BACK TO BASICS: Honda CX500 by Kaspeed
Written by Martin Hodgson
In any rapidly changing environment that experiences enormous growth in a short period of time, it’s easy to lose sight of the fundamentals. A true cafe racer was never meant to be a rolling showcase of the industry’s most expensive components in a stationary automotive sculpture. So taking things back to basics, Germany’s Kaspeed craft clever customs that are riders bikes first and foremost. Simplifying and improving every area of the motorcycle until like this 1980 Honda CX500 it’s ready to put an enormous smile on its new owner’s dial.
Located in Saxony the team of mechanic father and his two sons, one a mechanical engineer with race experience and the other a technical model designer for the car industry, they bring a quality over quantity approach to everything they do. As Jimmy tells us, the goal for the CX500 was to build a “bespoke classic Cafe Racer, keeping the original look and feel, upgraded with modern components and reduced to the essentials as they did in the ’60s and ’70s”.
To do things right the donor bike was stripped down so that every last component could be inspected and the meticulous build commenced. The subframe has been modified to give a smooth transition into the new looped tail. Before the chassis and shaft-drive equipped swingarm were tidied up and given a dusting of black powder coat. Unlike most CX builds the bike retains the factory side covers, with a body worked till beautiful stock tank and custom made tail hump.
These pieces are all treated to a brilliantly laid down black gloss paint job with gold race numbers to break up the panels. While a custom built aluminium front fender with a fabricated mount is of a similar style to the factory piece without any of the weight. To give the rider a perfect place to call home a generously padded leather seat is contrasted with white stitching. While a small black headlight and tiny multi purpose Kellermann LED indicators and taillight finish off the classic and clean look.
Helping the near 40 year old bike handle means a good deal of time has been spent refurbishing the front suspension back to as new condition. But the cheap factory shocks can’t be improved, so a set of fully adjustable YSS units get the call up. Following the theme of using modern components to improve the bike’s weakest areas, a modern master cylinder with LSL reservoir provides power to the front brakes. With braided stainless steel lines ensuring there is no heart stop spongey feel when you grab a handful of lever.
The CX500 engine is almost bulletproof, having proven both a capable tourer and courier bike in its day. But there are a few weak spots in the engine that are best addressed when things are apart and along with a thorough service it’s all bolted back together with a lick of silver paint and custom engraved logos. The carbs suck air from the stock box for smooth operation while stainless factory style headers match up with LeoVince Classic Racer mufflers for a beautiful sound.
The controls are as classic as they come, with a pair of clubman bars straight from the ton-up era held in the factory top yoke. The ugly box that is the stock instrument panel is tossed aside and in its place is a pair of stunning retro-styled Koso dual gauges. But its the rare as hen’s teeth factory switch blocks in picture perfect condition that will have many a CX owner jealous. Finishing out the control centre is a pair of bar end mirrors and brand new blacked out levers.
To get the bike road legal and TUV approved meant finding a home for the license plate and Jimmy and the crew didn’t want to disturb the neat lines of the cafe tail. So the solution they came up with is a Ducati Diavel like side-mounted holder that suspends the plate over the rear wheel like a mini fender. It’s all these neat little touches that come from over 200hrs of work time at Kaspeed, to deliver a clean and classic CX500. “We’ve already delivered the bike back to its owner, who is ‘fully pleased’ with the result.” And no doubt his smile will only widen when he twists the throttle and heads for the ton.