TWEETY
100% Biker|Issue 256
Over the last couple of years, very few if any motorcycles have inspired such bafflement and scratching of heads as Dan Duggan’s Honda CX500
DEL HICKEY

Okay, so it’s not unusual for a CX to produce such a reaction, but it’s usually because people are puzzled at how so many seem to have survived (with the unkindest voices adding ‘Why?’). After all, ten or so years ago you barely saw one of Honda’s infamous ‘plastic maggots’ and yet now they’re everywhere. Perhaps some mad genius bought every example he could lay his hands on in the 1980s and has been quietly storing them away in a huge underground facility (that sounds much more impressive than a shed or a warehouse) and has now unleased them on an unsuspecting 21st-century audience. Or maybe they’ve been replicating in basements like some two-wheeled version of Night of the Living Dead.

Although Tweety, as this CX is known (there will be an explanation later), was basically completed surprisingly swiftly, it has been an ongoing project for Ger Conlon at C&C Choppers in Cork to fine-tune over the last two years. There are usually three distinct stages of reaction that people undergo when seeing Tweety for the first time. Trust me, I’ve watched it happen many times.

The first reaction is when people first spot the bike from a distance and the expression on their face says; “Oh, that looks like a cool streetfightery sort of café racer, I’ll go and have a closer look.”

As they get closer to the bike, the second reaction is—and sometimes you will hear this said out loud— “Bloody hell, it’s a CX500!”

The third reaction is when they are standing beside Tweety and you can watch a look of bewilderment and mystification spread across their face as they spot just how clever this motorcycle is and the first question is usually, “How does it work?”

But that’s getting a little ahead of the story. This Honda CX500 started life not as a commuter bike or a dispatch rider’s hack as so many did, but rather grandly as a police bike used by the Garda in Dublin. Now, before you snigger at the idea of a police CX, don’t forget that forty years ago, the CX500 was groundbreaking with its electric-only start liquid-cooled V-twin, tuned dual CV-type carburettors and low maintenance shaft drive. It was reliable and economical and used by police forces across the world—in the United States, a company called Grand Spaulding Dodge contracted a Chicago firm to make a CX500 trike to replace the Cushman three-wheelers that had been supplied to the Chicago police since the 1960s. Around 200 CX Trident trikes were made (for various police forces) and later models were fitted with a reverse gear after it was found that the Chicago PD was pretty adept at breaking Honda gearboxes. With low gearing, they accelerated surprisingly quickly and had a maximum speed of 80mph.

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When settling down to write a feature for a magazine, it’s necessary to have two things, nay, three things in front of you. A computer is useful, it saves all that messy ink and blotting paper that we used in those long gone school days, a strong hot mug of tea should also be on the desk (goes without saying), and finally, a set of scribbled notes that a couple of months ago resembled a detailed description of a motorcycle, but that by now, are largely illegible…

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FRENCH MADE

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