An open-class two-stroke supermotard built in the spirit of Superbikers….
Starting in 1979, ABC commissioned Superbikers, a made-for-TV series hosted at California’s Carlsbad Raceway, where motorcycling greats from all different disciplines raced head-to-head on special tarmac-and-dirt courses consisting of road race, dirt track, and motocross sections, often riding open-class big-bore two-strokes or Harley trackers. The professed goal of the series was to find the greatest all-around motorcycle racer, and legends like Kenny Roberts, Jeff Ward, Eddie Lawson, and many more joined the action, showcasing the infant sport of supermoto.
Enter Tommy Canellos (@canellos_racing) of Ontario, who was fortunate enough to grow up in a large family of motorcycle gearheads, watching his dad and uncles race on cool vintage machinery. Last year, he caught supermoto fever, a sport which combines his love of road racing and motocross, and built his first supermoto race bike:
“I raced a full season on that bike (1970 Kawasaki 350 Bighorn) and had so much fun I wanted to build the CR500 as a follow up!”
Tommy was directly inspired to build an open-class two-stroke by the Superbikers series, where the air-cooled CR480 was a multiple winner in the early 80s:
“I’m a huge fan of the iconic “Superbikers” series that aired in the 80’s, which basically showcased the infancy of supermoto. Watching big bore two-strokes race against Harleys on both the dirt and pavement is just too cool.”
The Honda CR500, liquid-cooled from ’85 onward, has to be one of the most notorious motocrossers ever built, a 60+ horsepower open-class smoker known to wheelie with the slightest twitch of throttle, punishing lesser riders and rewarding the worthy with one of the most thrilling powerbands ever conceived. Says Tommy:
“I wanted something faster than my other supermoto, and really what’s faster than a CR500? I want to stress that this will not be a trailer queen!! I fully plan on running the snot out of it at the track!!!”
In fact, his first race is in two weeks, and we can’t wait to see this incredible open-class smoker on the track. The bike has been thoroughly dyno-tested, producing 63 rwhp with a broad spread of torque. Tommy tackled most of the work at home, including paint, zinc plating, and a full suspension rebuild, and wants to make sure to thank Bondi Engines and Richard Biggs with machine work.
Below, we get the full story on this incredible machine.
Honda CR500 Supermotard: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Hey my name is Tommy Canellos, I’m a rider, builder and lover of all things motorcycle. I’ve been fortunate to have a rich history in motorcycling since I was born, thanks to a large family of motorcycle gearheads. I grew up watching my dad and uncles vintage road race some pretty cool machinery, while I was learning to ride in the dirt. I caught the supermoto bug last year when I was able to combine my love for road racing and motocross and built my first supermoto race bike. I raced a full season on that bike (1970 Kawasaki 350 Bighorn) had so much fun I wanted to build the CR500 as a follow up! My shop is dedicated to motorcycles and muscle cars. I do as much as I can from home and love the process of building, learning and developing a bike.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The bike is a 1986 Honda CR500.
• Why was this bike built?
I wanted something faster than my other supermoto, and really what’s faster than a CR500? I want to stress that this will not be a trailer queen!! I fully plan on running the snot out of it at the track!!!
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I’m a huge fan of the iconic “Superbikers” series that aired in the 80’s, which basically showcased the infancy of supermoto. Watching big bore two-strokes race against Harleys on both the dirt and pavement is just too cool.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
-Ported cylinder with raised exhaust port
-Billet connecting rod
-Keihin 39.5mm pwk carburetor
-Pro-circuit silencer with stock expansion chamber
-CR125 ignition with vortex programmable CDI (custom ignition curve)
-Reprofiled cylinder head
-17’’ Excel supermoto wheels on narrowed and thinned DR650 cush drive hub
-Beringer supermoto caliper with 320mm disc with Brembo master cylinder
-Rear disc conversion using YZ450 master cylinder billet carrier and billet caliper
-Rad shroud bracing to stop the plastics from bending backwards at speed
-Titanium footpegs (YZ250)
-Stiffer eibach fork and rear shock springs
-Road race belly pan from recycled rear fender
• Does the bike have a nickname?
I’ve heard it called many things: “widow maker”, “death trap”, etc. I like to picture Macho Man Randy savage riding it lol.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
I race the bike for the first time in two weeks!! From all the tuning I’ve done I can tell you that the bike is wickedly fast, and despite the very tall gearing it will pick the front wheel up in every gear. We did a lot of work perfecting the transitions in jetting and ignition curve to get lots of usable horsepower. The bike feels super light and nimble, now it’s just a matter of if I can hang on!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I am really proud of the extensive dyno testing and power delivery that we achieved on this bike. Our best run was 63HP with a broad and extremely torquey power band. The bike also revs out much better than stock at nearly 8500 rpm peak.
I also really enjoyed tackling some restoration from home that I would usually outsource like paint, zinc plating and full suspension rebuild.
Sick. The closest I came to riding one of those is a Suzuki TM400. I can only imagine what this is like. Love that tow car too.
Very nice build. All it needs is an FMF pipe. I had the privilege of riding and racing a CR500, almost every day, for years. It was the best time of my life.
Awesome job! Love 2 strokes, hang on…
I have a 86 in bits in my garage and articles like this make me want to dig it out and do something similar. I also have a mildly modified (but perfectly jetted) mid nineties CR500 that yesterday ran down new 450s in repeat drag races at the end of a casual race event. Stoked!
I guarantee if a guy like this did not us an FMF pipe, it did not have the power curve he was looking for.
Thanks for the information!!