The ever-useful Wikipedia notes that the ‘Ripon’, or ‘Blackburn T.5 Ripon’ to use its correct name, was a ‘British carrier-based torpedo bomber and reconnaissance biplane which first flew in 1926.’ Naming their creations after Britain’s rich aviation history has become quite the thing with Norfolk’s Old Empire Motorcycles, as has creating bloody amazing custom bikes, and drinking cups of tea. And rest assured, this one is no exception to the rule. You may know it as a Honda CB550, but they know it by another name…
When it comes to Honda CB café racers there’s not a lot of people that have built as many as Jay Lossa and his team at Lossa Engineering in Long Beach California. Jay has lost count of the number of CB’s he has brought back to life since starting his shop back in 2007. He usually starts his builds with “rusty hunks of junk” that cost no more than $500. It doesn’t usually matter what condition they are in because he replaces every nut and bolt anyway. This time around he started with a decent donor CB550 that he picked up for $1300 – which makes it the most expensive donor he has ever bought.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
The CB550 was not a staple of the classic café scene back in the halcyon days but if they built them like Café Cycles that might have all changed. With the Café Racer culture booming again it’s easy for the new generation to forget its simple roots.
Most of the world’s biggest custom builders and even manufacturers have turned out big dollar Café bikes, but in a small workshop in Rhode Island a lover of British bikes and a master of hand formed aluminium parts, Pete Chase is proving the old simple ways still work. In fact he likes British bikes so much he barely cuts them up, preparing to turn out perfect custom Hondas with a British flavour!
This pretty little thing is named ‘Lucy’ and she is the 15th café racer built by Hot Sake Cycles in Orlando, Florida. We were surprised we hadn’t heard of them before, but that’s probably because ‘they’ are actually a single guy named Shannon Hulcher who builds these professional-looking bikes in his spare time. By day he works as a biology teacher who dissects frogs to show kids how the body works. By night, he dissects motorcycles to show the rest of us how to build a café racer.
“I don’t have a professional shop” says Shannon. “Lucy is a culmination of skills I’ve been developing over the years”. I wanted to build an ultra light weight bike that would be fun to ride. The whole goal was to make it as light as possible” he says. He started the build with no deadline, but then Cafemoto Orlando asked him if he could finish it for the AIM Expo. With the show only one month away, Shannon got to work.
It’s always been understood that military service steels the mind. The travel. The rigor. The honour of serving one’s country. Give them boys and they’ll give you back men. Of course, this can take years to achieve – often longer. But what happens when you find yourself back home after an extended sea-borne hiatus and realise that while you’ve matured as a person, your garage is still stuck in a very green, very crotch-rockety 2008? Why you upgrade, of course. And not to just any bike. Meet Moh and his very ship-shape CB 550 bobber.
READ MORE ►
Too often it’s the more wild creations of the custom bike scene that get all the attention. Like cheeky kids, they play the crowd and manage to get all eyes on them. Which is all good and well, unless you aren’t looking to be king of the hill and would rather travel with a certain understated style and grace. For those times, you’ll be wanting a bike that is cleaner than clean with nothing at all more than the absolute minimum required. Everything it its right place. That bike is this bike. This bike is Devin Henriques‘ Honda CB550 café racer.
READ MORE ►
Portland, Oregon is not only one of the ‘craft beer’ capitals of America, but it’s also one of the ‘craft motorcycle’ capitals as well. There seems to be so many great custom shops, motorcycles and events coming out of Portland – there must be something in the Portland water beer. One such shop that we’ve been keeping our blurry eye on is Bridge City Cycles. Started by Anthony Mautemps and his wife 2 years ago, their business is going from strength to strength. “We’ll be moving to 5,000 square foot facility in May” says Anthony. “Fortunately, the move is just across the street.” Bridge City Cycles specialize in vintage and classic motorcycles from Europe, America and of course Japan. Their latest build is this super lean and clean Honda CB550 café racer…
READ MORE ►
By guest writer Ian Lee.
To be honest, when I think of café racer culture, Canada is not one place that immediately springs to mind. Even our featured bike’s owner, Andre, admits “in Canada, café racer culture isn’t too vibrant, but I was lucky to find the one guy near Niagara that could make my dream a reality”. That guy is Adam Gaspic, from Gasser Customs, a relatively new bike workshop that has pumped out some very decent projects during its short existence. And Andres’s bike, Ravenna, is no exception.
READ MORE ►
This CB550 has been lighting up the switchboard on the SOHC4 forum for the past month. The bike was fastidiously built by a guy from Portland who goes by the forum name Paulages. Paul said on the forum that “When i originally built my CB550, the engine was simply cleaned up and painted, and all bearings and bushings replaced, etc. then, I eventually built the 718cc powerplant, and found that the rest of the bike wasn’t quite what the engine needed”.
READ MORE ►
Discovered this beautiful CB550 on the frequently updated and entertaining Motorcycle Picture of the Day blog. Completely garage built by a guy called Eric, he goes into great detail about how he created this cafe racer. Eric says he “fitted a set of forks from a 2004 GSX-R 600, using a Harley narrow glide wheel which fit surprisingly well between the calipers; it was almost a plug-n-play operation. The rotors are 320mm units from a Hayabusa which required 10mm spacers underneath the calipers. The eBay front end also came complete with clipons & controls so I decided to go ahead and use them; the right control wouldn’t fit with the bar-end mirror so I binned it in favor of a Motion Pro throttle assembly and start/kill switch from an R6. The rearsets are Tarozzi universals mounted to the passenger peg mounts. The rear wheel is a Harley 3.5×18 rim that I laced to the 550 hub with Buchanan stainless spokes. I popped the top end off the engine and freshened it up a bit with a set of 59mm pistons and camshaft from a SOHC CB650 for a little extra oomph”. Eric has really stamped his individuality on this CB550, we particularly love those Norton commando peashooter exhausts which look like they produce a mighty bark. Check out more pics of this stunning bike and the full story on MPOTD.
READ MORE ►