’73 Honda SL350
I just came back from the annual L.A Barstow to Vegas Dual Sport ride and the memories of my desert racing and enduro riding days came flooding back. My job this weekend was being the support crew for the weekend for the guys from Thousand Oaks Powersports in Thousand Oaks California (www.thousandoakspowersports.com) and Tri County Powersports (aka Simi Valley Harley Davidson) in Simi Valley California (www.tri-countypowersports.com). I was completely happy to chase them all over the Mojave Desert gassing up bikes, lubing chains, cleaning air filters and cleaning out clogged up pilot jets…but, I wanted to be riding.
In 1969 I rode my first B to V, by the time I got to Vegas I thought I was going to die…my Bultaco wished I would I think. I rode the race for a couple of years but I was also heavily into Enduro’s. My Bultaco Matador was starting to get a bit tired and I was also in the middle of a one-upmanship contest with my friend Eddie so I ended up with a Honda SL350 in my garage. I rode it to and from school, all around the hills of where I lived and, all in all, I loved the bike. I did ride a BSA 650 as well, but for day-to-day ease, the SL was perfect.
When my Matador finally gave up the ghost, the SL was put into Enduro duty. Some slight modifications were in order…a skid plate, better dirt tires, junk the blinkers,headlight,tail light (unless the Enduro rules call for street legal), switch out the mufflers for a pair of shorty’s (much lighter), and hope for the best. You know what, that Sl350 proved to be a great enduro bike. The motor was strong enough to get me up any hill, through any sand wash and never complained. For a couple of years I put that poor motorcycle through more torture than I think it was designed for.
So, after being at the Dual Sport Tour this weekend I decided I’m going to ride it next year for sure, but instead of riding something new and really easy to ride, I’m going to ride the Vintage class. I have an SL350 in running condition…well, if I put it all back together (it’s in the beginning stages of a Cafe Racer conversion) and after seeing older Triumphs and a BSA or two riding the trails I figured the old 350 would be a perfect ride.
. There are a couple of things that make the SL so much better than a CB or CL. The frame is a double down tube cradle frame instead of the single downtube of the CB’s and CL’s which is stiffer and gives better handling without a bunch of modifications, the motor is tuned and carburetted a bit differently for more low and midrange power (it wheelies really easy!) and it is kick start only (except for the K0 model) which makes it lighter. The SL’s are great bikes.
I found a pretty nice SL350 on ebay this morning that would be a great bike for so many types of riding. Overall it’s in ‘good’ condition, doesn’t have all that many miles, the owner says it runs good and does all it’s supposed to do. The electrics are all functional, everything is straight, tires are good…I’d get rid of the tires and put on the proper Trials tires. It doesn’t have the SL350 mufflers, which…if you can find a pair will cost as much as the bike itself…there are a few good aftermarket mufflers that compliment the bike nicely and there is a guy in Australia that makes beautiful replica’s.
Because the Honda 350 has been the best selling motorcycle in history, parts are available and won’t break the bank when time does come for repairs.
So far the bidding price is very reasonable and for anybody looking for a unique bike that can be transformed into whatever you want, this is a great choice. Click on the pics for more pictures and information.