Honda CB550 Fade to Black Is a Mixture of Vintage Styling and Improved Performance

Honda CB550 Fade to Black 9 photos
Photo: Dong Kim
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Given all the juicy performance upgrades at work here, this CB550 will most certainly ride as well as it looks.
Operating in both the U.S. and Canada, Federal Moto (FM) has to be one of the most exciting motorcycle customization outfits on North American soil. The beefed-up and breathtakingly stylish Honda CB550 we’re about to look at is a solid testament to that claim, hailing from FM’s Canadian shop run by Shaun Brandt, Justin Benson, and Randy Venhuis.

Their client on this particular occasion was none other than Grant Harvey, a successful film director and producer from Canada. As for the project’s donor, it came in the form of a 1975 model which took five months to be converted into the classy masterpiece shown in these photos. The transformation occurred back in 2016, and the bike was ultimately dubbed Fade to Black.

Mind you, this bad boy is quite a sleeper, because the Federal trio spared no expense when it came to performance-oriented upgrades. Starting with the CB550’s powertrain, they bored its inline-four engine out to 572cc and installed a Stage 1 performance kit from Dynoman, as well as forged pistons which raise the compression ratio to a copious 10:1.

Besides these goodies, one may also find new gaskets, a top-grade aftermarket camshaft, and upgraded clutch componentry. Inhaling is done via race-spec Keihin Roundslide CR29 carburetors, while the exhaust gases are channeled through bespoke four-into-one pipework fabricated by Steve "Carpy” Carpenter. Once everything was in place, the air-cooled four-banger received a layer of black powder coating, as did the custom exhaust system.

As far as the electrical mods are concerned, Federal Moto fitted an eight-cell Antigravity battery and a Dynatek electronic ignition system. The motorcycle’s cockpit is now home to a single retro-looking gauge supplied by Cognito Moto, along with an aftermarket handlebar sporting brown leather grips, discreet switches, and Motogadget bar-end turn signals.

Further back, you’ll encounter the repurposed fuel tank of a 1974 CB360, wearing a mixture of gloss- and matte-black paint. Cognito Moto of Richmond, Virginia also provided FM’s artisans with a bolt-on, looped subframe featuring built-in LED lighting at the southernmost tip.

Atop this loop-style rear skeleton lies one stunning saddle upholstered in brown leather by Kyle Closen from Clo’s General, who’d also fashioned the groovy pouches found on the flanks. With all these goodies in place, the Federal squad moved on to the specimen's running gear and installed an abundance of higher-spec equipment at twelve o’clock.

Fade to Black makes use of a Yamaha R6’s forks for front-end suspension duties, and enhanced stopping power is made possible by a drilled brake disc and braided stainless-steel lines. We’ve got no clue how much Sir Harvey got charged for this commission, but it’s perfectly safe to assume that he was thrilled with the way it turned out! I mean, who wouldn’t be?
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About the author: Silvian Secara
Silvian Secara profile photo

A bit of an artist himself, Silvian sees two- and four-wheeled machines as a form of art, especially restomods and custom rides. Oh, and if you come across a cafe racer article on our website, it’s most likely his doing.
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