1971 Honda SL 350
The SL350 from Honda was/is a great bike. First off, it’s a Honda 350…you can’t kill ’em. Second, Honda made some really good improvements for the K1 model, get rid of the electric starter (saves weight and the 350 kicks starts so easy anyway), change the carbs and the cam for better torque,and modify the frame and suspension for better off road capability. all that combined lightened the bike by about 60 lbs from the K0 model, but Honda still kept the really nice styling of the original design.
The K1 version was a vast improvement over the K0 model. From Cycle magazine, “much better than last years SL model”
I had a K1 SL350 that I absolutely loved. I’ve told the story before about my friend Eddie Campione and I doing our best to one up each other by buying bigger and bigger bikes over the years, my SL was part of that competition. I took that SL everywhere. It was the perfect bike for me at the time, ride to school, ride to work, ride the hills around my home, even took my girlfriend to the drive-in on it…she carried the lawn chairs and the beer. When my ‘not so trusty’ Bultaco enduro bike decided to go to dirt bike heaven (or hell as the case may be) I converted my SL to a full time off-roader. Here’s what I learned the first race, it wasn’t as agile as my Bultaco and it wasn’t as heavy or powerful as my BSA desert sled…at the end of the day, I thought it was pretty perfect.I rode that SL for a year or so until a crash took me out of desert racing. I sold it to a friend who rode it for a while and then sold it again. I don’t think he thought it was as good as I did?
Fast forward a few decades, I’m out roadracing and decide that I want to start vintage bike racing. My first choice was to race a Honda 350. I started researching what it would take to build a competitive 350. Whew…these guys are serious! There is a lot that can be done to make the basic 22hp CB350 into a great racer but the one thing that caught my eye was that the SL frame was the choice of the fastest. Different than the CB by a long shot, double down tube frame instead single, different geometry, etc. In the end I went with the FT500 Ascot as a racer (it cost a lot less to be competitive…if you consider $2000 to just build the motor cost effective?) but I still kept the SL350 in mind.
Fast forward again, a good friend of mine from the surfing world needed a new surfboard but wasn’t too ‘cash flush’ as they say but, as a vintage motorcycle dealer he was ‘bike flush’. During a casual lunch we started talking motorcycles and the SL350 came up. “I have one, want to trade a new board for it?” Being the owner of a surf shop, this was the best deal I ever made in 2.3 seconds.
Eventually that SL found its way to be a vintage flat track racer, and then into a cafe racer project (where it still is…hey, projects like this take time…uh, and money…).
Today while cruising ebay for cool stuff to spend money on, I found this SL350 K1 in great shape. When I say great shape I don’t mean ‘restored’, I mean great shape for being an old bike. The seat is in great shape, I think it even has the original tires (if they aren’t original they are the right tires for the bike). It does have the bangs, scrapes and dents of an old bike but and that’s fine, but…the good thing about this SL350 is that it has the original mufflers!!!! These things are almost priceless in the SL world. The owner is selling it with no reserve and so far the price is very reasonable. If you’re looking for a very cool bike that can be a great little commuter, a vintage enduro bike, a vintage roadracer or a very cool cafe racer…give this SL a good look. Click on the pic’s below for more info and pictures.