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Honda CB550 Brat Bike

(Written by Mark Turner.)

Thankfully we are all individuals. Some of us like big women, some like marmite, some like to wear women’s clothing on a Thursday night and call themselves Mildred. Personally, I like motorbikes and how they make me feel. The passion, the freedom, it’s exhilarating, intoxicating.

Is there a more pure expression of this than the cafe racer? Simple, light weight, slim and trim, their beauty is in their simplicity. Ironwood Custom Motorcycles in Amsterdam are the architects of some of the finest cafe racers you will see on the road. These guys have the Midas touch. They can take an old, tired, beat down, weary bike and resuscitate, rejuvenate, and reinvent it.

Honda CB550 Bratstyle

A perfect example of this is the bike you see here:  IWC25. In true King Midas style, IWC have performed a miracle and turned a nasty, ugly, unloved CB550 into this exotic, enigmatic, epitome of the cafe racer.

When the owner rode the bike in, it was in a sorry state. Arjan van den Boom, mastermind behind IWC, described the bike when it first came to him.

“The original bike was hideous, man, absolutely the most ugliest bike I ever laid my hands on. It was in shit condition too.”

The owner wasn’t crazy though. He had bought the crappy old CB with a vision. He saw through the years of neglect and contempt and brought it to IWC because he had seen their previous creations and knew there was only one place he trusted to make his dream into a reality. So the pair began their journey to redemption in the expert hands of IWC.

Honda-CB550-Brat-Bike-5

The nasty old CB was stripped to its bare bones and the frame was cut and welded, removing unnecessary material in pursuit of the lightweight, sleek cafe racer look, then painted black. The oily old engine was stripped and given a fresh coat of satin black, then carefully assembled with all new gaskets.

The front forks were pushed through the yokes 60mm and the springs cut 25mm lowering the front and improving the stance. The forks stanchions, the complete wheels and the tank were also given a new coat of…yes, you guessed it, black.

One of the most unique features of this bike is so subtle you may not have noticed. Look closely at the beautiful Miller Kustom Upholstery brat seat and you will see a row of LED’s that make up the brake light and indicators. A very cool touch.

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To keep things neat and continue the lightweight racer look, all of the electrics are hidden, out of sight, between the subframe tubes with the battery sitting low under the bike to improve the centre of balance.

The vintage look is finished off with a set of radial Avons and the end result is a beautiful, authentic cafe racer that wouldn’t look out of place sat outside the Ace Cafe in London in 1964 but with a modern slant and craftsmanship that the ton up boys in the 60’s could only dream about.

(Photography by Jackson Kunis.)

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