Hand-built in Texas by Alpha Moto Co…
For one year only, Honda offered the 1983 GL650I Silver Wing Interstate — a midsize touring bike powered by the transverse “twisted” 80-degree pushrod V-twin introduced in the CX500. The liquid-cooled engine had proven itself an eminently reliable, low-maintenance powerplant — perfect for touring duty.
“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
The original GL500 Interstate was criticized for being a bit short on power, which the GL650 solved…and then some. Despite the 650 badges, the new engine actually had a displacement of 673cc, and peak power rose from 50 to 64 hp. What’s more, this was more than a simple bore job — Honda re-engineered nearly every aspect of the engine to handle the additional power:
“They strengthened the big end of the connecting rods, the rod bolts, main bearings, cylinder studs, clutch and transmission, increased both the water- and oil-pump flow rates, and replaced the cam-driven radiator fan with a new electric, thermostatically triggered unit…. Since the R&D people knew the extra displacement would practically ensure the 650 of better low-end and mid-range, they performed a mild hop-up job to increase peak power as well.” –Cycle Guide, 1983
For those who love these engines, the 650 is the one to have. Recently, we heard from Carlos Lopez of San Antonio, Texas, who grew up working in his father’s motorcycle shop — building his first race bike when he was just 9!
“From the time I could walk, my older brother and I could be found in my father’s motorcycle shop full of grease and oil climbing all over his motorcycles…. Growing up I would watch my father repair motorcycles and even assist. But it was the opportunity to build my first road race bike that sparked a passion for custom builds. A 1990 Yamaha YSR50 was the first race bike my dad and I built to compete in CMRA racing when I was just 9 years old.”
By the time Carlos was 15, he was working as a part-time mechanic, and he opened his motorcycle shop straight out of high school: Alpha Moto. When he saw this GL650 Silver Wing he’d built in this year’s Handbuilt Motorcycle Show, we had to learn more.
Built for a client, the bike features a custom-built subframe, tail section, saddle, exhaust, battery box, and various brackets for the gauges and rear sets. Carlos says the bike rides as well as it looks:
“The bike rides extremely stable and nimble. Very responsive at the twist of the throttle and the sound it makes is very pleasing to the ear.”
Below, we talk to Jose for more details on the build, and show off more photos courtesy of photographer Jose Murillo.
Honda Silver Wing Café Racer: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Carlos Lopez and I grew up around motorcycles. From the time I could walk, my older brother and I could be found in my father’s motorcycle shop full of grease and oil climbing all over his motorcycles. By age five, I was riding a black and yellow Yamaha PW50 dirt bike. Growing up I would watch my father repair motorcycles and even assist. But it was the opportunity to build my first road race bike that sparked a passion for custom builds. A 1990 Yamaha YSR50 was the first race bike my dad and I built to compete in CMRA racing when I was just 9 years old.
By age 15, I was working part-time as a mechanic, rebuilding carburetors and engines, mounting tires, troubleshooting electrical issues, and servicing motorcycles. My love for motorcycles was ingrained at a young age, so it was a natural progression when I opened my motorcycle shop right out of high school.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
1983 Honda GL650I Silver Wing.
• Why was this bike built?
The bike was built for a client.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Client saw one of my previous builds and wanted a similar style.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Custom-built rear tail section, frame, and seat. Custom-made brackets for TC. Bros rear sets, custom-made exhaust system, POSH handlebar switches, handmade bracket for motogadget speedo, KOSO tail light, Antigravity battery, custom battery box, and electronics tray. Tires are Shinko E270.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
The bike rides extremely stable and nimble. Very responsive at the twist of the throttle and the sound it makes is very pleasing to the ear.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’m proud of the exhaust I made.