Months of work has all led to this episode. You’ve been with us every step of the way, from taking this rust bucket sitting at the back of Honest Dave’s shed, through the huge engine restoration, all the handmade fabrication work, through to paint and final assembly. In this episode we finally got to reveal the Honda CB550 Cafe Racer dream bike to our client Scott.
We had a few surprises lined up for him, and it’s safe to say he was blown away by the end result. We’re also going to take you out on a test ride as we put the CB550 through its paces in the picturesque Gold Coast hinterland, as well as taking Scotty out for his first ride and getting his thoughts on the dream bike.
We’ve teased you long enough, and now it’s time to get into the big reveal.
Before we get to Scott’s reaction, we’re going to take you through the modifications we made on the CB550 , to show you just how far we’ve come on this bike. Running from front to back, we’ll start with the reconditioned forks. We added some spacers in the top to add a bit more spring load pressure, and took the opportunity to put some new brakes in while everything was in pieces.
We used a Suzuki SV650 brake caliper, retained the rotor and made new bracketry that mounted onto the forks. Paired with the Accossato levers and cylinders, this new set up will provide you all the stopping power you need for a bike with this much power.
If you’ve been with PBM for a while, you know I can’t stand unnecessary clutter on the front end of a bike. We colour matched the front fender and used a DIY fender kit to keep mounting clean. For the headlight cluster, we made up a custom chrome bracket that sits under the triple clamp by way of 2 M8 bolts, and houses the 5.75” headlight, chrome hollow-tip indicators and Daytona W Gage, all in the one shiny piece.
The performance engine mods and custom exhaust that we made for the CB550 got a fair bit of attention during the series, and it’s one of my favourite pieces on the bike. We ran an upgraded Dynatek ignition and coils, with resistor spark plugs and caps. Whenever you run the non-resistor types through the gauges and electronics we use it starts to go a bit hay-wire so it was an essential modification for this build.
The engine hosts some upgraded Macoony carburettors, the heads are polished squeaky clean, with all new internal mechanisms, new clutch, we replaced the valve chain and 4 new DNA pod filters. All-in-all the engine is better than when it first rolled off the factory floor, Jesse is an absolute scientist when it comes to rebuilding performance engines, and this is some of his best work.
You’ll notice that the exhaust headers are a stand out piece on this bike. After we fabricate and polish the headers we give them a wash with acetone and heat treat them before anything touches it. This avoids any kind of mark or imperfections in the stainless steel, and keeps the pipes that beautiful bronze colour. It does take a little bit of upkeep, but that just means giving them a polish now and then to keep them shining.
Now, by most standards the Honda CB550 is a pretty small bike, and Scott, our rider, is a pretty tall guy. To account for all this we made some offset bars that sit quite high, we had the seat put in a more correct comfortable position and set the foot pegs lower on the rear set brackets. These kinds of small modifications make it a lot easier for Scott to ride for longer without becoming uncomfortable.
On to fabrication, we put a lot of effort and hours in the fab lab for this bike, we had a lot of ideas that went into the design and another one of my absolute favourite parts on this bike is the paint work. We handed the bike over to Nathan from Livin Loco, and he delivered above and beyond for a custom paint job. I wanted the colour to be unique and reminiscent of a vintage motorcycle, and Nathan hand mixes all of his paints so I knew he was the man for the job. The flat grey/green couldn’t have suited the build more perfectly, and the hand filigree that he laid down was actually pretty amazing to watch happen.
With the vintage colour and filigree set against the chrome pieces, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t walk past this bike and admire it.
A special request from Scott on this build was that he wanted a seat that he could double his wife on the back and take her out for a ride if he needed to. We fabricated a custom tail cowl that with a quick zip of a drill either side, comes undone to reveal enough room for his wife to sit comfortably on the back.
We went to our old mate Jameson at Timeless Auto Trim for the custom upholstery on the seat. We must have poured over a thousand samples at his shop before we landed on a beautiful tan leather with woven details running through the center. We wanted to make sure that with the tail cowl on or off it looked nice, and he hit the nail on the head. The seat comes off by way of a latch underneath, and this comes undone to reveal the brains of the operation, a PBM black box unit. It tucks nicely into a colour coded system that makes it easy for anyone to wire their motorcycle, and sits neatly hidden away.
In the last episodes you saw me taking it out for a little test run. But the final piece of the build before we hand it over to the customer is a test and tune with Jesse. He’ll take it out maybe once or twice, and chuck it back up on his trolley to balance the carburettor, make sure the revs are sitting right and the engine is getting the right fuel to air ratio.
At this point I want to tell you to go and watch the test ride for this bike in the video, this was one of the most scenic test rides I’ve had the pleasure of making, and the fact we got it all on camera to share with you all makes it that much sweeter. We put the Honda CB550 well through its paces which means we’re ready for the big moment, handing it over to Scott.
“Wow, thank you, and gobsmacked” were some of the key words we got from Scott, and any nerves he had about the bike were gone with the flick of a sheet to reveal his dream vintage cafe racer. His reaction made all the effort and hard work worth it.
As a funny bit of serendipity, Scott was shopping for motorcycle helmets on his way down to see the bike, but once our mates over at Bell Helmets heard about this build, they wanted to throw one last surprise into the mix. A helmet that’s been custom made for Scott to match his dream bike.
We took him out for a test ride along the Gold Coast beaches and even though the helmet visor is completely reflective, you can tell he had a beaming smile under there. We stopped to have a quick chat to see what he thought of the bike and it was nothing but praises. When we asked him if we had met his expectation of a dream bike, his response was golden, “Mate, over and above. I had a level of expectation, and this is the next level. To say it’s a dream build is under stating it”. Mission accomplished.
We had a great time on this build, and we want to wrap this up by saying thank you to Shannons Insurance for helping make Scotty’s dream bike a reality, and helping us make a series showcasing the work we love doing. Custom motorbikes are our absolute passion, so this project is going down in PBM history as one of the greats.
We have plenty more projects in the pipeline and we have our own YouTube channel where we run through all the custom bikes that come through our shop. Check it out, and you’ll be seeing more from us real soon.