Unlikely Hero

December 27, 2019 | By Mike Seate

We rediscovered this image recently that goes back to the very first batch of photos that helpful folks submitted to us back in 2008 when this magazine wad first launched. It reminds us of the sheer power of necessity and value when it comes to building custom motorcycles, both of which are exemplified by the bike depicted, Honda’s venerable CX500. The CX started as a humble commuter machine, a water-cooled transverse twin meant to both challenge and copy similarly designed machines from Italy’s Moto Guzzi. Tens of thousands of CX500s were sold and ridden heartily around the world, with many pressed into grueling service as courier bikes in London and other European cities. Fer from glamorous even when Honda deigned to bolt on turbocharging systems and curvy bodywork for the CX500 Custom version, the fact that the CX- lovingly derided as The Plastic Maggot by British riders – has become a stylish cafe racer icon speaks to its usability. We’re featured a few over the past 12 years, many which were stunning in their execution and mechanical perfection, proving that yes, you can polish a turd given the proper vision. If you’re a CX500 builder or rider, send us images of your water-cooled wonder as we’re planning a special section on the CX coming in 2020. Happy new year and keep on wrenching!