We received a message from one of our fans on Facebook, asking if we would feature his bike on our page. Of course we said, we love to feature any of our fans bikes, but after we go the pictures and saw the amount of detail that went into his build, we figured this deserved a post of it’s own. So without further ado, here is the story of Zhenya’s 1974 Honda CB550.
Who am I?
I am a 22 year old student studying web Development. From a young age I had a passion for anything with a motor. I was born in Ukraine and lived there for 7 years until my family immigrated to America. We moved to Washington and I have lived here ever since. Being an only child, my parents where always a little over protective of me and did not want me to get a motorcycle. When I was 14 I started mowing my neighbor’s lawns to save up money for my first gas powered toy. At 15 I got my first Zooma Gas scooter and the passion for 2 wheeled toys grew exponentially. My next upgrade was an x7 pocket bike. This was great but I could not ride it on the roads. So the summer following that I was able to get my hands on a Yamaha QT50. This thing was slower than my pocket bike but I was now street legal.
After enjoying that for a while I was finally able to buy a motorcycle. When the time came I was not sure what kind of bike I wanted. There are so many different choices when it came to it. After spending some time online I have found the bikes that really get me excited. They were the café racer style bikes specifically the 4 cylinder Hondas. I fell in love with the vintage performance bikes. Not long after that I bought a 1974 Honda CB550.
Original concept for the build
Originally I wanted to go all out. I wanted to get GSXR front forks and a mono sock for the rear. With bigger AVON tires. I wanted to have an older bike but with modern performance parts. That is still something I am interested in doing later in the year. But for now I am busy with learning Web design and saving up money for all the parts that I want to buy in the winter.
Describe the build process
I won the bike from an insurance auction down in Portland Oregon. The damage did not look to bad in pictures. Just a busted stator and a few scratches on the bike. When I got the bike home and took off the stator I was facing a completely different problem. I turned over the motor by hand and I noticed that the magneto would wobble when I turned it. This meant that the crank shaft was bent. I was now facing one of the biggest mechanical issues I would have to deal with.
Long story short when I took everything apart I found a crack in the crank case and this lead to me buying a new lower end from eBay. Sadly when the owner sent the lower end it came to my house upside-down with bent cylinder studs. By the time we figured things out I started unscrewing the studs out to replace them. Unfortunately the last one I had to remove snapped of leaving me with a quarter inch sticking out.
Now I had to find a machine shop to remove it. Thankfully the shipping company that was at fault refunded me the money for shipping. That was just enough money for me to buy new APR head studs. With the block ready I started piecing the bike together. Before installing the motor I shaved of all the brackets that I would not be using of the frame. Just to make it look cleaner. I knew I wanted to have a slim seat. So I cut the frame down as short as I could.
When the time came to do the seat I wanted to see if I can make it myself and save some money while learning how to upholster things. So I found an old leather jacket at good will and with the stuff from my garage I was able to make a decent seat. That was an interesting experience to say the least. I have an article of the bike build and seat build on a café racer website I made – hondacaferacers.com
Parts used for the build:
- Trimmed and shaved frame
- Bicycle speedometer
- Custom exhaust and wrap
- Single stock tachometer
- 35mm clipon handle bars
- Ebay tail lights with custom brackets
- Ebay headlight mounts
- Ebay side mirrors
- APR head studs
- New gasket and seals