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Author Topic: CB550F reliability  (Read 331 times)

Offline redrover

  • Posts: 193
CB550F reliability
« on: Jun 10, 2018, 16:17:13 »
Wondering if anyone who has a CB550F as a daily driver could chime in on how reliable they are when dialed in?

Is it a safe choice for a daily driver vs a CB450 / CB400F?

Is the maintenance more of a headache compared to the other two? How much more cumbersome is it to deal with two extra carbs?

Which would you choose for a daily driver in the city?

Offline redrover

  • Posts: 193
Re: CB550F reliability
« Reply #1 on: Jun 10, 2018, 16:21:21 »
And of course the cb450 having the torision valves, meaning the front and back covers have to come off to adjust them... vs the tappet covers on the 550 (making it way easier).

As well as replaceable oil filter on the 550 vs the centrifugal filter cleaning on the 450.

Is the bigger 550 frame much a huge jump from the 550 frame?

Offline LiamG6

  • Posts: 19
Re: CB550F reliability
« Reply #2 on: Jun 11, 2018, 20:45:55 »
The CB450 is a pretty high strung bike that requires a bit of maintenance to keep it happy, but if you are happy to keep it running well it is a great bike. If you are ok to change the oil regularly, check the valve clearance and set the points/timing then you'll be fine.

The 400/550 are probably both "more reliable" in the sense they may need less maintenance but if they need repair it would be more costly. I don't have a 400/550 though so wait for others to chime in.

Re: CB550F reliability
« Reply #3 on: Jun 11, 2018, 21:27:22 »
I have owned a CB550K for 25+ years in Seattle. I rode it as my daily transportation, rain or shine, for 5 years or so before moving to Arizona. I never had any problems whatsoever except one flat tire and I forgot to turn the petcock on once and wondered why it stalled. It has been at my dad's place ever since, and I go home usually twice a year and ride it when I am back (weather permitting at Christmas), with periodic maintenance, tune ups, fresh gas, and oil changes. During the summer visit, I usually ride it to Portland at 80-85mph, with a stop for fireworks on the way. My bike has been absolutely dead reliable. I've owned a few more over the years, and worked on a bunch over the years, and none have had reliability problems once dialed in.

I owned a CB400F for 10 years or so, and have owned 3 or 4 over the years and worked on several more. Same story as the 500 -- once dialed in, with periodic maintenance mine was dead reliable. Same with a 350F I have owned for 20+ years (until the cam chain gave out, but I knew that was going to happen, it had no adjuster and I sort of wanted to see how far it would go).

I've never owned a 450 twin, but have worked on a few. They are great bikes, but I can't speak to their reliability. Some things are easier -- the actual adjustment for valves -- some things are tougher -- actually getting to the valves.

But the fours are much smoother. The 400F is killer if you are staying in the city or making a few quick jaunts on the freeway -- they'll hold 75-80 just fine. The 550 is nimble enough around the city as well but a bit bigger and heavier, but if you want take a longer trip on the freeway it'll do you better than the 400.

My favorite bike is the 350F, but if all was right in the world I would own a 350F, 400F, 550, and 750, all for different purposes (and at several times over the years I have had 3 out of the 4, and once I had all 4 in the stable). But where I am now it's not possible...
"Remember when Goldwings were sexy? Me neither" -- Comet Tavern bathroom, Seattle.

Offline redrover

  • Posts: 193
Re: CB550F reliability
« Reply #4 on: Jun 11, 2018, 22:54:41 »
The CB450 is a pretty high strung bike that requires a bit of maintenance to keep it happy, but if you are happy to keep it running well it is a great bike. If you are ok to change the oil regularly, check the valve clearance and set the points/timing then you'll be fine.

The 400/550 are probably both "more reliable" in the sense they may need less maintenance but if they need repair it would be more costly. I don't have a 400/550 though so wait for others to chime in.

I have a 450 now... getting to the valves, as elk as scraping out oil gunk during ever oil change is definitely a PITB... but do-able.

Iíd be doing my own maintenance and repairs, which is why Iím wondering about the 550. Which would you recommend for the inner city?

Offline redrover

  • Posts: 193
Re: CB550F reliability
« Reply #5 on: Jun 11, 2018, 23:10:45 »
I have owned a CB550K for 25+ years in Seattle. I rode it as my daily transportation, rain or shine, for 5 years or so before moving to Arizona. I never had any problems whatsoever except one flat tire and I forgot to turn the petcock on once and wondered why it stalled. It has been at my dad's place ever since, and I go home usually twice a year and ride it when I am back (weather permitting at Christmas), with periodic maintenance, tune ups, fresh gas, and oil changes. During the summer visit, I usually ride it to Portland at 80-85mph, with a stop for fireworks on the way. My bike has been absolutely dead reliable. I've owned a few more over the years, and worked on a bunch over the years, and none have had reliability problems once dialed in.

I owned a CB400F for 10 years or so, and have owned 3 or 4 over the years and worked on several more. Same story as the 500 -- once dialed in, with periodic maintenance mine was dead reliable. Same with a 350F I have owned for 20+ years (until the cam chain gave out, but I knew that was going to happen, it had no adjuster and I sort of wanted to see how far it would go).

I've never owned a 450 twin, but have worked on a few. They are great bikes, but I can't speak to their reliability. Some things are easier -- the actual adjustment for valves -- some things are tougher -- actually getting to the valves.

But the fours are much smoother. The 400F is killer if you are staying in the city or making a few quick jaunts on the freeway -- they'll hold 75-80 just fine. The 550 is nimble enough around the city as well but a bit bigger and heavier, but if you want take a longer trip on the freeway it'll do you better than the 400.

My favorite bike is the 350F, but if all was right in the world I would own a 350F, 400F, 550, and 750, all for different purposes (and at several times over the years I have had 3 out of the 4, and once I had all 4 in the stable). But where I am now it's not possible...

WOW thank you for your input, super insightful. You have an incredible Honda history. It sounds like the four cylinder bikes can be extremely reliable.

I live in the inner city and donít have a garage, so would be doing maintenance/repairs in the street, so was concerned about having to have to repeatedly remove the tank to potentially get to the inner carbs... but, it sounds like once the carbs are dialed in, the 550 should be a solid runner.

Iíd honestly try to shave as much weight off it as possible, including getting rid of the airbox. On the twins Iíve owned, I always constructed an extension tube from the carbs to the pods to create a tunnel to the carbs (as opposed to pods directly on the carbs) which would lessen the turbulence flowing in... but, the 550 frame would not allow that, so my only choice would be pods or velocity stacks directly on the carbs (I guess?)




Offline redrover

  • Posts: 193
Re: CB550F reliability
« Reply #6 on: Jun 11, 2018, 23:12:37 »
Which year of 550 would you recommend to run with a pod or velocity stacks set up?

I was thinking either 76 K-model (087A carbs) or 75-77 F-model (069A carbs)... Iíve heard the PD46 carbs (77-78 K-model) are more difficult to run properly without the air box?




Offline teazer

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Re: CB550F reliability
« Reply #7 on: Jun 11, 2018, 23:49:37 »
None!  Keep the airbox on any bike that lives outside and needs to be reliable.  Pods hurt performance and don't generally filter dust out as well as a stock filter/airbox combo. Besides, the airbox weighs very little.

If you want to save weight, look at a thin wall 4 into 1 exhaust in place of a stock exhaust.  Cutting off tabs saves zero and side covers are light, so that's a bust.  You could buy an expensive LiPo battery and save a few grams.  Drill out disks and axles and replace side cover screws with aluminum or spend a fortune on Titanium fasteners.  Lots of ways to not save a lot of weight.

Re: CB550F reliability
« Reply #8 on: Jun 12, 2018, 00:54:32 »
WOW thank you for your input, super insightful. You have an incredible Honda history. It sounds like the four cylinder bikes can be extremely reliable.

I live in the inner city and donít have a garage, so would be doing maintenance/repairs in the street, so was concerned about having to have to repeatedly remove the tank to potentially get to the inner carbs... but, it sounds like once the carbs are dialed in, the 550 should be a solid runner.

Iíd honestly try to shave as much weight off it as possible, including getting rid of the airbox. On the twins Iíve owned, I always constructed an extension tube from the carbs to the pods to create a tunnel to the carbs (as opposed to pods directly on the carbs) which would lessen the turbulence flowing in... but, the 550 frame would not allow that, so my only choice would be pods or velocity stacks directly on the carbs (I guess?)

I'll second teazer -- keep that stock airbox.

Forgot to answer questions about carbs. I have friends who ride Harleys who are amazed at tuning 4 carbs, but it is not that hard. I remove the tank once a year or so for maintenance. It's not a big deal -- in fact removing a SOHC/4 tank is easier than a lot of twins because they don't have crossover tubes. I am a fan of the earlier 550s -- '75, '76 -- partly aesthetic, partly it's because I've mostly had earlier ones.

Don't know what city you live in, but I've done work on friends' bikes in NYC and Boston on the sidewalk or in the street in between parked cars. Nobody cared. I would recommend that you find something to lock it to securely, or failing that lock up the wheels. And definitely get a waterproof cover but remember to take it off once it stops raining.
"Remember when Goldwings were sexy? Me neither" -- Comet Tavern bathroom, Seattle.