An apocalyptic Silver Wing from Brick House Builds…
In 1981, Honda released the GL500 Silver Wing, which combined the liquid-cooled 80-degree V-twin engine from the CX500 with a stronger ignition/charging system, Pro-Link monoshock rear suspension, and the Interstate model featured a large factory fairing, hard bags, and trunk. In effect, it was a more robust CX intended for touring duty — especially for solo riders.
“When you see a hundred or a thousand Gold Wingers together, more than half of them are running solo, and this Silver Wing was a perfect ride for a solo guy or gal. Less expensive and less weight, the 650 Interstate weighed a good 200 pounds less than the 1100 Interstate.” —Rider
In 1983, the 674cc GL650 appeared, boasting 64 horsepower — 14 more than the GL500 — and Soichiro Honda ensured that everything in the engine had been strengthened — easy enough since much of that work had been done for the CX500 Turbo. The result was the fastest, most powerful non-turbo Honda CX/GL to come out of the Honda factory:
“The substantial displacement boost toughens the basic nature of the GL, and riders of all sorts will welcome the 650’s extra punch. The GL pulls well down low and in most cases has enough mid-range oomph to pass on the freeway without a downshift. Our Silver Wing ran through the quarter-mile in 12.96 seconds at 99.55 mph, the best drag-strip performance we’ve obtained from a normally aspirated CX/GL.” —Cycle Guide, 1983
Enter our friend Bj English of Missouri’s Brick House Builds, who’s built a couple of CX500 customs we’ve featured, including an ATC-inspired CX500 street tracker and NPS-inspired CX500 scrambler. Bj had been wanting to do a GL650 build that would benefit from the Silver Wing’s better brakes, suspension, charging system, and power. It was the perfect platform for a customer commission he received:
“The goal was something stripped down and aggressive looking that the customer could ride on the weekends. It really doesn’t fit any particular style and I try not to get caught up in labeling it a ‘this’ or a ‘that,’ but rather it’s just a fun custom with a blend of touches to make it unique but also cohesive.”
Bj gave the bike an apocalyptic vibe, complete with a CBR954 rear shock, Kenda Big Block tires, custom 2-into-1 exhaust, lithium battery, Rick’s regulator/rectifier, and more. We especially like the custom-fabbed stacked headlight setup and the side profile lines, where he put in a lot of work and attention:
“The seat is shaped to carry the lines from the tank down into the subframe and give a more dirt bike type vibe at the same time.”
Below, we get the full story on the build from Bj himself.
Honda Silver Wing Custom: In the Builder’s Words…
This is a commissioned build through my shop called Brick House Builds. The goal was something stripped down and aggressive looking that the customer could ride on the weekends. It really doesn’t fit any particular style and I try not to get caught up in labeling it a “this” or a “that,” but rather it’s just a fun custom with a blend of touches to make it unique but also cohesive.
I started with a bone-stock (save for a CB radio) ’83 GL650 as they have better brakes, factory monoshock, more robust charging/ignition systems, and of course more power as compared to the typical CX500. I had been wanting to build a GL-based bike as I had a vision for a side profile that I executed in this bike.
Once stripped down I made a new subframe that carries its lines from the valve cover and lower portion of the stock fuel tank upward and back for the aggressive lines you see here. The seat is shaped to carry the lines from the tank down into the subframe and give a more dirt bike type vibe at the same time.
In regards to the suspension, the only change made is a CBR954 rear shock which is fit using a modified GL500 lower linkage for the factory pro-link setup. The bike sports stock wheels but has Kenda Big Block tires for that aggressive look. Otherwise all components have been rebuilt and/or serviced.
The stock 650 engine was in good health so no major changes were made there. The bike simply needed a carb cleaning and some new gaskets/seals to be up to snuff. I did install a more modern electric fan as the stock fan motor was on its way out. The engine inhales through some K&N pod filters with carbs jetted to match.
For exhaust, the stock header primaries were reused but I fabricated a 2-into-1 merge setup that exits through a Cone Engineering muffler. This is hands down one of the best sounding bikes I have ever built!
In the looks department, all components have been refinished or replaced. A stacked headlight setup was fabricated to keep that apocalypse feel going and the fuel tank was stripped to bare metal before giving it a center stripe and clearing over it all for the look you see here. You will also note a few yellow/gold touches throughout the bike just for some contrast.
On the electronics side, the bike uses most of its stock components save for an upgraded lithium battery, Rick’s reg/rec, an LED strip flush mounted in the back, a Trail Tech Vapor digital gauge, and modern controls from a CB500x for a simple and clean setup!
Overall I really love this bike in its shape, sound, and simplicity. It is an absolute blast to ride and is comfortable as an added bonus! Because of this I definitely see myself building another GL in the future!