I bought the wrong bike

Well, after watching Long Way Down/Around and many other adventure documentaries (and stalking the posts here) I regret my purchase of a 1976 Honda CB550. I originally wanted to do another modern take on the classic, and just have a simple and fun bike. Now I wish I had just put that money towards a dual sport or something more capable off of the asphalt. Motorcycle camping looks amazing to me, as I prefer bringing less gear. I recently went on a trip with some other folks and they must have packed an entire house. I simply arrived and pulled my pack out of my truck, and they looked at me like I was crazy. I am envious of you all, and may have to pick up a different bike once this is complete (I'd sell if I hadn't just paid for a ton of parts).
Just ride what you have, till you really need something different. You'd be surprised where your current bike will be able to get you. It's lower center of gravity and seat height lends to more confidence off-road. You could even scramblerize it a bit (dual sport tires, bigger rear sprocket, raise front fender some) to make it handle trails better. Main thing is knowing when the trail is getting too tough for you or the machine and turning around. Advice from a guy that's done 600+ mile trips on a KE100.

Let this video inspire you.
I am envious of you all, and may have to pick up a different bike once this is complete (I'd sell if I hadn't just paid for a ton of parts).
Don't sell!!! You can get into a capable, travel worthy dual sport fairly inexpensively. Pick up a used dual sport for your off pavement camping and exploring. Just don't get rid of the CB550, what you have there is a nearly perfect Café project.
If we're honest with ourselves, our ratio between paved miles and dirt miles tips way to the pavement side. Bikes are a segment where specialization is king. No bike can do everything...well. Some flirt with competency in multiple areas but in the end, they are compromises. Bikes really are a tool...pick the best tool for the job. That CB is the right tool for looking cool around town.
Last winter we passed a guy taking his Harley through Titus Canyon in Death Valley. He wasn't as fast as the guy on the dual-sport but he didn't look any worse for the wear coming out the other side. Unless you need the money to get the dual-sport, I'd keep it to have both.
Every bike I've bought has helped me better focus on what I really want. So there is never a wrong bike - just numerous test mules.


Wiffleball Batter
That 550 is a classic. If it was me I'd restore it as close as possible to factory specs and ride it to bike nights. It will get a lot of attention.
I wouldn't necessarily shy away from an occasional dirt road but on the pavement that bike should be great.
If you can only have one bike (Blasphemy!) then at least sell the 550 to a collector who's going to treat it right and not to some cretin with a sawzall and a can of black spray paint to turn it into another "awesome bobber project." :rolleyes: There's too much of that crap on Craigslist now.
It pains me sometimes to think of the great old bikes that have been butchered like that. :(
Motorcycle camping looks amazing to me, as I prefer bringing less gear.
Whether it's spent on or off road motorcycle camping is pretty amazing that's for sure. Nothing wrong with a CB550. Plan a long weekend, pack your gear up and hit the road--you might be surprised by where you end up and the good times you'll have. Heck given your location I think exploring the UP on a classic Honda would be pretty sweet!
Hey there, I traveled cross country four times on a 76 cb450, thrre times with my 76 XS750, and another few times on a 80 cb750. Loved each of them. With the two bigger bikes i took camping gear and a passenger through the Rockies! On the 450 it was just me and the camping gear. All were very solid and reliable. Enjoy what you have!


Expedition Leader
I've had dozens of bikes, and they're never the right one. :)

There's always another motorcycle you want more. Welcome to the club.

i can understand that,, but i'm not in the club and completely happy with my bike,,, some day i'll need to replace it and right now theres nothing i want.

to the OP, i really want to build a brat style with knobbies,,, but it couldnt be my only bike cause, well, sounds like you know why. if you like that 550 keep it and get a cheap dual sport and just ride the poop out of it.
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Back in the early 80s, before there was anything called an adventure bike, we just rode what we had. My 82 Yamaha 650 Maxim took me all over the country, down dirt roads, gravel, trails, camping in the woods, BLM land, etc. Nobody told me I needed knobbies for this, so I just made do with the ****ty street tires we had back then. Looking back, it had no suspension, not much clearance, and not much range. Again, not knowing any better, it did just fine. Amazing how freeing complete ignorance was.

Now that I know better, no bike is right. I currently have an 1150 ADV and a KTM 500 EXC, and neither one seems perfect at any given time. I keep trying to justify a 690. I think I was happier, and richer, when I was dumb.