Monday, April 4, 2011

FEATURE: michael paraiso's cx500 cafe

The Honda CX is somewhat of a quirky, mixed genre, model . For most vintage bike builders it's a bit too modern, what with it's electric ignition and water cooled engine. Yet it's notorious soft suspension, top heavy design, and lack of braking power cause the street fighter crowd to shy away as well. These characteristics lead to an absence of custom CX foundation bikes.

Today's featured bike was a big inspiration for me when making the decision on what model I wanted to serve as my first build. Cue Michael Paraiso's '81 CX500 cafe racer. 

Just as Michael's CX500 served as inspiration for me, Michael caught the bug after seeing Shaun Stewart's Very Red CX500.

This blog, being very "backyard build" friendly, had a very warm welcome for Michael after finding out he had to do the first half of the build in his kitchen. At the time, his residence had no garage. 

Wanting the bike to take on a "stripped, minimalist" style, he started by shaving weight. Off went over 100lbs in fairings, a windjammer, luggage bags, crash bars, and the King and Queen sofa. He also shaved the very portly, stock 2-2 exhaust system for a MAC 2-1 setup with a shorter Emgo muffler. 

The stock airbox was scrapped for some K&N pod filters, while most of the electronics would go under the seat. In the interest of reducing the CX's top heavy design, Michael relocated a smaller battery underneath the swing arm in a custom made box.

He also upgraded the CX's 33mm forks and single piston, single caliper front end with one off an '81 CB900F. The CB front end got him beefier 39mm forks, and a dual piston, dual caliper setup.

The passenger pegs, centerstand, and tail section of the frame were shaved to further the weight savings. The frame and swing arm then got a fresh spray of bronze pearl metallic. The seat is made from the original seat-pan with the cowl coming from an old Suzuki tank. The padding and upholstery is mounted to a fiberglass seat pan.

Up front, he sourced the tach and headlight from a '71 CB350. Stock bars and controls were replaced with clip-ons shipped over from Brussels. Simpler aftermarket throttle and clutch controls were used, capped off with bar end LED turn signals and mirrors.

The tank was sanded down and polished to a 2500 grit, and the stock Comstar wheels were hit with some gloss black, then wrapped in Bridgestone Battlax tires.

The final result is a direct hit. Thanks for sharing Mike.


  1. Just ran across this blog and must say, WOW, what a great looking machine! Amazing what a little love can do to a 30 year old ugly duckling. This thing "looks" like it could take on the latest sport bike, and look meaner doing it. The polished tank is a thing of beauty.

  2. I agree Paul. This bike has consistently been pulling in the most views per week since it was posted.

  3. I've been thinking about turning my '78 CX500D into a cafe racer for a while. I'll randomly check out photos for inspiration. This is my favorite so far. I love the polished tank, and the relocation of the battery. Great looking seat as well.

  4. great Job David
    @ Jim another inspiration from Copenhagen
    ciao from Italy!

  5. Moving Simplified We found out this morning that we may be headed to
    Fort Bragg this summer(surprising as we weren't due to PCS for another year)
    fort bragg pcs

  6. Are you kidding me?! This is the type of build that makes wannabe builders like me think, "Why bother? I'll *never* do anything that beautiful." While you're at it, why not tell me about all those dates with various Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, or that time you found $1 million and decided to give it all to charity.