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1972 Honda CB500 Road Racer Designed After Dick Mann’s 1970 Honda Racer

1972 Honda CB500

The four, five and six cylinder Honda Grand Prix road racing motorcycles of the 1960’s have a classic, very attractive look. The transverse engine, four carburetors and megaphones, graceful “dolphin fairing” and decked seat are parts of the successful visual package, the look of the machines that put champions like Mike Hailwood on the podium. So when creating cafe racers, or machines for vintage racing, it’s only natural that this functional styling formula be followed, and the 1972 to 1975 Honda CB500 or CB550 is a perfect machine to start with. And referencing Dick Mann’s 1970 Daytona 200 winning CB750-derived CR750 is a good place to start.

The late Bob Westercamp ordered up a CR replica tank and seat from one of several fabricators offering them in aluminum, also fiberglass, made to fit his 1972 CB500 Honda. Replica fairings are available as well. Front braking is doubled up Honda 500 calipers on drilled stainless steel discs. Alloy rims are replica Boranni. The custom engraved fork bridge helps mount the Honda-sourced tachometer, neutral and oil pressure lamps and fork tubes are after market, completely polished and hard chromed. Lightweight alloy clip-ons replace the handlebar, and controls from a later Honda handle starter, throttle, lighting and horn switching. Hand formed side covers keep electrics out of sight, and delicate Tarozzi rear set foot controls help with shifting and operating the rear drum brake, again ala Dick Mann’s Daytona winning CR750. Four graceful hand formed racing megaphones handle exhaust needs and comply with AHRMA racing rules.

“Dolphin fairings” as used on this bike were popular for streamlining road racing motorcycles in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Earlier attempts at cheating the wind included the “dust bin,” a very full coverage fairing design outlawed due to its tendency to be hazardous in cross winds at racing speeds. This fairing is again similar to Mann’s and carries his 1970 AMA Pro Racing number two. This machine was judged Best in Show at the 2013 Vintage Rally and is currently on display at the National Motorcycle Museum.

Specifications:

  • Bore & Stroke: 56mm X 51mm
  • Displacement: 498cc’s
  • Compression Ratio: 9.0 – 1
  • Ignition: Battery, Coil, Points
  • Induction: Four Keihin Carburetors
  • Starting: Kick / Electric
  • Horsepower: 48
  • Primary: Hyvo Chain Driven
  • Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
  • Final Drive: Chain
  • Transmission: 5-Speed
  • Frame: Double Down Tube, Steel
  • Suspension: Hydraulic Fork / Swingarm, Dual Shocks
  • Brakes: Dual Disc Front / Drum Rear
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3 comments

  1. Alan Williams LM 0041

    Beautiful roadracer and great photos! I encourage everyone who can to visit this fantastic museum and spend a day.It is a great vacation destination!

  2. Gary Sellers

    Beautiful machine! I have always been a freak for big gas tanks on motorcycles; what is the capacity of the tank? I have a Heinrich ten gallon tank on my 1978 R 100 S and still have a Hoske eight gallon tank that I had on a R 69 S.

    1. Karla Wanerus

      We are not certain of this machine’s fuel tank capacity, but most big road racer tanks of this era were five gallons, the max allowed by AMA rules.

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