The People`s Choice - Honda CX500 - CX / GL MCC • The CX


The People`s Choice - Honda CX500 - CX / GL MCC • The CX
insults poured on Honda's
CX500: 'Hit by ugly rays' 'The
Plastic Maaaot' 'Biking's Cortina'
But it sold% years -and still is.
Definitely The People's Choice.
Peter Watson kicks off this new
series of the bike w e all loved to
NY motorcycle that can survive the sort
abuse heaped upon Honda's CX500 anc
still become a runaway bestseller must k
pretty remarkable. From the moment it was
launched in 1978 the watercooled V-twin was
dogged by mechanical failures and soon becai
he butt of cruel jest. Its reliability, stability a
mnearance have been criticised over and ove
tensile bolt a hard metal seat. But
overtightening here would crack the cast alloy
lug supporting the guide -improving the sales
of new engine castings -so a larger oil guide
plate and a gusset were added to make the static
side of the tensioner super-rigid.
rear of the engine.-At first, the problem seemed
to be just related to the bolt which secured the
tensioner’s fixed slipper blade. Tightened down
against the rubber of the slipper blade, it would
back off, allowing the chain to flail around until
it began knocking chunks off the rear crankcase
casting, dropping swarf into the oil heading
away from the main crank bearing and into the
gearbox and sump.
Dampers of early twin shock CXs tend to fade
proved very strong.
N D yet the CX500 continued to sell well.
Not that everyone liked its looks.
Surprisingly,the tinted flyscreen seen on
some models at Nogaro had been dropped for
production, and the headlamp nacelle -a
vacuum-formed chunk of plastic that costs just
under E50 to replace -looked half-finished.
Honda’s attempt to increase the appeal of the
500 was the ’79 CXSOOC, meant for the
custom-crazed States but also sold here.
In America, Cycle described the stock CX as
‘an up-to-the-minute engineering tour de force
with peculiar cosmetics’, likening its looks to
those of ‘Flash Gordon’s spaceship after a direct
hit by Ugly Rays.’ The CX5OOC Custom wasn’t
that radical and Cycle subtlely satirised its
wimpish pretensions. There were high-rise ’bars,
‘proper’ front and rear lights, a polished alloy
instead of black plastic radiator surround,
stepped seat and a smaller -2.4gal as against
3.7gal- teardrop tank. In order to make the
front end look different, Honda dropped the
rear tyre size to a fat 16-incher.The spokes of
the composite Comstar wheels were reversed,
treated to some black paint and had their edges
polished. Typical custom silencers were fitted.
Custom models sold over here because they
were often heavily discounted but we never saw
that other American market variant, the Deluxe
which was a Custom with the original large tank,
rear light assembly and mufflers. Honda were so
sure of their market Stateside that they
announced that only one in ten CX models sold
there would be standard issue and concentrated
on importing Custom and Deluxe variants.
Basic changes to the standard 1980 CXSOOA
included colour scheme changes, the adoption of
the Custom’s radiator surround and a breather
kit which moved crankcase pressure release
from the cylinder heads to the timing inspection
plug. Prolonged hard running meant that oil was
blown down the pipes from the heads and into
the air filter box. With the advent of the
CX500B in 1981, this ’80 mod became standard.
The B also gained ‘reversed’Comstars and the
tinted flyscreen.
In the hotbed of London despatching, the CXfinds
a welcomefor its reliabilily, ease of maintenance
- heaviness of bike takes its toll. Shaft drive system has
Y 1981, things had got a trifle confusing
for the potential CX purchaser. He was
faced with a baffling array of models. The
budget for new rear suspension units. These are
given a hard time by the transmission, not to
mention the bike’s 4701b plus rider. Once the
damping’s gone at the rear you’ll discover what
top-heavy really means on a bumpy bend.
Having sampled Hridgcstones, the new Avon
Koadrunncr F 2 R2 and a p;bir of cheap Dunlop
K l X l s from SmartTyresonmy CX theverdict is
that thething likes at least tmm of tread at the
back end and i s sensitivc t o incorrect pressures.
Surprisingly, it has handled hest on the
fi2-the-pair Dunlops. I douht that fancy treads
will improvc the handing.
As long iis you don’t have five thumbson each
hand, your CX need ncvcr see the inside of a
dealer’s workshop. An oil-filrer change takes 15
minutes or less. You can adjust the valves and
camchain in half an hour and balance the
carburettors bv car if they got o u t o f synch. Mine
haven’t thuh far. If you want a bike on which to
start home maintenance this is it.
The recsnt release of a few C‘XSOOBsonto the
British market has proved that if Honda were
still making ’em then we’d be buying. YOU may
not think that 2 5 , W units over six ycars
amounts to much but Honda only sold just
under 15,650 4(#)/4s if that gives you some idea
of the CXSOO‘s success. They’ll he with us for a
while yet. so if you fancy g(xd VaiUe
motorcycling, why not forget the prejudice and
standard B and the Custom C, plus monoshock
EC and GLSOOD models, not to mention the
CXSOOTC Turbo. The confusion was caused by
Honda pumping out new models before stocks
of the old ones had been cleared.
The Pro-Link EC was styled along Turbo
lines, with triple disc brakes as opposed to two
discs and a drum, plus a headlamp fairing and
larger (4.4gal) fuel tank. Listed at almost E300
more than the B, there was no way it was going
to sell well with so many twin-shock CXs
Ever eager to fill a gap in the market, Honda
had spotted that many own
of the \elf-generating CDI set-up. It also had an
automatic camchain tensioner and an electric
fan. But the best CX models were yet to come.
When they did, British insurance capacity
banding ensured that they would be hard to
N typical Japanese fashion, the CX650ED
wasn’t a 650 at all, but an 82.5 x 63mm 673cc
model. That meant it was bored and stroked
on the 78 x 52mm 500 but there was much more
and all of it Turbo-derived. The main bearings
and big ends were larger, there were
anti-backlash gears on the clutch, the 39mm
carbs (CXSOO: 35mm) were angled in and oil jets
squirted lube at the underside of the piston
crowns, a dodge recently re-invented by Suzuki
for their oil-cooled motors.
All in, the 112mph CX650- along with the
cast-wheeled GL6SOD Silver Wing which
followed -is tougher, punchier, faster, simply
better. But 673cc takes you over the 6OOcc
insurance threshold beyond which premiums
become a lot more expensive in Britain. For
most folk this and the asking price spelt No Sale.
There are lots and lots of CX models around,
ridden by everyone from wild-eyed despatch
riders to portly middle-aged types. It’s a
machine that attracts anyone interested in a
machine that fits almost any role you want it to
play. Useful accessories are few but vital.
Indispensable are a pair of Rickman engine
protection bars. CX models have a nasty habit of
failing over and those bars work. Advisable
without a fairing, essential with one are stronger
front fork springs. The stock set-up is two
springs per leg, the tiny top items looking like
they’ve escaped from a carburettor. My
progessively-wound German replacements for
the main coils added feel and control to the front
end. M&P Accessories (0792 474153) will sell
you uprated springs for f17.95. You get a fork
brace with the CX650 as standard, another item
I’d consider.
X reliability? In 20,000 miles
es have been limited to a
complete rip-off at f16.44
- and a speedometer cable. Routinely cruised
at an indicated 85-90mph, it just keeps coming
back for more. Annoying pad-drag on the front
discs was initially diagnosed as a warped rotor replaced with a E5 item from a breaker -but it
was in fact corrosion on the caliper body
inhibiting movement on the pin-slider calipers.
The accepted solution is to apply an oil stone to
the affected parts but go easy.
Power characteristics that combine top-end
whizz -the 496cc engine IS redlined at 9750rpm
- and mld-range grunt are among the machine’s
best points. When buying secondhand always
Even handlebarfairings and topboxesfail to faze the CX.This is the Jap bike that’s replaced the oMBrit
singlesfor hard work.