“Ride the CR500 and you’ll swear it’s a rocket”.
The CR500 has a reputation as being an animal. When first released in 1984, Honda’s CR500 was its most powerful motocross bikes ever produced, though that power was wildly difficult to tame. The CR500 had a 491cc air cooled two stroke engine that produced 52.8hp. It was a two-stroke design but since the CR500 had a big single bore it was hard to kick start it.
The manufacturers enriched the fuel mixture in order to make it easier to start. The CR500 was a powerful machine, but its excessive power made it hard to ride. Nicknamed “The Widow Maker” because of how many inexperienced riders thought it would be a good idea to ride it.
Honda CR500 History
The CR 500 comes from the well established line of Honda’s two stroke dirt bike series called the CR. The CR series started back in 1973 when Honda made the lake elsinore CR250. The CR 250 impressed everybody in the motorcycle community when it first came out. The CR series grew to be very successful and in 1981 the cr450 was made.
The Cr 450 was the first big bore 2 stroke in the CR series and it began to evolve in the years ahead. In 1982 the cr480 came out but it had a four speed gear box. In 1983 Honda continued the cr480 and put a 5 speed transmission gear box in. Then in 1984 Honda made the first CR500 and was nick named the “ping king.”
Finally in 1985, Honda made the first water cooled CR500. The bottom end power is specially notorious for the years 1985 through 1988. These are the bikes that are starting to turn into quite the collector bike these days. For the years 89 and up, Honda smoothed out the power band by redisgning the head. This also helped with kick starting since there was less compression to push down. Also the bike recieved some big exhaust changes that resembles modern two stroke exhaust designs.
The bike stayed basically the same besides graphics throughout the years 1993 to 2001. 2001 was the last year of the CR500 then Honda discontinued them. This was due to the AMA 500 motocross races which were discontinued back in 1993. There was no longer a designated motocross race for the bike to be in so Honda didn’t pay as much attention to the CR500 anymore.
Instead, Honda spent most of the funding on the cr250 over the years. Now days, there is a new series of CR500 dirt bikes that come from Service Honda. These bikes are a combination of crf450 aluminum frames and a 2001 cr500 engine, the bike is called the CR500AF. Some people consider this combination as their dream bike. As for the future, who knows how long Service Honda will be making these bikes.
This is a nice example of a really clean all original 1984 CR500.
This was the only year Honda produced an “air cooled” 500cc bike. Their only three open class bikes before this was the CR450 (1981) and the CR480(1982 & 83). In 1985 the CR500 went water cooled. The power of this bike is incredible when its warmed up. One of the fastest 500’s I have ridden.