The Honda CR500 was perhaps the most wicked dirt bike ever produced — a 53-horsepower, liquid-cooled 2-stroke beast, with a hair-trigger throttle and the power band of a Saturn V rocket. As this Craiglist seller once advertised:
“Breathe on the throttle and the front wheel is up.”
The CR500 was not just a beast to ride, it was infamously tough just to start.
“If you kick it, better wear an MX riding boot or you’ll break that twig you call a leg.”
Of course, this reputation has made the CR500 one of the most coveted dirt bikes of all time. Enter Adam Hedges of C’s Garage and the Earnest company, who is a competitive drifter and race car fabricator. Adam asked one very brilliant question, and we are so happy he did:
“What if in 1985 Honda produced a factory flat track bike…?”
That question led to the incredible Honda CR500 tracker you see here. Fortunately, Adam and the team at the Earnest company give us the full story on the build.
Adam Hedges: C’s Garage / Earnest
Believe it or not, this was Adam’s first bike build. He has has been fabricating race cars for over 10 years and is also involved in many aspects of high level motorsport. His fabrication workshop C’s Garage (www.csgarage.com) was born from a passion for metal work and drift cars and since it’s inception in 2007 has become known throughout the global drifting scene. The shop is locally renowned for putting out the highest level of race/drift car work in New Zealand.
Adam himself campaigned his own car and competed in NZ’s highest level of drift competition for the last two years. This year, however, bikes and building cars has taken priority over competition with Adam opting for the slower pace of non-competition life. He also has a strong involvement in the Earnest company (www.earnestco.com), building bikes, fabricating and being heavily involved in the product development process.
Bikes have take a strong hold on Adam over the past few years. Since the CR500 was completed you can now also find 2x CR250’s and a CRF250 flat track build sitting in the workshop. Riding a friend’s clay oval is all he can think about at the moment, which is far from a bad thing…
Honda CR500 Tracker: In the Builder’s Words
(Words by Adam Hedges. Highlights by us.)
I bought the bike as a complete stock 1985 CR500 dirt bike freshly imported from southern California. To be honest it was immaculate and took a very strong will to start tearing it down.
This was my first bike build after owning regular dirt bikes in the past. I’ve always had a passion for two stroke Honda’s and naturally the 500’s have been a dream. The idea behind the build was to build a bike based on the idea of “what if in 1985 Honda produced a factory flat track bike?” So I tried to keep things looking like they would have out of the factory. Basically if people could look at the bike and not know what I had done or what it was, I’d be happy.
It’s main purpose is to have some fun on dirt tracks but even before I started the build I wanted it to be street legal and I still plan on getting it on the road.
The only parts left from the original dirt bike are the frame and the motor. I started by building a custom chromoly tubular swing arm that is 1-1.5” shorter than the stock item. The shock is off a Ducati sports bike with a softer spring.
Next up I fabricated a chromoly rear subframe to suit the fibreglass Harley XR750 style tail section/seat. The tank is a fibreglass Champion style tank from the UK.
For the exhaust system I kept the FMF expansion chamber that came with the bike from the States and fabricated a new ‘mid pipe’ that joins up to a FMF muffler that I mounted central under the tail section.
Up front, I’ve got some ’04 yamaha R6 forks to which I mounted a Brembo caliper off a KTM dirtbike. The rear Brembo caliper is off a Ducati Monster sports bike. The bike was originally drum brake rear so I fabricated a mount for a CRF master cylinder and made up a new lower mounted rear brake lever/pedal.
The front CRF450 hub is laced to a 19×2.15 Excel rim and the rear YZF250 hub has a slightly wider 2.5” Excel rim. This was my first time lacing wheels so it was a bit of an experience. The tyres are Maxxis DTR-1 in a 27x7x19 up front and a 27.5×7.5×19 down the back.
For the radiator I cut the tanks off two CR250 radiators, welded them together and made up some new tanks to suit.
Paint wise I sprayed the frame, tank and seat myself in a Honda colour scheme that I thought would look right. Lastly I fabricated up some number boards and cut some vinyl to finish it all off.
The only bit of work that wasn’t carried out by myself was the seat. I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near confident with a sewing machine.
CR500 Street Tracker: Specs
Honda 1985 CR500 Engine & Frame
- Maxxis DTR-1 tyres 27x7x19 front and 27.5×7.5×19 rear – Excel rims F/2.15×19 R/2.5×19
- ’04 Yamaha R6 forks
- Ducati rear shock
- KTM Brembo front caliper
- Ducati Brembo rear caliper
- Custom tubular chromoly swing arm
- Custom chromoly rear subframe
- FMF Gnarly expansion chamber
- Custom stainless mid pipe
- FMF turbocore muffler
- XR750 style tail section
- Champion style tank
- CRF rear master cylinder
- Custom rear brake level
- Custom blue vinyl seat
- High bend wide flat track style handlebar
- Custom aluminium radiator
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