Some of the earliest builds in this wonderful period of the cafe racer revival were based on the Honda CX500 with its distinctive Guzzi-like v-twin engine. The often maligned bike proved to be an unlikely star and yet we always had to remind people of its nickname, the “Plastic Maggot”. But truth be told, almost all of the custom examples built were the early versions that barely had any plastic on them at all, even in stock spec. The really ugly bikes, of course, came out further into the 1980s, but although the styling looked about as attractive as shoulder pads on your school’s headmistress, the drivetrain had become seriously good. This is why in recent years Germany’s Kaspeed has focused on the later models, and this ’84 CX500 Eurosport is their ‘Roadster’ version, perfect for thrilling back road blasts.

One of the things we’ve always loved about the father and his two sons trio that makes up Kaspeed Custom Motorcycles is their commitment to ensuring their clients get the absolute best end product. For this reason, they do a large amount of their own R&D, and build complete in-house custom bikes to ensure they have fine-tuned the best method for attacking each make and model they work with. The last time we caught up with the crew, they’d just released their own Honda GL500, which had been developed into a true, dual sport scrambler, with looks to kill.

That bike was a test bed for better understanding the late model CX/GL chassis and its single shock pro-link rear end. The handling of these models in base trim is far removed from the original and sloppy twin shock rear with its matchstick-like front forks. So, having perfected the later model setup, they could now turn their attention to this ’84 Eurosport and give it a full ‘roadster’ conversion, that not only looks like a bike good for carving corners but one that can do it really bloody well. With the right donor found and stripped of its plastic fantastic bodywork, the guys could get building.

The first step was to get the chassis perfect and to sort out the subframe, which while not sporting the unusual rounded downtubes of the earlier model, is still a bit of a mess. So, the best thing to do is simply cut it off and start again, and the new unit is supported by bar work running off the backbone and centre post for an ultra-clean look. The top piece sports a classically hooped rear but features a double kick-up for the upper rails to really help to lock the rider in. With this key work completed, the rest of the frame, swingarm and the final drive housing were smoothed out and powder-coated in a satin black.

The supporting infrastructure to get the bike handling at its best is where much of the team’s R&D has gone, and the bike benefits from a revised rear end. The pro-link setup of the stock bike was largely let down by the factory shock and the guys had YSS build them up a new unit, with a properly weighted spring that is finished in a paint matching willow green. The collared shock allows for the ride height to be set and the weight shifted more to the front of the bike for sharper handling. Here, the larger diameter air-assisted preload type forks are fully rebuilt, and so are the brakes, which for the Euro model added a rear disc.

Another big improvement for the Eurosport bike was a shift in wheel size, which is an attractive reason for Kaspeed and others to choose this later model. Where other models had mismatched rims from 19 to 16 inches, the twin 18in Comstars seen beautifully finished in black on this example work best and have been wrapped in quality Metzeler Roadtec 01 tyres. Covering up the modern rubber is the first of the bodywork, with Kaspeed rolling a new aluminium front fender that features a nice bobbed look, and teams up with a similarly styled rear hugger that swings off the rear arm.

The stock fuel tank remains, as few others will easily fit with the frame and the unusual engine configuration. But never fear, as Kaspeed soon realised that the key to making them look good is simplifying the paintwork and moving away from the messy graphics. In their place goes a “sparkling metallic grey” that is matched up with an uber-neat company logo and a single graphic in the aforementioned willow green. The front-on look then gets a modern twist, “we fitted the cockpit with an LED Headlight and in-house designed and custom 3D printed fairing.” Tiny Kellermann indicators keep things cleaned and “a heavily shortened seat and low LSL handlebars make for a chunky look.”

The engine always forms part of the look on a CX/GL build and the guys finished it beautifully in black, with company badging and file-finished raised runners on the rocker covers. But the inside doesn’t miss out either, with a thorough overhaul for brilliant reliability, matched up to bead-blasted and rebuilt carbs. These take their air via a pair of DNA pod filters, with bigger jets thrown in to handle the extra fuelling required by the fitment of that stunning Arrow pro race exhaust. There are a host of neat touches, like the custom rearsets, hand-built number plate holder and all modern controls. But the finished product is one cohesive custom CX500, which has great looks that are only usurped by the bike’s R&D-informed amazing performance.

[ Kaspeed ]