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The CB550F was the largest factory boring of the smaller block, air-cooled, 4 cylinder, single over-head cam motorcycles made by Honda during the mid- to late 1970s. The block of the CB550 was similar in appearance to, but considerably smaller than, the heavier casting of the CB750. These motorcycles had two stock gauge and exhaust configurations. The early models had a single gauge cluster and four individual exhaust tubes, each with its own muffling elements. The "Super Sport" model, featured a dual gauge cluster (with a separate speedometer and tachometer) and a stock 4-into-1 header. This configuration is shown in the adjacent photograph, repainted from the original "Candy Apple Blue" to yellow. A factory "Candy Apple Red" was also available. CB550s shared a similar emblem to the other "Fours" made by Honda: the triangular side covers had the upward-rounded displacement (550, in this case) with the word "Four" superimposed.
As for the performance, the CB550F was over geared and could not reach yellow-line in 5th gear with the stock sprocket arrangements. With the stock gearing, the CB550F Super Sport was capable of reaching speeds in excess of 105 mph (169 km/h) with a 200 lb (91 kg) rider, while remaining well below 9200 rpm yellow line limit on the gauges. Valve floatation limited any desire on the part of the rider to extend the revolutions to red line, which was 11,000 rpm. The light weight of the motorcycle limited the appeal of the CB550 for longer distance rides, and though it was barely adequate for touring, it was superb for intermediate distance urban and freeway riding. A common modification was to add several teeth on the rear drive sprocket to make the motorcycle considerably quicker off the starting line and reduce some of the wear on the clutch. This was done at the price of some fuel economy and slightly higher levels of vibration. The single disk on the front was unbored and was prone to slipping in wet conditions until the disk was hot enough to evaporate off the water accumulation. Considerable care had to be exercised when riding in wet conditions due to a highly non-linear "grab" when the water film was squeezed dry. This posed a risk for loss of control under wet conditions for riders unfamiliar with this behavior. While there were both right-side and left-side caliper brackets on the stock forks, aftermarket modification of the front disk to a dual, bored-disk configuration was required for optimum all-weather, performance braking. Later, factory models of the small-block "Fours" included the slotted disk modification as a stock configuration.
This motorcycle was well-made, tolerating frequent use of the throttle. The one shown in the photograph was eventually sold with 80,000 miles (130,000 km) on the original engine, with nothing more than routine maintenance, suffering only from a minor drip on the shift lever at the time of sale. Valve and ignition adjustment was accomplished with a simple set of tools, but had to be done every 1,500 miles (2,400 km).
The CB550F0 Super Sport 550 Four was sold in 1975 in one of two colors: Candy Sapphire Blue or Flake Sunrise Orange. The gas tank logo reads, "HONDA SUPER SPORT". The fork boots were black rubber. The exhaust system was 4-into-1. The instrument faces were dark green. The engine was a 544cc SOHC wet sump 4-cylinder. It had 4 carburetors and a 5-speed transmission. The serial number began CB550F-1000002.
The CB550F'76 Super Sport 550 Four was sold in 1976 in one of two colors: Flake Sapphire Blue or Shiny Orange. The seat was dark brown. The instrument faces were light green. The gas tank logo reads, "HONDA SUPER SPORT". The fork boots were black rubber. The exhaust system was 4-into-1. The engine was a 544cc SOHC wet sump 4-cylinder. It had 4 carburetors and a 5-speed transmission. The serial number began CB550F-2000003.
The CB550F'77 Super Sport 550 Four was sold in 1977 in one of two colors: Candy Sword Blue and Candy Presto Red. The gas tank stripe was gold. The instrument faces were dark blue. The seat was black and the fork boots were deleted. The gas tank logo reads, "HONDA SUPER SPORT". The exhaust system was 4-into-1. The engine was a 544cc SOHC wet sump 4-cylinder. It had 4 carburetors and a 5-speed transmission. The serial number began CB550F-2100001.