Friday, November 15, 2002

For the love of God, WHY?!?!

Yeah. I know. A CX500 chopper. I must be nuts, right? Well, I figured nobody had done it before, and I had the time and the money... and I wanted to make the bike more enjoyable to me. So the CX500 Chopper project was born, and inadvertently I became known as "Chopper Charles". Here's the story of my modifications!

I started with a pair of 7" over fork tubes I purchased on eBay a year or two ago. I got them for a paltry $15 plus $10 shipping. They were for a CB400, and nobody else bid. I don't really know why I picked them up, I didn't have a CB bike and really had no plans to buy one. Fortunately, I found that a CB400 and a CX500 (78-81) use 35mm fork tubes. And I just happened to acquire a CX500 from my old man (Dick In Raleigh), to do with as I pleased. The CX500 I had was an '82, though, and had 36mm air forks instead of the 35mm forks used on all other years.

So, the first order of business was to replace the front end with one off a '78. Fortunately, my father has a TON of parts bikes behind the barn. I used the fork lowers, brake caliper, and triple-tree from a '78 CX500. I stipped the paint off the upper triple tree, and then polished the lowers and replaced the fork seals. I put all the internal components from the CX500 tubes into the 7" over tubes, along with some 7 1/2" spacers. I topped the forks off with some 20wt fork oil and was nearly finished, except for the brakes. I'd really have liked to have used the 2-pot '82 brake caliper, but the mounting holes were wrong so I settled for the '78 single-pot caliper. It still stops okay.... not stellar, but okay.

At the same time, I lowered the bike with some 11" chrome shocks from Cycle Recycle Part II. Stock shocks are 13.5", but even after losing 2 1/2" the tire never rubs the fender. Handling was drastically improved. No more bouncing or wallowing! The front end sits altogether too high, though. I'm going to try a smaller (18") wheel on the front, and if that doesn't bring it down enough I'll have the steering neck raked.

All other modifications are mostly cosmetic and self-explanatory. I really like the exhaust, though. They fit nicely and are just loud enough to be pleasing, but not loud enough to be annoying. I'll probably be selling these in the future, though, as I want to go with a custom 2-into-2 system with fishtails, kind of like the Captain America bike, but different.

I made over the space of 3 months. It helped to spread out the cost and kept me happily busy in the garage. Note that the prices below include shipping, where applicable. Here's the cost breakdown so far:

Part or modification: Price: Got From:
•  Sissy bar Dick In Raleigh acquired in ebay deal $0 Dick In Raleigh
•  Banana seat for Triumph $40 eBay
•  Tombstone taillight $30 eBay
•  Headlight ears $8 JC Whitney
•  Chrome radiator grille $25 eBay
•  NOS Alphabet mufflers for Kawasaki 1000 $25 eBay
•  Mirrors salvaged off of CB350 parts bike $0
•  Drag bars $15 751 Motorsports
•  4" Dogbone risers $15 eBay
•  Harley-davidson grips $0 buddy gave them to me
•  2 pairs of aluminum mini turn signals $40 Cycle Recycle Pt. II
•  Forkbag, mounted below radiator. $25 dbgear
•  7" over fork tubes, originally made for CB400. $25 eBay
•  '78 CX500 triple tree, fork sliders, caliper, and fender. The '82 uses 36mm air forks,
so I needed to use a 78-81 CX500 front end.
$0 Dick In Raleigh.
•  1/8" flat steel stock, various nuts and bolts, and hollow rod to make highway bar. Price includes a bunch of money wasted on research and bad designs. < $40 Home Depot
•  11" Chrome short shocks $80 Cycle Recycle Pt. II
•  FIAMM horn, because the stocker didn't work - NOTE: Needs relay. $15 Auto Zone
•  Fork brace $30 eBay
Bullet license plate bolts $0 had lying around garage
•  Chrome HTTA fuse cover. $0 Dick In Raleigh
Total cost of modifications: $413

Parts removed:

Stock '82 forks, triple tree, caliper, headlight ears, turnsignals, rear grab bar, taillight, seat, plastic radiator grille, stock mufflers, speedo cable, handlebars, mirrors, crash bars, kickstand, and shocks.