Alchemy Motorcycles builds a show-stopping silver-grey CB…
The Honda CB500 Four made quite the splash when it debuted at the London Racing and Sporting Motorcycle Show in early 1972. Described as “one of the “show stealers” (Motorcycle Mechanics), the 50-hp four-cylinder SOHC machine offered performance in line with the 650 twins of the era. In fact, many riders and reviewers even came to favor the 500 middleweight over its iconic big sibling, the CB750:
“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 forbearer.” —Motorcycle Classics
When it comes to customizing the CB series, few builders do it as well as Michel Valle and family from California’s Alchemy Motorcycles. Michel, together with his brother (Christian) and wife (Janelle Villa), focus on one-off builds both for customers and themselves. Back in 2018, we featured their “Grey Ghost” CB550K, and just last month, their CB750 “Chalk” graced our pages.
Now they’re back with this stunning ’72 CB500 — a bike built for the 2021 OG Moto Show in Los Angeles, where they were an invited builder:
“The design concept was to build a minimalist, yet clean and sophisticated show bike. Trimmed down to the essentials and polished up to shine.”
First things first, the bike had a full overhaul, including an engine rebuild and freshened top end before the motor was vapor-honed and painted. Then they stripped down and detabbed the frame, shaped a custom seat cowl, and laced up the Borani shouldered rims with new Buchanan stainless spokes.
Other highlights include Bimota NOS rear sets, rebuilt forks, and polished stainless/chrome Hagon shocks. Then the real work began:
“Once all of the fabrication and mockup was done, we tore the bike down completely and every inch of the bike has been refinished in paint, vapor honed, polished, or plated in chrome…lots of chrome.”
We especially love the color they chose, BMW’s Silbergrau — silver-grey — a metallic paint that really accentuates the curves on the bike. What’s more, Michel estimates that they’ve gotten the bike down to a svelte 330 pounds, meaning this CB500 Four goes as well as it shows:
“The bike rides like a dream. Light and nimble, with some great acceleration. All in all a fun bike to show off at shows or local bike meet ups.”
Below, we talk to Michel for more details on the build.
Honda CB500 Four Café Racer: Builder Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
1972 Honda CB500.
• Why was this bike built?
The bike was built to showcase our detailed show bike building skills. We debuted the bike at the 2021 OG Moto show in L.A. as an invited builder. We love building these type of show bikes because they are so fun to build, but mostly how great they look under the show lights.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The design concept was to build a minimalist, yet clean and sophisticated show bike. Trimmed down to the essentials and polished up to shine.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The bike was a complete overhaul. The engine was rebuilt since it had a base gasket leak, so we freshened up the top end before vapor honing and painting the motor.
The frame was stripped down and cleaned up before shaping out the custom seat cowl. A center-mounted headlight and clip-ons cleaned the front end up and Bimota NOS rear sets for clean foot controls. New slightly oversized tires beefed up the Borani shouldered rims that were laced with new hand-polished stainless Buchanan spokes. Rebuilt forks and polished stainless/chrome Hagon shocks handled the suspension.
Once all of the fabrication and mockup was done, we tore the bike down completely and every inch of the bike has been refinished in paint, vapor honed, polished, or plated in chrome…lots of chrome. We went with a BMW color (silbergrau) because of how the metallic paint would really accentuate the curves on the bike. After reassembly, a new simplified wiring harness was made from scratch to hide the loom as much as possible. The rebuilt carburetors were then dyno-tuned to the polished velocity stacks.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
We’re calling it “Silbergrau” after the color.
• Any idea of horsepower, weight, and/or performance numbers?
50hp, we’re down to about 330 lbs (est.)
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
The bike rides like a dream. Light and nimble, with some great acceleration. All in all a fun bike to show off at shows or local bike meet ups.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I think the overall feel of the bike was what we are most proud of. The bike turned out to be the showpiece we envisioned we could build. We sought out to build a clean sophisticated CB500 and I think we achieved that goal.