Return of the Cafe Racers - Toto Green – Honda CBX550

Toto Green – Honda CBX550

During the sports bike boom of the 1980s Japanese motorcycle manufacturers were in their prime. In 1982 Honda released a new addition to their middleweight sports category, the CBX550. Powered by their latest DOHC inline 4 the CBX was in many ways the successor of Honda’s much loved CB 400 Four. The snaking 4-into-2 exhaust is the biggest giveaway, but that’s where the similarities ended. Styling was all eighties with a Bol d’Or inspired paint scheme and Honda’s iconic ComStar wheels. As was the case in the 80s manufacturers also added “groundbreaking” technology to their new models, and the CBX was no exception.

Honda CBX550 cafe racer

The CBX featured Honda’s latest in suspension developments. In the rear was a new ‘pro-link’ cantilever, air-assisted shock and a pair of air-assisted and balanced telescopic forks lived up front. The brakes were also unique to the CBX using an all-new inboard design. Hidden beneath a cover that could easily be mistaken for a drum, were ventilated steel discs. The idea was to keep water away from the discs to improve performance and limit corrosion. It did both well, but what it also did was give the CBX a touch of classic bike quirk.

Honda CBX550 cafe racer

In Florence, Italy an ‘83 Honda CBX550 has captured the imagination of Luca Sereni. Luca and his father share a passion for vintage motorcycles and the CBX presented them with a unique opportunity. With its drum-esque brakes and a 400 four styled exhaust, Luca seized the opportunity to create a unique Honda CBX550 cafe racer.

Honda CBX550 cafe racer

Luca’s concept focused on the addition of classically styled bodywork. To make it a reality he enlisted the help of custom workshop Firenze Motorcycles. Up front, they opted for a 900SS styled half fairing which was modified to suit the CBX’s geometry. Surprisingly the stock eighties fuel tank tied in with the vintage aesthetic so it remained in place. The original side covers are also still present but they’ve been trimmed to emphasise a diagonal line that leads to the bikes custom tail. For a clutter-free finish, rear end lighting is limited to an integrated LED unit in the hump. Up front, there’s a pair of tiny Motogadget m-blaze pin indicators nestled beneath the fairing.

Honda CBX550 cafe racer

For obvious reasons, the 4-into-2 factory CBX exhaust headers were retained. Although cafe styled megaphones replace the original mufflers. The inboard brakes and Comstar rims were also retained. After they were rebuilt Luca finished them in satin black to match the engine. They were then wrapped in Lasertec rubber from Metzeler’s classic range. Mechanically the CBX was running strong so it was only given a basic service and fresh paint before fitting it back in the frame. Despite being the latest thing back in the eighties the Pro-link rear shock lacked feel so there’s a 900 Hornet monoshock in its place.

Honda CBX550 cafe racer

When the time came to select a colour for his Honda CBX550 cafe racer Luca took inspiration from the Formula One history books. The green scheme is a nod to Colin Chapman’s Lotus 43 of 1966. To make it pop the rest of the bike was shot in satin black.

I’ve never been a fan of ComStar wheels. My opinion will quickly waver though if you sit them beneath a cool retro ride like this.

FIRENZE MOTORCYCLES

Photography by Gian Carlo Mazzetti

Honda CBX550 cafe racer

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