1978 Honda CX 500 (497cc liquid-cooled transverse V-twin)
50 bhp, 441 lbs, 105 mph
In the late 1970s the middleweight utility (touring and commuting) segment of the bike market was important both in terms of sales and also as a means of capturing people new to biking. All the Japanese manufacturers were in this market, with Honda's main contender being the, by then, ageing CB 550. Consequently Honda was keen to preserve its reputation as a pioneer and so in 1978 released the CX 500. It drew little from the past and was unlike anything Honda had built previously: a liquid-cooled, shaft driven, pushrod, transverse V-twin with the cylinders splayed at 22 degrees so that the carbs do not get in the way of the rider. To lower the centre of gravity, the counter-rotating (to reduce the longitudinally mounted engine/crankshaft twist under power) 5-speed gearbox is mounted just below and to the right of the engine. The engine is hung as a stressed unit from the spine frame. The bike is fitted with Comstar wheels and was the first motorbike to use tubeless tyres. Conventional forks and shocks and a large comfortable saddle complete the package.
Initial reaction was sceptical; however, the comfort, practicality and reliability ultimately won a lot of support and sales. It became an affordable long distance tourer, commuter and eventually courier bike. The plastic headlight binnacle earned it in the UK the somewhat pejorative nickname of "plastic maggot". It went through various stages of development (650cc, turbo and full-house tourer - Silver Wing) until being discontinued in 1983.
This bike is a UK model acquired in 2013. It was restored by Classic Bikes - including a body and engine repaint. It is faithful to the original apart from braided brake hoses. It is a lovely, smooth and relaxed ride enjoyed by the whole family.