Are we witnessing the birth of a new trend in custom bike building? First, Icon mounted knobbies and a beater fairing on a VF1000R, turning it into sort of a post-apocalyptic, high-speed dual-sport. Now, Parisian builder Rive Gauche has done this semi-rat build to a Honda CX500. Unloved ‘80s beaters as big, heavy dirt bikes?
Like any good custom, this Rive Gauche is simple and a little subversive. The CX500 was, in the late ‘70s, a sort of high-tech, bizarro-world, Japanese take on European motorcycles. It was the companies first v-twin and featured, for the time, fancy feature content like electric start, shaft drive, modular wheels and liquid-cooling.
Cylinders are set a 80 degrees and twisted to the rear by 22 degrees. That arrangement was created after Honda trialed a near copy of the Moto Guzzi 90-degree twin and testers reported it too smooth and that the carbs would interfere with their knees. The 80-degree firing order added an uneven pulse, while the visible twist to the cylinders points the carbs inwards, clearing space for legs. Other innovations include a crank mounted above the transmission and sharing its case, decreasing length front-to-rear, but making the engine quite tall.
Rive Gauche has taken advantage of that last feature, hiding the battery and wiring harness in spare room under the transmission output. That, plus ditching the airbox in favor of cone air filters has completely cleared the rear of the frame.
Built to be ridden, the bike is equipped with a host of parts aimed at actual mechanical upgrade, even if they achieve an aesthetic benefit as well. The forks adopt tough-looking gators on the outside, but are revalved and resprung internally for firmer damping and more control. Brakes are upgraded with a master-cylinder from a Honda CBR600, bars are off a Yamaha XT dual sport, pegs are off a Suzuki DR-Z and the dual shocks are now Koni. Perhaps most noticeably, the powertrain is powdercoated in “old English white.”
Rive Gauche calls this a street tracker, but other than the knobby tires, it’s much more of a naked standard with some dirt capability. In other words, it’s a cheap bike utterly transformed by easy modifications that looks tough and would be a blast to hoon on fire roads.