s were a mainstay of motorcycle couriers and were renowned for their reliability and torque delivery. Their real problem was skinny forks, wooden brakes and looks that begat the nickname “Plastic Maggot”.

            I applaud the effort that has taken this powertrain and given it the chassis and looks it really deserves. After all, is it that far removed from taking an old V50 and attempting to engineer in the reliability and power delivery it should have had in the first place.

      • Andrzej Idkowiak

        If you think about something – we can do it for you 🙂
        Here is my pinterest : https://pl.pinterest.com/wenacustoms/
        You can track what i find and then we can create something in the way you like

  • Mo Denaro

    I just figured it out! This spot is called Pipe Burn! So, All the bikes have their pipes wrapped! I must be slow…….. All this time and I just get it now!

  • Darrick B

    Fantastic looking bike. I especially like the tank/seat design and how the exhaust is integrated into it. My only complaint is I think they went a little overboard on the orange accents.

    • Agreed. The bike is a treat but the goldorange accents are overdone. There’s lots to like here though. Comparisons to Guzzi bikes are irrelevant. Guzzis were built to look like Guzzis. The builder took great care to get his “look”. Just because it has this motor configuration in no way makes it a Guzzi wannabe.

      • lemieuxmc

        Ever seen a marble sculpture? Pretty hard medium to work with, expensive, but durable.
        Ever seen an ice sculpture? Cheap, easy to work with, doesn’t last too long out in the open.
        Those both look pretty cool, so an artist decided to do something similar… he made a sculpture of “David” from lard.

        Looked pretty cool, but just didn’t have the same artistic cred.

        Yes, it’s kind of like that…

        • Bob

          Looks better than Guzzis imo.

          • lemieuxmc

            I can get you a sweet deal on a sculpture of David that’s made from lard…

  • Tyler Stone

    That thing is damn beautiful. I don’t even really mind the pipewrap, and never really have. The radiator up front though? That is one ugly box.

    • Andrzej Idkowiak

      true… working on all you mentioned 🙂

  • gluesniffer

    Love these CX’s I have two in progress in my garage at the moment. The two things I’m a bit tired of seeing are the comstar’s are they’re extremely common on these bikes and of course the stock carbs with pods, sorry but they just don’t run well on pods. For as much time and effort put into these machines, I’m always surprised to see this when upgrading the carbs is trivial =)

    • Andrzej Idkowiak

      anything machined we can arrange yokes, swing arm rebuild kit. Just contact us on info@wenacustoms.com

  • Lowflying

    I like this bike. Obviously a lot of work and thought has gone into it. They really have made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear here.

    Opinion only:

    Pipe wrap would go if it was mine.

    Well executed fenders are a real challenge but can definitely add to a bike (and makes it better to ride too. Here in Australia you wouldn’t get it registered for the road without them. And this is a bike to ride not hang on the wall right? I mean if you’re gonna ride it fenders are useful. You wouldn’t make a custom bike without wheels would you? Rant over…;-))

    • Andrzej Idkowiak

      thnk you … will work it out

  • Hombuilder

    Okay. I understand the whole pipewrap debate. On 99% of the Nikes featuring here it makers no sense at all. This bike being the 1%. In this case pipewrap makers perfect sense. A hot pipe directly besides the cilinderhead, without a heat buffer. Not a good idea!!! Besides when your exhaust runs directly under your seat, your ass gets toasted. So again in this case. Pipewrap is a good solution. So Lets stop bitcing About the pipewrap……… in this particular case

    • Andrzej Idkowiak

      🙂

  • Mike Learn

    Inspirational!! Going to have to get a CX500……

  • I Should Know Better

    What a beauty.
    Putting the pipe high-up like that is brilliant – nice ground clearance (thanks to having a trials guy as a builder, I suspect), shorter pipes overall, less clutter around the bottom and at the back of the engine. In turn, the pipe wrap makes perfect sense to me in the circumstances: right by the cylinder head and the air intake, you need to do what you can to
    keep the temperature down. I’m trying to figure out exhaust routing on a CX (actually a GL) build right now, and looking at this has been like seeing light shine down from heaven.
    I hope they succeed with their build business; lots of posters here have criticisms and complaints, but I don’t recognize any of their names as having actually built any of the bikes I’ve seen on this site…. So, they’re probably mostly armchair engineers and designers, not builders (and not customers, either – keep that in mind, Andrzej and Przemek).
    Admittedly, I’m not a professional builder either, and my tastes are my own, but I’ve looked at ideas from about a bazillion bike custom builds (not just CXs), and I think this might be my favourite. Sadly, shipping alone to North America would be more than I could afford, or else I’d have placed an order yesterday. Bravo guys!
    And seriously, that orange is like the icing on a beautiful cake.
    Here endeth the sermon….

  • Manx Ryan

    Really cool build, the only two negatives for me are the pipewrap (lets not go into that) and the massive square battery box that I just can’t stop looking at.

    I really like the design of the tail, and I hope there’s enough heat shielding to stop it frying that tail light which is also a neat design too.

    • Andrzej Idkowiak

      battery box will go – just had no time to buy a micro racing cell from usa 🙂

    • Andrzej Idkowiak

      i did 25 km so far – no heat problem, after doing shock rebuild – i feel like a racer – only few moves of screwdriver and it changes everything. Soon movie from the track 🙂

  • Andrzej Idkowiak

    as Wena Customs i would like to thank for your appreciation 🙂 We do care about details to be changed and hopefully we will show you our bike pics from World Championships later in Autumn. For now we have quite nice stock of all rebuilt parts used in Twister project or we can quickly manufacture them. Tail end, or even whole set of tank and tail end welded together, full swingarm monoshock upgrade, shock purchase and rebuild,
    just contact us on info@wenacustoms.com. And please track us on our FB page https://www.facebook.com/WenaCustoms/

    • Andrzej Idkowiak

      we have as well ready CX500 to be done as this one (7 pcs)

  • Jibooz

    The pipes look good but I feel like riding, the heat they produce would make your balls and asscrack sweat so much that they might fuse with leather pants…. Just a thought.

    • Andrzej Idkowiak

      :)))))))