It seems strange to see tire warmers on a Honda CX500. The CX is known for its unique engine layout, shaft drive and gawky looks, rather than its performance. It still baffles us how this once despatch favorite became a darling of the custom scene.
Still, if there’s a shop that you can rely on to inject style into the CX500—and to go to the trouble of adding custom color-coded tire warmers—it’s Nct Motorcycles. The Austrian outfit never fails to knock it out the park, and has a knack for making every last detail count.
This 1978 CX500 was a project without a client—something NCT regularly does to keep their minds fresh. Shop boss David Widmann penned the design, drawing inspiration from the CB1100 TR Concept that Honda debuted in 2016.
With a clear direction on the table, the team set to work, stripping the Honda down to the basics. The CX’s attractiveness is severely hamstrung by a tank that slopes backwards and a weirdly kinked subframe; no good for what the lads had in mind.
They lopped off the rear half of the frame, ditching the CX’s original twin shock arrangement in the process. The swing arm was liberated of its original shock mounts and gifted a new one, attached to a new Öhlins unit.
Up top, NCT built a simpler, sharper subframe with a subtle kick in the tail. They then hand-shaped a new cowl and seat to cap it off. Instead of mounting up a regular taillight, the guys fitted a neat pair of multi-purpose Motogadget LEDs. The original fuel tank is still in play, but it’s been remounted at a better angle. And the filler neck’s been rebuilt to host a better-looking fuel cap.
There’s just as much goodness going on up front—in the form of the upside-down forks and yokes from a Ducati 749. NCT had to get fancy with the steering shaft to get everything to match up just right.
The guys opted to keep the CX’s Comstar wheels, wrapping them in Avon Roadriders. But they upgraded the twin front brake setup with a new Brembo system, connecting it to a Magura master cylinder.
Cast your eyes over the cockpit, and you’ll spot another reservoir on the left side of the bars, since NCT installed a Magura hydraulic clutch too. In fact, other than the original choke pull (which has been neatly remounted), there’s hardly anything left of the original control area.
The clip-ons (and rear sets) are custom, fitted with a Domino throttle and a bucket load of Motogadgetry, including grips, bar-end turn signals and mini switches. The digital dash is from Motogadget too, set on a custom mount, and just in front of it is a powerful LED headlight.
The electro upgrades go more than skin deep though. NCT rewired the whole bike around Motogadget’s new m.unit Blue controller, unlocking a host of Bluetooth smartphone functionality.
When it came to the engine, the crew opted for a refresh rather than a serious upgrade. They ditched the airbox to make way for the new mono shock, fitting a set of cone filters. Then they set about on what David says was the hardest part of the build: the exhaust.
The entire twin-header system was hand-made from stainless steel, including the mufflers. The way they flow alongside the bike and kick up at the same angle as the tail is flawless, reinforcing the Honda’s aggressive new lines.
But it’s not just the CX’s racy new stance that has us hooked—it’s also the way every last finish is exquisite.
The motor, wheels and frame were all finished in a rich black, but the tank and tail were treated to a stunning silver, red and blue livery, adorned with subtle gold striping and a period-correct Honda wing logo. To push it over the finish line, NCT had the forks finished in blue, and the shock spring in red.
It’s another home run for NCT Motorcycles, which David puts down to teamwork. Manuel handled paint, framework and the seat fab, built the exhaust and mounted up the front end. Philipp stripped the bike and helped NCT’s workshop manager, Mario, put it all back together. And Mario also tackled the wiring.
When all was said and done, the team nicknamed the Honda ‘Highflyer,’ after a racehorse in the 18th century that went his entire career undefeated.
Sounds about right to us, since we’ve yet to see NCT Motorcycles put a foot wrong.
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