Some people build their bikes in sheds, some in garages. Some have fancy shops. Some only yards. Some, like Jeroen Kraijema, must resort to the living room in the dead of winter. After all, it gets cold in Holland. Fortunately, Jeroen says his girlfriend actually encouraged him working on this beautiful CX in the house, so he wouldn’t be in the yard or shed all day!
Stock from the factory, the Honda CX500 has to be one of the uglier bikes ever made. Introduced in 1978, it quickly earned the nickname the “plastic maggot.” The tank is fat, with a cruiser-ish reverse rake, and the mini-fairing and stepped seat earned zero points for sexiness.
That said, the boxer twin with longitudinal crankshaft is reminiscent of a Moto Guzzi, and talented builders are finding ways to showcase this powerplant. Most of them, however, are building cafe racers. Enter Joeroen Kraijema of The Netherlands, who has built this ’83 CX500 scrambler–one of the finest CX customs we’ve come across. Below, he gives you the full story on the build.
CX500 Brat Scrambler: In the Builder’s Words
(Words by Jeroen Kraijema, with our highlights.)
My name is Jeroen, I’m 25 and from Holland. I’m from Dordrecht, specifically, the oldest city in The Netherlands. I graduated from the Willem de Kooning Art Academy of Rotterdam in 2009, where I studied illustration. After that I worked as a designer for a year, but I missed something. That’s why I decided to make a career switch, and now I’m studying Aerospace Engineering at the TU Delft. Having a background in design and now becoming an engineer, I can put both of these skills into my projects, which helps a lot.
Before the CX I was riding a ’92 CBR600, but I really wanted to build a bike of my own, so it had to go to make budget for the CX. When I started this build, everyone who was working on a CX was making a cafe racer. I wanted to make something different, something that could also be driven off the tarmac for a bit of fun, so some sort of a scrambler was the way to go. Considering my background, the bike had to look good as well as function properly, so form and function were both equally important to me. The bike is a ’83 Honda CX500, the standard European model with the big tank and dual front disks, which I sourced from Marktplaats (the Dutch Craigslist).
I replaced every bearing and seal on the bike, revised the carbs, fitted K&N pods, shortened the fork 20mm with preload spacers and put new rear shocks on. I installed an Ignitech CDI unit for a better (and programmable) ignition. All the electrics are in the box under the engine, connected by a new clean wiring loom. The triple tree was cleaned up and the new ignition switch relocated to the side of the tank. HD Sportster mufflers are fitted onto the new stainless steel exhaust headers. The tank and shortened front fender were painted in Porsche yellow and a custom rear fender was fabricated to fit the looped frame. The brown leather seat was upholstered by Bart Peetermans from Belgium (who upholstered it while I was at a festival in his hometown).
At the time I was working on this project, I had a very small shed where I could barely walk around the bike, so I was mostly working on it outside. During winter it was freezing cold, of course, so occasionally I worked on the bike in the living room, which my girlfriend even liked since then I wasn’t in the yard or shed all day (she’s a keeper haha). Since I don’t own a welding machine, I needed to fabricate everything in advance and then put the frame and all parts in my ’89 civic and drive to my brother or a friends house, which required quite a bit of planning. Despite this, the build didn’t take too long considering the available time I had and this being my first build. After 9 months the CX and I were back on the road.
The transverse twin engine in combination with dual sport tires results in a characteristic bike with which you can have lots of fun both on and off the given paths. I’m really satisfied with this bike being my first build, but my eyes spotted the next project pretty quick after I finished this one. My next project is a NX650 scrambler, which I’m working on right now.