Today, we are thrilled to present one of the most beautiful vintage Honda builds we have ever seen: the Grey Ghost, a 1977 Honda CB550K cafe racer built by Alchemy Motorcycles of San Diego.
Previously, we featured the shop’s mono-shock CB550. Since then, owner Michel Valle has opened his shop full-time. Below, he gives us the full story on this incredible build.
Grey Ghost CB550: In the Builder’s Words
(Words by Michel Valle of Alchemy Motorcycles. Highlights by us.)
We started with a 1977 CB550K that was in need of a rebuild. So we decided to go all the way and modify everything while the motor was out. We had an idea of building a vintage motorcycle with modern details to create something uncommon.
The frame was de-tabbed and subframe cut off. The mono-shock set up was the first item on the list. Anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary was cut away. We’ve done this conversion before, so it came together effortlessly. Hagon shocks out of San Marcos, CA was a great help with getting the right shock for the project. From there we started rebuilding the subframe to give the seat a “floating” look. The tank emblems and rear portion of the tank were shaved for a smooth shape.
Once all of the bodywork was done, the paint was next. We went with a custom shade of grey that we felt was something unexpected. Haven’t seen a vintage bike built with this color, we knew it was a right fit to the theme. We also knew that a gold finish had to be incorporated into the build, so when we knew what we were playing we wanted the paint to hint at those details. So we shot a layer of golden pearl over the grey to give the desired effect. In the shade the color looks a solid shade, but it comes to life when hit by light. Once the paint was cut and buffed to an impeccable finish, reassembly began.
The Airtech cafe seat now housed the battery and regulator/rectifier. To keep a low profile the seat foam was shaped and the leather was stitched in-house to wrapped tight. An LED strip placed tight under the cafe seat works as the running and stop light.
The Brooks leather grips were re-wrapped in the same leather as the seat. Motocicli Veloci Clip-ons and rear set pegs/controls. CRF450 levers were used for a modern feel to a classic bike. Russell stainless braided line was hooked up to the front brake. Motion Pro handled making the custom length cables. The yoke top and rear set brackets are by Cognito Moto.
Part of the reason we went with a subdued color for the paint was because we wanted the chrome to just pop out at you when the project was finished. The stock rims, spokes, various engine parts & covers, screws, bolts, nuts, and every last washer were chromed. The side valve cover screws, front caliper, chain, & nipples were plated in gold. A gold chain was added to balance the gold front caliper.
The motor was stripped all the way down. The entire motor was vapor honed inside and out. New pistons and rings after the cylinder honing and valve job. All new seals and gaskets.
Velocity stacks also get tied in with the gold inner screens. Ignition is handled by a Dynatek-S electronic ignition paired with a Shorai lithium battery. The stainless 4-1 exhaust finalizes the finishing touches for the build.