The Honda CX500 is experiencing a big renaissance these days. Who would have thought that the “plastic maggot” would become the darling of custom builders the world over? This particular specimen is the work of LV Custom Motorcycle Bodywork, a workshop founded in southwest London (Morden) by fiances Ludo and Clarisse.
Ludo is originally from the south of France: La Syne Sur Mer, very close of the Famous Circuit Paul Ricard. He studied bodywork for four years and completed a one-year painting certification after graduation. He worked on Peugeot cars before and after his studies, and he was always tinkering with various motorbikes. Says Clarisse:
“He started with scooters, motocross, ATV , moped and finally big engines! This is how everything began, the work of metal, plastic, fiberglass then stickers, saddles hand made. He experimented with so many things, inspired and motivated by magazine subscriptions — it wasn’t internet and all socials media back then.”
Ludo officially started his first business more than seven years ago in France. Later, however, Clarisse, who was a Human Resources Director for a big company received a job offer in London.
“It was a big decision, but knowing the importance that the motorcycle occupies in England, and being a fan of the British style, Ludo did accept.”
Arrived in London, they learned the language, studied economics in the city and country, then six months later they started taking steps to start their business: LV Custom Motorcycle Bodywork, based in southwest London in Morden (south Wimbledon). Ludo manages the workshop while Clarisse runs the marketing, graphics, and paperwork. They specialize in customization and provide a lot of services, such as bodywork, paintwork, saddlery, airbrush…all details are on their website (https://www.lvcustom.co.uk/). Says Clarisse:
“We love to meet our riders and talk with them about their bike projects, we like advice them and exchange our vision … We have the same passion and are working on all two wheels.”
CX500 Cafe Racer: In the Builder’s Words
(Words by Clarisse. Highlights by us.)
Why? When we created our business we wanted a motorbike who will represent our work, style, company…a bloody beast! After long searches we found a bloody Honda !!! 😉 This old rusty CX500. The following day we were renting a van and going to meet and discover this beauty in Canvey Island.
The guy was selling his uncle’s motorcycle. For the story, Thomas bought this Honda in 1992. He was the second owner; the first bought it brand new in 1979, year of its first release. Thomas was a teacher in London and was commuting from Canvey to London where he worked. He had chosen the CX500 because he knew the robustness of Honda and his motor. He never met any problems with it and looked after it very carefully. Then time retirement came. He decided to put the Honda in his garden on a wood pallet and under a protective canvas…it stayed like that for 13 years without being ridden and in hibernating state. Ludo couldn’t wait to restore it; in front of this miserable mass of rust and dust he had already a lot of plans for it. So we bought it!
Basically in Ludo’s eyes, a CX500 Honda is a utility bike, without any specific line or curves, but with a beautiful v-twin motor hidden by a lot of useless pieces. The goal was to create a sporty bike with a vintage look – cafe racer style – with a straight line profile, which already involved a lot of customization on this Honda CX500 of 1979 – motor, 496cc.
What we did on the bike:
The motor has been…
• cleaned inside/outside
• gaskets and rubbers replaced (ordered on David silver spare online)
• Powder coated (black metal Ferrari high temperature)
The tank has been…
• 10 degrees raised because originally it leans forward and he wanted a straight line.
• The tank has been smoothed to remove logos
• Creation of the saddle foundation in fiberglass handmade.
• Custom saddle with foam and vinyl
• The stock rear loop has been cut , a new part in tube has been created and welded
• Creation of a back shell in metal, cut and welded handmade.
• the swing arm has been strengthened to add a monoshock of GSXR 1000 k1 as the stock shocks has been removed with the stock rear loop.
• the original 8inch headlight was replaced by a 4inch one.
• A support was made to fix the stock speedometer, which one has been painted with pure glossy black.
• Frame, fork, swing arm and wheels have been painted in pure glossy black
• Fork chopped down -40mm and hardened
• Tank and rear shell have been painted with a three stages orange pearl who comes from ford color chart .
• About the graphics, on the tank we made a 70’s Honda logo and number 83 on the seat,
• The front tyre is an Avon Speedmaster 325×19 tubbed, and the rear tyre is an Avon Safetymileage 400×18 tubbed
• CNC Clip-on fitted
• Aluminium hand grip
• LEd indicators/side lights at the front and LED tail light/stop light/ indicators at the rear
• Stock exhaust with modified muffler
• CNC Footpegs
• Ignition moved bellow the tank
We are very proud of our back shell. It is a handmade steel one, which follows the tank shape and 100% unique.
Basically, Ludo wanted to keep the two factory shocks under the saddle, although having doubts about the balance of forces on the shocks. There are those moments when you think: Okay, let’s try!
So he did it: he tried it without the motor because it was dismantled and waiting for gaskets and rubbers. At this point, it worked even if he kept this doubt and waiting to put the motor back. When this time came, as he thought, the engine was too heavy…a nightmare, the bike was almost touching the ground, completely packed down!
To fix the problem Ludo had few options. Finally he opted for the GSXR shock. Obviously he had to take off the engine, to weld another shock mount on the frame and the swing arm, resprayed everything…he enjoyed it so much 😉
This bike will do the MCN competition in February, category old school, and will be for sale after that.
Photo Credit: Manetta Photography
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