When first produced in 1978 the Honda CX500 water cooled V-twin was their most advanced bike. It was only their second water cooled motor, after the GL1000 of 1975, and their first V-twin. The centrally located cam may appear to be a step backwards, but it allowed a lower profile motor with the cylinder heads slightly twisted for less intrusion into the rider’s knees. Short pushrods operated four valves per cylinder via forked rocker arms. The transmission gears are under the crank, and final drive is via shaft. After some initial teething problems, these bikes proved to be very reliable and a favorite of commuters.
Despite the transverse V-twin layout being ill-suited for forced induction plumbing, Honda decided to add a turbo because of the CX500 motor’s liquid cooling. The futuristic styled CX500 turbo appeared in 1982 with computer controlled fuel injection and a turbine which would put out 19 psi when on maximum boost. The chassis was upgraded with “boomerang” Comstar wheels, triple disc brakes, and a mono shock rear suspension. The small turbo is at the front, just below and behind the radiator, feeding air over the top of the motor and back to the individual throttle bodies. To drive home how special this bike was, the word “turbo” was applied several times to every side of the bike, so there was no way to miss it, and it was also give an day-glo orange stripe. All of this added up to a real new wave design, and an increase from about 48 horsepower to a claim of 82 horsepower at 8,000 rpm under full boost. The next year, the bike got a displacement boost to become the CX650 Turbo, and was rated at an even 100 horsepower.
You can read more about these turbo bikes at Motorcycle Classics here.
The Clymer crew didn’t have to go far to attend the 2018 RadWood Los Angeles event, it was just down the road from the Newbury Park, CA offices. RADWood is a recent creation of the automotive blog/podcast community, celebrating the cars, bikes, and culture of the 1980s and early 1990s. Period dress and accessories are encouraged, there is era appropriate music playing, and professional break dancers or BMX freestyle riders put on a show. Among the Datsuns 280ZXs, Fox Mustangs, Toyota Supras, and Buick Grand Nationals, were Honda Hurricanes, Suzuki Katanas, and Ducati 916s. RadWood has shows all over the country, and is even going to Europe and Japan this year, so check their website for dates and locations.
Clymer motorcycle repair manuals are written specifically for the do-it-yourself enthusiast. From basic maintenance to troubleshooting to complete overhaul, Clymer manuals provide the information you need. While we don’t produce a manual for the rare CX500 or CX650 Turbo bikes, our manual #335 does cover all the other bikes in the CX and GL family with this unique V-twin from Honda, made from 1978-1983. The most important tool in your tool box may be your Clymer manual, get one today.