Honda cb550

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Honda CB550F SuperSport

The Honda CB550F SuperSport is a motorcycle that’s lived in the shadow of its larger sibling, the CB750F, for the past 40 years. Despite the fame of the CB750 and its reputation as being the first superbike, its slightly smaller stable mate was, and still is, an outstanding motorcycle.

It was produced between 1974 and 1978, a relatively short production life for a Honda motorcycle which has led to the bike becoming quite collectible and highly sought after by custom motorcycle builders. The two most common customs we see from the CB550 platform are cafe racers and Brat style bikes – this one being a good example of that latter type.

The bike is the work of R. Cameron Smyth of Smyth Innovations based out of Chatham in Ontario, Canada. This build has strong personal appeal for me for a couple of reasons, the minimalism and focus on keeping as many of the distinctive, original parts as possible has resulted in a bike that many of us could build ourselves on a modest budget.

The build process on this bike was relatively straight-forward, the original seat was removed and replaced with a low-profile Brat seat, the wiring harness was replaced and a USB port was added to charge mobile devices on the go. The engine was removed from the frame and rebuilt, the stock instrument cluster was replaced with a 2.5″ mini speedometer (with integrated turn and warning lights), the stock airbox was removed and the carburettors were re-jetted to suit their new UNI pod filters.

To finish the bike off, a set of Avon SM tires were added with a 4.00 x 18 at the rear and a 3.50 x 19 on the front. These tires have the same basic look as the Firestone rubber we see on a lot of builds in this genre, with the added benefit of more modern tire compounds and a slightly more effective tread pattern.If you’d like to see more from Smyth Innovations you can click here and if you’d like to go get your own CB550 you can check eBay or your local Craigslist.

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Honda CB550

Infobox Motorcyclename = CB550

aka = manufacturer = Hondaproduction = predecessor = successor = class = engine = 544 cc air cooled 8-valve SOHC transverse fourBore X Stroke: 58.5 x 50.6 mmCR: 9.0:1top_speed = auto mph|102power = convert|50|bhp|abbr=on @ 8,500 rpmtorque = convert|30.4|ft.lbf|N.m|abbr=on @ 7,500 rpmtransmission = 5-speedsuspension = Front: 35 mm telescopic forksRear: Twin shocks with adjustable pre-loadbrakes = tires = Front: 3.25 x 19 inRear: 3.75 x 18 inrake_trail = Rake: 64°, trail: 105 mmwheelbase = length = width = height = seat_height = auto mm|805dry_weight = auto kg|192wet_weight = fuel_capacity = convert|14|L|usgalrelated = similar = The Honda CB550 is a motorcycle manufactured by Honda. It is considered the younger cousin to Honda's CB750 and was introduced in 1974 as the CB550K0. Later iterations were produced through 1978 ending with the K4. Furthermore, the CB550 was offered in a Super Sport, "F" model called, simply, the Honda CB550F.

Cosmetically, the CB550 looks much like its larger and smaller cousins. Colors included Flake Sunrise Orange with Black, Boss Maroon Metallic with Black, Freedom Green Metallic with Black, Candy Jade Green, and Flake Sunrise Orange. Stock exhaust was a four-into-four style. Other options included four-into-four exhaust (four individual exhaust tubes) for the "K" models and a four-into-one (four headers terminating into one muffler) style exhaust on the Honda CB550F.

Specifications for the CB550 were virtually unchanged over the model lines.


Reviewers were overwhelmingly positive in regards to the CB550 during the 1970s. However, in some aspects the CB550 is lacking; especially in terms of braking. Despite the reviewer's suggestion, the CB550 is not a beginner's bike. Power comes on suddenly and with lacking brakes, can make the CB550 unforgiving. Furthermore, the handling, when compared to modern sport bikes, is unresponsive with considerable head shake when riding aggressively through corners. However, the CB550 still garners respect.


Maintenance on the CB550 is nearly identical to the CB750 and can be completed, mostly, with common hand tools. Some specialized tools, including feeler gauges, a timing light, chain breaker and riveter, amongst others. Common maintenance tasks include chain tensioning and cleaning/lubing, valve adjustment, rear brake adjustment, oil and filter changes, etc.

Overall, if common maintenance is performed regularly at the proper intervals with quality parts, the CB550 is very reliable and has been reported to be good for 100,000+ miles.

F model

The CB550F was the largest factory boring of the smaller block, air-cooled, 4 cylinder, single over-head cam motorcycles made by Honda during the mid- to late 1970s. The block of the CB550 was similar in appearance to, but considerably smaller than, the heavier casting of the CB750. These motorcycles had two stock gauge and exhaust configurations. The early models had a single gauge cluster and four individual exhaust tubes, each with its own muffling elements. The "Super Sport" model, featured a dual gauge cluster (with a separate speedometer and tachometer) and a stock 4-into-1 header. This configuration is shown in the adjacent photograph, repainted from the original "Candy Apple Blue" to yellow. A factory "Candy Apple Red" was also available. CB550s shared a similar emblem to the other "Fours" made by Honda: the triangular side covers had the upward-rounded displacement (550, in this case) with the word "Four" superimposed.

As for the performance, the CB550F was overgeared and could not reach yellow-line in 5th gear with the stock sprocket arrangements. With the stock gearing, the CB550F Super Sport was capable of reaching speeds in excess of convert|105|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on with a convert|200|lb|abbr=on. rider, while remaining well below 9200 rpm yellow line limit on the gauges. Valve floation limited any desire on the part of the rider to extend the revolutions to red line, which was 11,000 rpm. The light weight of the motorcycle limited the appeal of the CB550 for longer distance rides, and though it was barely adequate for touring, it was superb for intermediate distance urban and freeway riding. A common modification was to add several teeth on the rear drive sprocket to make the motorcycle considerably quicker off the starting line and reduce some of the wear on the clutch. This was done at the price of some fuel economy and slightly higher levels of vibration. The single disk on the front was unbored and was prone to slipping in wet conditions until the disk was hot enough to evaporate off the water accumulation. Considerable care had to be exercised when riding in wet conditions due to a highly non-linear "grab" when the water film was squeezed dry. This posed a risk for loss of control under wet conditions for riders unfamiliar with this behavior. While there were both right-side and left-side caliper brackets on the stock forks, aftermarket modification of the front disk to a dual, bored-disk configuration was required for optimum all-weather, performance braking. Later, factory models of the small-block "Fours" included the slotted disk modification as a stock configuration.

This motorcycle was well-made, tolerating frequent use of the throttle. The one shown in the photograph was eventually sold with convert|80000|mi|km on the original engine, with nothing more than routine maintenance, suffering only from a minor drip on the shift lever at the time of sale. Valve and ignition adjustment was accomplished with a simple set of tools, but had to be done every convert|1500|mi|km.


Marked prices for CB550s can vary greatly. Some well kept (non restored) bikes sell for nearly $1,000, while other, less cared for, bikes can sell for under $500. Carefully and tastefully customized CB550s can sell for upwards of $2,000. Prices also depend on location.

External links

* [ Honda CB550 and SOHC4 resources] * [ CB550 Rebuild site]

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Honda CB550, ,

CB400 four
, cc399 cc
192 kg
(/)34.7 km/L (at the time of 60 km travelling)
(**), 2130 mm x 780 mm x 1090 mm
(Tokyo area) 579,000 Yen
Water cooling 4 cycle DOHC4 valve 4 cylinder
type NC23E
, cc399 cc
()55.0 mm
()42.0 mm
Full transistor type battery ignition
Force splash combined use system
Self system
()3.6 L
()15 L
, (..) /.- kw (53 ps)/10000 rpm
*(*)/.- N m (4.1 kg m)/7500 rpm
, /-
, 34.7 km/L (at the time of 60 km travelling)
, 2.6 m
Double cradle
26 degrees/00 minutes
110 mm
110/80- 1858 H
140/70- 1766 H
Hydraulic type double disk
Hydraulic type disk
Telescopic system
Swing arm system
Wet multiple plate coil springs
type Regular gearing type 5 step return
1st gear 3.307
2nd gear 2.055
3rd gear 1.500
4th gear 1.250
5 speeds 1.130
Variable speed car change gear ratio -

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