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Return of the Cafe Racers - Plastic fantastic – Guilhem’s Honda CX500

Plastic fantastic – Guilhem’s Honda CX500

It’s no secret that Honda’s CX series from the late 70’s has gone through a resurgence in the last five or so years. The vast number of CX custom builds popping up all over the world is evidence of this and as a previous CX owner fond memories spring to mind whenever a new one emerges from it’s plastic cocoon. Guilhem Therond, a French gallery manager who resides in Fremantle, Western Australia is another who holds the CX close to his heart.

When Guilhem moved to Australia in 2010 he rode around on a beat up old Kawasaki, but after a messy engine swap two years later he decided to part with his project and ceased riding altogether. In 2014 after finding his now beloved plastic maggot, Guilhem’s motorcycling days came back full swing and he hasn’t looked back since.

With six months of riding the stock CX behind him Guilhem decided to scratch his cafe racer itch. After making a few enquiries about having the rear end of the frame reworked he found Perth’s Tom Sharman at Sideshow Cycles. Meeting Tom and seeing his stunning work inspired Guilhem to go through with the build and made him feel better about spending the dollars.

“The first time I went to Tom’s workshophe let me strip the bike down with his tools and we drank beers while he worked on his other projects.” recalls Guilhem. “I hadn’t spent time in a proper workshop in years, let alone in the company of such a motorcycle lord. I left the stripped bike there that night and was surprised to receive a photo from Tom a couple of days later showing the bike with a brand new subframe! I was instantly impressed by the quality of the work and how the bike was already looking. The tank was sitting flat and I was really loving the straight line from the top of the radiator all the way back to the tail light. I saw it and thought to myself the job is almost done!”

Unfortunately, as most motorcycle builds go the end was still a long way off. Once he got the bike back Guilhem got to work on the front end. First he replaced the headlight, brackets and speedometer, shaving down the stock handlebar clamps and using the leftover mounting holes to house his warning lights. Before the grinder was returned to the bench the stock front fender was also shortened. The addition of longer, progressive shocks out back also helped to improve the ride considerably and gave the bike its near perfect stance.

The airbox was then discarded and the carbs were then fit with new pod filters and after a trip back to Tom’s workshop a tiny battery was hidden away with all the other electronics under the seat. Tom also changed the angle of the old Conti muffler and welded in a new steering lock. The leather upholstery was finished by Stu, affectionately referred to in our group as “Tom’s seat guy”. After using just a few layers of rubber foam like a GP racer for about 9 months Guilhem informs me that it is very comfortable in comparison.

Two years later after going through two petrol tanks, completing a full home shed construction, a whole pile of parts and even more patience, Guilhem’s labour of love was finally finished. With a whopping 30kg less baggage, rebuilt carbs and a free flowing exhaust there’s a welcome increase in power from the old girl. Parking space comes at a premium in the historic town of Fremantle so the CX suits his daily commuting needs to a T and the sound of the v-twin bouncing off the walls of the old buildings gets him plenty of attention and smiles from the local retro and vintage aficionados.

I met Guilhem through our shared love/hate relationship with Honda’s CX so the slogan “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda” certainly rings true.

Story by Ben Pilatti from Retro & Custom Motorcycles

 

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