Project Café: 1973 Honda CB500, Part 7

It's finished!

| January/February 2010

Funny how fast a year can fly by. That’s how long it’s been since we penned our first report on our 1973 Honda CB500 Project Café. And while it’s taken longer than we planned, we think the results were worth waiting for.

As we unscrewed those first bolts a year ago, tossing worn out parts into the scrap bin, taking notes of the pieces that would need rebuilding — just about all of them — and carefully tagging and bagging all the bits to make sure we knew where they went, we were more than a little naïve about what we’d really gotten ourselves into.

Our little bike-building odyssey started with a simple idea; take a tired old bike and make it into something new. We chose our CB500 because these little fours from Honda, while still plentiful, haven’t moved very high on the collectibility scale. In other words, they’re affordable. They’re also excellent motorcycles, well made, hugely reliable and still relatively easy to get parts for.

Sure, body hardware’s getting hard to find, and stock exhaust systems are pretty much unobtainium, but we weren’t interested in a stock rebuild. Instead, we wanted to wed a little experimentation and interpretation with a bike we think has appreciating classic appeal, and see what would happen.

The café approach struck us as the best simply because we figured it would be fun. We planned to do some gentle massaging on the intake and exhaust for a throatier sound, refresh the suspension, and add custom wheels and new tires for a better ride. Then we’d give it some style with a custom seat and cool paint to flesh it all out. Thus was born Project Café.

And so it begins

Our first day with the CB was probably our worst. That’s when we discovered just what we’d really bought. Electrical issues including corroded plug wires and trashed ignition coils meant we couldn’t even start it, but a call to Jeff Saunders at Z1 Enterprises got us going in the right direction, as Jeff shared with us his extensive knowledge of the breed and old bikes in general. After adding a new pair of coils (with wires and plug caps) our little CB actually ran. Well, sort of, but enough to get us to the next step in the process.

Brett Hanson_4
1/2/2010 8:22:26 AM

Nice build, it's refreshing to see something other than a CB750 built into a cafe style bike. Because of your article, I will be utilizing some of the resources for my bike. I am currently bringing a '73 CB500 Four back from the dead also, and am curious to read your findings on what modifications were done because of the K&N filters and Mac exhaust combination.

Brett Hanson_4
12/25/2009 12:28:26 PM

Looks fantastic. Doing a CB500 myself, hoping to read some carb specs soon.

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