Up for sale in the LA Area is this 1976 CB550 custom that the seller claims was built by Kott Motorcycles – a well-regarded and prolific custom shop specializing in 1970s Honda Customs—occasionally for high-profile LA-types.
This particular example does bear the Kott tank badge, and fits the make and model that we see a lot of Kott builds – though to our eye this scrambler/brat setup lacks the lengthened, leaned-out shape that a lot of Kott builds take on. We reached out to Kott before posting this, and will update if they reply.
Wether or not it’s a Kott build, it looks like it could use a little TLC. Aside from the side-pouch being pretty shot, it looks like the left grip is broken at the end, there’s some oxidation at the monza-style filler cap, and a little chipping at the neck of the tank.
To us, that could just mean that this bike has been ridden and loved, or it could be a sign of neglect. Either way, someone asking $6000 for a bike that they cant bother to wash before taking pictures seems a little off to us.
The post itself says little about the bike or the mileage otherwise, but it looks like the (new) gauge shows 1684 miles since that started rolling – probably when the build was done.
Other than the odd situation, we like this build overall. Its right in the mainline brat/tracker aesthetic, and looks good in silver, black and brown leather. The frame looks fairly freshly powder-coated in a matte or semi-gloss black, which matches the fenders, and the stripped-down handebar setup will look nice and functional after you slide some new grips on.
Up front the headlight has been modded with what looks like a 3-way banana switch (we assume for on & hi). It looks a little hardware-store, but we like it here and these switches can work great for a very long time if they are the quality ones.
The 4-into-1 exhaust is black to match the frame and fenders, and the whole build sits on some fairly agressive knobbys, whcih look good sitting still, but we should swap out for something more cross-over if we meant to ride this every day.
The engine and rear brake setup both still look freshly-polished, which they should if this only has 1600 miles on it since being rebuilt.
Cicleing back to the fact that this is a main-line mid-70s CB 550 at heart, there are a few things to know. These slightly smaller bikes were slotted in under the CB 750 as a step-down model, but soon became popular in their own right for solid power (almost 40hp), lower seat height and weight.
On the whole, this bike will perform at the low end very much like the larger CB 750, but will fall away when getting into acceleration at higher speeds. That said, we love CB 550s as bikes for newer riders, smaller (sub 150lbs) riders, or any riders that prefer to be flat-footed at stoplights.
When properly taken care of, these bikes can run well for a very long time, with the main complaint being the time (and thus cost) it takes to balance the 4 carbs, which should be done at every tune-up.
We like this build overall, but we think $6000 is a bit high, and near-0 info in the post means theres a lot we can’t know until we check it out.
If you are interested, we suggest taking a look at the provenance – we’d have a lot more confidence in long-term ownership if this WERE Kott-built. We’d still have it gone over thoroughly by a mechanic that specializes in 70s Hondas.
Assuming the listing is accurate, and assuming all it would need is a standard tune-up (lots of assuming), we think $5k is probably more reasonable, and would leave you some cash to get some fresh grips, more realistic tires, and pay for a detail to make your new machine shine.