The Honda CX500 would have to be the most unlikely donor to achieve such big success in the custom bike game, but then the same can be said for when it first hit the market, it was the ugly duckling that won over the public. More than 25,000 were sold in the UK alone over a five-year period, so Honda must have assumed a new and improved version would continue to be a hit. But a new model line-up and a price rise meant the CX650 only lasted for one production year. These days however, builders have realised the benefits that come from the bigger capacity twin and few have built an example as nice as Bulgaria’s Tossa R. Now Asen Zahariev and the team are back with another 1983 CX650 and it adds a whole lot of sport bike goodies to its unique and striking visual appearance.

The benefits of the CX650 over the CX500 were always more than just the extra capacity. By 1983 the chassis had been improved, the brakes finally matched the bike’s weight and the suspension was a combination of Honda’s TRAC anti-dive forks and Pro-Link rear. And the extra 177cc that came from both boring and stroking the original engine delivered 28% more power and 33% more torque, all available across a wider RPM range. So, it makes perfect sense then that Asen, with his extensive motorsport experience, decided a few years ago to turn a CX650 into an absolutely gorgeous cafe racer.

And racer is the word, and this latest build from the Sofia-based shop only takes that theme further, using all of that track-based knowledge and pouring it into the humble Honda. Starting with the Euro model also has its advantages, as it is arguably the best chassis ever offered in any CX motorcycle. The headstock is heavily braced by the triple tube backbone and the beefy centre posts are far better suited to modern suspension, than the old twin shock setup which was never designed for such load to be applied to a single part of the swingarm. But Asen also wanted that frame to look good, so he cut everything off behind the centre and sprayed the rest in black.

Having completely ditched every part of the subframe, the new seat support starts considerably up the backbone and uses two inner and two outer steel plates to work together to make a unit that is as strong as an Ox. A mix of mig welds and solid bolts secure all of the pieces in place and then these too, along with the swingarm and rear brake support, also get hit with the same black paint. Using the inner supports, the seat base then appears to float over the outer skin of the subframe and the pans front bolts also act as new rear mounts for the fuel tank to follow.

That tank might have some of the lines of the standard CX650 Euro item, but it has been heavily customised. The back is chopped off, the mounts are all raised to level things out and the rear is smoothed to provide a nicer transition to the seat. All of this helps to give the tank’s enhanced shoulders a broader look while showing off more of the beautiful V-Twin engine below. The tail section has been built in a very similar style to the first Tossa R CX650, with small, sharp and tyre profile styled lines, for the perfect minimalist touch.

Giving the rider the perfect perch, the seat itself features a black Alcantara-like material, stitched in a colour matching deep red. Plenty of which is applied to that customised gas tank, as well as on the tailpiece, and the rear shocks spring and reservoir. To break up the red from the dominant gloss black, a neat single stripe has been laid down and does a perfect job of highlighting the bike’s aggressive lines. Speaking of the rear shock, it is but the first part in giving the CX a major handling overhaul, and has been taken from a CBR1000RR. The front end is equally impressive, with a full Yamaha R1 setup dropping in thanks to a customised stem and machined upper triple.

But it is the heart of the beast that truly takes centre stage and fans of the CX will know all too well that it’s best to perform a bypass. For the CX650 that is a quadruple job, which means a new stator, mechanical seal and cam chain like the triple bypass for the 500, and then new starter clutch springs to finish the job! With all of that done, the engine is finished to perfection in a murdered out look with some file-finished components. And then the carbs are tuned up and fitted with DNA filters, all to serve the new exhaust which is a full in-house custom job. The new package pushes power over 70bhp and that’s on par with a modern Yamaha R7.

What is not from the modern sport bike playbook is the cool aluminium disc discreetly bolted to the rear wheel, which helps to hide the ugly factory item that doesn’t at all match well to the modern R1 rim. Some quality rubber is thrown on and then a raid of the Motogadget catalogue lets the guys take care of the instruments with a full digital dash, while the tiny indicators keep the new lines clean.

Heavily restored Honda switch gear will be loved by the CX faithful and a classic round headlight finishes off what is a brilliant job. The CX650 might be more than forty years old now, but with more character than most and built to Tossa R’s high standards, we expect to see many more in the years to come.

[ Tossa R ]