1986 HONDA CR500
The finished product of a 1986 CR500 rebuild. 

By Mark Swart

This is my 1986 Honda CR 500, I purchased it in October of 2016 after looking for that model for quite a few years. I grew up in Virginia racing in the 1980s and even went to Gary Bailey’s school as a teenager, so I’ve always wanted to build a tribute to David Bailey’s championship and MXDN winning machine.

The bike was a Craigslist find and needed a lot of work–tarting with a seized top end and a lot of missing parts. Instead of doing a full-on rebuild right away, I got her running and did most of my mods incrementally as I dialed it in over the past two seasons. From the very first ride, this bike has always felt like an old friend. It turns like a dream, even though the tank would make you think otherwise. A lot of people feel like the power of a 500 is a handful, but honestly the vibration takes more getting used to than the power itself. Please excuse the dirt on the tires–this bike is an active race machine that has been very good to me. We have earned two PNWVMX championships so far. My laps on this bike are generally 3-5 seconds off of my times on modern bikes–the chassis is pretty busy compared to newer technology.

I lucked out on one component, underneath a few layers of paint, the bike actually came with an original Pro Circuit works pipe when I got it. A decompression valve was added to the cylinder to save stress on the ancient cases as much as to make it easier for me to kick. Stiffer springs were needed front and rear (that model came stock with .38 fork springs). I’ve also used gearing and a longer silencer to broaden the power a little (I’m personally not a fan of flywheel weights for that purpose, I feel like they make the bike feel too cumbersome.)

1986 HONDA CR500The before picture. 

One of the coolest things for me was the number design. I found a person on an MX message board willing to convert a picture of Bailey’s 1986 number 6 to a digital file, and he also created a 5 that looked similar so I could have my standard race number 56. I sent these to MX and they did the print for me.

This winter I powdercoated the frame when I rebuild the engine, and she is finally how I want her! Here’s the list of mods and suppliers:

Cylinder decompression valve and squish mod from Millar Race Engineering ( )
HRC Reproduction ignition cover and Technosel seat cover from Mastercross in Italy ( ))
38mm Keihin PWK Carb from a later model CR250 (
Stiffer springs front and rear (
Spokes (

1986 HONDA CR500

I also run Boyesen reeds, Renthal chain/sprockets/bars, a combination of Maier and UFO plastics, and a Twin Air filter. She’s been a great race bike and I’m hoping we can win more championships in years to come! Thanks!

Editors Note: Please keep those submissions coming. If you would like your bike to be featured in the “Two-Stroke Tuesday” please email me at [email protected]. All I ask is that you give a breakdown of your bike and a detailed description of the build. Please also send a few photos of your steed. By submitting your bike for the “Two-Stroke Spotlight,” you agree to release all ownership rights to the images and copy to MXA. Please don’t email me spam or try selling me Taylor Swift concert tickets or email me spam. Happy submitting your smoker.


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