Richard's Yard-built CX500
By Anthony van Someren - 02 Oct 13
I saw this Honda CX500 at the Distinguished gentleman's Ride in London this last Sunday, and wherever it went it drew positive comments and got loads of attention - and considering it was in the company of 300+ bikes, most of them customised in some way - that's quite an achievement. However, the owner, Richard, has a very modest view of his bike and was pretty surprised that we wanted to run a feature. When you look at this build properly, and see the work that's gone into rebuilding the whole rear end, it's clear this is no quick & dirty brat-style build, and even more remarkable is that it really is a kitchen/bathroom/yard build worthy of a pro workshop. Few people have any love the "plastic maggot", but this bike is something else. "There’s no heartwarming back-story to this build I’m afraid. I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for CXs since seeing them being thrashed around London as courier hacks when I a youngster, so when I was looking for something dirt cheap, and more importantly reliable to commute into London, I started looking out for a low mileage example." "I bought the bike as an unfinished cafe project in spring this year with the intention of turning it around quickly to use over the summer. However the more I got into it the more redoing of the previous owners work was necessary, so what was initially supposed to be a rolling project turned into a 5 month odyssey fitted around work and waiting for weather windows to get out on the patio." "I had a pretty exact idea of how I wanted the bike to come out before I bought it. I wanted people to give the bike a double take by making the bike look older than it is, so have used a mix of Brit bike parts, like the Vincent handlebars and Lucas headlight. I also mounted a bicycle speedo in an ammeter shell. I made a BSA style flat seat and then went for the retro Fiat 'YeYe Green' paint scheme." "I had the rear loop fabricated, but apart from that I was really keen to carry out all the work myself, which included extensive frame mods, as well as fabricating and upholstering the seat and the paintwork (in my bathroom). I’ve lightly restored a few bikes, cars and scooters before but this is the first time I’ve tried any real customising." "To me the main shortcomings of the CX that people go on (and on!) about are it’s looks, weight and performance – I wanted to try and make improvements in all these areas... The tank is the only original piece of bodywork left on the bike, there’s no more plastic on this maggot! Also cutting off the pressed rear frame section meant the seat wasn’t dictated by the ugly bump where the shock mounts would usually fit." "I’ve taken every superfluous part off the machine to cut down on weight. Losing the heavy original exhaust system for simple headers and shorty mufflers provided the biggest weight saving, doing this also meant I could move the battery under the engine." "The stock problematic Keihin carbs have been replaced by flat side Mikunis, which were developed by US CX forum member Murray Feldman. These were by far the biggest expense on the build, it’s never going to be race rocket but the difference in performance is night and day!" "Once I came to terms with the fact that the bike wouldn’t be ready for the summer I set the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride as my next target... It got it's MOT with days to spare. Sunday was the first big run I’ve had on it, and I have to say I was totally overwhelmed with the unexpected positive feedback I had from people." When we post this up bike on Facebook I'm sure the comments will be as polarised as they usually are, but having seen this bike in the flesh all I can say is; in our opinion, this is a clean, stylish and cool-looking ride, with the added bonus that it'll start on the button every single day of the week. What more could anyone ask for? Great work Richard.