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Author Topic: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time  (Read 52384 times)

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Offline flatlander

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1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« on: March 01, 2014, 11:35:42 pm »
so i got this 550f last year as some may remember from my intro: http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=127049.0

it's all original and pretty well preserved. after fiddling a bit with the carbs (adjusting and fixing incontinence due to stuck floats), and getting rid of a small oil leak at the oil pressure switch it was good and for the rest of last year, i just enjoyed it and rode the hell out of it, getting myself acquainted with the little beast.

here it is, as i got it minus the #$%*ty brownish pseudo-psychadelic paint job on tank and side covers that it came with:


so what's the plan?
pretty simple, really. i want to keep it quite original, certainly visually. so don't expect anything extreme on this thread like cafe-ing or making a racer.
the bike's gonna be used for touring. some smaller trips, some longer holidays. i want it to steer and ride well, and be totally reliable.

i'll start with the chassis. since the bike is actually in working order i think that's where i can gain the most in making it handle well.

work that i have laid out:

bearings
- wheel bearings for new good quality ones
- headset for conical ones
- swingarm bushings with conical bearings
that's for peace of mind so i know everything is new and good and won't let me down any time soon. and so it all works nice and smooth.

suspension
- rear shocks (konis) don't feel too bad and have no leaks so i may just leave them for now. but will have a look around what's available.
- front fork is too softie/wobbly for my liking. may be the original '70s feel after almost 40 years but it's holding the bike back as a whole so needs an overhaul. will get:
  - new progressive springs
  - new seals, oil rings etc.

i'm also giving it a new chain and sprockets at the same time.
then just make sure everything is adjusted really well, and be ready for spring to take it out on the road  8)

that will be part 1.
then there's little stuff i'll be able to do intermittently, like polish up the spokes which are quite rusted, and remove all specks of rust from the exhaust. if i'm then still bored there are always a few bolts that i could polish up... i also started replacing some rubber bits that got a it hard over the past decades.

part 2 will be engine stuff.
i'm in no hurry with that as it's running fine as it is now and doesn't use excessive amounts of oil. so if or how that continues depends a bit on how it develops, and how my budget will look at the time. anyway, if i decide to do a rebore my plan is to also:
- install overbore/higher compression pistons
- a matching (mild) cam
- port/flow the head

but these things may need to wait as once the weather becomes nice again i'd rather ride the thing than pull it apart.
only thing i may do in the meantime is upgrade to an electronic ignition.

so that's the idea so far.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2015, 08:30:03 am by flatlander »

Offline wnyoutlaw

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2014, 04:58:22 am »
I'm liking the dual discs, is that something that was added on by the PO, or did they come like that from the factory over there?
1977 CB550F Supersport
1978 CB550K
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Offline 2strokeTrush

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2014, 07:40:35 am »
Perfect man! Love the bars and dual disks. Been to the Netherlands once it was beautiful.  I can't wait to go back
If You Aint First Your Last!!

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Offline Trad

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2014, 09:06:26 am »
That bike looks well preserved. How many miles on it? Your plan sounds good, keeping it simple.
74 CB550 Build: NOS-GUTTED-OEMplus-HOLDTRUE
http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,130575.0.html

Offline SOHC4 Cafe Racer Fan

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2014, 10:07:08 am »
The dual disc was added by a prior owner. The bike did not come like that from the factory.

You should be able to rebuild your Koni shocks with Ikon parts. They will be just like new.

Also, you should consider using braided steel brake lines if you don't have the already.

Since you are looking to improve the front suspension, you should also consider Racetech springs and Gold valve emulators - a little more expensive than progressives but better.
1975 CB550K1 "Blue" Stockish Restomod (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=135005.0)
1975 CB550F1 frame/CB650 engine hybrid "The Hot Mess" (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,150220.0.html)
2014 MV Agusta Brutale Dragster 800
2016+ Triumph Thruxton 1200 R (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,170198.0.html)

"There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them — but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one.... Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba." Hunter S. Thompson, Song of the Sausage Creature, Cycle World, March 1995.  (http://www.latexnet.org/~csmith/sausage.html)

Sold/Emeritus
1973 CB750K2 "Bionic Mongrel" (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=132734.0) - Sold
1977 CB750K7 "Nine Lives" Restomod (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=50490.0) - Sold
2005 RVT1000RR RC51-SP2 "El Diablo" - Sold

Offline flatlander

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2014, 01:09:12 pm »
indeed, the bikes were produced here with single dics like everywhere else. PO added the second one which was an added benefit, saved me the trouble  ;)
wnyoutlaw, if you want to go down that road it's quite easily done with a second set of stock disc and caliper. the fork legs are both ready for it.

there's about 57000 km on the bike now. engine's in pretty good shape still, hence my prioritising the chassis and operational parts first.

cafe racer fan, i will look up ikon parts and racetech, thanks for that. do you find emulators really worth the money? i was thinking about them but having doubts.
and yeah, brakelines are standard so the braided steel is another good idea for an upgrade.

2stroke, yes the netherlands is not bad place but i do miss the hills sometimes. the bars are tommaselli. the rise and angle is fine but could be a bit more narrow on motorway runs. but then, with those stock mirrors you need some wider bars otherwise you only see your own shoulders!

Offline LesterPiglet

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2014, 03:39:15 pm »
You should take a look at Hondamans ignition unit. Many forum members praise it including myself. A bargain at the price.
'Then' and 'than' are completely different words and have completely different meanings. Same with 'of' and 'have'. Set and sit. There, their and they're. Draw and drawer. Could care less/couldn't care less. Bought/brought FFS.


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Offline riverfever

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2014, 04:48:08 pm »
Wow...that bike is clean.
http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=127186.0

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Offline Stev-o

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2014, 05:30:41 pm »
Sounds like a good plan. No mention of tires, how old are they? [date of manufacture is on them]
'74 "Big Bang" Honda 750K [836].....'71 Honda 750K project.....'76 Honda 550F.....K3 Park Racer.....K5 Fiddy Dolla Special!......CB500 Fiddy Dolla Special too!!............plus plus plus.........

Offline flatlander

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2014, 12:55:30 am »
lesterpiglet: i saw hondaman's thread about his ingition for the 550 and am subscribed to it.
over here, most people use the accent ignition: http://doc.honda4.nl/elz2coil/Ignition%20En%20rev%20b.pdf
any idea how they compare, other than with the hondaman one, the points stay available?

rivervever: thanks man! took me quite some searching to find one that hadn't been fiddled with or modified and wasn't half rotten. it's incredible how bikes that look promising on pictures in ads are half eaten up by rust and dripping oil when you just look at them, after you drive through half the country to check them out  ::)

stev-o: tires are bt-45 from 2012/11 front/rear. still ok for another few kms.

forgot to say: as the wheels come off anyway i'm also replacing those rubber bumpers in the rear hub, and check how the brakeshoes/pads are doing.

keep the suggestions coming guys, i want to make sure i preserve it well while at the same time do small, "behind-the-scenes" improvements to make it a really nice and fun ride  :)

Offline SOHC4 Cafe Racer Fan

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2014, 08:44:29 pm »
cafe racer fan, i will look up ikon parts and racetech, thanks for that. do you find emulators really worth the money? i was thinking about them but having doubts.
and yeah, brakelines are standard so the braided steel is another good idea for an upgrade.

I guess it all depends on what you want out of the bike.  The stock suspension is pretty wobbly to what I am used to.  I tend to upgrade suspension and brakes on my bikes, even before increasing horsepower and torque. 

For me, I've ridden my Honda CBs with stock suspension, with progressive springs, with a GL1000 suspension, and with the Racetech package (springs and emulators).  I feel it's a worthwhile improvement, but I want as much feeling and confidence in the front end as possible.  On top of those improvements, I also installed a Telefix fork brace.

If you are just taking the bike out for leisurely cruising, you probably don't need the Racetech products.  Progressives will give you some improvement. 
1975 CB550K1 "Blue" Stockish Restomod (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=135005.0)
1975 CB550F1 frame/CB650 engine hybrid "The Hot Mess" (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,150220.0.html)
2014 MV Agusta Brutale Dragster 800
2016+ Triumph Thruxton 1200 R (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,170198.0.html)

"There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them — but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one.... Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba." Hunter S. Thompson, Song of the Sausage Creature, Cycle World, March 1995.  (http://www.latexnet.org/~csmith/sausage.html)

Sold/Emeritus
1973 CB750K2 "Bionic Mongrel" (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=132734.0) - Sold
1977 CB750K7 "Nine Lives" Restomod (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=50490.0) - Sold
2005 RVT1000RR RC51-SP2 "El Diablo" - Sold

Offline flatlander

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2014, 01:08:28 am »
i hear you, cafe racer fan. totally agree on the importance of suspension and brakes.
still, i may go for the progressive springs only for now and see how they work out. the racetech stuff easily doubles the price of the fork upgrade or more. my dog was very ill and i had to pay quite some cash to the vet trying to help her. in the end she died last week. anyway, that's a different story but it means that my budget for improvements on the bike has shrunk quite a bit. progressive springs might give me the best bang for the buck to have some fun over the next few months. then i can still go for the full racetech package when i'm more flush again.
i'm glad you share your experience and to be honest, would definitely go for the full package if i was more flush.

i do like to open it up on the twisties but am not racing so a few milliseconds lost won't hurt me. all i know is that the suspension in the stock fork now is close to dangerous when you push it a bit. any improvement at this point will be worth the effort.

here's the koni shocks in the back:


i checked the ikon site and actually like the fact that their new models have adjustable damping. might go for a new set for that reason alone. but the old ones are actually in good shape still so will probably leave that for later as it's not a strict necessity at the moment.

do you use a steering damper? these bikes are not super powerful so i don't expect to need one but would like to her opinions/experiences.

Offline SOHC4 Cafe Racer Fan

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2014, 07:59:54 am »
I don't run one if the steering geometry is stock.
1975 CB550K1 "Blue" Stockish Restomod (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=135005.0)
1975 CB550F1 frame/CB650 engine hybrid "The Hot Mess" (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,150220.0.html)
2014 MV Agusta Brutale Dragster 800
2016+ Triumph Thruxton 1200 R (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,170198.0.html)

"There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them — but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one.... Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba." Hunter S. Thompson, Song of the Sausage Creature, Cycle World, March 1995.  (http://www.latexnet.org/~csmith/sausage.html)

Sold/Emeritus
1973 CB750K2 "Bionic Mongrel" (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=132734.0) - Sold
1977 CB750K7 "Nine Lives" Restomod (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=50490.0) - Sold
2005 RVT1000RR RC51-SP2 "El Diablo" - Sold

Offline Stev-o

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2014, 03:53:50 pm »
I don't run one if the steering geometry is stock.

+1....not necessary.
'74 "Big Bang" Honda 750K [836].....'71 Honda 750K project.....'76 Honda 550F.....K3 Park Racer.....K5 Fiddy Dolla Special!......CB500 Fiddy Dolla Special too!!............plus plus plus.........

Offline flatlander

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2014, 04:00:12 am »
right, for starters i'm ordering now:
  • wheel bearings fore/aft
  • conical headset bearings
  • swingarm bushings, concical bearings
  • chain and sprockets
  • progressive fork springs
  • oil seals for fork
  • brake shoe and brake pads (i'll see if i need to replace them. if not, there will be a time when i need them for sure)

that should be it, or am i misssing anything crucial?
fork boots are fine, OP seems to have replaced them at some point.

so i'm going for the cheaper solution with the fork, not the full racetech package. just to have at least some improvement for now, and save a bit of money.

also leaving the rear shocks as they do their job. upgrading the innards of the fork further, and replacing the shocks is something i'll leave for a later time when i can spend the cash. (that's hoping i won't be broke forever!)

leaving this evening for the weekend and hope the stuff will arrive so that i can get cracking next week when i'm back.

Offline Clinto

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2014, 05:15:15 am »
If you're gonna try to replace the wheel bearings yourself, it's definitely worth it invest in a bearing puller set. I tried to use some of the other methods of getting the bearings out and ended up destroying the hub on my rear wheel :(

However, I did replace my head bearings without any special tools. Also, if you end up doing a front brake pad replacement/rebuild go ahead and look into some stainless steel lines. They can really improve braking. Does your bike still use the stock 14mm master cylinder? Most people (myself included) will suggest buying a 16mm MC when running dual discs on these.

Good luck! Great looking bike, love those Koni shocks
77 CB550F2

Offline flatlander

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2014, 05:26:19 am »
thanks a lot for the advice, clinto.

i managed to get out bearings without a puller in the past. helps to let some penetrating oil do its magic. if that doesn't work, i have a garage a very short distance from my house so if everything fails i may just take the wheels over there to have them pull them out.
but yes, if i do this more often it may be worth buying a puller!

you're not the first one to mention the steel brake lines - i'm starting to get the message  ;)
already put them on my mental list of goodies to get. will also look into the cylinder then.

but yeah, one step at a time... the idea here is to do work as time and budget allows, and don't eat too much into valuable riding time!

Offline Clinto

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2014, 08:04:40 am »
Yeah, I did all the work to my bike over last winter and then spent about a month of good riding weather working all the kinks out. Doing it one step at a time while you can also enjoy the bike is the way to go. Be safe out there
77 CB550F2

Offline strynboen

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2014, 10:02:48 am »
...have same old koni"s..they are made in belgium..must be good...they can be rebuild and polished..(.made of aluminium.).to looke super fine...so keep them on..
i kan not speak english/but trying!!
http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=60973.0
http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=144758.0
i hate all this v-w.... vords

Offline SOHC4 Cafe Racer Fan

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2014, 11:36:35 am »
If the Konis are functioning well, that is great.  If they are worn out, they can be rebuilt pretty easily and affordably.  I think that given your priorities, going with the progressive springs on the forks is a good call. 

Looking forward to seeing to your progress.  All of the improvements you have planned are good choices.  ++2 on the steel braided lines.  The old stock hoses lose their firmness, and the steel braided lines will not deform and give you the best hydrolic pressure transfer between the MC and the calipers.
1975 CB550K1 "Blue" Stockish Restomod (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=135005.0)
1975 CB550F1 frame/CB650 engine hybrid "The Hot Mess" (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,150220.0.html)
2014 MV Agusta Brutale Dragster 800
2016+ Triumph Thruxton 1200 R (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,170198.0.html)

"There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them — but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one.... Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba." Hunter S. Thompson, Song of the Sausage Creature, Cycle World, March 1995.  (http://www.latexnet.org/~csmith/sausage.html)

Sold/Emeritus
1973 CB750K2 "Bionic Mongrel" (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=132734.0) - Sold
1977 CB750K7 "Nine Lives" Restomod (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=50490.0) - Sold
2005 RVT1000RR RC51-SP2 "El Diablo" - Sold

Offline flatlander

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2014, 06:37:35 am »
yes if/when i do something with the konis i think i'll just upgrade them with newer parts from ikon if possible, to keep them looking as original as possible.

do you have any good sources for the steel brake lines? i noticed an ad on the right-hand side of the forum pages and will probably search also for local vendors (to avoid shipping and tax) but it's always good to know what people had positive experiences with.
the current hoses are not that old yet, they must have been installed with the dual discs at some more recent time. but even so they would flex more than steel lined ones, i guess.

forgot that no mail is being delivered on mondays here since beginning of this year. cost savings in the postal system... so no goodies here yet. makes me face the dilemma of starting preparation work, or making use of the nice sunny spring weather to have a beer at the local brewery. tough choices!

Offline SOHC4 Cafe Racer Fan

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2014, 07:41:28 am »
There is a member here on the forum that supplies steel braided lines -- Slingshot Cycles -- and gives forum members a 15% discount (code is SOHC4).
1975 CB550K1 "Blue" Stockish Restomod (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=135005.0)
1975 CB550F1 frame/CB650 engine hybrid "The Hot Mess" (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,150220.0.html)
2014 MV Agusta Brutale Dragster 800
2016+ Triumph Thruxton 1200 R (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php/topic,170198.0.html)

"There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them — but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one.... Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba." Hunter S. Thompson, Song of the Sausage Creature, Cycle World, March 1995.  (http://www.latexnet.org/~csmith/sausage.html)

Sold/Emeritus
1973 CB750K2 "Bionic Mongrel" (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=132734.0) - Sold
1977 CB750K7 "Nine Lives" Restomod (http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=50490.0) - Sold
2005 RVT1000RR RC51-SP2 "El Diablo" - Sold

Offline flatlander

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #22 on: March 10, 2014, 07:43:21 am »
yes, that's the ad i saw. cheers!

Offline Stev-o

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2014, 05:26:45 pm »
There is a member here on the forum that supplies steel braided lines -- Slingshot Cycles -- and gives forum members a 15% discount (code is SOHC4).

+1....I recently just ordered from Shawn
'74 "Big Bang" Honda 750K [836].....'71 Honda 750K project.....'76 Honda 550F.....K3 Park Racer.....K5 Fiddy Dolla Special!......CB500 Fiddy Dolla Special too!!............plus plus plus.........

Offline flatlander

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Re: 1976 CB550F - making it good, one step at a time
« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2014, 02:08:13 am »
 gave in to temptation yesterday and went for the beers... and this morning some packages arrived. didn't have time yet to open them as i had to leave for work but it's time to get my hands dirty soon  :)

 

;
Honda