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Honda CB550 – ‘Ravenna’ by Gasser Customs

Posted on October 20, 2012 by Scott in Café Racer. 38 comments

By guest writer Ian Lee.

To be honest, when I think of café racer culture, Canada is not one place that immediately springs to mind. Even our featured bike’s owner, Andre, admits “in Canada, café racer culture isn’t too vibrant, but I was lucky to find the one guy near Niagara that could make my dream a reality”. That guy is Adam Gaspic, from Gasser Customs, a relatively new bike workshop that has pumped out some very decent projects during its short existence. And Andres’s bike, Ravenna, is no exception.

In Canada, where bike riding is only feasible for half the year, the bike one chooses has to be twice as awesome – to make up for lost riding time. Andre looked for a base for a café racer project, and found it in a Honda CB550/4 in Ontario, 7 hours drive from where Andre lives. An average looking mid 70’s bike, Andre was able to see past the duct tape on the seat, and the almost novelty oversized factory indicators, to see a bike that could one day grace an article on Pipeburn. And here it is.

After the CB550 crawled into Gasser’s workshop, Andre left for a holiday in California, to catch up with friends. One of his friends he met up with was Steve Carpenter of Nostalgia Motorcycles. After touring Nostalgia’s workshop, and seeing some of their café customs, Andre left for home, pumped up by what he had seen. Many a meeting was held between Andre and Adam, then Gasser Customs got to work.

Matte black is the paint of choice on this bike, with some polished up bling breaking up the dark outlines of this awesome machine. Black rims, black front guard, black sidecovers all add to the dark flavour this bike has taken on. The tires are Bridgestone spitfire S11’s, carbs are stock Keihin – rejetted for the exhaust and pods. They also installed a steering damper for high speed stability.

The factory seat has been ditched, in its place a custom made fiberglass bump with integrated tail light. Gasser Customs has added a ‘swiss cheese’ cooling style, with the crank sidecovers and rear brake drum cover being drilled numerous times. Not feeling the factory 4 into 2 exhaust, a 4 into 1 exhaust has been fitted, painted matt black to match the rest of this custom Canadian crotchrocket. Adam completely disassembled the engine and reassembled it to special Gasser performance specs, also upgrading the charging system.

While waiting for Adam at Gasser’s to work his magic, Andre decided to look into the history of the bike. He came across a familiar name in the list of former owners, one being a Miss Trillium Muir, who learnt to ride on this bike. This happens to be the same Trillium Muir who in 2009 took her turbo Hayabusa to 239.36 miles an hour, making her the fastest woman in the world. So the bike has some rather decent providence. When Andre let Trillium know that he was rebuilding her stock learner’s bike, she was thrilled. I bet she would be even more thrilled now that it is finished, and the amazing finish Gasser has put on it.

Now Andre spends his riding half of the year on his mucho aesthetically pleasing café custom, praising the work of Adam and the Gasser workshop. However, with Adam and his starlet wife looking to relocate to LA to follow both of their dreams, Andre can take pleasure in owning and riding such a rare beast – especially in his part of the world.

  • sbaugz

    wow, someone must have gotten a drill press!

    • sbaugz

      not sure I am loving all those holes but otherwise its a nice bike

      • Blackbird.

        Shit homie, my boy Rick, got more holes in his teeth! lol…

    • berntfernch

      I like holes!

  • Gooseage

    After reading this article and seeing the photos of this bike, Gasser TRULY depicts the epic history of what a cafe racer should look and feel like. This amazing bike would turn anyone’s head at the the sight of the clean lines it has, the accent chrome giving off the brilliant details of the “swiss cheese” mods that Gasser used. I’ve been following Gasser Customes since the start of his website, and from not being a motorcycle enthusiasist, to now totally falling in love with his art in building these bikes, you can truly see his passion and effort that he puts into every build.
    Way to go Gasser!! Keep them coming. Only have one thing left to say……TAKE THAT JAY LENO!!!!

  • Love the bike, love the lightening holes, the paint and the seat. Looks like a real rider’s bike. Good job. I have a drill press, too, and I’m not afraid to use it.

  • Yo

    I live in Canada and ride all year round. I find Vancouver has allot milder winters than when I lived in Detroit. You’re right that they’re aren’t many cafe racers here though since they’re fucking gay.

    • I’ve seen some gay bikes in my time and this is not one of them.
      Sorry that we offended your weather system.

      • Sam

        I’m sorry. GAY? Really? That’s now a descriptor for custom bikes? Classy.

  • revdub

    The combination of the matte black, satin black, and polished parts works so perfectly. The looks are spot on. Are the handlebars custom? If not, I would love to know what they are. I want some!

  • Rob

    I’m pretty sure that’s a cb500 motor, not a cb550 (look at the sprocket cover and the clutch cover). The 550’s should have had the clutch adjuster and clutch cable line in on the clutch cover (rider’s right side), not on the sprocket cover side. This was an improvement to the original design.

    Other than that, the 550 and 500 engine are pretty indistinguishable. The tank is off of a later 550K (1977 or later) or off of a 550F, and I’m not sure about the frame, other than it’s not a pre-1977 550K frame. Interesting mash-up, I’m not sure if the engine was blown on a late 70’s 550 and replaced with a 500 or if the bodywork was replaced on a CB500. Any idea author?

    • Yeah you could be right. Might have been replaced with a 500 engine.

  • Ugh

    I’ll take pipewrap over speed holes any day of the week. Ugh.

    • Jonathan Noble

      It’s called drillium, not speed holes. 😛

  • shayterbug

    Simple, clean, mean…looks like a thoroughly rideable scooter…your typical “head in ass” yankee write-up annoys me though…Ontario is not Canada…just like Florida is not America…we have a west coast where plenty of us ride all year round and I would say our moto/cafe/custom culture rivals any scene on the fucking planet.

    • itsmefool

      You’re right about Florida not being America…it’s more like South America, with a lot of Caribbean thrown in! Ontario, though, is still in Canada. To stay on topic, care to link some evidence of the Canadian West Coast bike scene? The rest of the f’in’ planet would like to see it.

      • arnold

        Schwinn and Cannondale are popular in the pelotons, eh?

    • ok I’m confused. So Ontario isn’t in Canada? And Florida isnt in America? Seems like my google is broken.

  • JimmyR14

    Gee we have some very angry people on here today! I think it’s funny that it is assumed that the write up is “yankee”. Hint to some angry Canadians – check where the blog comes from before lambasting the USA. Well ok – lambast the USA anyway but not in this case!

    I don’t mind the holes. I just think they should have kept going until the whole bike was drilled. 🙂

    • shayterbug

      …I realize the blog comes from Australia, Brainwave…the piece was written like a typical American sees the world…this is a phenomenon we are used to north of the 49…”you guys have internet up there..?” The point is, the fact that the writer doesn’t realize that there’s actually a huge moto culture in Vancouver and western Canada, makes him seem uninformed, and the blog lose credibility.

      • JimmyR14

        Sure didn’t sound like like you realised. 🙂 Very angry still. I didn’t know Canadians got angry like “yankees”. You should come visit us here in Australia sometime. We all have kangaroos as pets and live in the outback. 🙂

        • Hey Jimmy – I thought the “Outback” was a restaurant where us yanks can enjoy authentic Australian food. And Foster is Australian for beer. :-} I’m from Texas where we all dress like cowboys and ride horses to work.

          • Well, I’m from California and we surf to work. Nice to know a Canadian knows “how the typical American sees the world.” I was born and raised here and don’t know what the “typical” American is nor how they “see the world.” Sounds like someone has been brainwashed by the Canadian agenda.

          • JimmyR14

            Yeah, well we do that too here in Australia. Plus we surf with crocodiles and great whites, have kangaroos for pets and chunder our guts up after a slab of fosters.

            Actually, where I live is full of bloody BMX X5s, soy lattes, people with holiday homes in Bunker Bay and shops selling Broome pearls. We need some more great whites to do a cull. Fewer X5s, more bikes.

          • Oldnbroken

            Outback is where we keep the Dunny and Fosters is what we do when we sit on the Dunny.


          • Sounds gay to me. ;^)

      • Wow, didn’t realise you guys were so sensitive. The writer of the article only said that because the owner told him that the cafe racer scene wasn’t very big there (see first paragraph). In fact in the 3 years running this blog we’ve only been sent a couple of bikes from Canada. Maybe the Internet isn’t working too good up there ; )…. Joking.

  • itsmefool

    I’m a fan; great job!

  • nitrometalpolishing

    whoah, whats all this dissin gay bikes? let me tell you ive ridden a few gay ones in my time and i can tell you what damn good fun they can be!! eer hang on, that reads all wrong…..

    • Maybe in Canada calling something “gay” is a compliment – like “These flannel shirts are sooo gay”, or “That’s a really gay dog sled ya got there”. I’m just sayin’. ;^]

  • Proud Canada

    BC wins, the newly crowned bike building, cafe racing, great weather capital of the world. Canada has 10 provinces, and one of them has decent weather year round. Next BC, is going to tell me that we are world players on the golf scene too. The simple fact of the matter is that it’s cold here 6 months of the year it’s frozen, it’s a fact, not an opinion. So if 90% of the country has a 6 month riding season, how many custom vintage bike builders will thrive in Flin Flon, Manitoba? For this simple reason, Canada’s biggest export is not custom bikes. HOWEVER, there are some great guys and gals, building great bikes North of the border, so lets celebrate this one. AND, as a cafe enthusiast, I’d love to get the website address for these northern bike building companies. I have a CB 350 that needs some work, and as of right now, the Internet isn’t flooded with their products.

  • PWilliams

    Motorcycles should NEVER have a passenger seat. THAT’S gay! Having said that, I’m getting a good laugh at all these angry folk tossing insults back and forth. Oh, and a great looking bike it is! Yes mon!

  • Madmusk

    This is a really nice bike for sure, but I never understand when people get all wet over a bike that basically just follows the cafe racer handbook to a T. Where’s the creativity/personal flair in that? Also don’t get excitement over matte black since it seems like blacked out bikes are a dime a dozen.

  • pushrod mofo

    I don’t care where you are from or how long the riding season is .. this bike is nice. And since I learned to ride on a CB550 you can trust I’m being objective.

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