Motorcycle Kickstart Classic Honda Cafe Racer Project Week 2

I like how certain tv shows take a ground up bike build, and condenses it into and hour long show, with maybe 20 minutes of actual design and wrenching.

I started with a simple design and a running bike, but after two weeks i’m thinking, wow times running out and I’ve got allot to do. Granted I’m more of a Mikey Teutul than a Jesse James, but I’m crossing things off the to-do list, and parts are getting bolted back on, just not as quickly as I had hoped.

Funny, it seems like every part I remove, or plan on fixing, has two or three more waiting behind it that also need to be worked on. The bikes over 30 years old so this is bound to happen, just have to stay focused and within my budget.

Week 2 consisted of a little wrenching, cleaning and degreasing. I need 3 main components to be tuned and in good shape, the carbs, drive chain, and brakes. Any one of those give out, Im stuck on the side of the road down south whistlin dixie.

I removed the carbs from the motor, removed the float bowls and checked to see how dirty the inside was. Luckily the inside looked nice and clean, I was told these carbs were rebuilt, but ya never know. Had to make a few setting adjustments, but will do the rest after they’re back on the motor and I’ve got the bike running again.

Also may need to jet up the carbs since I am running a new exhaust and airpod filters. Most bike tend to run a little lean after these mods because more air is being allowed into the motor, so larger jets are needed to increase the fuel flow as well.

After everything is bolted on I’ll put a few miles on the bike to determine if jetting is necessary, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have too.

After I got the carbs back on the motor, I installed the well oiled airpod filters, graciously  donated by our friends at UNI filters.

The UNI pods have a great “open cell” washable foam filter that requires a good oiling before installation with a sticky oil thats designed to trap dust and dirt before it gets into your engine. This oil is provided by UNI, and can be washed out and re-applied when the filters dirty. Pretty cool.

After crossing the carbs of my list for now, I degreased, cleaned and re-lubed my chain and sprockets. Not much to say about this except it’s really messy and takes lots and lots of, well, elbow grease. Worth the effort though after removing thirty years of muck and grime I found everything to be in pretty good shape an usable. No expenses and a good clean looking chain and sprocket, its a win win deal.

Next I took a look at the brakes. The rear drum’s in good shape but the front caliper and disk needs some work.

I was having a problem with the front brake dragging, but as with the carbs, was told this too was rebuilt. So to make sure all is good, I removed the disk, took a good look the the caliper, made some minor adjustments and bolted it back together. The caliper was in pretty good shape. I also  had the disk cut and grooved before putting it back on the bike.

After installation, the front brake was much smoother and didn’t drag half as badly as before.

Have to keep reminding myself this is a 30 year old bike, it’s not going to perform as well as the newer machines I’ve been riding.

I also decided to replace the old rubber brake hose with a nice custom bradded line. This will clean up the front end and give me a better feel for the front brake.

I’ll cover this last part in week 3’s update, since I haven’t gotten or installed the new brake hose yet. Like I said earlier, wow times running out, but week 2 was productive and I’m that much closer to hearing this CB’s engine go vroom again.

Click here for Week 1, and click here for Week 3 & 4.

Build Sponsors
UNI Filter, Incorporated
Dime City Cycles

Stock carbs befor being removed

Good look at the motor after removing the carbs

A look inside the carbs after being removed

An overall view of the bike as it stands before the carbs are reinstalled

Oiling up the UNI air pod filters

Carbs re-installed with air pod filters, what a good lookin motor!

Front caliper after removing the disk, note the rusty old solid brake line

nice and clean rear sprocket and chain


  1. Ive restored several different motorcycles,A Yamaha Maxim 700 shaft drive,(an excellent bike)a few other various street and off road bikes,with my last project being a Honda Elsinore CR 125 Ive noticed that,and Im not sure how far along you are,but theres a lot of improvements to be made by just taking things apart,and buffing/polishing and clear laquer spraying,where applicable,for a clean resto,dont be afraid to strip it down,and make it look new again,thanks for your story,and happy restoring!!

  2. sooooooo,,, howzit goin? gonna be rolling in time? I’m putting a tire on mine and heading out the first of the week, it’s 900 from here to WTT. I’d be glad to help with tuning when i get there if you need.

    • Hey Shoe, Its going well. The bikes ready for the most part, just have to button up a few final details. It’s running about as good as I can get it to run, but after about 900 mile we’ll see, I may take ya up on your tuning offer.

      Look forward to hangin with ya at WTT.

      Gonna post week 3&4 together tomorrow. Been a bunch of long nights in the garage, kinda felt like one long week.

  3. stephen says:

    hello I am also an owner of a cb 550 four 1978. I am very interested in your progress. if you want I will send you photos of mine,


  1. […] here for Week 2 After removing the exhaust rear fender and turn signals, the bikes taking shape. Rusty brake lever […]