Honda CR500: 'It was so far ahead of its time'

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‘Tire and it would bite you’ Dave Thorpe, three-time World 500cc MX champion

“The CR500 has a reputation as being an animal, but when you are thinking straight and everything is together, it’s a lovely machine. But as soon as your mind wanders you tire and become a passenger, that’s when a 500cc two-stroke becomes a beast that will bite you…

“What amazed me the most was just how tractable it was, which people often forget. I used to race with a four-speed gearbox and start the race in third! It would just plough away from the trap like a tractor, digging a trench behind it due to its torque. It was awesome and I often used to only shift once in a lap, the rest of the time I just left it in third.

“The time I used to notice just how fearsome the CR could be, was during pre-season testing. When you hadn’t ridden it for a while it really felt wild. Dad used to describe watching me as like seeing some washing hanging off the back of the bike. I wish some of the modern top-level riders could try one for size, I’m sure they would still be amazingly competitive as the CR500 was so far ahead of its time.”

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Dave Thorpe

By Dave Thorpe