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My first motorcycle: 1976 Honda CB550

8709 Views 27 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  joe c
Hello all. I just purchased my first motorcycle thtis past Saturday and although the bike has seen better days, I feel confident that I'll be able to restore it to it's origional glory. The motorcycle is a 1976 CB550. It will take a lot of time to fix since I don't know much about motorcycles but I think it will be worth the challenge.
Anyway, I got the motorcycle from a neighbor who has had it for a few years. He rode it last fall but let it sit outside all winter and now it won't start. (We live in Atlanta, so the winters aren't that cold) It gets power from the battery and acts like it wants to start but it just won't get there. I added fuel additive and some fresh gas, so I hope that will help. I checked the plugs and they look pretty good. Also, I'm getting a new battery today.
If anyone has experience with a CB550 and you wish to share any tips for getting this bad-boy into shape, please feel free. Thanks!

There is one thing I found odd about this bike. The engine ID is CB550E. I haven't been able to find any information on this model number. Is this the same as a CB550F or CB550K? If anyone can help with this, it would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by - mwierm on May 21 2007 12:27:05 PM

Edited by - mwierm on May 21 2007 1:04:14 PM
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Must be that time of year. If you are getting into motorcycling with a 30 year old bike then you need to plan on a few things. Get a newer bike to ride while you work on the old one. Get at least one spare parts bike. Get on e-bay and check all of the parts for your bike on a regular basis and pick up lots of spares cheap. Any time you have the chance to get a spare parts bike, do it. I have 4 cb350's and only my racebike is a runner.
As far as your particular bike goes, drain the carbs and spray some starting fluid at it and see what happens. If it sarts and won't idle then your pilot jets are clogged. If it starts and won't run at all after the starting fluid burns off then your main jets are probably clogged, too. If it won't start at all, then are you getting spark? Check the points.

Here are some other things you need to plan on with an old bike:
fork seals
brake pads
rebuild front caliper
front master cylinder
steering head bearings
plug caps
tune up
swing arm bearings
chain and sprockets
rear shocks
rear brakes

That does not include cosmetics or internal engine stuff.

Get some parts bikes and spares.


Vintage racing - old guys on old bikes
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This style Honda front brake can be fixed very easily. The squeaking comes from he caliper mount not being able to pivot freely on the pin that mounts to the fork slider. It is also caused by a sticky caliper piston and sometimes it is not helped by a partially clogged master cylinder bleed back orifice. If you are careful, this will require no new parts, just brake fluid.

1. Remove all of the parts, including the pivot pin from the aluminum bracket that bolts to the slider. Clean polish and lube the pin and hole in the bracket. On reassembly I leave out the felt washer. The bracket should just flop around freely if it is done right.
2. Pump the piston out of the caliper. Carefully remove the square piston seal from its groove and clean all the gunk out from behind it and all the crusty stuff off of it. If it still has square sharp edges, you can just reinstall it. If it is worn, replace it. Polish up the piston and the bore. If there are big pits on the piston, you should replace it. Polish the edges of the brake pad wear it rubs against the caliper.Sand the glaze off of the pad. If it is worn at too much of an angle, you will need to replace them.
3. Sand the disk to break the glaze on it. You can chuck it up in a big lathe and hit it with a body grinder while it is spinning if you have access to that kind of equipment. Otherwise an orbital sander will be ok.
4. Disassemble the master cylinder and check for crystalized brake fluid in any orifices and for worn rubber seals on the piston. If the edges look good you can reuse them.
5. Reassemble the whole mess. I usually leave the screw with the spring that goes between the caliper bracket and the slider off too. A properly set up and lubed system doesn't need it.

Now you can feel free to replace all of the seals and o-rings with new ones if it makes you feel better. Most people don't advise reusing these parts and I wouldn't do it on customer bikes but on my own stuff I do it all the time if the edges of the seals look good.

The key to this system is to keep it lubed and clean. That is why I don't keep the felt washers and dust seals in place. I believe they trap water and dirt causing problems. There are only a few bolts holding this together, so take it apart periodically and lube it up and clean it up.

At its best, this brake system is marginal so it needs to be maintained. On the 550, I would double disk it and it will look cooler too.

There you go, It won't squeak or drag any more.


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