What we have here is a very special and unique 1971 Honda CB350. It was not built to fit any sort of genre, but in the end I guess it turned out to be a restomod. A few words about the builder, me. I have been around motorcycles all my life and was a factory trained Honda mechanic in the 1970's when bikes like this could be purchased new from a dealer. I know them inside and out and have over 40 years of real world experience. I have done full concourse quality restorations on a variety of brands.
This bike is not a fashion statement. If that's what you're looking for there are plenty of Café Racers out there with expensive bolt on parts, LED lights, rear sets, clip-ons, single seats with tail sections and other blingy crap. This Honda CB350 was built as I would want a bike I was going to ride to be built, with the emphasis on functionality and safety. That being said it sure came out looking great. The build was a real labor of love for me but in the end I like to build bikes a lot more than I like to ride them so it needs to go to someone who will ride and appreciate it.
I started out with a few things that I knew I wanted to do but a far bigger list things I didn't want to do. First and foremost was that the bike be mechanically as perfect as I could get it, which meant a complete nuts and bolts disassembly of an example with under 3000 original miles. Everything on the bike was checked and if it was not within factory specs it was repaired or replaced. For the most part, OEM parts were used, not overseas crap. One design cue I took from the Café Racer set was the opening up of the center of the bike where the air cleaners and battery box reside. I didn't want a bike whose frames was detabbed to save a couple of pounds. You could take this bike and bolt on all original stock components, as nothing was chopped off. I didn't want to remove the fenders, fork brace, or chain guard, all very commonly tossed items that are essential for safety and rideability.
Starting from the ground up new Avon Roadrider tires were fitted, 90/90-18V for the front and 100/90-18V on the back along with new tubes and rim straps. The rims were trued and spokes tightened where necessary. The front forks were rebuilt using Honda OEM seals and modern fluid. Rather than leave the springs and seals exposed rubber fork boots were fitted. The lower legs, brake plate and fork tubes where polished and the front wheel bearings were checked. The steering head bearings and races were found to be in perfect condition so they were greased and reassembled. I know what you're thinking, "what no tapered bearings". There is absolutely nothing wrong with the stock setup provided that they are installed and maintained correctly. I've seen too many of the tapered bearing kits installed wrong, by folks who just don't have a clue. The stock headlight ears were replaced with a pair that I have had since the 1970s. These were made in Japan and are not the crap currently available. The headlight shell was freshly painted and the headlight rim is Honda new old stock. As I am not a fan of clip-ons on a street machine I opted for Honda 400 Four bars, also OEM from the 1970s. All the switch wiring was checked and some repairs were made and the wiring was run through the bars. The handlebar supports were polished and the bolts were replaced with black allen heads. The 33mm forks on the CB350 have to have a fork brace for strength. The stock fender was removed and the brace was modified to accommodate the new front tire. I used the front fender from an earlier CB350 because I liked the horizontal flow of the older support struts. The front of the fender had some material removed and was reshaped. I kept the back side of the fender longer to protect the engine and rider. The rear strut was kept for support and to hold the cables away from the wheel and tire. While prepping the fender for paint I decided that I liked the bare metal look a whole lot better than paint. Kind of looks like the finish on a DeLorean. It has a real industrial feel to it and just really fits the build. There are some minor dings and corrosion spotting here and there but these just add character. After speaking with several experts on how to protect this finish they all agreed that clear coat or powder coat was not the way to go as this would more than likely promote rust formation under the coating. I used a product called Boeshield T-9 which was applied and allowed to sit to penetrate the surface of the metal and then removed. A coating of quality paste wax was then applied.
The frame, swingarm and chain guard were stripped and painted gloss black. That's right, painted not powder coated. I know it's the cool thing to do to "send the bike out to powder coat" but I have seen too much bad powder coat to want it on my bike. Just ask a TVR owner. I'll take a good paint job any day. The swingarm bushings were checked and also found to be perfect, no need for bronze replacements. A couple of words about the chain guard. This is an item that is almost always missing and one that is essential. First, who wants chain lube all over the place? Second and more important is that if you throw a chain, which has been known to happen, it can do some major damage to you or your passenger. Speaking of chains, this bike has a brand new quality Japanese Tsubaki non o-ring chain installed. I have seen many o-ring chains fitted to these bikes and touted as a sales feature. Read any of the forums out there and you will discover that an o-ring chain is wider than the original chain and will eventually saw through the clutch actuator. While we're back here a few words about the rear shocks. These are OEM Showa shocks from the 70's off a larger Honda. They work perfectly and have a good spring rate. Some of the original CB350 shocks were not oil dampened. They relied on friction to control rebound. The set fitted here are oil dampened. The rear fender received the same treatment as the front. Several inches were removed from the back and it was reshaped. The finish as the same as the front. Again, some character is evident. An original, modified Honda rear fender was used due to the level of protection it affords both the engine in the critical air intake area and the rider. I elected to retain the tool box that the fender mounts to. While a new mount could have been fabricated it makes a great place to stash a few things for the road.
The bike has a center stand and a side stand that doesn't require you to carry a block of wood around to prop it up.
The gas tank is from a CL350. It came to me painted red and after some polishing I elected to leave it that way. There are a few dings in the tank, but they are fairly unobtrusive. The tank has been coated on the inside. The cap has a new gasket and a new latch fitted. The petcock is brand new OEM. The crossover on the tank is fitted with a Goodridge Metal Quick Disconnect which allows the tank to be removed without the hassle of trying not to spill gas. Just click open the disconnect and remove the tank. All fuel lines are OEM correct 5.5mm with the correct Honda clips.
The electrical system was completely gone through. Everything on the bikes works correctly. The harness was taken apart and any wires that were not correct or old repairs were redone. All connections were correctly soldered and finished with heat shrink tubing. New plastic sheathing was used for the wiring harness. I custom fabricated a battery/electrical component box which would fit under the seat. It bolts in place and looks like it came with the bike. It houses the starter solenoid, voltage regulator, modern solid state rectifier and a really neat Shorai LFX Lithium battery. The rectifier is located in the front of the box, directly in the air stream where it can be cooled. Lots of folks just use a café seat with a hump in the back just so they can have a place for the electrics. Not only do I not like these seats, but it's a bad place to mount electrical components. Yes, this bike has an electric starter. I like being able to just push the button to get her going and don't feel the loss of a bit more weight makes much of a difference. After looking at an endless parade of cheaply made tail lights and turn signals I elected to go with stock. The original rear tail light was used mounted to a custom fabricated steel bracket. The lines really fit the bike and it is easily seen, not blinding like some of the LED stuff. I also decided to go with the stock turn signals. I wanted signals on the bike and I just didn't care for any of the tiny LED ones that were out there. They fit in with the bike quite well. There is some minor pitting on the plastic chrome signal housing and stalks. A solid state flasher unit has been installed.
As I said before this bike was made to ride so no uncomfortable rear sets, clip-ons, or seat. The seat is stock Honda CB350. It is in excellent condition, is comfortable and will allow for a passenger. Just adds to the fun.
Now I'll turn my attention to the engine. It is in stock trim and runs like a Swiss watch, and I should know 'cause I also restore Swiss watches. It is the crown jewel of the build. The top end of the motor was pulled apart to check things out and to facilitate the painting and polishing process. Everything checked out perfectly and the engine was reassembled with utmost care. The cases were polished to a brilliant shine. I stopped just short of a chrome like shine, instead opting for a finish that looks more like nickel in person. The carbs were ultrasonically cleaned and rebuilt then fitted with OEM rebuild kits and topped off with Uni Filter pods. No crap chrome junk or velocity stacks. A motor needs to breath, and the air needs to be clean. How many café bikes have you seen with no air cleaners and no fenders? You might as well pour sand into the carbs. Not for me. The bike is fitted with a stock exhaust system. There is some bluing and corrosion on the headers but I just don't like to hide this under exhaust wrap. The mufflers themselves have been finished just like the fenders. There are a few dings and dents present. The bike runs so well with this exhaust system that it is scary, right up to redline, and it's nice and quiet. The most noticeable noise besides the sound of the wind rushing by is the roar from the intake thanks to the Uni Filter pods.
So there you have it. A beautiful and functional restomod 1971 Honda CB350 built by a real craftsman who prides himself on attention to detail. Any questions??
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a 1971 Honda CB350 motorcycle that is over
40 years old.