before and after

A Simply Epic (and well documented) CB550 Cafe from flying J Customs.

Monster thanks to Jason Moore for sending in this outstanding build. If you didn’t read his full description below then you missed the link to his very thorough build thread over on SOHC. Go check it out. If that doesn’t get you in the mood to build a custom then nothing will. An while you’re at it check out his Website Flying J Customs For more fantastic shots and builds.

This has me in the mood to get back in the shop.

I bought this bike 5 years ago. It was on craigslist and was a non running pile of junk. I fixed it up for my girlfriend, now wife, to ride. At least that was my intent. But after i finished building a cafe racer out of my very first bike,a CB750F, I had discovered what some would call an obsession for building bikes. So with the 750 done I turned my attention to the CB550. I stripped it down and started to work out in my head and on photoshop what I wanted the bike to look like. My inspiration was drawn from websites like pipeburn and tons of google searches for cafe racers. I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted until I talked to Richard from TAB Classics. He sent me a picture of a cb550 frame with the norton sprint tank on it and I was sold. Then I found the fairing on ebay and things just started to snowball. I didnt want to just build a good looking bike I wanted it to be fast too so the motor was ported and bored out to a 592 with a hot cam and a dyna 2000 electronic ignition with mini coils were added. I towed the bike 4 hours to Los Angeles to have the exhaust custom built. The rest i did my self. I did all the welding on the frame, built the motor, wired the bike from scratch, laced both aluminum 18″ wheels, ect. I added a second disc and caliper for improved braking as well as having the discs drilled and lighted by 2 lbs each.

Its taken me 5 years to build this bike. I have restored or cafe’ed 6 other bikes and sold them since i started this bike to help pay for this one. They served as funding as well as practice to hone my bike building ability.

Here is my start to finish build thread, its a little long but has lots of pictures.
and website

The details on the bike.
> Hand built for this bike norton sprint tank and matching seat.
> Aluminum fairing from japan
> 18″ aluminum Excel rims and stainless spokes
> Aluminum clip ons
> Aluminum velocity stacks
> Raask Rearsets
> Acewell speedo/tac
> Dual front disc with lightened and drilled rotors
> 61mm, 10.5:1 pistons bump it up to 592cc
> Mildly ported head and matched intakes
> hot street cam
> Dyna 2000 ignition and mini coils
> Light weight Shorai Battery
> Modern regulator rectifier
> 4-4 stainless header replica race exhaust.

I hope you don’t mind Jason but it was such a nice shot I couldn’t resist having a little fun with your original shot in Lightroom.

Here’s the original photo.
Flying J Original

And here’s me having a bit of fun.
Flying J

Some B&W
Flying J

Oh and here is the before pic! You have some skills sir!

1959 NSU Supermax Restoration from Argentina. A fantastic and well documented save!

Mariano Labat sends in some before and after pics of this excellent NSU rebuild. Very impressive!

Hello, my name is Mariano and I live in Argentina.
(I bought) this bike two years ago with the idea of restoring it. After much work the finish. I wanted to share this with your blog.

YEAR 1959
250 cm3
Greetings and thanks

Thank you Mariano! You did Fantastic Job!



Some nice build pics as well. I really like that engine stand!

A really nice “Crosa” styled Yamaha TX500 Cafe Racer.

Dean Jarrett from Chicago sends in this amazingly transformed Yamaha.

My ’74 TX500 was a November 2010 craigslist find from Kenosha, WI about a half hour from me. The seller had it listed as a “yamaha 600″ …( It is bit embarrasing to say… I had to look at google images to find out what the heck it was ! ) So I went and drug it home for $200. It had good compression , a title, and less that 7k miles so I had found a good deal.

The build is of course a theme,,, if Yamaha made a replica of a late 60’s Itallian bike…… this is it. I am happy with the result.

It is Corsa red ( Lania racing red ) with stripes painted in white and black, then cleared. The head pipes were modified to keep the mufflers low , the upswept angle of the stock pipes was not vintage Itallian. The fuel tank is the garden variety vintage Benelli .

I made the custom seat cowl, seat pan, under seat electronic compartment ( to hide everything ) and the tach bucket and mount all from fiberglass.

Much of the wiring harness was modified ( and repaired ) .. most of the wiring is custom or relocated. The ingition key is on the underside of the seat. I used the stock tach, by making a custom face plate ( photo shopped and printed, used white lexan and a base ) relocated the oil light to where the TX rear brake wear sensor was within the tach face. The big tach is now front and center with no other guages or caution lights, everthing needed is in the tach (I have a bar mount for my little GPS as a speedo.) That is the stock 7″ headlight, lowered and mini bulb turn signals ( no led’s on the bike ).

I made the headlight tilt bracket , rear turn signal brackers, exhaust hangers, battery bracket, etc all from 1/2″ aluminium flat stock. I removed the un-needed brackets and tabs. The rear-set mounts and fuel tank brackets are all I had to weld on.

The engine is fairly stock spec, I bead blasted the cases and polished every cover. All new seals, gaskets and proper adjustment checks were done. I run the stock Keihin carbs , tuned for the uni-filters.

I restored most all of the nuts, bolts and hardware ( zinc plated ).

The 35mm forks and front brake are off my XS500 parts bike. The TX had only 34mm forks with a 10″ disc, now we have 35mm wih the 12” disc. I polished the fork lowers, before rebuilding. It has taperd roller bearings in the steering neck . That is a stock XS front fender (and my license plate is the rear fender)

The wheels are stock, I just “restored” them, new seals, bearings, some polishing and wrapped in Avon road riders ( love them). Bronze swing are bushings, rebuilt front claiper , new pads in front and shoes in back. The front master cyl is from Mike’s, almost as cheap as a rebuild kit so I also bought the clutch lever.

Did I mention all of the metal polishing?

Best, Dean

The before and after pics tell the story. A really fantastic build!  Lice and compact.  Nothing that’s not needed and very stylish.  Thanks for the pics!