GULF COURSE. Kott Motorcycle’s Textbook Honda CB550 Cafe Racer
Written by Andrew Jones
While we’d argue that the Gulf Oil Fords and Porsches from the ’60s and ’70s are amongst the most beautiful racing machines ever made, it’s with a fair amount of trepidation that we click on bike submissions that have anything to do with the brand. The reason? My God, it’s been done to death. It’s been done to death, buried, dug up at midnight and then done some more. But when California’s Dustin Kott dared to have a go on a Honda CB550, he did it with the subtlety and taste you’d expect from one of America’s best customisers.
Despite some oblique references to Hollywood movie work he may or may not be involved in, Kott kicks things off with a quick description of his upcoming custom build. “It’s a brand new BMW airhead; there’s extensive metal work, including a handmade aluminum fuel tank, a full fairing and a bespoke seat. A custom subframe and unique rearsets will also be incorporated on the build which will be done for the 3rd annual OG Moto Show in Los Angeles.” But enough with the theoretical stuff.
West Coaster Dustin bought this bike from a friend in New York. Ironically, it’s now finished and on its way back to New Jersey. At least it got to see the sights before returning home. “I’m glad to have a number of custom builds on the East Coast now representing the Kott brand,” he says. Getting down to brass tacks, the donor machine is a 1975 CB550. Kott says it represents the culmination of a decade’s worth of skills development and a continuing of his efforts to perfect the CB series.
Obviously inspired by the legendary Gulf paint scheme, any specific references in terms of company branding or racing numbers have been eschewed in favour of a masterfully subtle homage to the legend. “The Gulf blue and orange is complemented by some copper highlights and caramel brown leather. And the proprietary splash guard in front of the rear wheel was given a carbon fibre finish in order to embellish the Gulf scheme and the racing feel as a whole.”
As always, Kott has fully rebuilt the motor and refreshed the carbs along with a raft of other nice touches. “The black anodized Sun Rims are laced with stainless spokes and the Lossa Engineering exhaust system was blacked out to create a stouter aesthetic presence. Additional features include a handmade wiring harness with a down-sized lithium battery, a bespoke seat, new rear sets and custom striping on the tank.”
With one foot in the here and now and the other stepping to the future, Kott shows that he knows what it takes to make a business great and keep it there. “I want to continue to perfect and innovate on what I think is a tried and true design in order to solidify the Kott brand and to have yet another rolling billboard on the East Coast.”
For Kott, the most challenging part of the build was incorporating the dual rotor on the front end; it was the one area where he was required to deviate from the initial plan. “Using a brand-new concept for the brake line splitter along with machining some of the original brake parts proved to be challenging. But the good thing is that now I have a viable option for running dual front brakes on my CB series Hondas.”
“Besides, the customer had a tremendous amount of creative input on this build which is satisfying on multiple levels. The fruits of your labour, coupled with a design reaching fruition before your very eyes is an incredible thing.”