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Thread: Back on the road. '76 CB550F Super Sport

  1. #1
    Join Date
    24th September 2004 - 06:46
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    '76 CB550 Super Sport
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    On the road to nowhere...
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    Back on the road. '76 CB550F Super Sport

    Got my '76 CB550 Super Sport back on the road after a 10 year park up. Had a few health issues and got rid of most of my70s/80s m/cand Connie has taken over most of the shed for her woodwork work shop. I did keep my CB550F and Dads R80 which my brother now has. The BMW wasn't really my thing. Anyway resently I gave myself 2 months to get the 550 up and running and up to WOF standards and register/inshured. It was an interesting process. When I parked her up I knew the carbs needed a complete do over and the rectifier and tacho and speedo were shot. What got the ball rolling was I saw a set of CB400/4 instruments were up for grabs for $100 and knew they were the same ratios as the 550s so grabbed them. Next was seeing a bikini fairing and single seat on TM from Viking Trading in Hamilton. The fairing is fairly small and the 400/4 inst. fit perfectectly with tripometer able to be accessed from the left of the instrument instead of at the bottem like the 550 speedo.


    I'm converting it to twin disks so had to disk rotors drilled by Collin Wheeler at Two Wheels engineering. Ordered two sets of front calipers with pads for approx. $us85 each. I was quoted $nz100 for a used caliper which needed piston/rekitting. The caliper set didn't have the B caliper, unknown to me a set two pages over did. Not a problem, rang Malcombe at Ecohonda and got a pair of used ones sent down. Cleaned them up and they look like new. Had DewTech made me up a pair of front braided lines. Had a spare caliper lever in the shed I used for testing brake components so will use that on the right side.

    Carbs. Pulled the originals off. Having done 160,000kms they were over due for refurb. Lucky for me I had a set of 500/4 carbs in storage. It was quicker to sort these out the the originals. The only difference between the carbs is the 500/4s jetting is a bit richer. Inside they were perfect, no green laquering. The outside took nearly a day to clean up with CRC 5.56. All seals were sqirted with CRC to give them a bit of a refresh. Got a set of rear carb rubbers from 4into1.com and fitted the carbs to the bike. Pulled my home made foam filter, cleaned off any dried up flakey foam and applied chain oil to the foam.

    Tank. Pulled the tank dried it out and put a half a litre of Blackguard in it and swished it about, left a few days and rinsed out with diesol. Fitted a new fuel petcock I got from 4into1.com.

    Electrics. I did a bit of searching and found 4int01.com. You can find a hell of a lot of old Honda related stuff there and seemed to be about 20% cheaper than other old bike parts sellers who obviously use the same wharehouse. Found a solid state reg/rect for the 550 and ordered it. 4into1.com offers a number of shipment option. I chose USPS just to see how it went. Got it within a week so all good.Made a brack plate for the new reg/rect and fitted that. Enlarged a colour wiring diagram to A4 and plasticised. Went though the whole wiring circuit. Pulled the switch blocks and used a dremel to widen the cutouts the cabling was coming through. These originally had the wiring running though the handle bars. A previous owner had made cutouts so that the wiring didn't need to be routed through the bars. The cut outs ere not big enough so and pressed the wires insulation together fusing them. All better now. Inspected the internals of switch blocks and repaired as needed. H4 headlight replaced the original sealed beam arrangement. Fitted a new ignition switch from 4into1.com. These are modified from the originals having a cable with the connector on which is fitted in to the headlight shell offering better weather protection. The bikes one had worn so much the key could slip out at any time.

    Body work. As mentioned I got a solo seat and bikini fairing from Viking Trading on TM. I had to modify the fairing and brackets to fit but no real dramas using a 1.6mm 100mm cutting wheel. The seat fitted without much drama but I had to do something to cover the the surface rust the the dual seat hid on the forward end of the rear mud guard. So in to Para Rubber for some rubber sheet and edge beading to make a fake tail piece and seat skirt.

    Drained the old oil, replaced it with fresh Gulf Western XP 20 W 50(no clutch slippage at all. In fact I've never used any m/c specific oils in any of my motorcycles.) and a new filter. I've used Honda OEM, EMGO and HIFlo(from Super Cheap Autos) oil filters without any issues over the years. I'll change the oil/filter in 3,000kms. Fitted new spark plugs.

    Now the first startup in a decade. When I fitted the 500/4 carbs I left the rear rubbers off so I could pull them easily if needed. Fitted the tank with 2 gallons of 91 in it, fitted a new Yuasha battery. Fuel on, turned the motor over with the starter to prime the cylinders with the kill switch on. Kill switch off press the starter. A bit of spluttering and coughing, turned the idle screw in a bit and the ol gal settled down to a fast smooth idle. Shut it down and started her up and fired up first pop. Listening to the bike it was quieter than when I parked her up. Only rattle really was the clutch nothing serious at all. No cam chain rattle no significant tappet rattle. Didn't even need to use my carb sych kit. Put it all to gether and took it to the WOF testing station and got it road legal. $50 for a years rego is great.

    Test ride. Did a few 50-70 rides around the Manawatu to test reliablility and as I hadn't ridden for about 5 years I needed to ease in to it. No issues so next a ride over to Hastings to see some of the family. Pulls from 50km to 100km in top without any bother at all. Just the typical shoc honda weep from the head gasket. Hell its done over 160,000kms so I'm not complaining.

    Other plans. I bought a matt black and Chrome "Cafe" mufflers from 4into1.com. One for the chrome headers and one for the shitty ol '80s SAGA 4 into 1 I had Two Wheels Eng. mod for easy muffler replacement. I have an original new orange tank I got from Dave Whittaker Honda in Hastings about two decades ago. I'm getting Dulux to colour match it and have a couple of spray bombs made up. I've got spare side covers. One was ok, the other had two large cracks in it. I've repaired it with a heat tool with curcular head and tyraps. Came out well. Plan to get alloy rims and to have the twin seat recovered/foamed as close to the original as possible. I've got a spare engine in parts in a practice bomb box I intend to rebuild. Also have remote res. shocks to fit on it.

    A bit about the bike. I got it in 1986 as a project bike as I'd just gotten a new CB750F2D and need something to fiddle with. It was 10 years old, 3 owners and 76,000 kms up. Did around 20.000kms and gave the bottem end a refresh, fitting brass bushes in flogged out castings and replaced the rocker cover which was a bit worn with a good second hand one. Cam chian/tentioner and primary drive chains were replaced. I've done 90,000kms on it. I had a 500/4 at one point but stripped it and kept the components I knew fitted the 550-carbs, head, rocker cover and rear weel. 550 was orange when I bought it and I had it painted black and added some gold pin striping. It's on the third set of points. I replaced the original muffler with an EMGO muffler which looks similar to a 400/4 muffler with an adapter made up by Two Wheels Engineering. Gone through two sets sprockets and 3 530 chains and used plain engine oil or crc chain lub to lubricate the chain. I use Z handle bars on it as this puts me, being 6 foot, at the correct riding position, both feet and hands and keeps switch blocks from bashing the tank at full lock that drop bars do. You could say I know every nut,bolt, component very well and there's some satisfaction doing some of your own servicing.

    If you see an old black Honda parked up and an eldery gent with beard wearing a blue/white HJC helmet and gumboots pop over and say hi.

    Peace, out.
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    "Every time you set your ass on a bike, you're playing a game of Russian Roulette between yourself and your own stupidity."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    22nd July 2005 - 00:27
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    77 XL250
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    Good to hear from you Bonez. That 550 is the bees testicles indeed. Hope to see it in the wild someday.
    The best way to forget all your troubles is to wear tight underpants.

  3. #3
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    9th January 2005 - 22:12
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    Street Triple R
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    christchurch
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    Great post and very interesting. I have a CB750 which I need to do a lot of similar stuff to, but which I will most likely just sell on....
    In the white room, with black curtains, at the station

  4. #4
    Join Date
    24th September 2004 - 06:46
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    '76 CB550 Super Sport
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    On the road to nowhere...
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    Cheers Mate. At 450lbs wet it's ideal for country road riding. No low speed front end wobbles and as tight as a drum. Range could be better but a small fuel canister will fit in the the tank bag on the back just nicely if I decide to go ticky touring. Concentrating on one bike instead of half a dozen is kinda refreshing.
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    "Every time you set your ass on a bike, you're playing a game of Russian Roulette between yourself and your own stupidity."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    13th March 2003 - 11:47
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    1994 VFR750F, 2004 WR250F, 2006 XR250L
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    Porirua
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    7,285
    Great to see a good Honda back in action.
    Cheers

    Merv

  6. #6
    Join Date
    24th September 2004 - 06:46
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    '76 CB550 Super Sport
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    On the road to nowhere...
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    A few things I had to do over the years apart from general maintenance was replace the fork gaiters, steering head bearings and mangled headlamp ears. Never had to replace the fork seals at all. Cleaned up the part of the forks that wasn't hard chromed and sealed with general purpose grease. The original fuse holder was repaired a few times. I bought a SOHC CB750F1 with a few spares. One of which was a brand new fuse holder so fitted it to the 550. On sold the 750 and kept the spares. The 550 is a much more nimbler bike. The original front tyre was an old Avon RoadRunner which was hard and stepped. Replaced that with a ChengSheng Hi-Max. Unfortunately the Hi-Max is no longer made. Pitty as I ran them on a few machines. The ol girl currently has an IRC 3.25 19 front and Shinko 110/90 18 rear. About 4500km left on the Shinko and 6,000 on the IRC. Had no problems with either tyre wet or dry in normal road usage. I'll replace them both when the Shinko is due for replacement before the next wof. I generally buy the tyres a few months before fitting them myself. It's a good time to do a general check of the bike when fitting. Give the rims a tickle up, check spoke tension, check the rim tape, and replace if needed. The H4 bulb stresses the charging system at low rpm around town so I'll fit an auxiliary led setup to the park circuit. This bike was shipped with a sealed headlamp originally. Old people know what those are. Open road riding there's no issues at all. Full charging kicks in at 4,000 rpm. Mind you being a '76 I don't need the headlamp on at all but it's good to have bit more visibility around town.
    "Every time you set your ass on a bike, you're playing a game of Russian Roulette between yourself and your own stupidity."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    24th September 2004 - 06:46
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenryDorsetCase View Post
    Great post and very interesting. I have a CB750 which I need to do a lot of similar stuff to, but which I will most likely just sell on....
    If I were you and had plenty of room I'd hold on to it. Being the bike that put 4 cylinder 4 strokes road bikes into the motorcyclists lexicon.

    4into1.com has plenty of parts available. An if you are in a hurry DHL will have it delivered in 4-5 days,at a cost of course. I did a few price comparisons and even with shipping you are on the winning side. Got hit by by customs on my fifth shipment in a month which stung a bit but overall still on top. The EMGO Cafe Racer mufflers just over $US60 with 20% discount. The Harley Cafe Racer muffler in City Honda is $799. I loled when I saw them. You can get a complete cable set for the price of two Motion Pro cables here.
    "Every time you set your ass on a bike, you're playing a game of Russian Roulette between yourself and your own stupidity."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    9th January 2005 - 22:12
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    Street Triple R
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    christchurch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonez View Post
    If I were you and had plenty of room I'd hold on to it. Being the bike that put 4 cylinder 4 strokes road bikes into the motorcyclists lexicon.

    4into1.com has plenty of parts available. An if you are in a hurry DHL will have it delivered in 4-5 days,at a cost of course. I did a few price comparisons and even with shipping you are on the winning side. Got hit by by customs on my fifth shipment in a month which stung a bit but overall still on top. The EMGO Cafe Racer mufflers just over $US60 with 20% discount. The Harley Cafe Racer muffler in City Honda is $799. I loled when I saw them. You can get a complete cable set for the price of two Motion Pro cables here.
    I do have the room but I've owned a few CB750's over the years (the best one undoubtedly a 76 CB750F1) and I think I liked the idea of having it more than riding it. My favourite one I sold was a very nice unrestored CB400F (red) and if I can be arsed I should sell the 750 and buy one.

    There was a super tidy blue one on tard me this week that went for $9k
    In the white room, with black curtains, at the station

  9. #9
    Join Date
    24th September 2004 - 06:46
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    '76 CB550 Super Sport
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    On the road to nowhere...
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    Wow 9k. My brother had a red one, they are faster . Him and his mate use to go two up with pack Toupo ways hunting. One trip the muffler came off. He then got '79 CB650Z and loved that thing. Very under rated machines. His mate got an XJ550 and another mate a GS550. They use to terrorise bigger bikes on the back roads. I had a CB650 Custom at one point then traded it for a GSX750EZ.
    "Every time you set your ass on a bike, you're playing a game of Russian Roulette between yourself and your own stupidity."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    24th September 2004 - 06:46
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    '76 CB550 Super Sport
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    In the process of getting the bike on the road I got a few tools I've wanted. This included a set of digital calibers, a float hight gauge and a new EMGO carb synch kit. Previously I'd used some tubing, a set of 4 taps from an aquarium outfit and pretty generic car vacuum gauge. Before that a mercury vacuum set which got tip up accidentally losing some of the mercury. Got a new feeler gauge set as well as I'd misplaced my old sets. Bought a proper compression gauge before I got sick and have a decent timing light I got back in the '80s. Of course the old sets of feeler gaufes turned up once I got my servicing area sorted-the car port with a bench made of an old wooden kitchen table cut in half length wise covering the whole length of the car port. Nothing like having everything layed out, easy to get at. Put rollers on the spares rack and the two 25lb(BDU-33) practice bomb crates with the spare 550 donk and fastenings from bikes I've stripped over the years. Being on rollers is brilliant, easy to shift around. Also put rollers on shelving with our battery powered and corded tools. Have an extension cord permanently plugged in long enough to reach the end of the car port. Have a decent tool cupboard/chest I inherited but mainly use the most common tools from a holder you can carry around. Not too many specialist tools on the CB550s and usually you can make do, such as using the rear axle as an alternator rotor puller. Priced up a m/c valve compression tool a chain breaker but haven't got them yet.

    It's been fun.
    "Every time you set your ass on a bike, you're playing a game of Russian Roulette between yourself and your own stupidity."

  11. #11
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    25th March 2004 - 17:22
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    Ooh, use the enter key a few times to breakup the sentences.

    Makes it easier to read.

    But cool story and nice to see back on the road. A mate had one with a Dunstall kit. Actually was better without it.
    I've been told. Dreaming`s free.
    Think I'll go, back to sleep.
    Everybody listen, voices in my head
    Everybody listen, do yours say, what mine says?

  12. #12
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    24th September 2004 - 06:46
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    Thanks. Nice to see some of the cool kids still about. My '87 Clymer says basicly don't hot them up unless you are going on the track. Yoshimira had a kit for them as well. Upgrade the suspension/brakes are the main recommendations . I have Konis on the back with 1 inch preload stock springs up front. Only ever used ATF. Clymer recommend a 20 weight fork oil. The Asian, Euro and Downunder models have brake lugs on the RH forks to add an extra disk and calipers. Just a drilling holes in the disks(the disks were hopeless in the wet) and machining out the RH disk for the speedo drive hub is all thats needed to set that up. These wee things can get up to 180k no worries stock with 17-37 gearing on a good day down hill and no head wind . Sit on 110-120 all day long. 17-34 will give a bit better millage I should think. The wee fairing prushes more air than I was expecting and up to about chin level, similar to a CX500 fly screen.
    "Every time you set your ass on a bike, you're playing a game of Russian Roulette between yourself and your own stupidity."

  13. #13
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    3rd October 2004 - 17:35
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    nice one bonez cool bike!
    Then I could get a Kb Tshirt, move to Timaru and become a full time crossdressing faggot

  14. #14
    Join Date
    24th September 2004 - 06:46
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Pastor View Post
    nice one bonez cool bike!
    Cheers mate.
    "Every time you set your ass on a bike, you're playing a game of Russian Roulette between yourself and your own stupidity."

  15. #15
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    24th September 2004 - 06:46
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    Got a call from Reseane Automotive today. The orange colour matched spray bombs are ready to be picked up. I'll do that tomorrow and retrieve the tank. $75 for two cans. For Honda tanks this old there was never any accurate colour coding until about '78-79 or thereabouts according to an ex top head US Honda m/c mechanic. I printed off a lot of stuff of his back in the '90s. I think now it's available in pdf format for a nominal cost of a few bucks last time I looked, which was around a decade ago. I'll see if I can find a link. Lots of good stuff on early Hondas including the early VFRs and other m/c related stuff.
    "Every time you set your ass on a bike, you're playing a game of Russian Roulette between yourself and your own stupidity."

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