Will the CB550F Run After 40 Years?


Reviving a 1975 Honda CB550F
They are saying one man’s trash is one other man’s treasure, and we’ve actually dragged our fair proportion of trashed bikes house. Wherever we scrounge them up, the rose-colored glasses put on the heaviest tint after you’ve bagged a uncared for basic for reasonable. However earlier than you get carried away, it pays to take a superb take a look at what you could have and what you hope to do with it.

Since our CB550F tracker undertaking must occur rapidly and on a price range, a full engine overhaul wouldn’t actually match this system. So our first precedence was getting this crusty basic motorbike working.

1975 Honda CB550F
In case you caught Half One of our CB550 construct, you understand we’re on a mission to construct a fun-loving city tracker on an everyman price range—based mostly on a doozy of a 1975 CB550F that we grabbed for simply $400. We’re thrilled to have Motogadget, Tuffside, Bridgestone, Lowbrow Customs and Biltwell Inc. on board for the revival.

We trusted within the deities of Honda reliability once we picked up the CB550 from the vendor, understanding solely that the bike had a transparent title and kicked over freely. However earlier than we began ordering components, I wanted to at the least hear this factor make noise.

Bike EXIF Honda CB550F Build
For the storage graybeards within the group, I’ll prevent the time and reveal that the Honda confirmed adequate indicators of life to proceed. However should you’re a bit much less skilled, deal with the next as a free order of operations for verifying that your newest bargain-buy motorbike is price reviving, or should you’ve bought a a lot bigger undertaking in your palms.

Honda CB550F Engine
Will it crank? Father time and the weather will not be pleasant to your inside combustion engine, and whereas many people have damaged seized engines free and despatched it, that’s not all the time a recipe for achievement. The very first thing we did was confirm that our wet-sump four-cylinder had respectable oil in it, and we shot some penetrating fluid down the spark plug holes. That helps restore some lubrication within the cylinder and in addition helps loosen any rings which are caught of their grooves.

After letting the lube do its factor for just a few hours, we might crank the engine with a transparent conscience and did so with the spark plugs out, the ignition off and the gas provide strains disconnected. Subsequent, it’s time to check compression, however I’m going to the electrical starter for that.

Bike EXIF Honda CB550F Project Bike
With out the right battery for the Honda available, we linked jumper cables from the CB to an previous automotive battery (confirm you could have a 12-volt system first) to check our wiring and electrical starter. Clearly having the appropriate battery in your bike is most well-liked, however the additional CCAs gained’t damage something right here. The e-starter labored like a attraction, and our compression numbers all got here in slightly below 150 psi.

Whereas that’s just a little decrease than we’d wish to see, it’s not shocking with the bike sitting so lengthy. We’ll test once more after just a few warmth cycles to see how issues enhance as soon as the rings unencumber.

Honda CB550F Points
Does it spark? Ignition techniques on basic bikes could be fairly hit-or-miss in spite of everything these years, however we had been fairly assured we might make the Honda’s old-school factors ignition system spark. Perhaps we’d have to wash up or substitute the factors, or a coil or condenser, however that beats sourcing digital ignition components at occasions.

However the Honda gave us no bother and provided a superb constant spark throughout all 4 cylinders.

Checking Spark on a Motorcycle
Probably the most drama got here from the worn-out key, which required a good quantity of fiddling to rotate the tumbler. With the ignition and killswitch on, we grounded every spark plug to a cam-cover screw and noticed stunning spark. A type of in-line spark testers could be helpful right here as effectively.

You may not be so fortunate, and troubleshooting a no-spark state of affairs might require a deep dive into the boards and proficiency with a multimeter.

Honda CB550 Gas Tank
How unhealthy is the gas system? We knew the gas system on our Honda can be a complete catastrophe after its four-decade slumber, and all the standard suspects had been current. There’s mild rust within the tank, deteriorated previous gas strains and the carburetors should be gone by way of. Name me lazy, however I wasn’t eager on a full overhaul of the Honda’s Kehin 022A carburetors simply but, so gas supply for this take a look at run can be through the advert hoc technique.

A twig can of starter fluid is the best choice, however I keep away from the stuff after I can, and I wished the CB to have as a lot lubrication as attainable for our take a look at hearth. My technique of alternative is just a little cocktail of ethanol-free gasoline with a splash of two-stroke oil, ideally in some type of gravity-feed tank. Sadly, we didn’t have that available, and the jets are most likely plugged strong anyhow, so unmetered gas it’s.

Reviving a 1975 Honda CB550F
A type of little pump oil cans works in a pinch, and we shot a wholesome quantity of gas in every carburetor. You’re not going to get flawless working and idling from this technique, because you’re coping with unmetered gas, however in our expertise, 60% of the time, it really works each time.

Our CB550’s four-cylinder clamored to life briefly order, coughing mud, lifeless bugs and two-stroke smoke from the loose-hanging exhaust system. We bought just a few revs in and the engine sounded surprisingly wholesome for enduring many years of hibernation.

Reviving a 1975 Honda CB550F
With out the carburetors functioning correctly, the engine gained’t run lengthy sufficient to check a lot else, just like the transmission or the clutch, however I really feel lots higher about breaking the rack carbs down now that I’ve heard it run.

Honda CB550 Taillight
Is the paperwork clear? It’s the least thrilling side, and all too usually the explanation bikes sit unused within the first place, but it surely’s a single piece of paper that may make or break your undertaking. If you wish to play it secure, don’t purchase a motorcycle with something lower than a clear title signed over by the vendor, however there are exceptions to the rule.

The scope of those ramblings doesn’t benefit a deep dive into titling legal guidelines state by state. However there are states that don’t even problem titles to older bikes, and also you’re good to go together with a invoice of sale and a clear VIN.

Honda CB550 Gauges
Among the well-known titling loopholes can nonetheless be used, freshly excluding Vermont, however you do have choices. If the juice is definitely worth the squeeze, ponying up for a bonded title can be a great way to go.

The purpose of the story is do your homework, and ensure the bike isn’t stolen earlier than you get away your bankroll. We bought fortunate, as our $400 CB550 got here with a transparent title from the Seventies. With our due diligence full, it’s time to lastly begin reworking our CB550F into one thing a bit extra thrilling—let’s strip this factor down!

Bike EXIF Honda CB550F Project Bike