1983 Honda CX650 Turbo

T is for Turbo

| May/June 2009

Honda CX650 Turbo
Years produced:
Claimed power: 100hp @ 8,000rpm
Top speed: 140.4mph (period test)
Engine type: 674cc OHV, turbo-charged, liquid-cooled 80-degree V-twin
Weight (wet): 260.5kg (573lb)
Price then: $4,998
Price now: $4,000-$6,000
MPG: 45.8mpg (period test)

In 1983, turbocharging was the wave of the motorcycle future. And while the Honda CX650 Turbo was arguably the best of the turbocharged motorcycles that roared onto roads in the early Eighties, it is now one of the rarest production Hondas ever, with only 1,777 built and fewer than 1,200 imported to the U.S. and Canada.

Remember the late 1970s? Relatively high gas prices combined with general affluence spawned a large market for motorcycles, especially middleweight bikes that could be used to get to work or school and for short distance touring. Motorcyclists were generally younger than they are now, and interested in power, speed, and the new and the different.

But there were clouds on the horizon. Growing concern about pollution and safety had governments increasingly regulating motor vehicles; but we weren’t too worried. Technology was king, and we thought technology would give us socially conscious but exciting motorcycles — bikes that were quiet but still an absolute thrill to ride. Bikes that, despite being pollution free, would blast past everything on the road.

Looking for the new dawn
Although Honda was the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer in the 1970s, the company was very conscious of competitors breathing down its neck, and it was looking for ways to stay ahead of the pack. One way to do this was to stay ahead of the technological curve.

In 1978, Honda introduced the CX500, a bike it said was designed to be quiet, efficient, low emission and maintenance free. In fact, when the CX500 was first conceived, it was intended to appeal to women. The CX had a 4-valve-per-cylinder, pushrod operated V-twin engine, shaft drive, a 5-speed gearbox, water cooling and Honda’s new ComStar wheels shod with tubeless tires — the first tubeless tires designed for a production motorcycle.

Tim Kern
4/21/2011 4:01:23 PM

Well, if Honda thought that a 600 lb (wet), high-CG, high seat bike would be good for women just because it was slow, they must have been working to Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) specs! Also, when you say that the cure for a busted starter clutch (or sagged starter clutch springs) is "any CX500 starter motor with four Phillips head screws in the center, " and represents "a permanent fix," you do mean, after you fix the starter clutch, right?

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