Friday, August 2, 2013

DAILY INSPIRATION: Modern Metal's 1981 CX500 Custom "The Twisty Lady"

Today we e-sit (an e- prefix, how 90's!) down with Doug Devine of Modern Metals out of Kentucky to talk about his background and what lead up to the building of this 1981 Honda CX500.

The Twisty Lady
1981 Honda CX500 Custom

Can you explain your background and what it is that lead you to motorcycle customization?

My name is Doug Devine (ModernMetals), and I was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1970. My teenage years were spent on the west coast of Florida in the small town of Bradenton. Growing up on the coast, naturally, I surfed and drove air-cooled Volkswagens along with the occasional 2-stroke dirt bike. My background has really nothing to do with motorcycles as I’m a licensed electrician and certified welder. Before embarking on my current journey, I mostly worked at an inland ship yard.  I began customizing and building motorcycles about six years ago when I converted a 1971 Honda CB350 into a race-inspired bike. 

What was it that drove/sparked the overall design of this build?

The Twisted Lady is a 1981 Honda CX500 Custom belonging to Phil Garber. Last summer, I did some tuning and electrical work so Phil could simply ride the bike for the season with an intention to bring her back to me in the winter for some customization work. Once winter rolled around, we sat down and decided on the frame mods, battery box, electrical compartment, seat pan, and seat design by Ginger at NewChurchMoto in Portland, Oregon. Once I completed what we had agreed upon, the bike just didn’t look complete to me.  I asked Phil to come over and see what he thought hoping that he would agree that the bike was missing something. When he showed up, he loved the seat and the frame mods but agreed that the bike looked unfinished. In order for the bike to look complete, but not like a pristine show bike, we decided on the removal and replacement of gauges, the big clunky master cylinder, and to lower the overall appearance of the top of the triple tree. My vision for the bike was to make it look and feel much smaller than a stock over bulked up CX500.

What is your process like?

For starters, I always begin a project with the motorcycle’s stance. This bike really threw me off with its really low and curvy rear section and a 16-inch rear wheel. Usually, I like the headlight, tank, rear area of the fender, and seat to all be pretty level so this was probably my biggest challenge. I enjoy being out of my element so I wasn’t going to give up on this bike. I knew from what I’ve seen from other CX500s, I could do limited frame and suspension modifications along with some new and adjusted accessories. Because I have absolutely no drawing ability, my building process starts with mocking the bike up before I can build it. 

How much time did you spend on this build?

Overall, I spent about 2.5 months which is about 55 hours of actual build time. 

What are you most proud of on this build?

My customer is so excited about riding this bike that he is selling his modern Honda CBR600. I also believe I reached my ultimate goal of making the bike look more light weight with a better stance and less frumpy.

What skills do you wish to acquire or develop further?

I wish to acquire an increased skillset working with different metals and proper techniques for forming them. I’d like each motorcycle I build to top the previous one. I’d like to continue to step outside of my comfort zone on every build and be confident enough to try more things. 

What’s next on your plate?

Currently, I’m building a 1979 Yamaha XT500 for a customer from Vermont, as a twin sister to my Single Naked Chick XT500 that I built last year. It will debut at the Kentucky Kick Down Vintage Bike Show here in Louisville on September 13-14. Next up, I’m working on a 1978 Honda CX500 which will have a vintage road race style pulled from the 1960s. After that comes a1978 Kawasaki KZ650 Baja-inspired motorcycle. As of today, the winter project is a 1968 Triumph T120 Chopper custom build. 

Spec List

Tarozzi 35mm Clip-ons
Mike’s XS Single Micro Master Cylinder and lever with stainless braided line
Small micro speedometer
Customer had custom pipes make previous to the build
An IgniTech CDI ignition module
A ballistic 8-cell 12-volt battery
Rebuilt carbs with new o-rings, accelerator diaphragm, and bigger pilot and main jets for pod filters
A custom seat pan and rear fender with counter sunk rear LED taillight/brake light
Seat pan upholstered by NewChurchMoto in PDX in black suede and leather with silver stitching
Built an electronics compartment and new battery box
Cut six inches off the original frame and reformed, welded, and cleaned up the rear section to follow the flow of the seat
Lowered the front 1 inch
Added a new, longer airline for these very odd air charged front forks
Disassembled a set of 78 CX500 rear shocks and cleaned, painted, and reassembled them
Hit certain details of the metal with scouring pads, wire brushes, and other scuffing materials 

Photo credits to the awesome shots of Seth Schikler.


  1. hell yea! props where props are do. congrats douglas - another cool ass bike!

  2. sorry to say I just like it's smarty back light Scott. lol

  3. Such a rad bike, Doug.

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