Hardly anybody had much bad to say about the Honda 500 Four. So why did Honda enlarge its bores by 2.5 millimeters to make a 550? There are several reasons. First, and probably the least important, is the presence of Suzuki's 550 - Honda doesn't want to lose any sales over a piffling 50ccs. Second, the consumer will be more likely to absorb the price increase to $1,600 without squawking if he's digging deeper for a different motorcyck--not the same old 500. Third, the extra displacement-tiny volume that it is (a guppy could barely turn around in a 50ce fishbowl)-actually adds a noticeable amount of mid-range power and torque.
Cosmetically, the CB550 looks much like its larger and smaller cousins. Colors included Flake Sunrise Orange with Black, Boss Maroon Metallic with Black, Freedom Green Metallic with Black, Candy Jade Green, and Flake Sunrise Orange. Stock exhaust was a four-into-four style. Other options included four-into-four exhaust (four individual exhaust tubes) for the "K" models and a four-into-one (four headers terminating into one muffler) style exhaust on the Honda CB550F.
Specifications for the CB550 were virtually unchanged over the model lines. Maintenance on the CB550 is nearly identical to the CB750 and can be completed, mostly, with common hand tools. Some specialized tools, including feeler gauges, a timing light, chain breaker and riveter, amongst others. Common maintenance tasks include chain tensioning and cleaning/lubing, valve adjustment, rear brake adjustment, oil and filter changes, etc. Overall, if common maintenance is performed regularly at the proper intervals with quality parts, the CB550 is very reliable and has been reported to be good for 100,000+ miles.
Contributed by rdeangelis