Honda CX500 Turbo

The Honda CX500 Turbo was Honda’s ultimate weapon in the ‘80s war for the motorcycle market.

| November/December 2013

1982 Honda CX500TC
Claimed power:
82hp @ 8,000rpm 
Top Speed: 121mph (period test)
Engine: 497cc liquid-cooled OHV 80-degree V-twin, 78mm x 52mm bore and stroke, 7.1:1 compression ratio
Weight (w/half tank fuel): 571lb (260kg) 
Fuel capacity/MPG:
5.3gal (20ltr)/ 35-50mpg
Price then/now: $4,898/$4,500-$7,500

At some point in the summer, you may start to notice that the sunlight is fading earlier, that the evenings are becoming cooler. You might think about your mental list of things to do while the weather is warm and realize that you didn’t do half of them. You might decide that it is time to catch up.

Many of the motorcyclists born right after World War II were entering the summer of their lives in the 1970s, and by the early Eighties many of them were beginning to feel a chill in the air. Some decided to indulge in one last hurrah before settling down and raising a family. Some went out and bought a Honda CX500 Turbo.

When it was introduced in 1982, the CX500 Turbo was — and still is — one of the most futuristic motorcycles ever made. It not only featured turbocharging — ramming extra fuel/air mix into the engine to increase horsepower — but also computer control of the turbocharging, fuel injection, ignition and numerous other advanced features. It was not only a technological feat, but a technological feat in a beautifully crafted package.

The CX Turbo was not happenstance, but a direct response to other currents shaping the market in the early 1980s. Yamaha was battling Honda for supremacy in the motorcycle market, and Honda was fighting back. Honda management decided to show the world that the company was capable of a design and engineering feat that was far ahead of what any presumptuous rivals could do. That showpiece was the CX500 Turbo.

Normally, Honda exhibited new motorcycles to the press only when the development work had been completed and the bike was almost ready for sale. Although nowhere near ready for the market, Honda put the CX500 Turbo on display at the 1980 Cologne International Motorcycle Show and afterward had it on exhibit at the Honda Research and Development Center in Tokyo. Match that, Yamaha!

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