Eighties Overhaul – Free Kustom Cycles CB500
Honda motorcycles CB series is undoubtedly one of the most popular choices for cafe racer conversions. The CB became the world’s first superbike with the production of the legendary CB750 in the late sixties and during the decades that followed Honda recreated the CB in almost every conceivable displacement and engine configuration. Now in 2018 Honda have once again reimagined the CB with the announcement of the “café racer styled” CB1000R Neo Sports Cafe. So how does one even begin to choose which CB to select for their cafe racer?
For Marcos Vazquez of Spain’s Free Kustom Cycles the decision was made easy. After rolling an early nineties Honda CB500f into the Free Kustom workshop its owner gave Marcos the basic brief of converting it into a sleek cafe racer, so that’s exactly what he did.
Rather than sketches or 3D renderings, Marcos likes to build his bikes organically. To do this he tears them down and begins each build with nothing more than his clients request in the back of his mind and his Honda CB500f build was no different.
The teardown quickly revealed what would be the most challenging aspect of the build, leveling out the frame. During the development of the CB500f twin, Honda used both square and round tube sections and a design that slouched in the center. This worked fine with the bikes original bodywork, but not with Marcos cafe racer aesthetics. After cutting away the stock subframe and welding in a much tighter rear loop he set about building a balanced bone line. After trimming triangular sections of steel plate and shaping them to match the forms of the frame he welded them in to bridge the dipped section. The space created beneath the seat then became the ideal location for housing the Honda’s electrical components.
The CB500’s fuel tank posed another problem. It also used a non-traditional design that meant fitting any other tank would be virtually impossible. As a workaround, he cut away the top of the stock tank leaving only the base and sourced a more classically shaped Kawasaki KZ650 tank to merge with it. After removing the KZ tanks base he cut the top section in two and narrowed them to fit straight onto the stock tanks base. The final piece fits perfectly onto the frame without any modification required or the addition of new mounts.
After his success with the Kawasaki tank, Marcos chose to fit the KZ650 tail to the Honda as well. The rear cowl sits over the revised rear loop and is positioned to continue the downward curve of the tank. He then added an LED brake strip to keep things clean and painted the lower half of the tail so that it accentuated the line of the frame. When it came to updating the motorcycles handling he sourced a modern USD Suzuki front end which has been modified to retain the original Honda wheels and brakes. At the rear sits a pair of Harley Davidson Sportster shocks positioned at his desired angle and height using custom mounts integrated into the custom subframe.
High mount clip-on handlebars add to the Hondas cafe racer aesthetic without detracting from riding comfort too drastically and the footpegs have been repositioned to suit. For the exhaust, Marcos has created a custom 2-into-1 system that wears a classic megaphone style muffler. The aftermarket headlight, speedo and tail plate are all held in place by custom-made hardware and the stock airbox was replaced by pod filters.
According to Marcos, the bike is now 200% different from the original in both looks and performance. Despite the eighties not being the CBs best looking years this build by Free Kustom Cycles certainly shows it’s yet another version in the long-running range worthy of cafe racer consideration.
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