By Anthony van Someren - 20 Sep 13
This simple little Honda CB550 Cafe/Brat is another perfectly proportioned build from Luke Robinson of Robinson's Speedshop in Southend in the UK. The bike was a commissioned build and the brief was clear: Paint it black, no chrome, make it understated and cool, ...not even a speedo, just pure, minimalist biking. The bike is another that falls into a hybrid category with a low flat brat-style seat matched to cafe racer clip-on bars. It's a style that looks really good and the riding position works as long as the footrests are in the right place, and it all comes together perfectly on a bike like this, where the brief was 'less is more'. The CB550 packs a modest punch but is fairly light weight, plus it comes with Honda reliability (for an oldie), and is pretty easy to work on. Although this bike is all about black, black and more black what really makes it all work is actually the dark brown seat upholstery and the beige pipewrap. If all this has been black too the bike would have completely melted into the shadows, but these simple touches make the matte black stand out more as a positive colour choice, rather than a lazy default. The hard part about building a really stripped-back bike like this is not just how you replace and minimalise the big components that add weight and ungainly looks to the donor bike, it's also where you hide the essentials, like the battery, regulator/rectifier and electrics - leaving you with the most naked of machines possible. There's no seat hump or fake oil tank here, not even any obvious sign of a battery box tucked under the wafer-thin seat between the top of the rear shock mounts. This bike has nothing on show apart from the engine, seat, tank, bars, wheels and minimal lighting. It looks like a movie prop. For those who have been writing in and asking where the battery really is, it's a bunch of battery cells, disassembled from a DeWalt power tool, all smuggled under the seat. Proper Shed-ingenuity. See more of Luke's bikes on The Robinson's Speedshop Bike Shed Pages or Luke's own Website and Facebook pages.