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1976 Honda CB550 Restoration - Builder Interview

1976 Honda CB550 Restoration - Builder Interview
By Dime City Cycles June 27, 2018 2 comments

Hey guys I’m Jaymes with the Dime City garage.

Today we're here with our very own Norton and a gorgeous CB550. Norton how are you doing? Good Jaymes thanks a lot buddy, appreciate it. Norton not only heads up our customer service and technical service departments he's also got some restoration superpowers. Norton this is clearly not your ordinary garden variety CB550. No, it’s not, no it’s not. Can you tell us about the provenance of the bike, where did you get it? Well this actually started out as a concept from a friend of mine, his name is Jerry Carrboro, he lives down in south Florida and he contacted me, and he was very interested in creating a Cafe bike that was pretty unique. He gave me some pretty lenient limits, he said just go for it, try to create something completely different. So, actually this is what we created. Carte blanche on a build that doesn’t happen too often. No, it doesn’t, it was pretty nice.

Let's start with the heart of the beast here the engine, that's clearly no rattle can wrinkle job man, tell us a little about the motor. It's funny that you mention that the fact that motor came to us It was sprayed with wrinkle finish paint I mean the entire thing, the carburetors, exhaust, valve covers, everything, the whole thing was wrinkled so of course the motor came out of the frame immediately and went down to just a bare carcass we took completely all the way down and I had it vapor honed and it was completely put back together and powder coated black.

I'm looking at these carbs and they certainly look like stock carbs, but they also look brand new man how did you pull that off? You know what, it's amazing these are stock carburetors they've been completely reconditioned. With the technology we've got nowadays we have vapor honing which really makes a big difference on aluminum bodies but the other aspect of it is all the linkage it's all been recreated we actually have chrome plated caps and plated float bowls. If my eyes aren’t deceiving me, it looks like a pretty sweet set of a gold cap Steel Dragon velocity stacks. Don't they fit this bike really well? Dude that’s mean, man it looks great!

The longer I'm staring at this thing the more stuff I'm picking out and I'm having a hard time finding any tabs or welds or anything on this frame. How did you get that so smooth man? Well you know it's funny Jaymes, we pulled that motor and we thought oh this is going to be crazy so what I did was we wanted to take this to the very limits man so motor came out that was done completely stripped apart put back together all top-end everything worked on we had a frame to contend with and we said you know we're going to this beautiful motor let’s just clean this frame up so all the welds have all been blended and polished all the tabs have been cut off that's not needed and you can see we ended up with a nice blended frame. it's gorgeous man you guys really pull that one out. Thank you.

I'm looking around and correct me if I'm wrong Norton I haven't been around quite that long but I'm pretty sure the CB550 didn't come with big giant Brembo’s. What’s the story up front here man? That’s a funny story. What's happened here is the original forks on this the bike did come with the dual discs and what we wanted to do is we wanted to sort of incorporate something little bit more magical with this thing and we're fortunate enough to be able to find Suzuki GSX-R 2015 front end and through the help of All Balls ball bearings we were able to convert the entire front end to the Honda frame. And you can see it just blended right in it's just like magic, we love it. So, you went the full boat and made a bike that was fast and able to stop? Yes, actually it does stop. That's a trick that a lot of people forget about man you can make something super-fast but if you don't have the tires and brakes the haul it down you might need a new pair of shorts. That was another aspiration for those Brembo brakes can't beat’em.

This thing is clearly super clean what in the world did you do with all the turn signals and wiring and gauges and... You know we tried to keep this this bike as clean as we possibly could. I mean you can see, every aspect of the bike, everything's nice and tight and clean and it's got a short wheelbase and we just wanted to keep things tight man so what we decided to do is we're going to try to keep this wiring as hidden as possible you know we still have all the instrumentation on this bike but it's all concealed. So actually, what we've done is we used the Motogadget, we took their components, the complete wiring harness, we took the old harness completely apart, and started completely fresh with a brand-new harness that we got from Motogadget, all the components and everything is all hidden. Those guys make some really sweet kit. It does, and it incorporates all the LED components along with it so that's what makes it so nice. Nice, so you don’t have to try to tuck in forty resistors everywhere you know. No, the m-Unit is really nice, it’s something new a lot of people are starting get into it and it's something that’s going to be the future. That's awesome!

So, we've got the conversion kit up front we've got the gold theme, I’m detecting a little bit of Gold Flake in the Honda emblem? That was another aspect we had to touch on you know we have this nice satin black fuel tank and we wanted to keep this gold theme and the only idea that we could come up with, there was nothing on the market that we could actually purchase so we actually had a gentleman here in the area that does hand painting, and this is all hand done it's a golden paint. It's beautiful man I really like the way that you kept the theme going with gold from front to back. I can't help but admire the beautiful piggyback reservoir Ohlin’s out back. It’s all about suspension Jaymes, it’s all about suspension. You know this thing does get up and go and we did stop but it handles really, really, well. So, you got the full package here man. Yeah man, we’re very lucky to have this bike! So, let me ask you Norton, does this thing run? Yes, it does, it does its job! What do you say we fire it up man and take for a ride? Let's do that man, that would be great. Sweet man let’s get it.

Wheeler August 8, 2018 at 8:18 PM
I had a 550 Honda...that one brings back memories took to motorcycle mechanic school could not put it back together in time and droped a bolt inside cam chain area what a nightmare. Great old Honda got a v30 Honda now.
Ken September 9, 2018 at 5:42 PM
When I started working on my 550, I found a copper line coming off of the oil pump with a valve on the end. This was not hooked up to anything other than the oil pump. What was the purpose???