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This is a work in progress. The plan is that as each section becomes more complete it gets split off into a separate page with a short piece being left on this page.
It is said that the Honda CX500's roots belong in the mid-70s with a pair of prototypes - firstly, the CX350/A3/A23 V-twin of 358cc capacity. Chain drive, automatic transmission, 90 degree cylinder angle and air cooled. The second variant - CX360/A3S - was water-cooled, apparently 80° & and some variants had forced induction. Bore/stroke for the non-forced-induction model was 72x44mm and fuelling was done by dual CV carburetors, eking out 38.3HP at 10,000rpm with a dry weight of 151kg.
For more information on the prototypes, see this page.
The first of the line. In fact, Honda's tagline was "First Into The Future". Production seems to have started 1st July 1977 going by the recall notice.
Worldwide there's just the one model for 1978 - no Customs, Deluxes, Shadows or anything else for the initial year.
The frame numbers for Australia began with CX500-2004040 and the engine numbers with CX500E-2026864. The carbs were VB36AA or VB36AC and had no accelerator pump, and the fuel inlet was on the left hand side. Final drive numbers began at F-3000286.
Colour codes for Australia included:
The owners manual was part number 3641500 and the workshop manual 6641500. The parts listing were 1341501 (1977-11-20), 1341502 (1978-12-01), 1341503 (1979?) and 1341504 (1980-11-20).
As per the year ID system this is the Z model. The Custom variant was introduced in 1979 as a more cruiser-looking alternative.
The Custom variant was introduced in 1979 and had a fair number of differences; it was a more cruiser-like bike, with more forward footpegs, higher bars, a teardrop tank and a smaller rear wheel (16")than the Standard model.
Introduced into the US market in 1979, the first year of the Deluxe had the same seat as the Standard CX500 but had the same smaller 16" rear wheel as the CX500 Custom.
Carbs were VB36AA and VB36AC, no accelerator pump. Final drives began at F-3000286 (same as 1978). Engine numbers began at CX500E-2100000 and frame numbers CX500-2100000.
Paint codes for Australia in 1979 included:
The workshop manual part number and parts lists were the same as the 1978. Changes for this year vs. 1978:
As per the year ID system this is the A model.
First year of this style in Australia.
The USA Deluxe came with a stepped seat in this year. We need more info and a photo here...
Australia seems to be the only location which got a CX500 that was designated the "Shadow". For info on the side cover logo size see this page.
The Shadow paint codes for this year:
Workshop manuals - 6641500, 6641500Z (Supplement).
As per the year ID system this is the B model.
The above photo is a CX500B (1981) from the UK. They didn't get the Shadow nameplate over there so the models just seem to be referred to by their year code. Twin single piston calipers up front, boxy style tank. The saddle bags, rack and topbox are not stock and the engine bars are an accessory. Here's a photo from 1982 showing another B model:
We have an example of the GL400 Wing here from what I presume is late '81 which shows TI and a manual cam chain setup. For more info see here.
The 1981 GL500 was the first of the CX lineup to use the triple backbone frame, a departure from the single-spine frame of previous CXs. It was stiffer and featured a single shock at the rear, hidden in front of the rear wheel. The base GL500 had a twin-piston caliper up front on one side and was more of a naked bike than the fully faired Interstate.
The GL500 has the triple-backbone frame, with 25mm outer tubes and a 35mm center tube. Steering head length is 177mm on the frame. Weight was quoted by Honda as 207kg dry or 224kg wet.
Fully faired - adding to the weight, with this model tipping the scales at 230kg dry or 247kg wet. With dual sided dual piston calipers up front.
As per the year ID system this is the C model. Don't get this confused with the C for Custom... you can have a 1980 CX500CC (Custom, then year designator C).
The 1982 Honda CX500 Custom was an upgraded beast for the US market - transistorised ignition and fatter forks up front.
The Australian model (with a customised seat but otherwise stock):
...apparently got TI but stuck with 33mm forks up front. Find out more about the Australian variant here.
Often called the Eurosport, this one was just "Sports" from Honda - the Eurosport name went with the 650E. This bike is quite different to the previous CXs and has a triple backbone frame, transistorised ignition, 37mm front forks with anti-dive on the left leg, rear disc brake, 18" front and rear wheel, automatic cam chain tensioner and Pro-Link monoshock rear suspension.
Last year of this bike in Australia. Along with the other TI models the crankcase breather was moved to the rear engine pulser cover and the bike received dual-sided twin piston brake calipers. Unlike the US market the '82 received an automatic cam chain tensioner. The mechanical seal aperture is the larger 28.3mm on all of these engines that we have seen. The fork lowers ought to have drain bolts, too.
The Turbo was quite the technological tour de force when it was introduced; Honda registered over 230 patents on the required components, and the bike claimed a number of world firsts;
Note the first production turbo motorcycle - the title of the first ever turbo motorcycle, production or otherwise, belongs to a Kawasaki. For an idea of how many Turbos were made (and the other model figures) see this page.
There's a parts manual listed as being from May 1994, part number 14MC7CM... is that for the Canada market? Will investigate.
As per the year ID system this is the D model.
This is the last year that these bikes were manufactured. Some were sold later on but this was the last year of manufacture.
Some say this model was created to use up the last of the CX650 Custom frames and the 400cc motors. It is the same frame as the CX650 Custom - otherwise unique amongst the CX and GL frames - but with a 400cc motor rather than the 674cc motor of the larger bike.
The CX650C Custom got the fattest forks of any of the CX/GL V-twin lineup at 39mm diameter (air assisted) and like the other 650 variants it had an integrated fork brace between the fork legs. The wheels were cast alloy and like the other 650 variants it had transistorised ignition. Only a single disc brake up front for this model, though, and a drum at the rear. Speaking of the rear, this model came with a 15" rear wheel but retained the 19" front.
To read the contemporary Honda sales brochure, click here.
The Eurosport was an evolution of the 500E Sports, with almost identical styling but the larger 674cc motor. This model wasn't ever sold in the States, instead finding it's way to Canada, Australia, the UK and Europe (amongst other places). This model retained the TRAC on the left fork from the 500E, dual front discs up front and a single disc at the rear. The rear shocks length differs from the 500E but the mounts are the same.
An evolution and refinement of the original 500T. For more information see the CX650T info page.
Tipped the scales at 234kg wet.
The GL650 improves on the 500's triple-backbone frame, with 29mm outer tubes and a 35mm center tube. Steering head length remained 177mm on the frame.
There was a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) GL700 - which shares a lot of similarities to a GL650 Interstate. It was only available in the colour Candy Wineberry. The parts manual I don't have a part number for but it is dated 1983-05-20.
Also see: How many CX500s were made?
Australia had several distributors at different points - according to some sources there was one up until 1982 whereupon a second began importing. One of the Honda original owners manuals reports the following distributors;
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