Sometimes “cool” doesn’t function so well…

Grime residue inside the air intake of a Honda CB550 Cafe Racer...

Grime residue inside the air intake of a Honda CB550 Cafe Racer…

There is no question that certain changes are done to custom bikes, strictly for esthetic reasons.  The problem that can arise from some of these changes is that the look of something might be great, but the function is lacking.  That happened to be the case on this Honda CB550 Cafe Racer…

Honda CB550 Cafe Racer: Fashion over Function?

You DON"T want this green shit in your carbs....

You DON”T want this green shit in your carbs….

Recently we did some electrical work for our friend, tidying up his Honda CB550 Cafe Racer.  Immediately following the electrical work, the 3rd cylinder stopped firing.  We checked to make sure it was getting spark (it was), and determined it must be the carbs.  A few days later, fresh carb kits arrived, and we set about doing a quick carb clean for him.

This Honda CB550 Cafe Racer has aluminum velocity stacks.  There is no question they look far better than the stock air box, and in our opinion, cooler than pods.  The problem is, there is practically no filtration provided by the stacks.  A small amount of metal mesh is inside the throat of the velocity stack, which would stop a large stone from entering the carb, but not the small particles that stock air boxes protect against.

This is one of those cases of custom modification not addressing the basic needs of the bike.  Don’t get us wrong, the look is far superior.  But the issue becomes, how bad do you want to achieve the look, vs. keeping the bike running well.

Ultimately, the bike has been running fairly well for the owner, and the pitfalls of non-existent filtration has not caused too much heartache.  But then again, we just had these carbs up on the bench, and we are hoping not to see them up there again anytime soon.

Only time will tell…

Do you have mods or customizations that may harm the functionality of your bike?

2 Replies to “Sometimes “cool” doesn’t function so well…”

  1. I’ve found that the cheap clubman bars really compromise the handling of a bike. Again as you stated they chosen for their looks not their function, however they remain widely popular.

    1. No question that there are times when the look of the build takes over the functionality of the parts. I’m all for making a good looking custom, but it really depends on what the focus will be. If it’s for show, rarely cruising the neighborhood, then fine. But if you are looking to hop on the nice road, and put a bike through its paces, then you really need the focus to be on solid, safe parts.

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