This is the third post in our 4 Sale series about interesting, unique or weird bikes for sale online. Note: This is NOT an advertisement. ADVrider is NOT affiliated in any way with either the seller or marketplace. Do you know if any unique bikes for sale? Let us know by filling in this form.
Heard this one before? A plain-Jane girl gets made fun of at high school, some sort of intervention happens (magic? plastic surgery? wardrobe makeover?), and bam, she’s back for the next school year and blows the male students away with sizzling good looks.
That’s the sort of thing that normally works as a lame rom-com plot. But one of the best takes on this tale was a true-life turnaround from the late ’70s to the early ’80s, resulting in this 1982 Honda CX500TC.
The story begins with the 1978 Honda CX500, the first-ever V-twin from the Big Four. For some reason, Honda’s designers decided not to emulate the front-to-back V-twin layout that had worked so well for Harley-Davidson, Indian, Vincent, Ducati, and Brough. Instead, they mounted the engine across the frame, like Moto Guzzi. A generally well-respected design, for sure, but still an odd choice.
It’s possible the designers were working with some design principles picked up during the Gold Wing’s development; the first Wing had come on the market in ’75, and ideas like mounting the charging system on the back of the engine seemed to be working well for the GL series, so why not continue that over to the CX line?
There were other quirks with the new CX500 engine; it used pushrod-actuated valves, something you wouldn’t expect from the Big Four in the ’70s. This was necessary because the heads were twisted at a 22º degree off-center, to make more room for the rider’s legs.
However, the quirkiest thing was the looks. In an age where some of the most timeless Honda designs hit the market, the first version of the CX500 was a turd. The headlight was so abominably ugly that the bike earned the nickname “Plastic Maggot.” It was ugggggglyyyyy.
Still, Honda knew they had something. The maintenance stuff on the sides of the engine (cylinder heads, mostly) was easy to work on, and it could take a pounding, revving all the way to 9,650 rpm. The shaft drive also took a lot of the work out of maintenance. As long as you didn’t have to service the water pump or generator, the bike was mostly a set-it-and-forget-it ride (with one exception—we’ll talk about that later). For that reason, motorcycle couriers loved the thing, and Honda did sell quite a few, despite the looks.
But Big Red wanted more and went at the CX500 with a 1-2 approach for 1982. First off, Honda put together a reasonably attractive set of Euro-style bodywork for the CX500. And then, it added the one accessory that every macho gearhead lusts for: a turbocharger.
These days, the idea of adding a turbo to a mid-market model sounds silly, but back in the early ’80s, the Big Four were all carefully feeling out the idea of forced induction, and given the CX’s robust engine, it probably made sense for Honda to stick the turbo onto the machine.
Bam! Enter the 1982 Honda CX500CT, the former plain-Jane girl with the new, improved look. How could buyers resist?
The CX500CT wasn’t the sales success Honda hoped for (pricing probably had a lot to do with it, though). And even when Honda upgraded the 500 to 673 cc for ’83, the buyers still resisted. Alas, this tale did not have the happy ending you’d expect from the movies. The moto-masses weren’t wowed by the fuel injection (first for a production Honda) or the monoshock suspension (still fairly rare at that time). Honda only shipped a few hundred of the turbocharged 500s to North America in ’82, and same for the 650s in ’83. And then, it was all over. Just like a Nicholas Sparks tearjerker, this story ended with a whimper, and the CX line was taken off the market. The standard non-turbo’d version, the cruiser version, the sport tourer with the turbo, even the Silver Wing line that used the same platform—all gone.
So what about this specific example for sale in Kingsport, Tennessee? It’s the ’82 500 version, with turbocharger, which is rare, but it also comes with some sort of Honda jacket and wristwatch. In those days, Big Red was all about peddling Hondaline official accessories; maybe they’re period-authentic, maybe not, but they’re a cool addition if they are.
As for the machine itself, the photos aren’t the best, but it does appear to be … used. But then, what respectable 37-year-old sport tourer hasn’t been? You don’t find many sport tourers still in the wrapping paper, so to speak. It looks like the odometer is in the 22,000 mile range, which is certainly nothing to worry about with a bog-standard CX engine. If properly maintained, they’ll do 100,000 miles.
However, the turbo version can be a little trickier; some owners say they must be cooled down properly after a ride, or they’ll burn the turbo out.
And then, there’s the other CX bugbear: the cam chain.
Honda’s first CXs had a manually adjusted cam chain that would slap around and chew into the insides of the soft aluminum case when improperly adjusted. Later engines, like this one, had an auto-adjuster fitted, which supposedly solved the problem. And yet, out of the handful of CX engines I’ve had apart (admittedly, a small sample), I’ve never seen one that didn’t exhibit cam chain slap.
For that reason, it’d be worth taking an oil sample into a lab for analysis, if such services are available locally to you, and if the seller consents. If they find there’s a lot of aluminum in the oil, or if you can see a lot of fine, silvery flecks, then you’d definitely want to think hard about the work required to remedy that problem. You’d be dropping the engine before you even had an idea of what was wrong, for sure.
And, of course, at $6,999 asking price, this bike isn’t cheap to start with. You can buy a nice new bike for $7k, with a warranty, and modern suspension, and good brakes. But it won’t have a turbocharger … If that’s what you want, then you’re going to have to pay to play.