1976 Honda CB 550 “Approachable Elegance”

Art is a very personal creation.  Artists can spend months, years, even lifetimes attempting to achieve perfection.  Motorcycles are among those creations, constantly being built with their creators own perception of what perfect looks like.  For me, “Amber” is the epitome of motorcycle perfection.

Introducing “Amber” a handcrafted motorcycle masterpiece recently finished by the crew at Thirteen and Company.  She is a low, sleek, yet elegant machine that begs to be ridden.  When Kyle Vara, Thirteen and Co’s head-honcho, described his intentions to build a CB 550 outside the norm of his shop’s typical spectrum, he had a few keys words describing his vision: “maturity, elegance, attitude”.

Instead of Thirteen’s typical race inspired builds, they decided to go a different route with this machine and show off their well-rounded skill set by forming one of the cleanest CBs ever.  Starting with a 1976 Honda CB 550-four, they began by taking the bike down to its core, removing every non-essential gadget and tossing it for the sake of design.  The frame was immediately given attention by removing the rear section and creating a custom tail hoop that would give the bike its cafe racer looks.  The seat would not be overlooked, not only was the seat crafted out of reclaimed Italian leather, the front was treated to a matching set of imported Italian grips.

The engine was given a comprehensive rebuild along with the factory carbs which were tastefully fitted with chrome velocity stacks.  An enormous amount of time was spent polishing the various aluminum bits as well as carefully selecting a few chrome pieces to really emphasize the elegance of the bike.  The theme was carried through to the exhaust with a custom stainless 4-into-1 system.  When it came time for paint, a choice was made to use a combination of clear powder coat and brushed silver for a stunning presence.  This allows the rich brown leather to really pop against the silver body, very reminiscent of the iconic Porsche 356.

Now only the final touches were needed.  A streamlined wiring harness was developed from scratch to keep the simple machine ticking.  A sleek all-in-one LED brake, tail, turn light was recessed into the rear hoop.  Along with some classic D.I.D rims and spokes wrapped in Coker’s vintage style Diamond tread tires to tie it all together.  This bike is ready to ride.

When Thirteen and Company set out to build a new bike, they relied on their own instincts, no customer demands threatening their creativity, this was all on them.  With skills and determination they were able to break out of their shell and create a timeless work of art.  As much as this bike looks good standing still, it begs even more to have a leg thrown over it.  It’s exactly what Kyle had envisioned in the beginning, approachable but elegant.  Among a crowded world of custom motorcycles, “Amber” is definitely a masterful work of art, shining in all her glory….approachable elegance.

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