Honda CX500 Cafe Racer

Honda’s journey into the world of 90-degree v-twins may have only be a short one, but their CX500 still gains plenty of attention 30 years on. I find it’s popularity in the custom scene surprising since I’m not a huge fan of the old “plastic maggot”, yet I keep stumbling across these great looking CXs. This CX Cafe Racer conversion landed in my inbox via my bike submissions page and I knew I’d have to share it with you all. Hailing from Poland this ’81 Honda CX500 based Cafe Racer is the work of Michal Groniewski. Despite the lack of other enthusiasts and local resources, he’s built himself a stunning bike in a touch over 5 months.

Michal found his CX500 stashed away in an old guy’s shed where it had been sitting for the past 5 years. “The condition of bike was ok, no accidents, no rust on major elements, the engine worked after adding fresh plugs and a new battery. Most of the electrical elements were working and the complete documentation was available as well.” With 70,000km on the clock and the bike covered in storage grime, it looked exactly how you’d imagine a 34-year-old bike to look and Michal had some hesitations. “In the beginning when I first saw the bike I wasn’t sure on which direction to take or if I should even continue. It was my first build and I don’t have experience in mechanics. I decided to avoid radical changes to the structure of the bike and rather focus on basic servicing and visual elements. I renovated or replaced all the worn running gear with a knowledgable friend and hopefully prepared it for the next 30 years.”

The bike was torn down to it’s basic elements; engine, frame, wheels, front and rear end. Each part was then cleaned and restored. New and secondhand parts were sourced to replace things like the exhausts, lighting and instruments and a new wiring loom was put together. “The frame and other painted elements were mechanically cleaned before being resprayed. During the rebuild I realised that the overall geometry of the bike was less sharp than I had planned. The front sat higher than in my initial design I wanted to have flat “spine” however this would require changes to rear frame.”

Rather than resorting to cutting the frame, Michal decided to keep it original and make do with what he had. This decision ultimately meant a more comfortable riding position which was a plus, but he had to make some other changes to compensate. Working with an aftermarket Cafe Racer rear cowl he shaped the base to follow the line of the frame keeping the seat horizontal with the road. He used narrow tyres to give the bike a lighter appearance and added upswept megaphone mufflers to lift the look of the rear end.

The seat was the upholstered by a local Mercedes workshop while the new indicators, tailights and electrical components were mounted to the frame. Over 5 months of evening and weekends the CX500 was torn down and rebuilt. The crusty old classic was transformed into a custom Cafe Racer and Michal has now officially been bitten by the bike building bug. “The Honda was my first after hours build intended for my own use, however during the whole process I got so many ideas for new projects. Therefore now I am looking to sell this bike to get started on a new project!”

Photography by Adam Piotrowski