A GL650-powered CX from Brick House Builds…
In recent years, the Honda CX500 has gone from being a quirky favorite of motorcycle couriers and commuters to a darling of the customs world. It’s one of those donors that allows builders to test their mettle, as the lines and aesthetics of the original leave much to be desired, necessitating a good deal of ingenuity and vision on the part of the customizer.
Few of the CX builds we’ve seen stand out as much as this new one from our friend Bj English of Missouri’s Brick House Builds, several of whose past builds we’ve featured. Lately, Bj has been focusing more on personal builds, parts sales, and videos to both educate and entertain other builders around the globe. That meant we got to follow the progress of this build from the ground up. Says Bj:
“This bike was built for a customer who wanted a unique, comfortable, and well made CX500 to play on.”
With so many top tier CX500 customs already alive in the world, Bj and the customer worked to come up with something all their own. Like many previous Brick House Builds, this one oozes nostalgia:
“We put a big emphasis on colors, drawing heavy inspiration from the classic 80s/90s Honda Racing era.”
The modifications are vast. Highlights include a rear monoshock conversion, braced swingarm, GSX-R1000 front end, spoked wheels, and a rebuilt GL650 engine swap — complete with ported heads, VM34 Mikunis, and a hand-fabricated stainless steel exhaust. Dynoed at a stout 61 rwhp!
“Horsepower is cool but torque is what moves you, which is why this bike is so fun. It makes peak torque early on and is a tabletop across the rpm range. The bike does not care what rpm you are, as it will simply pull!”
The bike is full of fabrication details, including the intake manifolds, kickstand, rear cowl, shift linkage, and overflow containers. Rich Phillips of St. Louis upholstered the saddle, while our mutual friend James Fawcett at Slipstream Creations handled the paint and photos. Below, we talk to Bj about this brilliant machine, nicknamed “Grandfather’s Axe.”
Honda CX500 Custom: Builder Interview
• Tell us a little about Brick House Builds – what’s new since the last build we featured?
First off, thank you so much for the continued support! Always an honor to get featured on BikeBound! Since the last feature. Brick House Builds has been shifting directions a bit with a focus on more personal builds, content creation, and motorcycle parts sales. I build custom bikes on which I make videos to hopefully both educate and entertain those who may have similar projects.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
This started as a 1981 Honda CX500.
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was built for a customer who wanted a unique, comfortable, and well made CX500 to play on.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Having been inspired by many other top tier CX builds, my customer and I collaborated to come up with something of our own. Black was not an option, as we put a big emphasis on colors, drawing heavy inspiration from the classic 80s/90s Honda Racing era. So many things inspire and influence us each day whether it be a Fender guitar, a vintage Ferrari, handcrafted saddle, highly engineered aircraft, or even a cool pair of shoes — it’s impossible to say one thing was the main influence. In short, it was inspired by simply everything!
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Every single component on this bike has been modified or changed in some way. The short list is as follows:
- Stock frame was modified for a single Ducati 900ss shock and stiffer spring.
- Fabricated a new subframe
- Rebuilt and swapped in a Honda GL650 engine
- Ported heads
- Fabricated stainless exhaust
- Fabricated intake manifolds for Mikuni VM34 carbs
- Braced swingarm
- GSXR 1000 front end
- Laced wheels
- Fabricated kickstand
- Fabricated rear cowl
- Handmade wiring harness around an NWT Cycletronic Morty system
- Modified fuel tank for flush mount fuel cap
- Fabricated PCV oil separator and radiator overflow containers
- Fabricated shift linkage system
There is more but you get the idea!
• Does the bike have a nickname?
So fun fact: a Facebook commenter actually helped guide the nickname. He had mentioned the ship of Thesus which is a paradox of whether an object that has had all of its parts replaced is still the same object. Same idea as grandfathers axe. “This was my grandfather’s axe. The head was replaced years ago. The handle sometime after.” As every component on this bike has been modified or changed, is it still a CX500? That’s the idea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
• Any idea of horsepower, weight, and/or performance numbers?
I still haven’t weighed the bike but it did end up making a healthy 61hp on the dyno.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Horsepower is cool but torque is what moves you, which is why this bike is so fun. It makes peak torque early on and is a tabletop across the rpm range. The bike does not care what rpm you are, as it will simply pull! It is happy at low rpm or up top, which makes it fun all the time! I always describe the bike simply as “grunty.”
Handling-wise, the bike is very stable with a very nice turn-in feel and rock solid stability mid-corner. The tracker style bars give a perfect attack feel while remaining comfortable for regular riding. As it has a GSX-R1000 front end, it has hilariously good brakes!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I very much take pride in the exhaust, kickstand, and shift linkage, as they all presented challenges as well as allowing me to learn new skills.
Photos taken by James at Slipstream Creations, who you have featured before and is a gentleman and a scholar. He painted the bike as well: slipstreamcreations.com
Seat was upholstered by Rich Phillips Leather here in St. Louis: richphillipscycles.com