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Project Café: Motorcycle Classics BikeBandit.com Honda CB500

by Richard Backus


Tags: Honda CB500 build, Honda CB500 project, Motorcycle Classics bike project, BikeBandit bike project, Project Cafe,

1973 Honda CB500-Photo 2 

Motorcycle Classics/BikeBandit.com project bike: A 1973 Honda CB500, ready for the café treatment 

It’s been a long year since we finished our last Motorcycle Classics build, transforming a 1971 Triumph TR6C from semi-derelict into a gleaming thing of beauty. Truth be told, our Triumph came out better than we could have hoped, and after the dust settled we planned to jump into our next build ASAP. Best intentions being, well, best intentions, the build we hoped to start months ago is just now coming together as we plunge into our next pseudo resto project, a 1973 Honda CB500 Four. A CB500? Is that a classic? Absolutely. CB500s are fab bikes, great to look at as well as to ride; although right now ours is fabulously ugly and only kind of running, as you can see in the video we shot and playing on our homepage right now.

But we don't care, 'cause we’re pretty excited about the CB. Dreamers that we are, it’s easy for us to look past the ugly and broken Wixom fairing, the funky four-into-two aftermarket exhaust, the trashed fork gaiters and missing front brake caliper (it’s in a bag somewhere, I hope) and see a super-cool and café’d CB500, which is exactly where we’re going this time.

With the Triumph, save for a few details like the exhaust and carburetion, we tried to preserve as many stock details as we could. But this time around, we’re throwing away the Honda catalog and making up our own mind about what a CB500 should be, and we think it’ll look best getting the café treatment with a teeny little plastic front fender, a solo saddle with tail fairing, a little quarter fairing on the front, bar-end mirrors and a cool set of headers, although we’re still divided on whether they should be chrome or flat black.

Of course, our decision is helped by the fact that restoring a ratty old CB500 like ours to full stock is, as an investment, a losing proposition: A factory exhaust system – assuming we could find one – would probably cost more than the bike’s worth. So it’s not exactly a blue chip investment, but that’s part of the appeal, because we plan on riding the thing plenty once we’re done, and doing it our way, we won’t have to worry about splattering a newly repainted frame with road grime or dinging up a perfectly preserved set of pipes with rocks thrown up by the front tire. Like we did with the Triumph, we'll source our parts from the suppliers who advertise in the magazine, although this time the folks at BikeBandit stepped up with an enticing offer to be our exclusive sponsor, promising us that if they don't show what we need on their extensive web site, they'll find it for us.

When we’re done, we’re figuring on having a good running, fun, cheap, easy-to-own classic that’ll draw stares with its good looks and make us smile when we ride it. Which, when you think about it, is what old bikes are all about. Look for our first update on our Honda Café Build in the November/December 2008 issue of Motorcycle Classics. – Richard Backus 

efrem
1/11/2010 10:44:18 AM

great project bike. i just got the same exact bike of my own without the faring. its my CB500-into-GB500 project. adding a GB gauges, tank, seat, and custom exhaust. speaking of which, do you know the GB500 upper triple will drop onto the 73 cb500? i'll post pics when i'm done. thanks and keep up the building and riding efrem


henk
3/21/2009 12:45:07 PM

I have a '72 CB 500. back in the day when it ran I had a 4 into 2 Dustall exhaust talk about a great sound. Still have the header pipe but no mufflers. it always ran sweet and for as small as it is it ran fast and it could take a beating. anxious to see some pics of the cafe project.


shaun donovan_1
2/6/2009 8:38:36 AM

I wrote this yesterday but I'm not sure that it got through.Iam so pleased you are paying attention to a much deserved classic. I rode mine through the 70s in the UK. I'll never forget the wonderful sound..so much nicer than the 750/4. Please reconsider the 4 into 1 exhausts in favour of the 4 into 4 originals they made the 500/4 what it was, "a beatiful bike". If you are not keeping that distinc tank go for a polished alloy racing tank and single seat. You could of course go for a Hailwood Honda look, but it has been done so many times before with varing degrees of success.Again please keep the 4 pipes don't loose the image. Yours sincerely watching Shaun Donovan.


ray bligh
12/17/2008 7:12:19 PM

A great idea. Cafe Racers are a up and coming part of the classic motorcycle scene.Giving more press to these builds is a great idea. I am reading and listening to you. Thanks for all the great stuff! Ray Bligh


jim larsen
11/1/2008 8:15:23 PM

I also build Cafe's Like this one CB400F I'll be adding a pic of it very soon. It's a bad ass Bumble Bee


stu
10/30/2008 12:10:57 PM

Looking forward to the build. I had my '71 CB500 at the Bonneville show in '07 and it managed to win it's class. Now I am building a '73 as a cafe bike, so I will be following your project with great interest and hope to have both bikes at Bonneville in '09.


stu
10/30/2008 12:10:19 PM

Looking forward to the build. I had my '71 CB500 at the Bonneville show in '07 and it managed to win it's class. Now I am building a '73 as a cafe bike, so I will be following your project with great interest and hope to have both bikes at Bonneville in '09.


terry nixon
10/8/2008 10:13:18 PM

I bought your bike's twin brother in June--right down to the broken Wixom fairing, engine guard, and 4-into-2 exhaust--but I got a front caliper and a PADDED backrest. I'm part-way through the reassembly after painting the bare frame, and I still need to paint the bodywork, but I await your series with great interest.


richard backus
9/9/2008 3:57:27 PM

Good idea on adding cafe's to the class structure, Randy. Too late now, 'cause we already made up all our awards, but you can count on that being a class in next year's shows. Plus, by then we'll have our CB build done and be able to show it off. Thanks for the great idea. Richard Backus/Motorcycle Classics


jim_1
9/5/2008 11:49:17 AM

Sounds like a great project. I can't wait to read about it. Same comments from me on bikebandit.com. I buy all my motorcycle parts (and atv parts) from them. Fast delivery and great service.


jim_1
9/5/2008 11:48:37 AM

Sounds like a great project. I can't wait to read about it. Same comments from me on bikebandit.com. I buy all my motorcycle parts (and atv parts) from them. Fast delivery and great service.


randy brown
8/29/2008 7:21:42 PM

Great idea, converting that Honda to cafe. I can't wait to see the results. Now that you're building one, how about adding a "cafe" class to the motorcycle shows you are sponsoring at Bonneville and in Birmingham??


tim_1
8/29/2008 8:09:04 AM

Sounds like a fantastic project! My first bike was a 1973 CB500K - loved it and went to the slightly improved but less classic CB550F. All of us at www.DOTHETON.com will be watching with great interest! Visit us for some great cafe racer ideas.


paul ignatowski
8/28/2008 10:40:39 PM

Nice choice gentlemen---an Everyman project. Though I appreciate stories of bikes I can only dream of, it will be great to watch your down to earth and more generally accessible project take shape. Also glad to see Bike Bandit step up. IMHO they are the top-shelf parts and access. provider on the web in terms of not only web interface, but real live human phone service as well.