From Sports Cars to Motorcycles

Story by Greg Williams// Photos by Bruce Booker
December 12 2023

This self-taught hobbyist pays some serious attention to detail and ingenuity.

From one extreme to the other, a pair of Honda CX500s owned by Bruce Brooker are at opposite ends of the spectrum. One is a completely restored example of a stock machine, while the other is a full custom with literally no part untouched. His attention to detail is meticulous, but Brooker’s early life didn’t start with much interest in building or riding motorcycles.

Instead, “I started off with sports cars as a teenager,” Brooker says from his home in Caledonia, Ont. “I was given a wrecked MGB and rebuilt it from scratch, and my first new car was a 1973 BMW 2002Tii. I’ve always liked European sports cars, and bought and rebuilt a 1969 Porsche 911, which I still own, and then got into Mazda Miatas. But my younger brother, Brad, has always been into motorcycles, and after he gave me a Honda XL200 in boxes to put back together, I started enduro riding with him. I would have been around 45 or 50 when we started, and we’ve ridden in Utah and Mexico a couple of times and done most of the Baja 1000 route, too.”

Introduction to the CX500

Brooker took motorcycle safety training and got his street licence and rode a Suzuki DR350 for many years before acquiring two old Hondas from his dad, Clyde. At 80, Clyde had quit riding and offered Brooker the bikes, one of which was a 1979 CX500. His collection of CXs grew when a friend, who in 1980 bought and rode a new CX500 and then stored it away in his garage for 25 years, offered him another one.

“His was in perfect condition, which I bought and restored,” Brooker explains. “It’s all showroom stock original. So, I had this other one of my dad’s and decided to build a custom out of it.”

Looking for a direction to head with a custom CX500, Brooker spent time on the Internet researching the model. This was in 2017 and 2018, and at that time Brooker found the CX500 was a popular platform for a café racer-style machine. Working on his computer, Brooker began finding images of CX500s and various parts and began cutting and pasting together a machine that he could work toward creating in real metal. Competent with his hands, Brooker has a well-equipped 30-foot by 50-foot shop, with tools such as a lathe and milling machine and welding gear.

“I’m all self-taught,” Brooker says about his skills, but adds, “I did take machine shop in high school, but beyond that it’s been learning as I go.”

Major Design Change

At first, Brooker thought he would maintain the CX500’s existing rear frame section and twin shock setup. However, the more time he spent on the computer and doing mockups, he decided the bike needed a monoshock layout. More research on how to execute such a modification ensued…


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