Clymer Manuals liked this 1971 Honda CB500 four so much when we saw it at the 2013 Heart of America Motorcycle Enthusiasts show and rally that we made it the cover bike on our manual. The big Honda CB750 four may get all the glory, but its little brother the CB500 is said to be a much better bike to ride when the roads get twisty.
Clymer Girl and the crew didn’t have to go far to attend the HoAME show and rally, as it was just up the road at the Kansas City Airline History Museum in the Downtown Airport. The show was packed with classic vintage and antique motorcycles representing the best of British, German, Japanese, Italian, and American manufacturers. Some of the brands on display were Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Triumph, BSA, Norton, Indian, Cushman, Vespa, Laverda, Lambretta, Ducati, Matchless, Zundapp, Moto Guzzi, and more. There was everything from 100% perfect restorations, to well worn bikes daily riders, to full-on customized cafe racers, choppers, bobbers, dirt bikes, road racers – any type or style of motorcycle you could image. As part of the museum’s permanent exhibits, there were also vintage propeller driven passenger planes, including a Douglas DC-3, a Martin 404, and, the pride of their collection, a 1958 Lockheed Super Constellation.
With 18 fewer claimed horsepower than the CB750, but nearly 100 less motorcycle to haul around, Honda’s mid-sized four cylinder was the sweet spot for many riders back in the day. Where as the big bike needed muscle to get around corners, the CB500, and the Cb550 that replaced it, practically fell into line just by looking in the right direction. These motors had as much power as a British twin or Harley sportster from the factory, would run nearly forever with routine maintenance, and could be made even faster in the hands of the right tuner.
Read more about the Honda CB500 here on Wikipedia.
If you are building a custom cafe racer from a CB500 or CB550 four, restoring one to show condition, or just putting a long neglected example back on the road, you’ll want the Clymer Honda CB350-550cc SOHC four manual.