The late 70’s was the wild west of the motorcycle world. Honda had a big lead on the rest of the field and each and every brand was trying to claw their way to the top. So when Honda briefly shifted its focus to their rising auto business it was Yamaha that shot first. With an accusation that Honda had abandoned its motorcycles to focus on cars Yamaha angered the red beast, resulting in the development of the CBX1000. The six shooter of the motorcycle world.
Honda’s CBX was a radical design that probably wouldn’t have taken flight if it weren’t for a serious push from the folks over at Yamaha. And while it wasn’t that fast, it was by no means slow either. It was the perfect answer to anyone that had doubts about Honda’s commitments to their two-wheeled vehicles. The straight six engine protruded well out of the frame on both sides, exposing the engine like never before. It gave the CBX the look of a bully, which is exactly what Honda wanted. Even in testing they knew the smaller 1000cc inline 4 was faster, yet the CBX’s designer Shoichiro Irimajiri said, “Nevertheless, we felt there was something exhilarating and exciting about the 6-cylinder CBX that was lacking in the 4-cylinder CB1000F… something in the CBX that could not be measured in numbers like speed and weight, (something that) made it a very sexy machine.” He couldn’t be more right.
Even though the CBX wasn’t the biggest hit it did put the murmurs about Honda’s commitment to rest. The CBX only ran for a total of 4 years. By then AMA racing had switched to 750cc machines, and the brash bully look of the 6-cylinder made some feel uneasy. Now the CBX is a legend, a bike that is sought after because of its throwback beauty and the howl it makes at 9k RPM.
This is where Michael Kopec’s CBX comes into play. Kopec isn’t just one of the folks that are buying into the cult of CBX’s, he is the cult. He’s now owned 5 of them, that’s how much he likes the CBX. At 6’4″ Kopec needed a bike that fit his stature, as well as his personality. He got both with the CBX. Matter of fact, Kopec endears the CBX so much that he couldn’t get himself to customize the complete bike that he had bought as a donor. He instead elected to build one from the frame up, piece by piece. A crazy amount of commitment.
After acquiring the frame he started sourcing parts from local swap meets and classifieds, putting together a puzzle that would become a classic cafe racer. The Honda has standard forks off of a 79 CBX, shortened to balance the weight over the front wheel. Then Kopec modified a CB1100 swing arm to accept the custom twin shock setup that he had been planning. The frame was also de-tabbed and powder coated black. Next Kopec had rebuilt the engine, boring it out to 1150cc’s total displacement. The CBX also received new rods and a set of re-jetted to meet the new engines requirements. The new carbs were finished with pod filters while the engine also gets a new C5 optical ignition that comes with 4 switchable maps. These can be selected with a hidden switch under the seat.
The rear seat pan and tail section were built by hand in Michael’s shop. He outlined the design in wood before finishing it in fiberglass. The tank is the stock CBX lump, but features a beautiful new paint job. The entire wiring harness and lightweight lithium ion battery reside in small bubble tail section. This allows the frame to have that iconic see through look commonly found on cafe racers. Other cosmetic features include the triple tree cover that features all of the needed warning lights as well as a new ‘Cafe Racer’ engraving. Even the speedo is 3d printed. Kopec is a CNC programmer by trade, allowing him to put these unique touches into this amazing machine. My personal favorite is the CBX logo’ed fork caps, classy and understated.
What really wraps the CBX package nicely is the 6-into-6 exhaust that Kopec built. The way they sweep down and under the exposed engine, and then flair up again at the rear of the bike is perfect. The pipes compliment the CBX’s massive engine, adding some much-needed girth to the rear of the bike. With this, the CBX is no longer a bully, but a finely crafted weapon. The wild west of motorcycles may be over, but the six shooter will never die, just like the CBX1000.