Honda CB550 Cafe Racer by Flying J Customs - MotoMatter
Honda CB550 Cafe Racer by Flying J Customs

Who doesn’t love the look of bare metal (on a Honda CB550 Cafe Racer ). It gives the impression of so much potential, but can also be a finish in itself. Jason Moore of Flying J Customs is one man who is able to produce a bike using bare metal highlights, and his 1976 Honda CB550 café racer is packing more aluminum than a fridge full of leftovers. With performance to match the looks, today’s feature bike is bare metal goodness, with old school styling thrown in. Did I mention about the bare metal?

Honda CB550 Cafe Racer

Relieving the CB of it’s original fuel tank and seat, a Norton Sprint tank and tail combo has been fitted, custom made for this bike. “I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted until I talked to Richard from TAB Classics.” says Jason. “He sent me a picture of a CB550 frame with the Norton Sprint tank on it and I was instantly sold.” A bikini fairing sourced from Japan continues the aluminium aspect of the build, wrapped tight around an Acewell speedo/tachometer. Aluminum clip-ons and Raask rear sets build the café racer image of the bike, while a set of 18″ Excel rims laced with stainless spokes make up the rolling stock.

In the engine department, Jason has made sure his bike goes as hard as it looks. 61mm pistons, running at 10.5:1 compression, boost the capacity up to 592cc. The mildly ported head, with matched intakes, is running a hot street cam. A set of aluminum velocity stacks breathe in, a race replica 4-4 exhaust system exhales.


To increase the reliability of the electricals, some modifications have been made. Dyna 2000 ignition and mini coils replace the original system, a modern regulator rectifier and lightweight Shorai battery have been fitted as well.


A second disc and caliper has been added for improved braking, as well as having the discs drilled and lighted by 2 lbs each. It has taken Jason over 5 years to finish this build and has built and sold many bikes in between to pay for this one. From the ported and bored out engine, to the beautiful tank and seat arrangement, he has built a bare metal beauty that any rider would be happy to race between more than just cafes – as long as they don’t mind a bit of polishing that is.


To see more of this stunning bike, check out this very thorough build thread.

Written by guest writer Ian Lee.

The Honda CB550 was a 544 cc (33.2 cu in) four-cylinder standard motorcycle made by Honda from 1974 to 1978. It is a development of the earlier CB500, and like its predecessor, the original CB550K had 4 exhaust pipes and 4 silencers. The CB550K went through some minor iterations, the last being the CB550K4. Shortly after the CB550K was introduced, a second version of the CB550 was offered, the CB550F “Super Sport”.

The “K” and “F” versions were sold alongside each other, sharing the same engine, tank, instruments, lights, wheels, brakes and frame. The “F” featured a lighter 4-into-I exhaust/silencer kit, fewer chrome trimmings, different side panels and slightly flatter handlebars — as part of the Honda Super Sport range which included the CB400F, CB550F and CB750F. The “F” (aka “F1”) was succeeded by the “F2”, which had an additional flash emblem on the fuel tank with deletion of the fork gaiters. The ‘K’ was styled similarly to the 1969 Honda CB750, and fit into Honda’s range as the CB750’s junior.

Both F & K models had a drum rear brake and a single front disc brake, although each fork slider had a bracket for a brake caliper.

The CB550 was based closely on the earlier wet sump CB500, and was the largest factory boring of this SOHC air-cooled cylinder block. Having a few visual similarities to the dry sump CB750, the CB550 was much smaller and lighter. The CB550 was replaced in 1979 by the Honda CB650 which was broadly similar but significantly more powerful.


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