Riverside Projects CX500
By James McCombe - 20 Apr 15
Hurtling round the congested streets of London in the middle of winter, over-sized crates strapped to the back of their 'Plastic Maggots', the dispatch riders of the '80s and '90s gave zero consideration to the way their rides looked. Instead, their lives were purely about function; reliability, load carrying ability, warm hands and of course, where to keep your tabs dry. Those veterans of delivery must now look on in disbelief at how their trusty old steeds are treated. Preened, polished and fettled, the 'poor man's Guzzi' is now considered in a completely different light to just a decade ago. Even in Lithuania, one of those countries that said rider may have struggled to point out on a map, the love for the CX500 knows no bounds. But Eigintas Aleksandravicius and his buddy Vytautas just see the CX as another unloved bike waiting for it's potential to be released. A 27 year old sociology and law major hailing from Kaunus, the second city of Lithuania, Eigintas doesn't have any technical training but nevertheless, likes nothing better than getting his hands dirty in the garage. His day job as a real estate manager, affords him more than enough time to plan modifications and the next steps for his builds. Having worked on various car projects, Eigintas had always admired motorcycles from afar. With neither the permission, nor opportunity to swing a leg over, no amount of asking would change his parent's mind and the idea was pushed to the back of his mind. Then, in 2012, as the 'New Wave' scene was finding it's feet, the appearance of handsome low slung cafe racers sparked the embers back into life. Even without a motorcycle licence, a first bike was bought in 2013, taking advantage of the useful currency rates, he shipped a 1979 Honda CB650 over from the UK. But before teeth could be firmly sunk into his own project, a friend approached with the idea for a CX500 Cafe/Brat. And with zero consideration, Eigintas said yes. Taking on both his own and a client's project, soon brought on the realization of the amount of work required and the rapidity with with weekends disappeared. To keep the build on schedule and the client happy, Eigintas hopped over the fence and talked to his neighbour Vytautas. With the wisdom and experience of many years on his side, and a garage full of old Russian bikes, he was the perfect accomplice and between the two of them the CX build soon took off. Countless hours spent looking at builds on YouTube and Facebook provided much inspiration. Having fallen in love with the culture and the one of a kind builds, the idea that they could have something that no one else has, and it be built with their own hands was hugely appealing. With the opportunity, timing and teamwork all aligning, 'Riverside Customs' was christened. The client and the bike came from Denmark, the CX500 of a 1981 vintage, was shipped over to the Riverside workshop. Eigintas was well aware of the 'difficulties' around the the CX500 seat and subframe so the main priority was to clean up the rear of the bike as much as possible and create a new buttock perch which worked better with the stock tank. Lifting the rear of the tank by 30mm created a far more pleasing relationship 'twixt the two items, a new fibreglass seat pan clad in fluted vinyl has exceptionally neat stitching on display. Many man hours were spent on getting the rear mudguard 'just right'. Fabricated in house, it tucks up under the rear loop, easily removed with a single fastener. Eigintas wanted to make sure all the modifications to the bike fitted and could be taken off with ease; no awkward to reach allen bolts or dodgy brackets here. Swapping out the indicators, front and rear lights, speedo and mufflers all required thought. The existing headers were tweaked to swing the reverse cones upwards slightly before being clad in black pipe wrap. As with the multiple iterations of the seat pan, the tank took a few attempts at being painted before the guys were happy with the result. Ever learning, the final finish of the vibrant red is free of orange peel and shows the benefit of patience and practice. Virtually every item on the bike was refurbished; pulled apart, blasted and then powder-coated or painted. Eigintas discovering new knowledge and techniques along the way. The resultant Brat-Cafe hybrid is clean, simple and effective. As a first build it's been a steep learning curve but the final result speaks for itself. The original Honda logo on the tank was left intentionally, a sign of respect for the original engineers who worked so hard. Did they ever imagine their work-a-day bikes would be rejuvinated in such a manner? Riverside's client is on his way to collect the bike, with a well proportioned ride back it should give plenty of time for man and machine to bond. For Eigintas and Vytautas the work is just beginning; the experimental CB650 is nearly complete and a CM400 cafe, XR600 tracker and CX500 scrambler are already in the build queue. The guys are also negotiating on a single cylinder Harley project and a Bonneville SE as well, so it's fair to say they're well on their way. Be sure to keep an eye on Riverside updates via their Facebook page, it sounds like there will be quite the update soon!