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Honda CB550

The Honda CB550 is a motorcycle manufactured by Honda. It is considered the younger cousin to Honda's CB750 and was introduced in 1974 as the CB550K0. Later iterations were produced through 1978 ending with the K4. Furthermore, the CB550 was offered in a Super Sport, "F" model called, simply, the Honda CB550F.

Cosmetically, the CB550 looks much like its larger and smaller cousins. Colors included Flake Sunrise Orange with Black, Boss Maroon Metallic with Black, Freedom Green Metallic with Black, Candy Jade Green, and Flake Sunrise Orange. Stock exhaust was a four-into-four style. Other options included a two-into-two style and a four-into-one on the Honda CB550F.

Specifications for the CB550 were virtually unchanged over the model lines.


Reviewers were overwhelmingly positive in regards to the CB550 during the 1970s. However, in some aspects the CB550 is lacking; especially in terms of braking. Despite the reviewer's suggestion, the CB550 is not a beginner's bike. Power comes on suddenly and with lacking brakes, can make the CB550 unforgiving. Furthermore, the handling, when compared to modern sport bikes, is unresponsive with considerable head shake when riding aggressively through corners. However, the CB550 still garners respect.


Maintenance on the CB550 is nearly identical to the CB750 and can be completed, mostly, with common hand tools. Some specialized tools, including feeler gauges, a timing light, chain breaker and riveter, amongst others. Common maintenance tasks include chain tensioning and cleaning/lubing, valve adjustment, rear brake adjustment, oil and filter changes, etc.

Overall, if common maintenance is performed regularly at the proper intervals with quality parts, the CB550 is very reliable and has been reported to be good for 100,000+ miles.

F model

The CB550F was the largest factory boring of the smaller block, air-cooled, 4 cylinder, single over-head cam motorcycles made by Honda during the mid- to late 1970s. The block of the CB550 was similar in appearance to, but considerably smaller than, the heavier casting of the CB750. These motorcycles had two stock gauge and exhaust configurations. The early models had a single gauge cluster and four individual exhaust tubes, each with its own muffling elements. The "Super Sport" model, featured a dual gauge cluster (with a separate speedometer and tachometer) and a stock 4-into-1 header. This configuration is shown in the adjacent photograph, repainted from the original "Candy Apple Blue" to yellow. A factory "Candy Apple Red" was also available. CB550s shared a similar emblem to the other "Fours" made by Honda: the triangular side covers had the upward-rounded displacement (550, in this case) with the word "Four" superimposed.

As for the performance, the CB550F was overgeared and could not reach yellow-line in 5th gear with the stock sprocket arrangements. With the stock gearing, the CB550F Super Sport was capable of reaching speeds in excess of 105 mph (169 km/h) with a 200 lb (91 kg). rider, while remaining well below 9200 rpm yellow line limit on the gauges. Valve floatation limited any desire on the part of the rider to extend the revolutions to red line, which was 11,000 rpm. The light weight of the motorcycle limited the appeal of the CB550 for longer distance rides, and though it was barely adequate for touring, it was superb for intermediate distance urban and freeway riding. A common modification was to add several teeth on the rear drive sprocket to make the motorcycle considerably quicker off the starting line and reduce some of the wear on the clutch. This was done at the price of some fuel economy and slightly higher levels of vibration. The single disk on the front was unbored and was prone to slipping in wet conditions until the disk was hot enough to evaporate off the water accumulation. Considerable care had to be exercised when riding in wet conditions due to a highly non-linear "grab" when the water film was squeezed dry. This posed a risk for loss of control under wet conditions for riders unfamiliar with this behavior. While there were both right-side and left-side caliper brackets on the stock forks, aftermarket modification of the front disk to a dual, bored-disk configuration was required for optimum all-weather, performance braking. Later, factory models of the small-block "Fours" included the slotted disk modification as a stock configuration.

This motorcycle was well-made, tolerating frequent use of the throttle. The one shown in the photograph was eventually sold with 80,000 miles (130,000 km) on the original engine, with nothing more than routine maintenance, suffering only from a minor drip on the shift lever at the time of sale. Valve and ignition adjustment was accomplished with a simple set of tools, but had to be done every 1,500 miles (2,400 km).


544 cc air cooled 8-valve SOHC transverse four
Bore X Stroke: 58.5 x 50.6 mm
CR: 9.0:1
Top speed
102 mph (164 km/h)
50 bhp (37 kW) @ 8,500 rpm
30.4 ft·lbf (41.2 N·m) @ 7,500 rpm
Front: 35 mm telescopic forks
Rear: Twin shocks with adjustable pre-load
Front: 3.25 x 19 in
Rear: 3.75 x 18 in
Rake, Trail
Rake: 64°, trail: 105 mm
Seat height
805 mm (31.7 in)
192 kg (423 lb)
Fuel capacity
14 litres (3.7 US gal)