Hondas are easy, right?


by classic-bike |
Updated on

Well, not this one. Seasoned bike restorer Joe Brock got a shock after riding this 1977 Honda CB550 K3 home– what seemed like a simple project turned into a nightmare. Here’s how he turned it into a daily rider


When Joe Brock paid £2200 for a 1977 Honda CB550 K3 with 45,000 miles on the clock back in 2021, he was fully expecting a routine Honda refurbishment to unfold. He’d been lucky with Hondas; full engine service, address some cycle part deterioration, bit of electrical work, maybe chain and sprockets, some brake work, tart up the paint, fresh fluids... and off you go.

But no. Not with this one.

At this stage, let’s be clear about Joe’s ambitions with his bikes. He is neither a rivet-counter nor a stickler for the minutest original detail. He does not spend money on paint to the exclusion of mechanical soundness. He rebuilds his bikes to be ridden and to represent decent value, nothing more: “I was after a CB500, but prices had gone up a bit and so I settled on finding a CB550 instead,” he says. Good move. The CB550 had a stronger clutch and gearbox than the 500 and, while it didn’t look as stylish as the ’71-’73 machine, the KO-K4 ’74-’78 bike was plainly the value buy.

He found one at DK Motorcycles, paid up, and the imported US model was duly delivered. “It had clearly had a crankcase repair, so I said no – I didn’t want it. They were really good about it – picked it up... full refund... said if I’d bought something and didn’t like the colour they’d still have taken it back. So fair play to them.

Furry alloy and plenty of rusty bits in evidence, but the bike started and ran well enough to be ridden home; original cylinder head had three bent valves, while the secondhand replacement contained a broken off spark plug

Keihin carburettors had to be rebuilt using original parts after properly-fitting replacements proved impossible to find

CB550’s five-speed gearbox is a tough old thing



“Then I found another three miles down the road from where I live. The seller said he had too many bikes and needed to unload this S-reg 550. It had new rims and spokes and a recently powdercoated frame, but the rest of it really looked its 45,000 miles with loads of rough bolt heads and furry alloy, but it started up fine and I rode it back home.

“I wasn’t expecting much from it; it felt dull but OK. But when I drained the oil, it was a black sludge,” says Joe. “I’ve probably done nearly 40 bikes over the years and this was the worst I’d seen.” Joe (62) freely admits that the alarm bells of regret were ringing loud in his head when he poked around in the dropped oil.

To read more, head into stores and grab the latest issue of Classic Bike, or why not check out our subscription options so you never miss an issue!

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us