Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Monnom Customs is the sole creative cafe motorcycle work of Mike Gustafson. Mike Gustafson and his Wife own Nestcraft Studios which creates high end contemporary furniture. Mike says he has applied the same design aesthetics and attention to detail that he uses in his furniture to create his bikes. Well this sleek and elegant Honda CB550 Cafe Racer clearly shows that.
As most of us do on vintage projects, Mike started with a rough Honda CB550. After accessing the bike, he realized the engine had no compression, the tank was rusted and the electrical system was a mess. The tank which was poorly modified by the previous owner, gave Mike the push to chop it up. He cut the top section of the tank off and replaced it with a section from a Honda CM450. The top portion was raised slightly and finished off with a new gas cap. Mike’s outstanding fabrication of the tank makes it looks like it should of come from the factory like this.
The next hurdle to tackle was the neglected engine. Mike rebuild the top end of the engine with new rings, a cylinder hone, gaskets, cam chain slipper, seals and a valve job. The engine cases were hand polished and the motor was painted. A freshly powdercoated, plated and polished set of CB 500 carburetors replaced the stock carbs that were literally trashed. The speed holes drilled in the left side cover a cool design feature to the dull stock unit. The electrical system was replaced with a Sparck Moto custom harness with DynaTek 5 Ohm coils were installed. A Motogadget Motoscope Tiny speedo was then mounted into a 7″ chrome headlight unit.
To help the newly rebuilt engine breathe even better, a new exhaust system was installed. The headers are a set of MAC Performance 4 into 1, wrapped in exhaust wrap and finished off with Cone Engineering muffler. Having used Cone Engineering muffler on all our builds, I bet this thing sounds amazing. The stock foot controls were ditched and replaced with a set of aluminum rearsets. If you’re building a cafe racer, rearsets are a must for that more aggressive riding style.
To finish the bike off, Mike removed the stock sub-frame and weld on a tail hoop. To give it that sleek look, a section section was shaped out of foam and created out hand laid fiberglass. Being a custom furniture designer, Mike had to use wood somewhere. The seat was created, cut and shaped out of a piece of solid cherry wood adding to the elegance of this bike. Finally, the bike was painted with a House of Kolor’s Shimrin base color, cleared with a matte finish and hand laid bronze pinstripes were applied.
All in all, this is one of the most sleek and elegant Honda CB550 Cafe Racers we have seen. Simple, yet beautiful and functional. Mike of Monnom has definitely created a work of art with his design aesthetics and keen attention to detail in this Honda CB550 Cafe Racer. This being his first full custom build makes us excited to see what else he has up his sleeve for the next build which he has given us a hint at.
Monnom Honda CB550 Cafe Racer Photos (Courtesy of ERICH ERNST):