“Almost every part of the bike has been touched, but looks like it could be a factory bike…”
Introduced in 1971, the Honda CB500 Four was in many ways a streamlined, smaller and lighter version of the 750. It weighed 80 pounds less than its big sibling, and handled like it. The oversquare design of the 50-hp engine kept the center of gravity low, while the gusseted frame minimized chassis flex, and the bike could run the 1/4 mile in 14.13 seconds — about four tenths slower than the 750. Said Cycle magazine in a period test:
“The new for 1971 Honda CB500 Four took all the 750’s fine attributes and focused them into a smaller, lighter bike that in many ways was better than its much-lauded forebearer.”
Enter Alex DeFee, an architect and designer who bought this ’73 CB500 Four while in grad school. After riding it for several years, he decided to tear into the machine, transforming the bike into “the perfect middleweight Honda four” with the help of one of the best in the business:
“Brought it to my friend Pat Jones at MotoHangar in VA to work on it, and he helped me realize my design vision.”
They retrofitted a rebuilt CB550 engine into the chassis, complete with a number of upgrades, and detabbed the frame, adding a CB360 tank and a seat designed to look like a trimmed-down version of the original. The wheels have been rebuilt, and the bike now boasts Motogadget electronics and stainless hardware throughout. The result is one of the sweetest Honda fours we’ve ever seen, “The Standard”:
“Not a tracker, not a scrambler, not a cafe racer…just a Standard UJM.”
Below, we get the more details on the build directly from Alex himself.
Honda CB500/550 Daily Ripper: Owner Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Bought the bike a 1973 CB500 Four in architecture grad school while down in Charleston, SC. Drove up to NC to buy it from a guy that literally had a barn FULL of old 70s bikes. Rode it around as is for years before deciding to tear into it. I’m an architect and designer but have no mechanical skills AT ALL. Brought it to my friend Pat Jones at MotoHanger in VA to work on it, and he helped me realize my design vision.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Honda CB500/CB550 Engine 1973.
• Why was this bike built?
Personal bike/daily driver.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Build the perfect middleweight Honda 4. Really wanted to slim down and lighten the visual lines of the bike, but also make it look like it could have rolled off the factory floor that way. Almost every part of the bike has been touched, but looks like it could be a factory bike.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
- Rebuilt engine: new rings, cleaned pistons, new valve seals, Kibble White dual valve springs, 650 cam, new gaskets, powder coated pieces and an oil filter relocation kit.
- Rebuilt wheels: 18” front and back with excel rims and stainless spokes.
- Detabbed frame.
- New seat to look like a trimmed down version of the original.
- Cb360 tank with custom candy red paint.
- Custom stainless exhaust.
- Motogadget wiring harness.
- Rebuilt forks and yss shocks.
- Micro LED blinkers
- Rebuilt brakes with drilled disc.
- WIDE Stainless tracker bars.
- Stainless bolts throughout.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
The Standard. Not a tracker, not a scrambler, not a cafe racer…just a Standard UJM.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Pretty docile under 4k rpm. Great for cruising around the city. Riding position is great for city riding. Once it revs above 4k, she rips.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
My favorite part of the build…new passenger peg mounts from a Honda XL250L to replace the stamped stock mounts. It’s the little things, and they just look so much better.
Build thread: http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,175068.0.html