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Incredible Custom Work by Cafe Racer Garage Turns 40-Year-Old Honda CX500 Into Cool Scrambler

The Honda CX500 debuted in the late 70s and was manufactured into the early 1980s. Featuring a 497cc transversely-mounted v-twin making 50 horsepower, it would eventually develop somewhat of a cult following.

Although there are plenty of customs featuring a CX500 engine, we were really struck when we saw the video below where Cafe Racer Garage strips, rebuilds and transforms a CX500 into a very cool scrambler. The video is worth your time. Trust me.


  1. Mr.Mike says:

    This is a great illustration of how much effort, attention to detail and craftsmanship goes into even basic customization that doesn’t include frequent CX-500 changes such as monoshock, spoked wheels and front end upgrade.

  2. Rhinestone Kawboy says:

    Well Dirck, I guess your idea of a “cool scrambler” is much different than mine. No side panels or rear fender, fairly flat handlebars, low exhaust apparently, no doubt an uncomfortable seat after a limited amount of miles etc. Whatever, to each their own, I guess.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      I got carried away with the craftsmanship displayed by the builder, which is really impressive IMO.

  3. ORT says:

    Too weird for me but I once owned a GL500I and liked it very much. Would that Honda would resurrect that model as a 650 with hydraulic lifters and auto-cam chain tensioner, 6 gallon tank, triple disc brakes with ABS and a more than reasonable price.

    And do NOT put the stator and water pump deep inside the motor. Fooking idiot engineers did not learn from the original GL1000 just how stupid that was. That or they thought it revenge of the Japanese Nerds?


  4. Artem says:

    No. As always, I’ll put 883 around chickens and rooster. They will hold it. May be some shit. During the winter

  5. viktor92 says:

    I don’t like at all the style of the bike, but the level of craftsmanship is really amazing.

  6. dt 175 says:

    good skills, hard not to see the massive airbox void, nice camera work/placement, still just a cx 500. i wanna see him turn the next one sideways and make it chain drive.

  7. Roadrash1 says:

    Almost 30 years ago, I found an ‘81 CX500. I took the ugly bars off it, installed clip-Ins, painted the tank and side panels, and had a fun summer on it. It was slow though, and I finally had enough $ to start buying new bikes again. My first after selling the CX500 to a grateful young man, was a new 1997 YZF600R. I had a lot more fun on that bike. And even rode it, with my GF, to the site I proposed.

  8. joe b says:

    Being a Honda line tech when these were popular, and knowing the problems that this engine had, I tried to see if the engine # had the correct ID marks, indicating all updates were performed, I could not. I would have at least pulled the back cover off, for inspection, and replacement of any of the cam chain items, that were necessary. this engine had 3 recalls. the fan came loose on its boss, and when new was quiet as a mouse, at 2-3k miles it would develop a tick, not to be confused with cam chain noise. Besides some earlier years having bad ignition pickups, water pump seals leaking or stators frying, all needing rear cover removal, and engine R&R, I like this engine. I have a project like this, I doubt I will ever finish, with a CXTC single shock frame, and GL wire rear wheel, maybe someday. This person is an artist, craftsman, and a very good one, better than me. I also have a CXTC that is stock, and it just sits these days.

    • Grover says:

      My second bike was a 1979 CX500 and it was utterly reliable. None of the issues you mention. I agree that it was slow and the main reason I wouldn’t choose one to turn into a cafe racer. It does look Moto-guzzish with the cylinder arrangement, but it’s still a dog with a mediocre suspension.

      • joe b says:

        I’m not saying your bike has them all. I was saying Honda had recalls on those items. If your bike was a ’79, that was 3 years later after they first came out in late ’77, and by then those issues were well known, improvements were in your machine when you bought it. As a line tech, I saw all the issues of the early models. Knowing what they were, I would have at least gone in and installed a new cam chain. The chain stretches, as all chains do, and the cam timing retards itself. With a new chain, and any other issues addressed, it would idle better, run better. That yours was not a TC, and only 500cc, and possibly its cam chain had also stretched, was your reason to think it was slow. I’m only guessing, from experience. imho

  9. Morgan says:

    Wait… that’s it?

  10. Mick says:

    The guy is quite talented. I really like the practicality of the build. He made a little storage area, a nice seat latch and even a luggage rack.

    I wonder what happens to the bikes that he builds. This is clearly his hobby. Do these bikes just stack up somewhere? Or does he sell them off? I don’t think he could make much of a return on the bike. That’s OK because it his hobby. Maybe he keeps the for a while and sells them after he feels he has gotten his use from them so the pain of the sale isn’t so bad.

    He didn’t seem to make much of an effort the lighten the bike. But I am curious about the before and after weight.

    • Grover says:

      There are builders and there are riders. Builders would rather move on to their next project and build rather than ride. Same thing happens in the experimental aircraft hobby. They build an airplane, put a few hours on it and move on to the next build. And that’s OK as it supplies flyers and riders with interesting machines to fly and ride.

      • Gary in NJ says:

        I have an aircraft build (RV-6) and many bike builds behind me. Yes, the enjoyment is in the planning and execution. Getting to fly/ride the finished project is just the bonus. I miss everything I’ve built and always hope they are giving their new owners as much joy as they gave me.

  11. Nick says:

    Very impressive skills, but you have to ask how the riding experience differs from that of the original? It’s not as if the result is eye-catching either, unlike his lady companion of whom we see too little. Why did he do it? Just because he can.

  12. John A Kuzmenko says:

    I worked with a guy who took a CX500 engine and built a homemade tractor with it.

  13. todd says:

    Tremendous amount of effort where most people just buy stuff from a catalog – or just buy a new Triumph.

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