1978 Honda CX500
Vehicle No CX500 2036361
Engine No CX500E 2036489
Odometer: 42,842 km.
This was my son Michael’s bike, bought from the Darwin Motorcycle Wreckers in about 1990. We did not get any background information on its history, but apart from a slightly buckled rear wheel, which was promptly replaced; it was in quite good condition. The photo above shows it in its present damaged state.
Michael used the CX for commuting to the old Myilly Point campus of the Northern Territory University when he began his undergraduate education and for general travel. By-and-large he seemed to get very good service out of it, although he occasionally thought to feel a slight hesitation in the motor. I could not detect this when I rode it, but it may be a sign of trouble developing in the capacitor discharge ignition, which could happen with this model.
The CX500 has become something of a cult bike over the years; its transverse V-twin engine was a major departure from the parallel twins and fours that had previously been Honda’s main road offerings. It also sported a number of detail features that were new or seldom seen at that time: electric-only starting, shaft drive, Comstar tubeless tyre wheels, water cooling and an electric system that was, for the time, quite unusually reliable. On the road it was tractable, comfortable and quite fast. Many people liked the compact styling, which was a little unusual in Japanese bikes at the time.
It is the bike Michael was riding when he was killed on the Stuart Highway in 1991, so it bears a good deal of emotional freight for me. I feel that a decent restoration would be a fitting tribute to a rather fine young man. It needs a front end rebuild and a fair bit of re-trimming. Most of the necessary CX parts have been acquired for the purpose.
The CX takes its place in three generations of family motorcycles: my father’s 1926 G8 AJS, my own 1950 50/18S AJS, followed by Michael’s 1978 CX 500.
Pieces of trivia:
Certain lowbrow critics ridiculed the CX styling, particularly the tiny headlamp/instrument binnacle. The CX500 came to be referred to in some depraved circles as “the maggot”.
It is said that the CX500 became very popular in the UK as a courier bike and many have covered amazing mileages in that service.