Tag Archives: cx500

Rebuilding the Front Forks on the Honda CX500

Part of turning my Honda CX-500 into a cool Cafe Racer is restoration work.  The front forks did not leak even a bit, but I felt it was worth the time while I had the bike apart to clean and rebuild them.  Also disassemble and cleaning would allow me to clean sandblast and paint the lower fork bodies to go with the rest of the bikes new cafe racer look.   This starts with removing the front forks from the bike.  First remove everything from the front end (wheel, brakes, etc)  and supported the bike under the engine.   It’s important to loosen/break free the top bolt on the fork (labeled with the red A in the above picture) before loosening the upper and lower triple clamp bolts (labeled B above).  It can be quite hard, even impossible to do this later.  My bolts were not particularly tight nor stuck so I was in luck and they loosened easily.

After the fork is off the bike, and before you take the top bolt off completely clamp the lower body carefully in a vice.  There is a socket head cap screw on the bottom of the fork that you need to loosen with a 6mm allen wrench or equivalent tool.    Then while pressing down (use some rags and a leather glove)  you can unthread the top tube cap.  It is under quite a bit of pressure from the compressed springs so be careful not to let it fly off into never never land when you reach the last thread.

Clean all of the parts in clean ATF, solvent, or your favorite degreaser.  I took the lower tube and sandblasted and painted it with engine enamel in a semi gloss black.    Note the bottom of the larger coil spring is somewhat tapered on one end.  The tapered end goes against part A (above) which goes inside the fork tube B and then part C goes on the outside. I was a bit confused about this as some time had passed between disassembly and assembly.

Front fork Assembly order for CX500 Motorcycle

These are all of the parts shown (minus the fork seal as it is installed in part 8) in order of which they go.  I tried to lay it all out as in an exploded diagram but it was ridiculously long.  This should get you the right assembly order to put your front fork back together should you have forgotten how it goes.  Be sure to pour the new fork oil in before screwing the top cap back on but after tightening the lower socket head cap bolt part #9 above).  The Factory service spec calls for 135cc of fork fluid on a dry rebuild.  I wanted to stiffen up the fork a bit and added another 25cc on top of that. The extra fluid decreases the free volume of air in the fork and acts to increase the dampening rate.   Decreasing the free volume is a trick to stiffen up a front fork a bit.   It is challenging to get the top cap (part #1) on as you have to compress the springs while threading it onto the fork tube.  I managed solo but it took some gorilla like effort on my part. Enlisting the aid of a friend would make this step easier and I recommend it.

My shiny newly rebuilt front fork is ready to be put back on the CX500 Cafe Racer.  Spring is just around the corner and I aim to have the bike ready for April 1st.  I’m leaning towards using bellows type dust seals on the forks in place of the factory/stock dust seals.   Hope this article helped you if you are looking to rebuild your forks.  If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer promptly.

CX500 Cafe Racer Build – chopping the rear frame

Honda CX500 rear frame mods


Having a vision for a project, and making that vision reality are often two different things.  Originally I was thinking I’d leave more of the rear frame for the seat.  Then I came across this bike (see below) made by the wrench monkeys.

Seeing their rear frame mods, I decided I needed to do something similar.  I’m not sold on their seat design but I like how they smoothed out the ugly factory stampings and rounded it.  This will allow the seat to more closely follow the frame and sit about 1/2″ lower at the rear.

Honda CX500 rear frame mods      Honda CX500 rear frame mods

    I did the initial cut with my trusty Milwaukee  Sawzall.  I used a large 1″ washer to scratch the final profile centered off the shock mount studs.  I then did some closer to the line rough cuts with a 5″ cutting wheel on a right angle grinder.  Followed that up with a some careful grinding and finally some hand filing to match up with the scratched line from the washer.   I hammered out some 16 gauge steel and welded it in place.  They came out pretty good. I’ll likely spray it with something after a light wire wheel buff.  When I pull the frame apart for the final painting I’ll metal finish/fill weld so that it’s nice and smooth and shiny.

Honda CX500 rear frame mods

I have also cut off the rear muffler mounts and some other frame brackets at this point.  The electronics will all fit up under the seat with some new brackets welded in place.

The Start of the Honda CX-500 Cafe Racer project

As it happens, a friend suckered me into this project with an IM link to this page on a 1978 honda cx500 cafe racer build.  We both were very excited by the article at the time.  This was about a month ago, since then I’ve done a great deal of research, reading and a bit of Craigslist hunting.  I finally came across the right bike for my winter build a cafe racer project.  I went and met with the owner, Aaron last night and came home with my project donor bike, 1979 CX-500.   The bike runs well but needs some brake work on the mechanical side.  I’m sure there will be some surprises along the way but for now, I’m really happy with my purchase.


Honda CX500 pre Cafe Racer Build       Honda CX500 pre Cafe Racer Build unmodified