The Honda CX500
(Page 2 of 4)
To help lower the center of gravity, the counter-rotating (to fight the longitudinally-mounted engine’s twist under power) five-speed transmission was located just below and to the right of the engine. All of this was hung as a stressed unit from a spine frame, supported by standard telescopic forks at front and adjustable shocks at rear. Importantly, the CX500 was the first production bike equipped with tubeless tires.
Goes better than it looks
Response from the press was mixed. With its huge 4.9gal tank and big cylinders hanging out in the wind, testers found themselves less than excited about Honda’s revolutionary twin. In a February 1978 review Cycle Guide editors said, “Our first look at the machine was quite a letdown,” while Cycle World singled out the CX's engine, saying it “looks like an air compressor.”
But once they climbed on board, criticism turned to praise for the bike’s smooth suspension and excellent handling. “We must consider the CX500’s handling as excellent,” Cycle Guide said, while Cycle’s May 1978 issue praised it for its excellent ground clearance and responsiveness, calling the bike’s steering “wonderfully neutral and light, it seems almost to sense your desire to make slight course corrections.”
Buyers were a bit skeptical at first, and early problems with the cam chain tensioner and alternator probably didn’t help fire CX500 sales. But Honda stuck to the model, and as time ticked on the CX500 built a loyal following of owners, many using the twin as a long-haul touring machine or daily commuter.
In 1979 the Honda CX500 lineup was expanded to three with the addition of the Custom and Deluxe models, which proved so popular the standard model illustrated here was dropped in 1980. 1981 saw the addition of the Silver Wing and Silver Wing Interstate, featuring a rear-mounted accessory box on the former and a full factory-made fairing on the latter, while 1982 saw the introduction of the baddest CX500 of them all, the 82hp CX500T turbo.
The CX’s last hurrah came with the uprated 650cc CX650 in 1983 (a 97hp turbo was also offered), after which it was dropped to make way for Honda’s new line of liquid-cooled V4s, which were yet another in a string of pioneering motorcycles from Honda.
Overall, the CX500 was a good seller for Honda, and a well-earned reputation for being bulletproof means the CX survival rate is high, so there are still plenty of good examples out there. Almost all bikes will have had the timing chain tensioner fixed (three punch marks in a triangle next to the engine’s serial number confirm the fix was done), and aside from that, the biggest issues are dirty cooling systems and improperly adjusted valves, which had a tendency to go out of spec quickly, especially on early models.