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Honda CB550 Friday Is an Awe-Inspiring UJM Cafe Racer Rescued by Customization

The finest custom bike builders will feel pressed to deliver a great result on each and every project, but the pressure must be even greater when the commission comes from a designer. Besides the additional scrutiny awaiting the end result, trouble can quickly arise if the creative minds involved don’t find common ground. Still, some incredible things can happen when they do.
Honda CB550 Friday 10 photos
Photo: Pawel Waga
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That sort of scenario is precisely what led to the creation of this mouth-watering cafe racer (aka Friday) from Lublin, Poland. Built by the talented Jacek Mulak of Cardsharper Customs, the motorcycle is a 1977 Honda CB550 at its core. It was pieced together for one Michal Cwiek, an accomplished graphic designer who runs his own creative studio and has an excellent eye for detail.

He reached out to Jacek requesting a quintessential cafe racer build, with neo-retro looks and top-shelf running gear in abundance. The CB550 provided by Michal was far from pristine, though, as it had been the subject of some questionable customization practices under previous ownership. Despite this, the solo mastermind at Cardsharper managed to turn the UJM’s fate around big time, and the bike is now looking prettier than ever before.

It’s precisely the kind of work we’ve come to expect from Jacek – clean, well-proportioned, and teeming with tasteful touches wherever you look. As soon as he and Michal formed a common vision for what the classic CB was to become, the donor was swiftly dismantled and rid of the shoddy mods performed beforehand. With something resembling a blank canvas on his workbench, Sir Mulak wasted no time getting started.

First things first, he sought to bring the old Honda’s handling characteristics into the 21st century, and this meant saying goodbye to its stock suspension and brakes. Starting at the front end, you will now find a beefy pair of upside-down Showa forks, which were kindly donated by a modern Suzuki GSX-R. Jacek had them shortened by around an inch (25 mm) before installation, so as to keep the bike’s posture looking the way he wanted.

Honda CB550 Friday
Photo: Pawel Waga
As a first obstacle, it was discovered that the Gixxer’s triple clamps would cause some problems with the turning radius. Cardsharper’s frontman got around this with some intricate fabrication work, eventually fitting the inverted forks in place via billet aluminum triple clamps built from scratch. The aforementioned Suzuki also provided the right half of its front braking system, comprising a drilled rotor and a high-grade Tokico caliper.

These bad boys were connected to the front wheel with a few clever tweaks, and a custom fender has been placed on stainless-steel brackets higher up. Bespoke mounting hardware was also used to fit an aftermarket LED headlight nice and close to the forks. The changes performed in the cockpit are no less enticing, our favorite being the way that an MMB-Messtechnik speedometer was embedded into the top clamp.

Aluminum clip-ons are present on the flanks, carrying Biltwell grips, underslung bar-end mirrors, and discreet switches, among other goodies. The electronics were all connected to a fresh wiring harness, but there was still a lot of structural work to be done at the rear. Jacek did away with the factory subframe in its entirety, fabricating and installing a tailor-made substitute in its stead.

Honda CB550 Friday
Photo: Pawel Waga
Then, he topped it off with a cafe-style tail unit and a solo seat beautifully upholstered in black leather, hiding the electrical bits inside the tail while he was at it. Rear-end suspension falls under the jurisdiction of adjustable aftermarket shocks, and the rear brake uses a full suite of Gixxer parts. They’re worn by the repurposed 17-inch wheel of an unidentified supermoto, which is clad in Metzeler Tourance rubber just like the front hoop.

Other cool additions found throughout Friday include a modern battery, CNC-machined rearsets, and an LED lighting strip for the rear end. In terms of powertrain upgrades, the CB550’s freshly refurbished inline-four gained a quartet of foam air filters over its rejetted carbs. The exhaust side of the equation deserves even more attention, because Cardsharper swapped the OEM plumbing with a handmade free-flowing setup.

Its headers run a four-into-one layout toward a compact muffler, which dwells just below the right foot peg. Last but definitely not least, a striking color scheme is what really makes the whole package come together, and this is where Michal came with a lot of practical input. He designed Friday’s livery back at his studio, employing a handsome collection of gold highlights over a black and grey base.

The fuel tank detailing and brake calipers were all done in gold, while various other parts have either been polished, galvanized, or powder-coated. Once the paint job was out of the way, Jacek Mulak could finally sit back and admire his creation in all its custom glory. This CB550 came a long way from the pitiful shape it was previously in, so we’ll bet Michal Cwiek’s keen graphic designer eyes were just as stoked with the final outcome.
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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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