1975 Honda CB550 Café Custom

by: Hootis Motor Sports

This bike was purchased January 2009. I bought it because it was a one-owner 1975, the year of my birth. Over the last few years I have started to amass a collection of '75 vehicles. I was hoping it would be easy to restore back to original, but after further inspection I decided it would take a little too much work, plus for me, a restored vehicle never quite has the same feel as something original and un-molested. So the hunt for an original 1975 CB550 continues.

I have had the Café Racer bug for a while, and this bike, and Hootis' artistic flow just so happened to meet at the right time, and so the transformation began:

The bike as we started:

Thanks to the sweet paint, and the original owner writing his name on the backbone of the frame we nicknamed the bike:


..and so with a complete disassembly the process begins. I originally told the guys I was going to put this bike together on the "cheap", aerosol the frame, stock wheels, call it done. Well, I am way too particular and fussy for that to fly, and it was no more than a week into the project that I had the frame cut apart, and was talking about powder coat, silver paint with stripes, the whole bike was built in my head, I just had to get my hands to do the work. A good portion of the vision in my head came from stumbling upon this website: BCR customs. It did not take long to contact him and get a tank and rear tail section on order. Dropping $800 + on bodywork seemed pretty ridiculous to me, but I'm glad I did, it turned out pretty sweet. About six weeks after the order I had a tank, and tail section:

(you can see the new wheels in the background)

It only took about five minutes of looking at the bike like this for me to decide that a bike this custom is going to need a sweet frame, and a diet, welcome back "Dr.Sawzall":
I spent a good week or so with the sawzall, grinder and welder building a new tail section that would fit with the new body work. I also removed any unnecessary brackets and mounts. I mounted the Arlen Ness plastic front fender. Time for another look at the progress: It is starting to look like a motorcycle now. After sanding everything as smooth as possible the frame was ready for powder coating, my friend Andrew, at All Pro Powder Coating Co said he would get it sandblasted and done for me. I was surprised when he called me a day later and said it was done! Waiting for parts is not fun, and so just like that we where back to it. Time to make the bike into a "roller", and be sure all the bodywork fit just right before we sent it out for painting.
One of the debates about the bike had been color. I was dead set on silver with black stripes. Some of the guys in the shop where trying to convince me that black with silver stripes would look good. There was even talk of a gold frame to match the bars, I had not considered anything but silver, but I figured I would consider black. We rattle canned the tank just to get an idea. Even though the paint quality was sub-par, it did not take long to decide that black was not an option, and with that the paint was sent out, silver with black it would be.
There was also extensive discussion over exactly what to do about the gauges. We tried numerous configurations: tach/speedo, small speedo/large tach, two big gauges, two small gauges, but in the end I decided a "race" bike would only have a tach.
While the bodywork was out being painted and with the frame mostly done it was time to get some work done on the engine. The rest of the bike would have new paint, and so should the engine, along with some polished covers as well. I put "Buff Master Flash" (Ike) to work on the engines covers, while I disassembled the motor for paint. I painted the cylinder black for a little contrast and the rest of the motor with some silver bead blast paint from Harley Davidson. It turned out really nice.

Some of the other parts you can see now are the drilled and surface ground stock rotor, a vintage Bates headlight from my good friend Andy, at the Bergstrom Speedwerx Shop. 13.5" Progressive rear shocks (I later sent out the shock covers to Chris at Rapid Plating for chroming), and of course those nice black 19" wheels. I really like black wheels, on pretty much everything.

With the paint back it was time to get down to finally assembling this bike for good. There was a lot of misc hardware, and odds and ends to finish.

Removing the speedo meant I would need a front wheel spacer. I had a cracked speedo drive that I sacrificed, and machined into a nice spacer.

We also made a pretty schnazzy aluminum rear brake steady.

I had a good friend of mine Lee Bruns make a sweet little mirror. It worked out nice, plus it holds the master cylinder reservoir.

I was having considerable debate about what to put on the tank for an emblem. I knew it would need something to break up all that silver, but wanted something unique. I had a thought of an A.J.S logo, and so I had Digital Ink make a Hootis Motor Sports version of an AJS logo.

A little less then five months we have a finished product:

Hear it run.

This was a fun project, it sounds awesome and rides great, I love these old Hondas. I'll hate to part with this one, but I can't afford to keep every project I do, and my enjoyment comes from building, as much as owning, and riding. Besides I have a few other projects I really need to finish, and this one really got the wheels turning, think CB550 aluminum tank, triple disc brakes, alloy swingarm and a mono shock. :

Thanks for looking, Hootis