The allure of the venerable Honda CX500 doesn’t appear to be waning, every week the boat is pushed further and further out into custom waters. But there are a few parts of the CX that often look a bit awkward, particularly the rear subframe. The curvy rear triangle and raised tail section above the twin shock mounts can end up resembling a well engineered wheel barrow, despite the obvious craftsmanship elsewhere on a build. The GL500 ,or Silverwing, was Honda’s attempt to woo Harleyists with Champagne taste and Pabst money over to their cruiser range.
As a result Honda’s designers needed to engineer-in the potential for the GL to carry two elasticated waisted Americans and the paraphernalia associated with 1980s cruising. Namely huge barn door screens, sumptuous king and queen seats, fairings, luggage and of course a car radio. The latter always came in handy when drowning out the screams of the 500cc twin trying to haul half a ton down the freeway. They relied on the Pro-Link suspension configuration, basically a monoshock, to stop the whole lot from pogoing along.
For the custom builder this set up might not spark a nostalgic flame but it makes designing a cafe racer with a clean rear end much easier. The guys from Mokka Cycles in Hungary hadn’t quite finished this 1982 GL when they arrived at Bike Shed London last summer but after a winter of long evenings ‘Birdie’ is ready to fly.
Once stripped back to its constituent components Mokka’s founder Arpi set to work grinding off all but the most necessary. As he didn’t have to concern himself with the potential pitfalls of mounting twinshocks so the whole subframe was amputated, replaced by a clean and simple loop with a narrow triangulation as it only needs to supported the weight of one spirited rider. A Yamaha R1 shock, refurbished of course, has a degree of adjustability and looks way better than stock. Upholstery is one of Mokka’s well honed skills, and the leather number you see here is particularly neat sitting atop the svelte new framework.
The engine was in great condition and needed only a good servicing and coat of paint. The rocker covers have been machined flat leaving just the base of the cooling fins and Honda logo showing against matt grey. Reverse megas play a decent tune (see video below) and the stock CV carbs on pod filters have been re-jetted to suit. The constantly driven radiator fan was ditched and a custom aluminium rad fabricated to give the cooling system a chance to keep up with youthful exuberance. With a couple of extra ponies available the GL should put out around 50hp, which doesn’t sound mind bending but combined with the considerable weight saving should offer a pretty spirited ride.
The front end was never designed for performance and was duly recycled to make way for a CBR954 setup including the proper stoppers. New alloy Excel rims and stainless spokes are not only lighter than OEM but look the business too, especially laced onto that rear drum and shaft drive assembly. The Nissin logo has been machined off the front calipers and replaced by an engraved ‘Birdie’ logo. Arpi is a detail guy, can you tell. The CNC switchgear is to Mokka’s own design and the bar end indicators turned from clear acrylic. Obviously a new loom was made and banished inside the handlebars and under the tank.
A simple all-in-one Daytona speedo sits inside a retro headlight bucket and in a change to the common theme of hiding the ignition the key now stands up proudly, just like in the olden days.
Perhaps not as easy to get hold of as the now ubiquitous CX but the GL500 is clearly the thinking mans choice when it comes to performance orientated small capacity v-twins. The guys from Mokka Cycles continue to impress us with their attention to detail and quest for perfection. We hope to see more from them at Bike Shed Paris in a few weeks time.
Images by Peter Mosoni Photography. via The Bike Shed