We were lucky enough to meet some incredible people at the 2017 Handbuilt Show in Austin. The bikes in the show were off-the-charts, as always, but there was also a staggering lineup on the street outside the show. This is always one of our favorite scenes: “the show beyond the show.” These are bikes that arrived under their own power, sometimes making pilgrimages of hundreds of miles to stand raked and gleaming on the street.
One such bike that caught our attention on the street was this Honda CB550 by Eli Carver (@eli22carver). Eli and his twin brother, Tyson (@txrenegade), build some of the hottest bikes in the Lone Star State. BikeBound, as many of you know, is largely a father-and-son project, and we have long realized that motorcycles have special power to bring friends and families together.
We see a lot of CB550 builds, but this would stood out with the pure lines, classic aesthetic, incredible fit and finish, and details like the tail section being cut from an original fender. Hard to believe this was Eli’s first build, completely largely in his yard and on his front porch! While we didn’t get to meet Tyson and Eli in person at this year’s show, we look forward to calling them our “moto brothers” in years to come.
Honda CB550 Brat Cafe: Builder Interview
(Answers by Eli Carver. Highlights by us.)
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I got into motorcycles after the loss of my parents about six years ago. They passed away two months apart and after that, my twin brother and I got into riding together. We rode together pretty often for a couple years and then he decided to get a CB café project going. The day we went to pick up his project bike, I told him that I was going to let him get through the initial learning curve of building a bike, and then I was going to pick one up. About four months later, I was buying a CB for myself for $250. It needed a lot of work. I didn’t have a garage, so I did all of the work either on my front porch or out in the yard. The neighbors were always curious about what I had going on. I started the build a couple years ago but in that timeframe, my brother and I sold the first bikes we had, bought some V-Strom 650’s and rode them to Alaska and back. To say that we both jumped into motorcycles with both feet would be an understatement.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
This build is a ’74 Honda CB550.
• Why was this bike built?
I built this bike really for the fun of it. I have always been into home construction so working with metal was a little different for me but it was a blast. There were obviously some personal reasons involved with losing my folks as well. Since my brother and I don’t have any other siblings, I knew that with us both getting into building bikes, there would always be a common interest between us to keep us together. Getting into a project like this also gives your brain something to do. Whether I was actually working on the build or researching where to go next with it, it has a tendency to consume you and keep your attention for quite some time.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The design concept was pretty simple. I had been looking at bikes that I liked online for quite some time and saving photos of my favorites to my phone. After a while, I had a folder of about 20 bikes and the combination of those bikes was what I was building. I took my favorite parts of each bike and put them together in my build.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
All of it was touched at some point. I took it down to the frame, de-tabbed it, had it powder coated, and began building it back. I built many custom brackets for things, the tail section with a custom cut original fender, and the gauge cluster. Every bushing and bearing was replaced and all parts cleaned up for reuse at the very least.
• How would you classify this bike?
I guess it’s a café style brat. I was going for a classic look too.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Since it was my first build, I was pretty proud to just complete it and be able to ride something that I had built. The first few rides, I was just waiting for something major to fall off but it never did!!