First, let me say that I am almost there… Then, let me add that it is one thing after another! The bike is almost ready to hit the road. Until yesterday I had power to all systems and it was turning over and idling nicely. I had gas overflow running out of one of my carbs so I started the day by adjusting the float to limit the gas inflow. It all went downhill from there. Prior to messing with the float the bike would idle nicely and would rev, but not beyond about 2800 rpm. I thought this was a timing issue but wanted to stop the gas overflow prior to adjusting the timing. Once I adjusted the float I stopped the overflow, but then the bike was not getting enough gas to rev at all. Instead it would die every time I gave it gas. I checked the float bowl on the suspect carb and it was not getting gas at all so i readjusted the float and tried again. Same situation. I put it down and tackled the turn signal wiring to clear my head. I had power to all turn signals but they would not blink. They are on steady. I switched wiring around and around with no success. The headlight works perfectly bur no signal blink. The other problem is that the tail light is on but the brake light will not register. If I turn the key to position 2 then the brake light is on all the time. Something in the wiring is not right. Frustrated I turned back to the carb problem, I was just beginning to mess with the air gas mixture when all power to the bike was lost! The battery has juice but I get nothing anywhere. I checked the starter solenoid with my continuity tester and it is completely dead. I now have to swap out the solenoid from the parts bike to see if this is the culprit. Meanwhile here is what the bike looks like before I start beating on it with a hammer…
Tag Archives: 1971 Honda CB350
I recently picked up a 1972 Honda CL350 off Craigslist to use as a parts bike for my cafe racer rebuild. I had been ordering replacement parts piecemeal off of the interweb and I was averaging $50 a part. For $150 in a snowstorm I was able to pick up the CL350 and everything is there and in decent shape. It is almost a shame to dismantle the old girl but I really need the parts. Here she is yesterday in all her dusty glory before the part-robbing begins.
Made some serious visual progress today. Repacked the front brakes, polished up the front and back rims, and reassembled a rolling chassy. So far the only major changes I have made are ditching the stock fork covers for replacement rubber fork boots, and changing out the handlebars for cafe bars. Now the small details begin,including the dreaded electrical.
I came across this 1971 Honda CB500 Cafe Racer today while looking for inspiration on the web. I am not sure who built this bike but it is sweet. Great example for my CB350 build.
Just got word from the guys over at Steel Bent Customs that this was their build. They have tons of great builds over on their site so check ’em out at Steelbentcustoms.com
Sometimes the universe is a strange web of coincidences. After watching Fincher’s reworking of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I left the theater asking myself, “What was that stripped-down bike she was riding?” I forgot to look it up afterwards as I got caught up in conversation and then life. At the time I saw the movie I was all jazzed up about finding an old BSA or Norton to turn into my Cafe Racer Project. Over the course of a few weeks and many conversations with people that know a whole lot more about bikes than I do, I was convinced that while BSA and Norton made great looking bikes, unless you know how to routinely work on them you will find them to be nothing but problems, and the push was made for me to start with a Japanese bike, like Honda. I ended up with my 1971 Honda CB350 and got to work stripping it for the rebuild, which you can see in earlier posts in this blog. While searching for inspiration for the final build I kept searching for 1971 CB350’s. I found some great examples, which I have also been posting. Yesterday I searched on the simple phrase CB350 Cafe Racer and “Boom!”, out jumped the bikes built for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which it turns out are 3 late 1960’s Honda CL350 Scramblers built by a shop in LA called Glory Motor Works.
There are so many similar elements on this build to what I had in mind that I can’t get over the coincidence.
Time to get back to my build…
I found two bikes that resemble what I would like my final bike to look like. Most of the cafe racer projects leave the bike totally stripped down with either small modified fenders or no fenders at all. Also, since I will be riding with the Missus on the back of the bike I cannot go with the small cafe racer seat. I need to maintain a passenger friendly cafe look. These two bikes are pretty close in many regards:
This is a 1973 CL350 that was restored by Jonathan Wood. You can see more pictures of the details on his Flickr post.
This bike is great inspiration. I like the lower profile headlight and the fact that he kept the rear fender configuration with modified LED lights. I would have kept the original front fender and added rubber shock boots, but that’s just my style. He did a great job on this bike all around.
This next bike is a CB350
On this bike I like the fact that they kept the original front fender and I am a big fan of the rubber shock boots. The handlebars and gauges sit a little higher than I like and the seat back is too tall, not to mention that the seat is meant for one person.
These two are the best conversions I have found so far, based on my likes and dislikes. Great job guys! Thanks for the inspiration.
Let the breakdown begin! I spent a few hours this weekend dismantling the bike to see how deeply the rust had penetrated various parts. The original goal was to simply get the bike running in its current state and work slowly over time to fix it up while I worked out the engine by riding it. Well, my OCD kicked in and I couldn’t stand to see the rusty parts, so I decided that I would get it stripped down to the frame so I could get the frame powdercoated while I dealt with the surface rust inside the gas tank. Once the seat and tank were off I kept on going. I made sure to take many photos of each part before removing it so that when I put it back together I have something to refer to. I also ordered the Clymer Honda repair manual. It should be here in a couple of days.
After breaking down the bike I sent a couple of hours on the internet sourcing some of the parts I thought I might replace, but after looking at part sites and eBay I think some of the parts I thought were poor are actually not so bad, based on the junk people are trying to sell on eBay. It seems surface rust and dents are par for the course on CB350 parts this age and I will be better off sanding, sand-blasting, re-chroming and powdercoating some of the pieces with minor wear that I thought were throw-aways.
This is the bike after a few hours of breakdown:
And after an hour or so more, it was even lighter:
Now I can get the carbs off and rebuilt…
This past weekend The Missus and I drove over the mountains on a journey to pick up the 1971 Honda CB350 my good friend Loren had forwarded to me from Craigslist for my Cafe Racer Project. The day was a total success! Flea market in the morning and motorcycle purchase in the afternoon, all with the blessings of The Missus, who has warmed to the idea of riding on the back of a vintage motor bike, dressed in all the vintage regalia (of course).
The ad had stated the the bike would need a little work to get it running, but was in good shape otherwise. No other details were available. I had corresponded for a week via email arranging for the seller to hold the bike until I could pick it up and no details about the bike were discussed so I thought it would be good to go, even though the ad stated that the bike had no title. I figured that this was the reason that the bike was listed for a couple of weeks and was still available. When we arrived in the afternoon and I climbed out to look at the bike I had a bit of a sinking feeling, spying rust from across the driveway. The photo in the ad had been shot in such a way that it was not evident that there was any rust on the bike, only a little faded paint on the tank. I dove in and climbed under the bike for a closer inspection. After examining the details it looked as though most of the rust was surface rust and pitting on the chromed elements of the bike. The seller had oiled the carbs and freed up the wheel bearings so the motor turned over and the bike rolled. The only thing missing on the bike were the brake pads. Everything else was there and was original. I hemmed and hawed over the price for a bit and we came to an agreement that was pretty close to his asking price. He was stubborn, knowing that these bikes were gaining popularity and that there would be someone right behind me at this price that would take it off his hands. We shook, loaded the bike:
and The Missus and I headed back over the mountains with our new purchase staring at me in the rearview mirror.
The first step is to get the bike titled. I have all of the paperwork filled out and ready to go, so tomorrow is the DMV journey. Today I dragged the bike out for a complete photo documentation so I have reference where the bike was when I started. This is what the bike looks like today:
1971 Honda CB350 – Original Condition
Stay tuned for more episodes…