Written by Martin Hodgeson
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.
Despite what the movies or books may have you believe about tortured artists, the one real killer of great creative ideas is more often than not the disease of over thinking. Forget writer’s block, drugs or a clichéd battle with sanity; we’d wager that getting caught up in the details to the point where you disappear up your own exhaust pipe is more often than not the cause of art that never sees daylight. And the cure is clear. You should always create without the constrains of self-imposed perfection and intricate planning. Just let things go where they take you. That’s what Germany’s Patrick Sauter did. And the result? It’s a bike worthy of Kerouac himself.
‘Plastic Maggots’ they called them. And all for an unassuming little fairing that some ‘genius’ decided didn’t suit their tastes. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water. Thirty five years later and the Honda CX series’ full potential is only just being realised. With a bullet-proof v-twin, shaft drive, liquid cooling and failsafe electrical system, this is a bike that oozes potential. Just ask the boys who used the bike to take the 500cc pushrod record at Bonneville. Them, and the very talented Josh Mott of JMR Customs.
When it comes to designing a custom bike, everyone has their own way of working. Some like to sketch, others like to use Photoshop, and a brave few will just build from a picture in their head. When Pablo Luzzi from Buenos Aires recently started Utopian Customs he wanted to approach each build in a similar fashion as he does in his day job as an advertising art director. “I prepare a creative brief to serve as a guideline and start developing a concept in accordance to that.” says Pablo. “That’s how I initiated this first project, spending hours making thumbnails and messing with Photoshop until I came up with a comp of the final bike.” Once Pablo had created his perfect ‘comp’ of the finished design, he then had to find the right donor bike to suit the concept – which was made harder by living in Argentina.
Written by Martin Hodgson
When you’re starting your build with a bike colloquially known as the “Flying Maggot” and other nicknames even less flattering the test of a builders skill is going to be put to the maximum test. Lorenzo and Delano both graphic designers with Nozem Amsterdam were more than up to the challenge of turning a maggot into the classy café that sits before you. But with the likes of Wrenchmonkees, Hageman Motorcycles and Moto Mucci already having built incredible examples, making a CX500 stand out from the crowd is increasingly more difficult. And the Nozem boys knew it “The idea was to make a cool, authentic looking CX500, there are a lot of CX500 builds nowadays, so it was a challenge to make the bike stand out.”
Another month and another killer creation from Gelsenkirchen’s Dirk Oehler King and his merry band of men at Kingston Customs. As before, they’ve turned their nimble fingers to a Honda CX500 but this time they’ve taken it in a decidedly different direction. And that direction is mostly a hard left off the bitumen, onto the soft grass and up the nearest embankment. Introducing Kingston’s latest build – an amazing hybrid motorcycle they are calling the CXL500.
After 35 years the CX500 is continuing its second coming and receiving a lot of love from bike builders across the globe. This time, it’s from our German friends at Kingston Customs. Their last build was a stunning stripped down BMW R75/6; to say it was well received would be an understatement. As for the stock Honda CX500, the visually appealing V-twin engine was the saving grace of a bike that was commonly called the “plastic maggot”. Kingston have obviously lost all the plastic fantastic and in true German fashion, have created one of the cleanest and tastefully modified CX500 café racers we have ever seen.
The CX500 has had a bit of a resurgence over the last few years. Bike builders have seen their potential as a low cost donor motorcycle that has a great looking, reliable engine. We’ve seen them transformed into café racers, street trackers and even the odd bobber. But they almost always have one thing in common – Comstar wheels. Thanks to their shaft drive, rear drum set up it makes it very difficult to change the wheels, hence the reason they usually have the stock Comstars on them. So when Jerry Swanson was given his brother-in-law’s non running CX500 ‘parts bike’, changing the wheels was one of the many things he wanted to do. But first, he needed to get the weeds off it.
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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 Andrea. Back 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.
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In my limited and very humble opinion, there are two kinds of Dads in this world; Dads who like motorbikes and Dads that don’t. And although I love my father very much and deeply appreciate his inherited love of all things mechanical, upon telling him that I’d decided to get a bike he told me he thought it was “a bloody stupid idea.” Ouch. Fast forward to now and the vitriol has settled to a feigned disinterest for the most part. And I say“feigned” because every now and then I see a dim twinkle in his eye as he asks me a question about shaft drive versus chain drive, or air cooled versus water cooled. It’s as if he’s holding himself back from getting enthusiastic about the machine because he doesn’t want to encourage me. Which, as a very long way around the block to visit your neighbour, brings us to Garret Dietz and his Dad. See, G’s lucky enough to have a Dad that falls firmly in the “likes bikes” pile. Hmmm. I wonder if he’d swap for a month or two? The time would fly by once he really got into my new build…
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