The era of turbocharged production motorcycles from Japan was short and not particularly sweet. But the novelty of turbo bikes today, combined with their low-production numbers, makes them fun and unusual collectibles.
The CX500 Turbo was a technological tour de force when it arrived for ’82: liquid cooling, fuel injection, turbocharging, Honda’s Pro-Link single-shock linkage rear suspension, twin-front and single-rear disc brakes, plus shaft drive. It was pricey too, at nearly $5,000. But, after all, this was the future — a time when small, nimble bikes would knife through corners and pull away from much heavier machines on straightaways.
Unfortunately, that future never actually arrived. While all of those Turbo emblems and the striking styling stopped enthusiasts in their tracks, once you threw a leg over the motorcycle of tomorrow it became evident that the bikes of yesterday were easier to ride. Prodigious turbo lag made these bikes feel sluggish under 4,000 rpm and they could be unpredictable once the boost (19 p.s.i.) kicked in. In short, they were slower, less fuel efficient and more expensive than the naturally aspirated bikes they promised to make obsolete.
Perhaps in an attempt to give its CX more punch while retaining the magic of the Turbo moniker, Honda upped the bike’s displacement to 674ccs for ’83. The lag was less pronounced and the power delivery of the bigger bike was smoother. The CX650T was a better all-around motorcycle.
However, for 1984, Kawasaki released the game-changing Ninja and as quickly as they’d arrived, the turbo bikes disappeared.
If you’re looking for a rideable, but rarely seen ’80s-vintage bike, the CX650 Turbo is a great option: Honda built less than 2,000, approximately 1,200 of which were sold in North America. This example will cross the block at no reserve at Mecum’s Las Vegas 2018 Motorcycle sale, January 23-27.
What it will fetch is anyone’s guess and will depend on how many children of the 1980s are bidding. But Kelly Blue Book lists the value range for a 1983 CX650T at $3,105 in good condition and $6,575 in excellent condition.