Smyth Innovations Silverback
By Ross Sharp - 21 Jul 14
Being practical, is that nature or nurture? I've got friends who grew up around cars and bikes but watching them just pick up a screwdriver (usually the wrong type) is simply painful. Buttered chop sticks for fingers. Luckily Cam from Chatham, Ontario doesn't have this problem. He's a proper outdoors, farming type of Canadian, used to wrenching on heavy machinery and keeping engines running when they've given up. He's also a mechanical designer and engineer but packed it all in to build bikes full time, so this effort has nowhere to hide. No pressure then Cam! This 1974 CB550 K0 is the first street bike to receive the Smyth Innovations treatment but it's not going to be the last. From the outset Cam wanted to place emphasis on mechanical improvements ahead of aesthetics, to offer a bike that is a genuine upgrade on the original, rather than a tarted up show pony. And why not. I'm sitting in a tipper truck with remote tail, typing this on an iPhone and updating Wordpress while being loaded with rubble. It might be more romantic to get a shovel out but technology is there for a reason. The high-tech approach starts up front with a Moto Gauge iphone bracket, which allows Cam to use GPS Nav, speedo and video all at once. Certainly saves on wiring and constant glove removal to find out you're lost. Old fashioned mild steel has been upgraded to lighter and more sophisticated aluminium wherever possible. The chain guard, seat pan, sprocket cover and most of the other bracketry has been fabricated from this material from the finer end of the periodic table and mostly powder coated matt black. To cope with more spirited riding the forks were rebuilt and All Balls Racing tapered headstock bearings installed, with a 2006 GSXR steering damper to smooth out any wobbles. Cooked brakes are never fun so the single disc has been cross drilled to keep it cool and prevent glazing. Stoppies might be out of the question but the Nissin lever with integrated switch reduces weight and provides a bit more welly. Soggy rear shocks were swapped for tasty looking 14.5" RFYs to give the bike the right stance and a plusher ride. Gorgeous Moto GPWerks Yoshimura headers flow down to very stubby muffler, along with the pod filters this motor should bark. Exhausts held together with springs is just so right.The rear brake switch is now located inside the flush footpeg, care of some fancy homemade fasteners. The fuel tank was acid dipped and re-coated internally for a lifetime seal. Bare metal is always a handsome look so a few coats of clear ensure longevity, this is one of the better efforts of this process I've seen. Just needs an aluminium Built Not Bought plaque to finish off!! Cam has got the bug bad, and this Honda is for sale to fund the next build, a '69 CB450 Street Tracker so if you like what you see get in touch.