It’s safe to assume that no Honda engineer or executive anticipated that the Honda CX500, more than 40 years after its launch, would become a mainstay of the 21st century custom motorcycle movement. Introduced in 1978, the CX was innovative for its time, featuring Honda’s first V-twin engine, as well as liquid cooling, shaft drive, modular wheels, and electric-only start. While the bike earned the respect of motorcycle couriers as an all-weather workhorse, it was christened the “Plastic Maggot” due to the funky aesthetics and bikini fairing.
Enter Régis Schneerberger of Be Unique, who started the workshop and atelier in southwest France with friends Gaetan Demy and Cyril Queireix. Five years ago, Régis and Gaetan collaborated on their VW Tattoo Rod, which was featured in a motorcycle show in Bordeaux — whetting their appetites for two-wheeled builds. Says Régis:
“I’ve always loved the aesthetics of motorcycles that you don’t necessarily find on cars and I think you can easily turn them into works of art.”
Today, they have a shop in Bordeaux, a showroom in Pessac, an apparel line, and they continue to build custom cars and motorcycles. The bike you see here began life as a 1981 Honda CX500, though it now boasts parts from many different machines. Built to promote the shop, the bike now sports a red anodized GSX-R750 forks, a Yamaha DT tank, a one-off red-quilted custom seat, monoshock conversion, engine crash cages, and much more. Below, we get the full story on the build from Régis himself.
Honda CX500 Street Tracker: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Régis Schneerberger, I am 37 years old. I live in Pessac, in a town in the southwest of France.
The history of BE UNIQUE begins in 2015 with my meeting with Gaetan Demy who was originally a client passionate about VWs with whom I associated to create the VW Beetle Tattoo Rod five years ago. One year later, we meet Cyril Queireix, originally a client who today does saddlery with us. We have become partners, but also and above all friends. Be Unique creations are a mixture of our respective tastes and skills and it is thanks to this that each of our cars or motorcycles are unique.
I’ve always loved the aesthetics of motorcycles that you don’t necessarily find on cars and I think you can easily turn them into works of art. We never had the opportunity to create or personalize a motorcycle, but what really made us want to start is our participation in the two wheels show in Bordeaux three years ago to exhibit the Beetle Tattoo Rod.
After that, we got even more interested in everything around motorcycles and so we started in 125cc, taking inspiration from the cafe racer style. As we went along, we created our first motorcycle, a Honda 125 scrambler. What excites us is being able to change everything, make modifications, delete or add what we like. Above all, it’s about being able to mix different styles and make it a unique work of art.
We do our best every day by learning and trying to improve our skills for current and future projects. We can work on any model of motorcycle and each of our motorcycles must be authentic.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
We completely rebuilt and designed the bike, it’s a 1981 Honda CX500 that we made to promote our workshop.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
We tried to give an aggressive and sharp look to the bike by combining a large engine with a small body.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
To give it this unique look, we took the bike down to the frame to remove all that was useless, fixing lugs, etc. — then sanded the engine and other cycle parts.
We also shortened and restored the wiring harness and switched to an extra flat lithium battery so that it is as discreet as possible.
We had to adapt a koso digital counter, a DT MX tank and a 750 GSX-R fork.
We also made a custom black non-slip saddle with quilted red square stitching, suspended the rear loop, and switched to a single rear central shock absorber.
And to finalize everything, change the tires with nine trail Pirelli, overhauled the radiator, carburetor, engine, etc. Painted the cycle parts in satin black and the bodywork in military green, and put the rear lights and side headlights in LED.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
This bike has no particular nickname — I’ll let the buyer find the nickname that will make him happy. For me the motorcycles that I create are all masterpieces.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
I love motorcycles, but I don’t ride a lot with it yet but what I can say is that when I ride a motorcycle I have this feeling of freedom and control, I love to feel the wheels on the tar and in the curves, feeling the vibration of the engine and riding a motorcycle allows you to see the road and the landscape differently as if you were in control!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
If we really had to choose, I would say the proportions and the homogeneity of the bike with so many parts coming from other motorcycles, and the rear loop as well as having been in mono shock, and the red anodized GSX-R fork. But it is true that it is very complicated to say what makes us the most proud because we are proud of all that we have done on this bike before.