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SCANTILY CLAD. The ‘Bikini’ ’72 Honda CB500 by Blacksquare Motorcycles

Posted on October 5, 2017 by Andrew in Café Racer. 28 comments

Written by Marlon Slack.

Kyril Dambuleff has no barrow to push. He doesn’t run a workshop or sell parts or posters or scarves or t-shirts. He only builds motorcycles to keep himself happy and make the rest of us plonkers look bad. And he’s doing an admirable job of it with this exceptional 1972 Honda CB500 he’s dubbed ‘Bikini’.

The rivet counting brigade will be quick to point out that while the frame is from 1972 the engine itself comes from a 1976 CB550. And that’s how the bike started, with just an engine that had been rebuilt by Kyril from the ground up. ‘It sat on my workbench for months, taking up much needed space,’ he says. ‘I thought about displaying it somehow, perhaps in my office. But what could be better than an original frame?’

Well, not much. Unless it’s nestled in a bike trimmed to perfection like this beauty. So Kyril went about accumulating all the parts over the coming months – the frame, wheels, exhaust pipes, forks and tyres and all the other sundries that come from assembling a ground-up bike. But the focus was to remain the powerplant.

‘The idea was to showcase the engine and have all of it in complete and unobstructed view with nothing hidden,’ he explains. ‘Everything else had to conform accordingly. Hence the asymmetrical tank and all the other exposed components which shows what makes a motorcycle tick. It’s like one of those skeleton watches in which the maker has left only what’s essential and tried to reveal as much of what makes the watch tick as possible’

It’s a little like that, but Kyril has an alternate slant on the bike. ‘But I prefer to think of the bike as a tall, skinny, platinum blonde fashion model scantily clad in a sky blue bikini. Where everything is in full view except the little that is hidden and subject to the imagination. That’s where I got the name from.’ As much as I prefer the name ‘Blue Balls’ I’ll grant him that ‘Bikini’ has a much classier ring to it.

Kyril enlisted the help of Benjie’s Cafe Racers to wrap the metal around his wooden buck. That’s what she said. The finished tank slopes up hard on the right hand side to expose the spark plug leads and the coil. On the left it retains something close to the original lines but that completely asymmetrical design is certainly something I haven’t seen before.

It’s also interesting to note the finish used on the exhaust headers. It’s not polished stainless steel but Cerakote applied with a mirror finish. Cerakote is actually a polymer-ceramic coating that’s usually applied to firearms – often in camouflage or flat earthen colours. It’s a neat process that’s very heat and distortion resistant and should ensure a mirror-like finish for years.

Those headers were fitted to the rebuilt CB550 engine – and unlike the frame, and maybe like it’s bikini-model namesake, many of it’s best features aren’t visible. While the engine was blasted and polished the cylinder was bored out to 59mm and new Wiseco pistons installed. Compression was taken up to 10:1 and displacement is now 553cc’s.


And then it was time to fit it to the frame, which Kyril found to be the only part of the build frustrating. ‘Modifying the original tail section was easy,’ he says, ‘but grinding, filling and smoothing the original welds took a lot of time and effort and, in some cases, required tools that one would expect to find in a dentist’s office.’

All told the bike is an incredible twist on the traditional cafe racer – and like an original caff this one is considerably lighter than stock. Kyril’s target weight was 350 pounds (158kg) and with the antigravity battery, aluminum parts and tricky things like the adjustable foot peg positioner he nearly managed to hit that with the bike weighing in at 357lbs. ‘I think I could have hit 350,’ he explains, ‘but I had to replace the front single disc with a twin disc setup that was irresistible’.

Honestly, the whole damn bike is damn near irresistible!

Touching someone’s bikini in public is not recommended

[ Blacksquare Motorcycles | Photos by Kyril Dambuleff ]

  • Charlie James Customs

    👏 that tank is stellar! Very clean and refined well done execution!

  • the watcher

    Interesting. Different. Nicely engineered. CB5 motor. Bloody brilliant.

    • the watcher

      Just looked again and it’s better than that. Awesome!

  • martin hodgson

    Incredible build, the attention to detail is absolutely amazing, every nut and bolt is perfect. Then that tank, an absolute work of art!

  • Scott Allen

    Wow what a build! It’s simply beautiful. Form meet function and no more. The tank is a work of art. Kudos to you Kyril.

  • Ted Wright

    Drop Dead Gorgeous. Daddy of all Cafe Racers.

  • LD

    that’s my dad’s bike! suits his personality perfectly, from the minimalism and process all the way down to nixing the idea of calling it ‘blue balls.’ another beauty.

  • guvnor67

    Un-bel-iev-able! In some ways it shouldn’t work, but it does. . . Brilliantly! If I may be so bold, you could park this next to a Max Hazan creation and it would start to sweat!

  • This is really different, and as Phil Conners says in Groundhog Day “Anything different is good”. Brilliant conception and fantastic execution. The asymetrical tank is a design coup. The workmanship is the best I’ve seen and rivals any builder on these pages. It even looks like the original frame welds have been smoothed out. The pegs and rearsets are stand alone works of art. The bike showcases the elegant Honda CB500 motor exquisitely. I’ll be feasting my eyes on the details of this bike for a long time.

  • Fido Zombie

    Stunning. Who’d have thought a Honda 4 could be so slim. The tank looks like the liquid metal guy from Terminator 2, but I’m not sure we really need to see the coils.

  • Joseph James Weitzel

    Where do I begin!? Every part of this masterpiece you look at your pulled to look at another part, then another, you have to look away. She’s truly stunning, and unusual. Not just another show brat/cafe, this is special. I never thought I’d see a builder rival Auto Fabrica, this does, USA is on the map. The tank is unreal, it makes ya rethink all your tanks. The only thing I’d do different is the side panels, which seem like the only parts without function, a little distracting, but that’s just my opinion. Bravo BlackSquare, this is a real winner.

  • AB

    It is just exquisite (‘Mericans may need to look that word up).

    • John in Pollock

      I think its exquisitely bitchen.

  • KD

    Thank you Andrew, Marlon and Martin for making it possible for the “SCANTILY CLAD” to appear in public on your wonderful website. Much appreciated. Very special thanks to all who cared to comment. Much obliged. (I had bet that Bultaco Metralla was going to comment and then promptly lost. I hope all is well.)

    Additional detailed information on all components and specifications can be found at:

    • Pretty sure YOU’RE the one who deserves the thanks, Kyril. Lovely bike, mate!

  • Ian Rae Thomas

    Very contemporary – best build I have seen in a while.
    Hopefully more of this quality from American builders.

  • Jim In Solvang

    My very first bike was a CB550. I learned to ride on it, rode it all over NYC and New England and always dreamed of what it might look like, how it would perform stripped-down to the essentials and performance-tuned. Fast-forward 42 years and lo, here it is – even better than my wildest dreams. Thanks for the build Kyril, and the post Pipeburn!

  • I love how the tank looks like a blob of mercury…

  • Dr. Terrible

    Too much chrome-ish; but the extraordinary simplicity of those lines depicts a marvellous bike.