Building a CX500-First Day

After a great weekend at Barber, we decided it was time to sharpen our teeth again and build another custom vintage motorcycle for Corazzo.

I scoured Craigslist every day after getting home chasing leads. In the end I settled on a delightful Honda CX500C that was posted for $500 in non-running condition on our local Craigslist here in Mankato, MN.

I have spent a lot of time wrenching on Yamaha XS650’s and Honda CB750’s, along with owning a grip of modern and classic Triumphs, BMW’s and even a Harley once! My familiarity with building and working on motorcycles led me to choose a CX500 because of a few things:

  • Unique engine and cutting edge technology for the era: Let’s be completely honest, the CX engine looks like a classic Moto Guzzi but with liquid cooling so it definitely has an attractive and interesting engine. On top of that, it’s also got electronic ignition, shaft drive and those loved/loathed Comstar wheels.
  • Cheap and plentiful: They must have sold quite a lot of these because Craigslist was riddled with them and the majority falling into the sub $1k price category. XS’s have gone through the roof in the last 8 years so it’s nice that a good value can still be found if you know where to look.
  • Japanese reliability: When shopping for a budget priced Japanese motorcycle, you can still find them complete and usually only needing some basic things like a carb clean to fire them up again. You can be choosy and avoid any half-completed projects or ones with the engine locked up. It seems that when you are looking for a British project on a budget, you better be ok with the fact that you will be rebuilding the engine so go ahead and add $1500 minimum if you do it yourself and source the parts yourself. With a lot of the Japanese non-runners, so long as they turn over and roll then you can usually make them run by just cleaning the carb and putting in a fresh battery. That’s not always the case but for the most part it is. You get to avoid the basketcases!
  • Good basic design bones: the CX500 and 500C both have good bones for custom building. Both the 500 and the 500C have attractive fuel tanks and the frames are basic enough that you can easily modify it to suite your design. So long as you can either make or buy a cool seat, then everything else is just details.

After a quick negotiation, we struck a deal and I loaded up our new project motorcycle:

New Corazzo CX500C Project

New Corazzo CX500C Project

Last tagged in 2011. The owner said it would only run on choke, which is a sign that the pilot jets in the carb were clogged. That’s easy enough, even with those silly press-fit jets Honda was so keen to use at the time.

A little rust on the surface of the tank but the inside is like new!

A little rust on the surface of the tank but the inside is like new!

Nice low mileage. This is pretty common in Minnesota as the winter takes it's toll and some owners lose interest by the time riding season rolls around. Too bad for them but great for us!

Nice low mileage. This is pretty common in Minnesota as the winter takes it’s toll and some owners lose interest by the time riding season rolls around. Too bad for them but great for us!

The first thing anyone buying a non-running project motorcycle should do is make it run. It’s so easy to get over-excited and start tearing stuff off that you plan on eliminating but why waste time and energy on a motorcycle that needs more work than you might be willing to put into it. Get it running and prove that everything works first and you’ll save yourself a load of headaches down the road. Plus it’s better to do the heavy lifting before anything is all prettied up with paint and such.

So with that said, let’s get this thing running!

To be continued….

 

3 Responses to “Building a CX500-First Day”

  1. Mark October 26, 2016 at 07:01 #

    Nice, looking forward to see how this works out!

  2. Matty October 26, 2016 at 19:26 #

    I dare you to keep the bars and seat!

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