Some bikes are rare by virtue of the fact that few were ever made. Others are rare simply because so few survive in anything like good condition. Others, like this Honda CB500 are one-of-a-kind, a common bike elevated to the ranks of rare and valuable because of the execution.
Certainly, Honda made plenty of CB500’s, so they’re not rare in terms of how many were built. But in typical Honda style, most were used as transportation and then passed on, discarded, and caught in an ever-worsening spiral of less-sympathetic maintenance as they moved down the food chain to the bottom-feeders. Luckily, Honda’s line of four-cylinder motorcycles were built to last, and parts to rebuild them are plentiful.
While the seller refers to this as a “race bike” and the bike does appear to have some history that speaks to competition, it’s currently set up for street use, with a headlight, taillight, and rear-view mirror. The listing includes a thorough accounting of upgrades and prep work, including an overbore to 651cc’s and a set of bigger CB750 carburetors to help feed the hungry Honda. I’m not sure how the overbore affects racing classes, as bikes are generally grouped according to displacement and the modifications that have been made, although those twin-discs up front are a welcome upgrade, no matter how you plan to use this bike.
From the original eBay listing: 1973 Honda CB500 Race Bike for Sale
According to the previous owner, the bike was raced in F1 CCS vintage Classes in 2000 and rebuilt for the next season at the end of the year. It was raced in 02 in CCS WERA and AHRMA winning both LW and HW Vintage classes. At the end of 02 the motor was again rebuilt to its current state. In 2003 the bike saw a practice laps but was never raced again. The bike was sold to someone for their 64 birthday but to health issues his race days are over that is when I bought the bike. The bike has a clear title. The bike runs great and has no mechanical issues and dose not leak or smoke. When I bought the bike number cylinder was not hitting when for a good drive and it cleared up runs like race bike should. Things that have been done to bring this race machine to this standard
CB500’s are not especially rare or valuable, although prices for nice examples are being dragged upwards as Honda’s other four-cylinder bikes increase in value. However, this particular example looks like it’s been well cared for and treaded to significant mechanical and cosmetic upgrades that definitely make it worth a second look. With five days left and bidding just north of $5,000 it looks like I’m not the only one who thinks that.
As it stands, this CB500 is a very slick street bike, and that bare metal tank with leather strap look appropriately racy for posing at the coffee shop after a good ride down some winding back roads. If you plan to take “race bike” literally, make sure you read the rule book of the appropriate sanctioning body carefully. If you plan to ride this on the street, make sure you replace that hideous AutoMeter oil pressure gauge with something more appropriately vintage.