The CR500 was (and in some cases still is) the king of the dirt biking world from the mid-eighties until its eventual demise in 2001. But the mighty big-bore two-stroke is still held in very high regards by the dirt biking community. It’s lovely to see that people are still coming up with unique takes on the two-smoke legend, just like this radical flat tracker from C’s Garage in New Zealand.
The CR series from Honda is one of the longest-running names in the game. It started back in the day with the 1973 Lake Elsinore CR250. The classic Elsinore was a legend right out of the gates, captivating the motorsports world. It was arguably the leading cause for the motocross boom that lasted almost 30 years. And throughout that boom was a flurry of new technology. Every company was seeking to make the next big thing when it came to two-stroke dirt bikes, and Honda was deep in the fight. 1981 the air-cooled CR450 was born.
The CR450 grew in displacement each year until it landed at 491cc in 1984. Unfortunately the big single was labeled the ‘Ping King’ because it had a tendency to detonate early. Not something you want when dealing with a giant two-stroke. Honda once again upped their game and came out with the 1985 CR500R which featured a new water cooled engine. No more nicknames, this new 500 wouldn’t tolerate them. The 85′-88′ CR500R is notorious for its brutal power delivery even from low down in the RPM range. It has become the unicorn when talking about big displacement two-strokes. The 89-2001 CR500R’s are fine motorcycles, but a strategic cylinder head change has given the newer bucks a softness that makes them more manageable. More manageable is not always more fun, which draws a lot of people back to that original design. And that’s exactly what Adam Hedges went for when he found himself a good condition first year 85′ CR500.
Adam is by all accounts new to the custom motorcycle world. Although he is inexperienced with motorcycles he does have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to fabricating race cars. For over 10 years Adam has been building custom drift cars out of his garage called C’s Garage. Adam even competed professionally over the last two years. But he is re-dedicating himself to his craft, going back to building some seriously mean machines. That is where this CR500 Flat Track machine comes into play.
I can see why drifters are attracted to the dirt track world, you are essentially drifting motorcycles on clay after all. When Adam got his hands on the CR500 he wanted to build what he envisioned as a period correct 80’s CR500 flat tracker. Adam said, “I tried to keep things looking like they would have if they’d come straight out of the factory. Basically, if people could look at the bike and not know what was me and what was Honda, I was happy.” I don’t know about you, but that is exactly how the final product appears to me.
He started by ditching everything except the frame and the famous engine. The swing arm is entirely custom fabricated by Adam, shorting the wheelbase of the CR by almost 2 inches. For the rear Adam used a Ducati mono shock with an external reservoir that is neatly tucked away. The valving was also changed for the much lighter machine. The front forks come from a 2004 Yamaha R6, which I thought was an interesting choice. It would have been nice to see more Honda branded bits and pieces but overall the image speaks volumes over which manufacturer supplied what.
The radiators started life as a pair of CR250 units that he cut apart and welded together, providing ample cooling to the large two-stroke. Because back in 85′ drum brakes were still a thing, Adam had to fab up a new rear hub and rim combo, landing on a pair of Excel rims shod in DTR-1 Maxxis flat track tires. This allowed him to retrofit a Ducati rear disc brake, and a KTM front assembly allows for ample braking power.
Style wise this CR500 is out of this world. The rear subframe is hand built to fit the XR750esque tail section and seat. To add his own twist Adam relocated the factory FMF exhaust under the tail section giving just a slight twist to the standard tracker appearance. In front of that Adam found a fiberglass ‘Champion’ style tank from the UK that really sets off the entire vibe of this build. The paint was even done in house by Adam, in the perfect 80’s Honda color scheme. Combined with the period correct blue seat this CR500 becomes the embodiment of perfect 80’s flat tracker.
The CR500 may be gone, but it is anything but dead. Examples like this are keeping the king of two-strokes alive and well. Now someone please invent a time machine so we can show this to mid 80’s Honda, I think we all need one.