Garage Project #7 - “Morning Wood” CX500 Café Racer
As seen on …
We were contacted by a photographer in Adelaide who wanted us to build him a cool bike to help promote his business. He wanted something small, narrow and dark like a SR400/500. Somehow we agreed on a CX500 which is none of those things. We sourced the bike and he paid for it and then DISASTER….he was suddenly out of work and had to cancel the project. I listed the bike on Perth Street Bikes and James came and had a look at it and asked us to turn it into a Cafe Racer for him.
I’ve always thought that the CX in all it’s forms was one of the ugliest bikes ever made and never saw the appeal. Since it’s been in my possession and riding around on it, I really quite like it and can’t wait to finish this project so James can join the other Perth Cafe Racer members Brock , Irwan and Jason on their CX500’s.
This project is going to be quite challenging for a couple of reasons.
- As mentioned, the bike is damn ugly.
- The budget for the build is miniscule.
Apart from waiting on a parts from the US for Al’s CB550 Cafe Racer, we’ve got GPM#6 “Gunda” the CB500 Street Tracker, GPM#5 a CB750 brat and GPM#8 a SR250 Brat that are all under construction at the moment. There simply wasn’t enough time or space for us to take this project on so I asked Brett at Hand Made Vintage Kustoms for a favour and he agreed to let me use some space and as I’m a spaz with the tools, Brett will do any fabricating and slap me when I do something wrong. This is a collaborative build between us and Hand Made Vintage Kustoms.
I was really looking forward to building something that would get onto my top 6 CX’s list but I doubt very much it’s going to happen with this budget. We don’t have the budget to take the engine out and paint it or paint the frame or even the bodywork so we’re going for a very mono-tone natural/raw look that is similar to the recently silver powdercoated wheels, frame, forks etc. We’ll break up the metal/silver look with a nice custom brown leather seat and grips.
We don’t have any real “inspiration bikes” for this build but to give you an idea, here are a few links to similar bikes.
One thing we have on our side is the bike is VERY tidy and won’t need any engine work or replace any defective parts. It should be a simple “take stock parts off and replace with cafe parts build” with a few nice custom fabricated parts to make it unique.
We’re hoping to have it done in a month working a few hours a week.
Here is the bike before we started.
Early July 2012
On Tuesday I stripped it down in a couple of hours.
We picked up the CX500 Custom tank from Two Wheel Wreckers and fitted it to the bike to see what it looked like. Looks much better as it lowers the profile, takes some visual weight off the bike and most importantly the cylinders sticking out the sides are far more visible.
Had a bit of a win with the tank as it didn’t come with a key but the key for the bike opened the tank. I’m told that might be the case with tanks but it felt like a win!
The tank isn’t a straight fit. A bracket will have to be fabricated for the both the front and the back to make it work.
Parts have started to arrive and I bought a raw hide today and will stain it and treat it ready for the upholsterer next week. The seat is one area on the CX that is rarely done well in my opinion. The only ones I like are the solo seat on the wrenchmonkees bike and long flat seat on the Moto Mucci CX’s. We have to build a seat to accomodate a pillion and James doesn’t want a flat seat, he prefers a cafe style seat similar to what is on GPM#2. This is going to be a massive challenge but if we can succeed then we’re halfway there with this build.
Mid July 2012
Today Brett took the grinder to the frame and chopped off about 50mm from the back and then lopped the brace off and modified the rear inner guard.
After Brett had cut all the crap off, I mocked up a seat base and a profile to see if my idea was going to work. I put a 50mm chock under the back of the tank to lift it a bit and it really helped the lines. The CX has heaps of ground clearance and sits much higher at the front so we’ll drop the forks through the triple clamp about 30mm. It’ll improve the lines and give it a more aggressive stance and help with the handling.
Will make the seat template tomorrow and visit the upholsterer during the week.
Late October 2012
Things have not gone anywhere near as quickly as we had hoped. Brett from HMVK had a bike show that he needed to finish a couple of bikes for, I had to work interstate for a couple of months and we’ve wracked our brains trying to work out how to get the seat to look good.
The notoriously difficult to work with CX rear frame has been causing us headache upon headache.
Originally we were asked to build a seat with a cafe racer hump which allowed a pillion to hitch a ride. It didn’t prove to be a deal breaker so we set out to make a single seat.
^That comes off a pocket bike. Brett used it as inspiration to fabricate this…
That looked the goods but couldn’t work out how to attach it to the bike so we lopped off the pressed steel part and fab a new bracket.
We’ve also given up on the idea of loooooong reverse cones due to budgetary restrictions and just slipped on some HD mufflers. Will look good when finished.
Nearly there. The tail unit and seat is done. The rear shock mounts proved difficult (as has everything on this bike) and have been completed. We are hoping that under its own weight that it won’t upset the lines we’ve worked hard to get.
Mid Jan 2013
The bike is finished and we took it to Leederville for a photo shoot with fellow Perth Cafe Racer member Scott G Trenorden.
You’ll see those pics here but probably after you see them on a couple of other blogs (and maybe a magazine) :)
Until then I’ll give you an update on what happend since November and show you some of the pics I took. I’d just like to apologise to the professional photographers who view these pics. I have no idea what I’m doing…as you can tell.
The thing that kept bugging us was how we were going to mount the number plate. James wanted a street legal bike so we had to mount it off the back somehow. We thought about a hugger [seen below]
I liked it but Brett hated it so we scrapped it and came up with a fender that will bolt onto the back of the tail piece just under the tail light.
The next problem encountered was this CX had air valves on the forks and somehow, someone for some reason had removed the valves and now the shocks were too soft. We’ve sourced new ones but in the meantime plugged them with bolts which can be seen bottom right hand corner of this pic below.
After that it was just a matter of painting the exhausts and sidecovers, wrapping the pipes and finishing the electrics.
This bike took far longer than we expected to build because it threw up a lot more challenges than your standard flat framed CB etc
It’s a shame that James now has to sell it to fund other parts of his life. Part of the enjoyment of buiding a bike is seeing the owner enjoy the creation and hopefully come for a ride with us. That opportunity is open to others now so if you are interested contact me or Brett to organise a test ride.
In the meantime here are some shots from the shakedown ride.
^See the steam coming off the pipe wrap.
^Hand Made Vintage Kustoms really made their mark on this bike.
^You know whats coming….
maybe later :)