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1978, Honda CX500
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I currently own a 1978 CX500 and was planning to strip it down this winter, and convert it to a cafe racer type build. I recently came across a moderately good condition 1982 GL500 with less than 15000 miles for cheap, and couldn't pass it up.

The GL500, has TI ignition, dual front disc with dual piston brakes, air forks in the front ( not sure, if this is good or bad) and mono air shock in the rear, higher 5th gear ratio?. whereas, the CX500 has CDI and conventional forks and shocks. Even though i do not have any ignition issues right now with my CX500, i might have to upgrade to Rae-San or Ignitech ignition down the line.

My question is which one would you guys use? I have seen both variants used and i have even seen people convert their rear shocks to mono shocks with custom bracket welded to the frame.

I also purchased a CBR600 complete front end for a swap, but can sell that if i start with GL500, or does upgraded front forks help?
 

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If at all possible get both bike in rideable condition and ride them for a while. After some seat time you will be better able to decide which one suits you best and you will have a better idea of what changes might be needed.

It is also of value to know that the bike you are going to modify for appearence sake is in top operating condition before you start.
 
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If at all possible get both bike in rideable condition and ride them for a while. After some seat time you will be better able to decide which one suits you best and you will have a better idea of what changes might be needed.
Having both also makes it difficult to decide which one is better! Strangely, the engine on my CX pulls better from 5k-7k than the GL. Not yet sure why since both were resurrected and tuned by me.

For the record, I d ascribe to the philosophy that if you really want a monoshock, better to start with a GL, replace the factory shock, and tune the front suspension to your liking.

209614
 

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The GL has better electronics, larger fork tubes and rear mono-shock.
 

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Am I the only person who's sad to see so many bikes (all brands and models) defaced in order to be turned into uncomfortable-looking (and IMHO damned ugly) "cafe racers"?
 

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Am I the only person who's sad to see so many bikes (all brands and models) defaced in order to be turned into uncomfortable-looking (and IMHO damned ugly) "cafe racers"?
I have no problem if they begin with dung. I always do. Most of the stuff I have here aren't even bikes. Just loose bits.

But I don't like to see nice lowish milage bikes hacked on.

In the long run, they're not mine so it's not my business.

I don't have to like it.

I am less fussed though if a nice build results rather than a dog with ebay bits.
 

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1978 CX500 "The Grub", 1983 GL650I "Nimbus"
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Am I the only person who's sad to see so many bikes (all brands and models) defaced in order to be turned into uncomfortable-looking (and IMHO damned ugly) "cafe racers"?
No.
IMHO, if someone is going to hack a CX, they should start with a 500 Custom. They're ubiquitous here, and they're already uncomfortable.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Both the bikes I have got are old and been parked for a while, especially my first 78 CX. That thing was parked for 12 years. The previous owner took a spray can and did his best in ruining it.

Automotive fuel system Fuel tank Vehicle Automotive tire Automotive lighting


I am inspired by a cx500 cafe racer from Australia,
He got inspired from RacerTV.

It's not completely hacked 🤣.
 

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1978 CX500 "The Grub", 1983 GL650I "Nimbus"
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Oh, I hate paint bombs!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If at all possible get both bike in rideable condition and ride them for a while. After some seat time you will be better able to decide which one suits you best and you will have a better idea of what changes might be needed.
I think this is a very good suggestion, and I will start getting the GX 500 getting road ready.

Any suggestions on what I should look to ascertain the quality and functionality of the rear shock.

The GX I have seem to be a interstate variant and the exhaust internals have all been removed making it a free flow.

Thanks
 

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By GX I assume that you mean GL as that is the Interstate.

Does the rear shock hold air pressure? Do you hear squeaking if you push down on the rear of the GL500? It is not unusual for the Pro-link to be seized.

Having the exhaust internals removed will not have much effect on the running it will just make it unacceptably loud.
 

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'84 CX650E that is evolving into a GL500
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I'd say don't turn either into a cafe style bike and for just one simple reason: They are so common these days that there is virtually no originality left in that style.
Instead why not ride the thing and make the changes it tells you it needs to make it do what you want it to (as opposed to changes just to follow the fashion). That way you will end up with something that will actually do what you want/need a bike to do so you will be more likely to want to actually spend time riding it and as a bonus it will be your own style instead of looking exactly like what all the other copycat so-called builders are stamping out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I just finished rebuilding my front brakes and took the GL for a ride.

The rear suspension seems to be in great shape, no squeaking and front seems to be really soft. I am going to bump up the pressure to max psi and see if that improves.

I totally hate the highway handlebars and the stationary fairing will take getting used to i guess.

How difficult is it to get rid of the fairing and relocate the headlight and turn signals?

When did Honda switch to electric fans on these? Mine seems to be conventionally attached to crank shaft.

Thanks
 

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My first question would be have you owned a "cafe'" style bike before?
I like the old Brit Cafe/Euro Endurance Style (but thats me......)
("True")Clip-on style bars and "pad" seats take some getting used to.....and not really a long-distance option, but I acknowledge the bike you linked to has neither..(handlebars seem a variant)

If the intent is a weekend short-ride machine/or project journey wishing you luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have never owned a cafe bike, that's the reason I would like to.

I have no intention of long distance rides, plan is to mostly ride to work and a few weekend pleasure rides in summer. Living in Michigan does not help.

My first bike back home was a Royal Enfield and I am used to that kind of vehicles. Here in US, you have lot of options to fine tune and an opportunity to learn and work on your bikes. This would not have happend back home in India. Tools, and space were never easy to come by, not to mention work flexibility.

Back to the topic, I am more inclined to use a handle bar than clip-ons. And I really appreciate the dual disc, dual piston brakes on the GL. Eventhough I have upgraded the single piston to dual on the CX, GL obviously seem to be better.

I am planning to register and ride the GL for a few more weeks and decide, but my question of which architecture is best suited for tweaking is something I was looking for the experts to chime in.
 

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When did Honda switch to electric fans on these? Mine seems to be conventionally attached to crank shaft
The GL650 has the electric fan. Your GL500 has the fan driven by the camshaft.
 

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To OP....the bike you linked to is a very mild cafe'..(in stance not in originality)..you could always try things like Jota-style bars to see if that type of bar suits you.

If you keep most things "bolt-on" you can always easily reverse the modifications....
I'm planning a "bolt on" customization of my 750..(not ebay bits lol...)..but keeping all the original parts if I decide I want it back to stock either transitionally or fully....;)
That approach gives you at least 2 bikes......(a cafe' of sorts for those "blasts" and a "stock"one in line with the concept of "universal Japanese bike" (i.e the UJM that killed off the British bikes:censored:)
 

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I totally hate the highway handlebars and the stationary fairing will take getting used to i guess.

How difficult is it to get rid of the fairing and relocate the headlight and turn signals?

Thanks
It's relatively easy to remove the fairing and switch to normal bars. The GL500 in my previous image started life as an interstate.

The wiring harness is the same between the standard and the interstate, so as long as some PO hasn't cut wires it should be easy to remove the sub harness used on the Interstate. Then source headlight, mounts, and signals from where ever ever you like and wire them up. It will be hard to find OEM headlight mounts, so aftermarket parts will likely be your best bets. If you get dual filament front signals the color code is: Orange = left signal, orange/white = left running light, blue = right signal, blue/white = right running light, green = ground. Unfortunately the aftermarket signals will likely have different color schemes, so you'll have to figure that out.

Since the bullhorn bars are longer than most aftermarket bars, you also have to figure out alternate routing for throttle cables, clutch cables, brake lines, and electrical controls.
 

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'84 CX650E that is evolving into a GL500
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Full fairings do take a bit of getting used to. I wouldn't want to be without one on my winter bike but one of the first things I did when turning the GL1100I into my summer bike was to replace the fairing with a windshield just big enough that the wind didn't blow my head around (& of course a headlight and signals).
 
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