Sean's First Cafe Build
By Anthony van Someren - 01 Dec 11
Sean is a regular, 40-something, bike-loving guy from Bristol, who grew up around his dad's bikes, including BSA & Triumphs, so the Cafe Racer/Rocker style was already in his blood when he decided to build his first bike from scratch. He'd always loved the Honda CB and although he initially planned to base his build on a CB750 he didn't want the oil tank, so went for an old CB550 instead, which he found in a barn. He then set to work ripping it apart, "adding the lightness" that defines a true Cafe racer and doing all of the work himself. This one is as proper and grass roots as it gets. Here's more about the build in his own words... As soon as I got it home I started stripping it down. Once it was completely apart I removed all of the redundant frame tabs, I made and welded in a seat loop to the frame and then took the frame, swingarm and rims to the powdercoaters (the only job on the bike I didn't do myself). I relaced the wheels myself, again the 1st time I have laced a set of motorcycle wheels (I collect 70's & 80's BMX bikes so I have laced 100's of bicycle wheels). I rebuilt the engine in my garage and then started rebuilding the bike. I didn't like the standard CB550 fuel tank, so I modified a tank from a 1974 CB500 Twin to fit as it has more of a Cafe style to it. The seat unit suited my vision so well and matches the tank also. I put classic clip on bars on the bike and also a really nice set of classic rearsets (the rear brake is cable operated instead of rod for better brake modulation). The idiot lights I changed to LED's and mounted them in the shaved top tree. All of the electrics and battery have been modified and moved to under the seat unit.
Old punks never dieThe Carbs have been cleaned and rebuilt with new jets installed (up to 110 main from 98) to ensure good running with the open velocity stacks. The exhaust system is completely home made from different parts, the downpipes are modified CB550 items and they go into a 4 into 2 collector from a CB650, the gasses escape from classic tulip silencers. I love the exhaust so much as I really wanted the balanced look of a 4 into 2 instead of the standard 4 into 1. As for the orange, well my favourite colour is orange so I just had to have some colour accents on the bike. Have I matched the picture I had in my head at the start of this build? ...I really think I have it exactly as I pictured it. I have to say that I am very proud of what I have produced and this has made me realise that I can do this kind of thing if I put my mind to it. Believe me if I can do it ANYONE can do it as I am not particularly mechanically minded. What I did do a lot of was to stop and think about things before jumping in with a hammer!!!!
Even the sunlight seems to be from the 1970s...I think what Sean has achieved is brilliant and shows what a bit of bloody-minded hard work and dedication can do when mixed with a clear vision of exactly what you want. What I like most about the bike is it's lines and sense of proportion, from the flat frame rails underlining the seat and tank, highlighted with subtle pinstripe, to the open rear subframe, the small low chromed headlamp, the balanced twin exhausts and the attention to detail with inset led warning lamps and red HT leads. I definitely think it deserves a place in the Shed-build hall of fame, to sit along side all those posh pro builds that usually grace the likes of EXIF and Pipeburn. Top work fella.