Cafe Racer Forum banner

1 - 20 of 49 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys,
We recently finished up a 1976 CB 550 build, and I'd like to get your thoughts on it. Here are a few pics...

bedlam cafe racer pop pop 003.jpg

bedlam cafe racer pop pop 005.jpg

We customized the frame, fabricated the seat pan and tank, and did some performance mods and lightened it up.
You can see more pictures and read a more detailed description of what we did to the bike at Bedlam Werks - custom cafe racers.

Anyway, I'd love to hear any thoughts or critiques you may have.
Thanks,
Travis Christopher
Bedlam Werks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,087 Posts
The bike looks quite pretty and I like the colors and rear sets look great etc. Also props for the suspension work if its well done. That being said I can't avoid my internet critique self from listing a few issues that pop right at me

-you made the frame less optimized! why? The triangulation from the peg to shock mount in stock frame is (and looks) more functional than the narrower triangle you made
-sand/glass/other media blasting the alloy bits and leaving them exposed will look like crap in no time (or do they have some coating?) - yeah they look like trick magnesium bits but will corrode and get dirty in 2 seconds.
-media blasting the X on the headlight is trickery - silly to me. I am sure it lights up nice.
-lack of inner fender AND pods is pretty doomed - sandblasting air filter and the engine is not exactly smart. I do thee the grille there. Doesn't cut it. **
-no muffler makes a non usable bike **
-aim that headlight lower. really. **
-tire choice **
** standard issue complaining about stuff that makes bikes worse but are ah so popular
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,302 Posts
I'm curious....what "performance" mods? And don't say pod filters because they aren't a performance mod for these bikes - you probably gave up HP.

no front fender, no fork brace. those spindly forks are flexible enough to begin with, not having any extra support there pretty much guarantees ill handling. the stock fender and mount acts as a brace - it isn't a terrible good one but without it the effects are much worse.

you left the speedo drive in place even though you aren't using it? considering all the other work done this is kinda sloppy. you could have easily made an aluminum spacer.

brakes aren't upgraded? you just drilled a stock rotor and that's it? you know...if you werent using the speedo drive you could have easily run dual discs and at least that looks more impressive, not to mention is actually an improvement. If it were my bike I would have gone with an early (pre1972) front end with dual big fin calipers. Why? because back in the day when disc brakes were a rare site, even factory works racers used those calipers and they don't cost a lot on the market now. Cal Rayborn's HD's that ran discs ran those calipers. But you kinda have to know something about vintage racing and old race bikes. Also - why the small stock drum in the rear?

no frame bracing? there is another thread where PJ discusses inherent factory weakenesses in the cb550 frame. knowing these and gusseting them or otherwise making them strong prevents issues when someone starts to ride the bike hard. I think if you look around you'll also find a thread on cb550 frames cracking specifically because of mods done to them without otherwise bracing the frame.

pipe looks like it hangs kinda low on the right side, does it scrape in hard turns?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,587 Posts
.........aim that headlight lower...........
What is it with pointing the headlight into the treetops? I've seen it a lot lately and it just looks dumb.

I'd hazard a guess the reduced triangulation on the subframe is weaker than stock - probably not going to matter unless you take it off road regularly, but weaker nonetheless.

Bike looks tidy and well constructed, not withstanding the "faults" geeto and kerosene have pointed out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,302 Posts
from your website:

Performance enhancements include a new front sprocket, wrapped exhaust, Shorai lithium iron battery, Dynatek "Dyna S Ignition System", Gazi Sport Lite rear suspension, and new front forks built with Race Tech performance springs and "Gold Valve Emulators".
Things that aren't a performance enhancement that you claim are:
- wrapped exhaust (honestly calling this a performance enhancement make you look bad)
- new front sprocket (unless you changed the tooth count from stock). Did you replace both sprockets and chain? If you did change the tooth count why the front and not the rear? what are you setting it up for? if you did change the tooth count then I guess it does count as a performance enhancement, really I am just picking on your vague wording which is another sign you are windowdressers and not a race shop. people love specs, even if they are over their heads.
- Dyna S ignition - this is a reliability enhancement. Does not make more power.

Things that inherently aren't a performance enhancement but might have a secondary side effect:
- Battery - I am assuming you went smaller and lighter. The battery doesn't give the bike more power but smaller means lighter. However, skipping lunch would probably have a greater performance effect.

Things that are a performance enhancement that you handicapped or offset the benefits of:
- forks - you spend good money making old antiquated forks work excellent, and then introduce more flex by getting rid of the factory fender/brace and not putting a fork brace in its place. If it were me I would also put a tweak bar under the bottom clamp as I have seen some racers do this to help stiffen up the front end where it allows.
- rear suspension. Sure the stock shocks are old and awful and now you have nice new dampers. but your rear shock mounts are weaker than stock and aren't tied together, plus you didn't brace the swingarm and as bobdog pointed out in another thread you can flex the cb550 arm with your hands - thing is like a wet noodle.

Oh did I mention the name is stupid? Pop Pop? really?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,302 Posts
things that are nobrainer bolt on enhancements to a cb550 that you didn't do:

- coils. The stock honda ones suck. plus not being able to change the plug wires double sucks. dyna coils, plus a nice performance wire just makes for a nicer bike to maintain down the road and less likely to have issues.
- dual disc: really this is so easy I am shocked you didn't do it. did I mention how bad stock honda brakes suck? they suck.
- Kehin CR carbs. Stock carbs are just alright. Sure this is a pricy mod but it is worth it, and it increases the bike's curbside appeal amoung people who actually know what they are looking at.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,940 Posts
Nice work, but crappy result IMHO. Many of the poor engineering choices were already mentioned, and we should add those fat tires and lack of an effective rear brake to the list of performance dis-improvements.

The worst thing about that bike is it is a copy of one built by Ringo over on DTT a couple of years ago. Copied the same rims, same color scheme, same frame shape and so on, but missing the frame bracing and fork brace etc that RIngo fitted. Plagiarism at its worst. And you have the gall to claim you are artists. Sorry but you are not artists or mechanics or engineers.

If you had said that you copied a cool bike you found on the net, that's one thing, but claiming it as a unique, performance improved professional creation is an epic fail. You have some skills, but have so much to learn about motorcycle design and business. You may also not be aware that a bike so modified at the rear end cannot be insured without an engineers report. Have you discussed that with your liability insurer that provides your umbrella coverage? I'd suggest you talk to your broker.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,220 Posts
Yep, I have to agree with the comments above regarding the bike's shortcomings as a café racer. When you are building a café racer, compromising performance for the sake of looks is a cardinal sin. You made almost every rookie error in the book: weakened the frame, made the forks more flexible, no fenders, exhaust wrap, sketchy brakes, etc.

Of course lots of first-timers make those same engineering errors. But here's what I don't understand: you guys are art schools grads, right? According to your website, you both graduated from the U of G's School of Art. So why do a visual copy of somebody else's bike? I mean, isn't that the whole point of art, to do something unique and creative, and not copy anyone else's ideas? I thought that amongst you artist types, derivativeness was a cardinal sin. And then there's the "racing stripe" on the tank and cowl: it looks a little like it is slipping off of the cowl, when viewed from the side. In other words, an offset racing stripe doesn't suit this particular tank/seat combo.

Nice sculptural work on the fuel tank and cowl, though, and the workmanship and finish quality look excellent.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for your input

We are currently tweaking the bike and I appreciate your constructive criticism. To answer a few of your questions...
1)We have coated all blasted parts with silkolene, which has worked pretty well at keeping the bike clean so far.
2)There is an integral muffler, I agree, no muffler = non usable bike
3)The headlight direction was really just an oversight when we were setting up for pictures
4)We've been back and forth on the fender, I have one fabbed up and it's been on and off the bike. If you think its a real isssue with the pods, I may go ahead and put it back on.
5)The tire and frame choice were purely for aesthetic value, I know some hard core racer wannabe's will complain, but sometimes things just have to look cool. I will keep in mind your thoughts " The triangulation from the peg to shock mount in stock frame is (and looks) more functional than the narrower triangle you made " on our next build.

Thanks again for your input, very constructive, we will certainly use some of your ideas in our tweaks.
Travis
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
And some notes on other comments

Geet 067:
I'm afraid that I am not a writer, so I will definitely go back and edit the article to make it more clear and differentiate the performance and reliability enhancemants. As to your questions, we did change the sprocket tooth count to increase low end torque. Using gearing commander we determined that changing just the front sprocket would give us the best results. The speedo drive is in place now, we simply took the pictures before the cable arrived, good eye for detail. As far as the brakes are concerned, not upgrading them was simply a budget issue. Your notes on possible options is appreciated, and we may do an upgrade in the future. The pipe clearance is is ok on hard turns. The battery is smaller and only weighs 4.5lbs, Yes you could skip lunch, but now you can skip lunch and have a lighter bike too. As for exhaust wrap as a performance upgrade...

"What the exhaust wrap really does is prevent your exhaust tubes to cool down. Therefore an exaust system equiped with the right set of wrap will keep the exhaust gases of your engine at a high temperature. Maintaining the exhaust gases at higher temperatures increases performance on several levels
When traveling at a higher speed in your wrapped exhaust system, the gases will increase the scavenging effect and improve the performance of the intake and exhaust systems as a whole. The exhaust gases are therefore removed faster from your motorcycle or car exhaust system when hot.
Exhaust wrap also improves the performance of the engine in general. Once again, the hot exhaust gases will be expulsed more quickly, leaving room for purer air in the combustion chamber. This will increase the quality of the air-fuel mixture and then improving the engine's performance. Check our wide range of product to find the right exhaust wrap that perfectly fit your needs." - thermal velocity-
I know that quote is from a vendor, but it's pretty clean and precise.

The name of the bike is in honor of our partners grandad who passed away recently.

those are aftermarket coils and plug wires

Again thanks for your input, I'll clean up our site article so it's more clear.

hillsy: LOL, Sorry about the headlight. as i said in a previous post, it was an oversight when we took the pics.

Teazer: Never seen the bike you speak of. Thanks for your engineering prowess. Clearly you're an idiot.


Thanks again for your input.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,399 Posts
The worst thing about that bike is it is a copy of one built by Ringo over on DTT a couple of years ago. Copied the same rims, same color scheme, same frame shape and so on, but missing the frame bracing and fork brace etc that RIngo fitted. Plagiarism at its worst. And you have the gall to claim you are artists. Sorry but you are not artists or mechanics or engineers.
Didn't really address this...at a glance I thought it was the same bike. Had to go look at ringos to realize its a copy. I don't have a problem with copying aspects or ideas. But either claim you did so or make enough things different that you can claim you atleast made his ideas better.

As a professional designer with an Art History background that kind of gets under my skin. Please address it.

Edit: I realize the colors and lines arent exact but the idea is very very similar.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,740 Posts
It's a clean enough build. I'm not a fan of the color selection for the frame but hey - it's hard to make an orange/red frame bike look decent. I'm thinking if your going with a red frame build then you kind of limited what color to paint the tins to make it really work. As far as frame bracing and such - let's get real, it's a street bike not a track bike. There maybe 10% of the readers here that have the skills to push this bike beyond it's stock frame configuration. I owned a cb500 and rode the crap out of it and remembered it as a decent enough handling street bike even when it was ridden hard on Sunday rides down the coast line just north of SF.

I would recommend doing something up front to better brace the front forks. I'm a fan of front fenders and a little less meat on the front tire - but that's my take. Does this build make me jump up and down - not really but I'd still have a beer with ya.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,126 Posts
Oh boy... and if the structural and suspension issues were not harzardous enough...

You have to take your hands off the bars to "beep" at that truck that does not see you or to kill the engine when your throttle is stuck open while heading for that intersection !

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,399 Posts
I believe that the exhaust wraps can also cause the welds and metal to be more britle and fail faster? Can someone confirm? If so...how much faster?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
The color scheme is Petty blue and red, not the classic race car blue/orange which is the color on the bike you are referring to.

ford-gt_heritage_ltd-ed_01.jpg

petty blue.jpg

Any similarities between the two bikes is completely coincidental, when building a bike in a cafe style, there are bound to be certain overlaps, because the Cafe Racer has certain characteristics, i.e. reworked frame, rearsets, seatpan, tank, clip on handle bars. Joep7, as a designer with art historian background, you should know basic color theory, certain colors go well together, and are more pleasing to the eye, that's why christmas colors are green and red. blue/red and blue/orange are two common color sets. Was Richard petty's car a copy of the John Wyer Gulf Oil car? The lines on our seat pan and tank are completely different than the other bike. Which AGAIN, I have never seen before today.

And Thanks Bob, If you're ever down here, I'm buying.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,399 Posts
The color scheme is Petty blue and red, not the classic race car blue/orange which is the color on the bike you are referring to.

View attachment 2283

View attachment 2284

Any similarities between the two bikes is completely coincidental, when building a bike in a cafe style, there are bound to be certain overlaps, because the Cafe Racer has certain characteristics, i.e. reworked frame, rearsets, seatpan, tank, clip on handle bars. Joep7, as a designer with art historian background, you should know basic color theory, certain colors go well together, and are more pleasing to the eye, that's why christmas colors are green and red. blue/red and blue/orange are two common color sets. Was Richard petty's car a copy of the John Wyer Gulf Oil car? The lines on our seat pan and tank are completely different than the other bike. Which AGAIN, I have never seen before today.

And Thanks Bob, If you're ever down here, I'm buying.

I believe you. I've looked at them both very closely and there are really lot of differences. At a glance they looked very similar with the lines and the frame design. I like both color combos. I apologize for making the assumption you stole it. I personally like the look of the bike but I think some of the safety issues need to be addressed...especially if you are going to sell it. The control cluster on the gauge and lack of fork brace being at the top of the list.
 
1 - 20 of 49 Posts
Top