It’s getting harder and harder to impress with a Honda CB custom these days. But this very sharp 1974 CB550, from the Kentucky shop M&M Customs, proves there’s still life in the old dog.
M&M (not to be confused with the Japanese shop with a similar name) is run by Mike McFadden. Like all the best custom builders, Mike is a detail freak—and his cafe racer, nicknamed ‘El Dora,’ is a fine showcase for his skills.
Mike spotted the Honda in his local classifieds, offered for sale by a teenager who’d been using the machine as a vintage motocrosser. The bike checked out fine, so Mike handed over the cash and started work.
The first step was a complete tear-down. Mike does everything himself, from engine rebuilding to paint work, and he decided to make this custom a “vintage racer with a cafe influence.” To boost power, Mike installed Keihin CR carburetors and coils and ignition from Dyna. The pipes were also made in his shop, by blending the stock head pipes together to form a 2-into-1 setup on both sides.
Mike replaced the worn-out rear shocks with Hagons, and fitted Loaded Gun rearsets to custom mounts. Then he cut off the entire rear subframe, and changed the lines of the bottom tubes to give a more modern-looking aesthetic.
A Dunstall-style tank adds a retro vibe, matched to a seat and tail section from Dime City Cycles that also hides the battery and a lot of the wiring. Some fettling was required to line up the tail section with the new tank, so Mike modified the tail to his liking.
“The whole thing was flowing well and I just couldn’t bring myself to muck up the lines with a bolt on tail lamp,” he says. “Thus the ‘Urinal Trap’ brake lamp was born. If you look at it (below) you can see where the idea came from…”
And the #18? It’s in support of Mike’s relative Nick McFadden, an up-and-coming 15-year-old who has just won the 2012 WERA 600cc Superstock National Challenge Championship. I have a feeling that we’ll be hearing more of the McFadden family in the years to come.
Head over to the M&M Customs website to see more of Mike’s super-stylish builds.