Living with a legend: 1998 Honda CR500 supermoto

Visordown talks to Josh; the owner of a 1998 Honda CR500, which is more affectionately known as the ‘Ping King’.


Most bikers have dreamt about taking a CR500 for a spin, but they are super rare. We speak to one rider who has owned and lived with the legend itself.  

CR 500 Brief History

In 1984 Honda introduced the first iteration of the monstrous CR500, nicknamed the ‘Ping King’. Back then its 491cc 2 stroke motor produced a ridiculous 60-64 HP, but in 2001 when the CR500 was discontinued the HP had mellowed to around 56. The CR's power figure is more than enough to rival new off-road bikes today, but that’s not what made the ‘Ping King’ so special.

What made the CR500 so legendary was its humongous 38mm flatside carb, brutally small power band, and dry weight of 101kg - making the bike accelerate like a rocket ship. And much like the fragrance by Diesel ‘only the brave’ would ride it, as the throttle was like an on/off switch.

The seed was planted… 

For Josh (owner) that bravery came at fifteen years old when his dad's friend offered him a buzz on a 1996 CR500 around a local MX track. Needless to say, Josh was scared riding the thing in the pits - and who wouldn’t be? 

It was from that short, but ever so sweet moment, the seed of one day owning a CR500 of his own was planted.

Fast-forward eight years. Whilst scanning the interweb Josh found a rare 1998 CR500 supermoto for sale, literally down the road from his South East London address.

However, this ol’ legend was showing its age and needed a lot of work. After haggling the seller down from £3k to £2.5k, the deal was done. 

Josh knew from the start what he was getting himself into, parts for CR’s are as rare as a unicorn, with a hefty price tag attached to them once sourced. Nonetheless, he was determined to get the sucker running and restore to its former glory, or as he put it “get it back to mint”.



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Work begins

A complete strip-down, clean and assessment was required of the bike and the motor. Although the bike looked aesthetically tatty, the frame and bodywork were in pretty good nick. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the engine internals. 

The removal of the head revealed a cylinder with deep scratches. And after splitting the bottom cases apart it was clear that the gear selectors were unserviceable. 

The gouged head was sent to Langcourt where it was bored out to 90mm (from the original 89mm) and the gear selectors, after consultation with FireFox Racing, had to be sourced directly from Honda Japan - setting Josh back about £300 each. 

After resolving these issues and fully rebuilding the motor (replacing the piston and other critical components) it was good to be kicked over. 

Honda CR500 1998 Road Legal SM Specs

•90mm bore cylinder (Langcourt cylinders)

•ProX piston

•ProX crank

•Full engine rebuild (Fire Fox racing)

•Full Hinson clutch

•Vforce 3 reed block

•38mm Lectron carb

•FMF gnarly chamber/FMF shorty silencer

•Electric worx heavy flywheel + stator rewind

•Powder coated engine cases 

•CNC Front sprocket guard (off Cr500 gokart conversion)

•Braking 320mm disc and calliper bracket 

•JT rear disc

•Excel supermoto rims/ Talon hubs 

•Pro Circuit fork internals + spring (sm set up, lowered and stiffened)

•Hel braided brake lines

•As3 performance coolant hoses

•MXPUK oversized radiators 

•Magura hydraulic clutch 

•Asv levers 

•Boyesen clutch + flywheel cases

•MDR rear brake pedal +shifter

•Honda Factory graphics 

•Polisport plastics 

•Pro bolt full bolt kit

•Genuine Honda bearings (Engine and frame, swing arm etc)

•Genuine Honda ECU + loom

•Powder Coated frame (Oem white)

•Works Connection frame guards 

•Renthal Sprockets/D.I.D chain 

•Renthal bars + grips

What’s it like to ride? 

As the bike was rebuild project, it took two years to get to this point, with Josh working on it in his spare time. 

The big-bore bugger started on the second stamp of the kick-starter. and finally, Josh could relive that fond and scary distance childhood memory of riding the ‘Ping King’ - this time on his very own 1998 CR500 supermoto. 

He said: “if you ride the 500 at anything under 30mph the bike feels like it will stall”. Other things he noted was how heavy the hydraulic clutch was, experiencing arm pump after an hour in the saddle. And yes, it vibrated like a mofo - with the effect still being felt hours after dismounting.  

However, the lightness and rapidness of the CR500 outweighed all its bad bits. It felt like no other bike Josh had ever ridden, made him feel more alive than ever, and had a brutal beauty about it. A loveable adrenaline machine - despite it trying to kill him at every opportunity. 

Was buying the ‘Ping King’ it worth it?

After two years of building (with plenty of setbacks) and £12k spent (£4k on the engine), Josh regrets nothing. It was his dream to build and ride a CR500 supermoto, and with some hard graft, he made it a reality. 

Sadly, the CR love story was not to last as it had to be sold due to urgent vet bills. Josh told Visordown “he would sell every bike he has ever owned, just to have it back”.

Overall, it was a love-hate relationship, as the CR was a pig to ride and would overheat at every opportunity. But, For Josh, the whole build was a life-changing experience and riding the thing a handful of times was the cherry on top. 

At least he can tick owning and riding a CR500 off his bucket list. 

Check out Josh’s new project here.


I wanted to thank you for this great read !! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

My brother had this bike back when we were growing up! Every time I rode it I felt like queen of the streets. Thanks for bringing back great memories. Lovely article.


Same here Kara! So many memories and good times with the gang. It's really great reading about other's builds and the passion that goes into them. Hopefully we can all still find the time to do things that bring so much enjoyment.


That ride is sick! I hope I can ride that baby!

Wayne Ogilvie's picture

This monstrous CR500 was amazing, I've been a fan of this motorbike since I purchased one last 2 years. I'm using it on a long drive and it is so comfortable and fast to use. If you want a properly installed sprinkler then can help you with that

Dance Amor's picture

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Thanks for sharing this marvelous post. I’m very pleased to read this article.

This article proof that there are writers who really care about the quality of content they share. Thank you for being this kind of writer.

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Dance Amor's picture

Very efficiently written information. It will be beneficial to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work. For sure i will check out more posts. This site seems to get a good amount of visitors.

As I was reading I am glad the story telling wasn't so robotic. Comparing the bike to a unicorn to show how rare it was. and the process of when Josh bought the bike awesome! you can check out my website

Thank you for displaying this wonderful information and comment! This is a beautiful motorcycle and vintage. Thank you for sharing.

Thank you for displaying this wonderful information and comment! This is a beautiful motorcycle and vintage. Thank you for sharing.

Hank Hill's picture

Me and my siblings grew up on crotch rockets and mini bikes, but this one's a beauty! I love the mad acceleration and the feeling of the wind. Hope to see more bikes like this in the future!

-Hand @

Growing up, I had a whole bunch of Honda CR dirt bikes. I started on a CR80 at about 11, then went to a CR85 'big wheel', eventually moved up to a CR125, then got a CR250. The CR250 was crazy fast... I can't even imagine having twice the displacement. Would have been LOOSE.
Don't think I'd have the balls to take a CR500 round a track these days.
4 strokes have come a long way since I started in the 90's, so thats what I've ended up with. A humble trail bike. Loyal Honda owner still though.
These days, I'm so focused on my business, I don't get much time to ride. CHeck me out if you have a minute.
I really hope one day you can get another CR500, shame you had to sell it. All the best.

This was a great read! It brought back many memories for me! I love riding when I get the chance to do so!

Me too, there is always some great content on here.

Always brings back amazing memories from my youth seeing this bike

One of the most beautiful things I see on the net today.

great thoughts here, dude

Looks like a nice ride! Do you think this is available here in Sweden?

Simply, admirable what you have done here.

I agree. The work here is fantastic. love the content! keep it up!

Great post! Love the bike.
-Bob at

What a beast. I love riding motorcycles but I doubt I could handle this one.

I doubt I could either!

I agree would love to take this for a ride.

Looks awesome. Would love to take for a rip.

I agree, dude. looks liek a lot to handle.

The bike looks awesome. Always good to see the work pay off.

I agree the bike looks amazing! Great work

That's the premise of this custom Beta supermoto that's being offered by the original owner. Unexpected Road Racer - 1998 Honda CR500.

The bike is well maintained. It looks just brand new one. Sad to know that Josh sold it but I am looking forward to when he can reposes it soon!
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Shes not going back anytime soon, shes loved here!

Thanks for this. It reminds me a lot of appliance repairs,

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Thanks for the post. I haven't got to see one of these before and I am even more happy then I thought I would be.
Kaden @


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