“Throughout the process they kept saying, ’Man, you aren’t cutting corners. It’s all top shelf!” smiles Iowa’s Chris Kent. And you’d probably be smiling too, if you could lay claim to handiwork like this. “My wife is from a small town in southern Germany, so by the end of the project, the bike was affectionately named ‘Obersten Regal,’ or ‘Top Shelf‘.”
It’s no coincidence that pilots and bikes go together like jets and turbines. After all, the perfect bike on the perfect road is about a close to flying as you can get without a pilot’s licence. And for Canada’s Nic Kirschner, who’s an airline pilot by trade, there’s nothing better than taking a break from his day job of screaming through the air at high-speed to speed all weekend doing the very same thing, albeit with less hostesses and in-flight movies.
When your work is recognised to be of such a high standard that you’re asked to build a motorcycle for a major custom show, there are really only two choices a builder has. Either you take the safer path and build a bike in a style you’re known for, it’s what got you there in the first place, or you take a swing for the fences trying something you’ve never done before, willing to risk it all in the pursuit of glory. Luckily for those who attended the 6th Annual Art of Speed Show in Kuala Lumpur and those of us who gather here today, Mat Alip and the other fine folks at The Rusty Factory went for option two. From the Malaysian state of Perak they’ve fashioned a plastic maggot like no other, testing their skills and breaking all the rules along the way. Now with a swag of trophies to its name, the story of ‘Fire Ant’ a 1978 Honda CX500 can finally be told.
Consider the humble Honda CX. If ever the Honda Motor Corporation made a bike that perfectly summed up the company and its ethos, this would be it. Impeccably engineered, virtually indestructible and just a little bit dull. In Germany, they call it a ‘Schlammpumpe’ or ‘Slurry Pump’. In English, ‘The Plastic Maggot’. They say that after a nuclear war, the only creatures to survive will be the cockroaches. Well, we’re here to tell you that they’ll all be riding CXs. And one very, very lucky German Cockroach will be rocking this turbo’d bad boy from Essen’s Kingston Customs.
In nature, coloured codes are pretty common. It’s how the planet’s livings thing communicate. Whether you’re trying to attract a mate, protect yourself or spread your DNA, it’s the colours you utilise that will mean the difference between success and failure. And there’s no prizes for guessing that when it comes to things that are red and black all over, it can only mean one thing. Danger. So be it bravery or just complete stupidity, we’ve ventured forth to bring you the story of today’s build, the ‘Just’ Honda Cx500 from Poland’s MichuMoto.
Somewhere in Kobe, Japan, a man named Shoichiro Irimajiri is sitting quietly with a satisfied smile on his face and the sort of grin that says “I told you so”! Not only is he the man behind the legendary Honda CBX Six Cylinder that now commands premium prices by collectors he’s also responsible for the CX500, once derided as the “Plastic Maggot” it’s now the base of some of the very best custom motorcycles built to date. It seems even the good folks in the Honda marketing department knew it might be a while for the potential of the CX to catch on “First into the Future!” was the pitch, but after years as a lowly commuter bike some are taking the Honda to the levels it always deserved. One such company is BBCR Engineering and their latest ride, a 1978 Honda CX500 known as BBCR507, shows the enormous potential that’s always lurked under the maggot’s skin.
If you’re a regular Pipeburn reader, building a custom Honda CX500 might seem like a task that’s easier than not winning the lotto. But don’t let the pixel mirage fool you; it’s actually a really tough gig. You need a steady eye and a solid understanding of proportions to keep the bike from looking like a half-turned transformer. It’s clear not every builder can avoid that pitfall. This highlights why some CX500’s have it, and others just don’t float your metaphorical boat. The trick is to keep the quality high and the lines clean, which just so happens to be exactly what this bike, Josh Deardorff’s One Moto Show entry, did. And how.
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.
For nearly 30 years the Honda CX500 cruised the highways and byways of the world as a poor man’s cruiser, for those who couldn’t shell out the bucks for a Harley Davidson but still wanted the bars up style and the V-Twin heart beat. Then in the last ten years some clever folks around the world took the odd ball Honda, so ugly it was known as the “Plastic Maggot” and started turning them into a stunning line up of customs that just keep getting better. Enter Mathieu Renaud of Mr Motorcycles in Montreal who picked up this 1979 Honda CX500 Custom for the bargain price of just $1000 (Canadian) and put his years of experience in aeronautics into creating one of the cleanest and well put together CX customs we’ve ever seen.
The Honda CX500 has become a staple of the modern Cafe Racer scene, but very few have gone to the lengths that German Heinz Christmann has to make one very special neo-vintage machine. With a ‘79 Japanese bike, plenty of German know how and a cornucopia of the best parts from around the world he’s been able to create a bike that uses pieces as new as carbon fibre and as old as drum brakes. The end result is hard to classify. It’s a Cafe Racer no doubt, but it’s also high on technology while also paying more than a subtle tribute to the race bikes of old. Whatever you want to call it, it’s bloody brilliant.