Stripped-Down Custom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe Racer Is as Stylish as They Come

Custom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe Racer 10 photos
Photo: Skog Motorcycles
Custom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe RacerCustom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe RacerCustom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe RacerCustom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe RacerCustom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe RacerCustom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe RacerCustom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe RacerCustom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe RacerCustom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe Racer
Dave Skogerson goes about his daily business in Seattle, Washington – the birthplace of grunge music and Starbucks coffee. He moved here from Central California back in the early nineties, becoming a loving husband and father of two thereafter. Starting a family was undoubtedly the most significant change in Dave’s life since he moved to the Emerald City, but it wasn’t the only one.
Around the age of 20, after many years of wrenching on his own cars and motorcycles, today’s protagonist decided to start learning the ways of customization. It wasn’t long before customer orders became a part of Sir Skogerson’s repertoire, but he never stopped allocating time for his personal projects on the side. Among them, there was a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle restomod and a Suzuki GSX-R750 race bike, to name just a couple.

What we’re here to talk about is something else entirely, though – a classy one-off that many would refer to as a quintessential UJM cafe racer. It’s the very first machine built by Dave since he began operating as Skog Motorcycles, and the transformation process took place over the course of several years. In fact, the makeover’s early stages occurred all the way back in 2015.

Now, a Honda CB750 might be the first bike you’d think of as an ideal basis for the vintage Japanese cafe racer theme, yet Dave chose to do things a little differently. He picked a CB550 from the model-year 1974 to fill that role, which left him with a less powerful, but considerably lighter donor. What’s more, the CB550’s wet sump lubrication system meant there was no external oil tank for him to worry about.

This allowed for the subframe triangle to be emptied without too much hassle, while also providing plenty of room for Skogerson to relocate the electrics. Before getting there, he took the classic four-cylinder Honda apart and proceeded to give its engine some TLC. The 50-hp, 544cc powerhouse saw its Keihin carbs rebuilt and all its worn internals replaced with fresh substitutes.

Custom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe Racer
Photo: Skog Motorcycles
Chromed velocity stacks have been mated to the carburetors for ample airflow, but the exhaust-related work went to far greater lengths. Dave sourced a set of stainless-steel, four-into-one headers from MotoGP Werks, had them heat-wrapped, and ultimately topped them off with a premium Yoshimura muffler. Moreover, he installed a Barnett clutch to make shifts between gears as smooth as possible.

In terms of electrical upgrades, this CB550 comes equipped with a custom wiring harness, Dynatek ignition hardware, and a compact lithium battery from Shorai’s catalog. You will also find a Motogadget m.Unit control module that runs the entire show. Everything we talked about thus far is cool and all, but the motorcycle’s chassis is where Skog really went to town!

Starting with the suspension, he shortened the factory forks and had them fitted with modern Hagon springs. The progressive shock absorbers you will now see out back are Hagon items, too, and they support a modified subframe up top. Dave retained the stock wheels, refurbishing them with new bearings and stainless-steel spokes before he finished the act with some youthful rubber. The said tires are ContiGo! units supplied by Continental.

Additional stopping power was on the grocery list, as well, so the bike’s front end got treated to a cross-drilled rotor, a Nissin master cylinder, and a braided stainless-steel brake line. Things were comparatively straightforward at the rear end, where Skogerson simply overhauled the OEM drum brake. Now then, let’s have a closer look at the cosmetic aspect of this project, shall we?

Custom 1974 Honda CB550 Cafe Racer
Photo: Skog Motorcycles
The standard CB550 fuel tank is still present, but Dave did away with the bulky seat to make room for an aluminum Bedlam Werks tail section. A tailor-made brown leather saddle also makes an appearance, and there’s not a single fender to be seen on either end. Of course, velocity stacks and a lack of fenders aren’t a very practical mixture, albeit rather fit for a cafe racer build.

As far as lighting goes, this CB550 features an incandescent 5.75-inch headlamp at the front, a cat eye taillight down south, and Motogadget turn signals all-round. Its cockpit saw no shortage of tasty modifications, either, receiving a lighter aluminum top clamp, twin aftermarket dials, and clip-on handlebars.

In turn, the Woodcraft clip-ons bear Avon grips and compact switchgear, along with a single bar-end mirror on the right-hand side. Completing the motorcycle’s ergonomic package are high-grade Tarozzi rearsets. Last but not least, Skog applied a glossy layer of black paint onto the bodywork, wheels, and frame.

Some of the engine covers were also painted black, while the gas tank got a pair of white Honda wing decals to break up the stealthy base finish. The only pinches of color you’ll find here are present on the gold aftermarket drive chain and brown seat upholstery. Oh, and if you find this antique custom stunner as alluring as we do, keep in mind that it’s listed for sale on Skog’s official website with a price of $10k.
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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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