Straight out of Tron came an interesting offramp in the history of motorcycle performance development. The early 1980s were highlighted by many advances and technological achievements, but few were as glorious as the turbo. All four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers jumped on the boosted bandwagon, certain that this was the Next Big Thing. Marketing and graphics were all about the Turbo (or TURBO, or Turbo!, or even obruT in Suzuki’s case), with the race not necessarily being who could build the better or faster bike, but rather who could cram more Turbo badges on their vehicle. Honda, in their race to over-engineering everything, definitely won the battle of the badges. But this offramp turned out to be a mere cul-de-sac, and with a whoosh the Turbo era was over before most of the bikes were even sold.
Of the era, the 1983 Honda CX650 was perhaps the most refined of the Turbo machines. The only bike to enjoy a 2nd generation, the 1983 model differed substantially from the previous year’s CX500, and was overall more rideable and predictable. But the CX650 highlighted much of what was wrong with this direction in boosted power; it was big, heavy, complex and frightfully expensive in comparison to normally aspirated machines of similar (or better) performance. And while the CX650 Turbo is still known as the roll-on-king – showcasing its ability to produce substantial power at lower RPMs for highway-friendly acceleration – the market has yet to appreciate what these bikes are all about. They are rare because they did not sell. They did not sell because they were odd, and the tradeoff in oddity did not equate to performance. Despite the rarity in numbers, these bikes fizzle on the collector side. Market value is part rarity (supply), and a large part irrational lust. The heart wants what the heart wants, and at the moment the buying hearts want RC30s, OW-01s, Gammas, RZs and early Ducati superbikes. But not Turbos.
From the seller:
WOW! NO RESERVE! Might consider an early strong offer for serious buyers (simply contac me), so this is your rare chance! Its the rarely seen for sale ever one year only 1983 Honda CX650 TURBO !. The holy grail here guys, not seen often for sale, known as arguably “the most collectable honda of all time”. Very nice cond, starts right up, everything works as it should, OEM mirrors included (see last pic) aprox 26K miles, always California. runs and rides amazing! Get it today,
I empathize with the seller here. Despite the hyperbole, the CX650 Turbo probably should be one of the holy grail bikes in terms of numbers. But numbers do not tell the whole story. And even though they *are* quite rare, we do see decent examples pop up for sale now and again. The market as a whole is moving upward, thanks to a combination of slowly emerging from the pandemic and emerging from winter. That means riding season is upon us, that that always drives the frenzy of bidding. But we do not often find such frenzy with this particular niche of bikes.
This particular CX650 looks to be in decent shape – but it is difficult to determine critical details with the low-res photography and video. By all counts the bike does look complete, which is a plus. Seller notes that the original OEM mirrors are included; it is possible they were changed out to allow the rider a view other than one’s own shoulders. Mileage is more than we usually expect to see, but these CX motors are robust, and the strengthening added to the bottom end means that these are not fragile, mechanical nightmares. The ask here is pretty big, somewhat commensurate with all of the rising market rates, but maybe too early to be this high for a Turbo? Can’t blame a seller for trying, but interested to see where this takes us for the model. Do you think the odd Turbo bikes will ever become valued for their rarity, or will these always lag the collector market? Check out all of the details here, and then jump to the comments and share your thought on Turbos. Good Luck!!