A bit of history and some stories about vintage bikes for sale

Posts tagged “honda CB350

Fleet of Honda 350’s

Picture 19I can’t help myself. There must be some sort of genetic defect in my DNA that makes me love Honda 350’s. But, I can take solace in knowing that I am not the only one. The Honda 350 is the best selling motorcycle of all time. I think? I hope? I really don’t want to be the only one with this incurable disease.

I have 4 1/2 Honda 350’s in my barn. Two run, one doesn’t (its the parts mule), and the other one and a half is in a bunch of boxes and parts hanging from the ceiling to be put back together sometime soon?

On ebay this morning I found a small group of 350’s that all need some love but could turn into a couple, a couple, of very cool bikes.Picture 17

First, the bike above is not in the collection, it’s just what you could maybe build out of what’s there…

There is a CL77 (305 Scrambler) in the batch which is really quite nice. Most of these bikes are destined to become parts bikes however, but that’s OK, those of us into this sort of thing need a good stock of parts bikes…and an understanding wife or a very separate (as in another town) industrial / storage space.

The Honda 350 is one of those things in life that does ‘everything good and nothing great’. It gets you around town, it can handle freeway speeds (kind of…??) its headlight is as good as a Boy Scout flashlight in a dust storm, The alternator is as weak as can be so you need to always ride the bike at at least 3,000 RPM just to keep the battery up to snuff (if you’re really serious about these bikes you upgrade the alternator). When it’s hard to start chances are it is the battery, buy a ‘Battery Tender’ and keep it hooked up.

Despite its little flaws, the Honda 350 is still the perfect motorcycle. It is the Labrador Retriever of the motorcycle world, always there when you need it, willing to do whatever you ask of it.

Picture 22Click on the pics below for more info and pictures. There are a couple of real gems in this bunch.

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Picture 12Honda 350 fleet

1977 Kawasaki KZ400A-Deluxe

Picture 16In 1978 Cycle Guide magazine editor Paul Dean was asked, what is the most boring motorcycle out there? Without one bit of hesitation “The Kawasaki KZ400.” This was for an article to be written by Rich Taylor on how to take an ‘Everybike’ and make it more. Well, there was no more an ‘Everybike’ than the little Kawasaki.

A quick bit of history here, Kawasaki made their reputation on building the fastest two stroke motorcycles you could buy, I should know, I had their fastest, the “Evil, Wicked, Mean and Nasty” H2 750. Then Kawasaki went into the four stroke business with the mighty Z1 900. The Z1 was a huge success so Kawasaki jumped headlong into building four stokes. One of the first was the KZ400 twin. Now, Kawasaki was smart, they had the Hi-Performance market, what they didn’t have was the commuter market, Honda owned that one with the CB350. The day to day rider needed an economical, reliable, easy to ride, easy to maintain good piece of basic transportation.Picture 18

The KZ400 was marketed by Kawasaki as a good, fuel efficient means of transportation. They were right. As a matter of fact, during it’s run, the KZ 400 outsold the Honda 350/360/400! Why? Well, it’s smooth running engine accounted for a lot of that, it was reliable, could do 75 mph all day long with no strain, got up to nearly 70 mpg. It had a modest price and modest performance (a whopping 36 HP…) and could actually do ‘The Ton’ (100 mph..my stock CB350 tops out at maybe (?) 90). What more could you ask for in a commuter bike. The other thing that made the little Kawacker so good was that for learners it was a great value. Most could buy one, ride it for a few months, get the itch for something bigger and faster and then sell it for almost what they paid for it! In 2003 the British magazine Classic Motorcycle Mechanic rated the KZ400 in the ‘TOP 40″ motorcycles of the 1970’s!!!

Kawasaki built the KZ’s from 1974 to 1984 with only a few changes. The first couple years there were oil leaks, carburetion issues, little hiccups here and there. In 1977 the little KZ got the needed redesign and a few upgrades. One of the best upgrades was the KZ400A Deluxe model. For just a few dollars more you got a fairing to keep the wind off of you, you got a nifty set of saddlebags and a nice rear rack. Absolutely perfect for the commuter…who, the bike was designed for.

I found on ebay this morning a really, I mean really nice, KZ400 Deluxe that is really ready to ride. It has been gone through top to bottom and front to back, 11K miles on the clock is nothing for this little bike. Honestly, this is a great bike for a commuter in an urban area and truthfully, it is a PERFECT solo tourer.

Picture 19Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. This a really neat bike.

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Picture 241977 Kawasaki KZ400A-Deluxe

1971 Honda SL350

Picture 6The Honda SL350, an amazing motorcycle.

When I had reached the point of wanting to shoot my race bikes, a Bultaco Pursang and a Matador, right through the cylinder head I bought a Honda. A 1971 Honda SL350. Actually, I bought the Honda as a street bike that I could ride to and from school and work every day and know that I would get there, and home each day.

When the Pursang stranded me in the desert for the last time I decided the SL was my new racer of choice. I stripped it down to fighting weight and headed for the desert. The SL worked just great and never gave me a bit of trouble. It wasn’t the fastest or the best handling but it was good enough and I was happy as could be.Picture 7
I found a really nice SL on ebay this morning at a good price. It appears to be completely stock, which is a good thing, low miles and cosmetically beautiful. Hey, if you ca find an Sl model with a good set of stock mufflers BUY IT!!!.

It’s no secret that I love the Honda 350’s and so does most of the world ( it is the best selling motorcycle of all time) and the SL is my favorite. The double downtube frame, kickstart only, slide carbs instead of CV’s..it is a truly amazing motorcycle that can become almost anything. My newest SL is going to become a Cafe Racer. However, if you would like a really wonderful do anything motorbike this particular SL is a good deal. Click on the pics below for more more info and more pictures.

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Picture 51971 Honda Sl 350

1971 Honda SL350 custom

Picture 4Stop me if you have heard this one…I love Honda 350’s… I have four of them. A 1971 CL350,a 1970 CB350 (the one I bought for my dad to get him back into motorcycle riding after about 30 years), and two 1971 SL350’s (one of which is in the process of becoming a cafe racer project).
The Honda 350 is arguably the best selling motorcycle in the world and for good reason…it does everything really well. Reliable, easy to maintain, you can’t kill ’em and they are fun to ride. Also, they make a great platform for all kinds customization.

I started my racing career aboard (and a few times under) a Bultaco Matador, when the Bultaco became terminally ill I transformed my daily commuter SL350 into my new racebike. Strip everything off the bike, add a skid plate, knobbys, shorter lighter mufflers and go racing. It wasn’t as light as my ‘beloved'(?) Bultaco and it wasn’t as heavy as the Triumph ‘desert sled’ I had also raced so I guess it was the perfect ‘Goldilocks’ racebike.

The Sl Motosport models developed quite a following right from the start, I mean even ‘The Duke’ rode one!John Wayne SL350

I found a really well done customized (not brutalized like I did to mine) SL350 on ebay recently. The owner/seller has gone through the bike nut by nut and bolt by bolt but what I really like is the ‘scrambler’ style exhaust, really nice. The bike is pricey, thats probably why it has been listed a number of times. Is it worth what the seller is asking? In his mind, yes. To a buyer, maybe.

What I’m really hoping for is that this SL will come out as nice as the one on ebay now.CIMG3712
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.

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Picture 51971 Honda SL 350 Custom

1970 Yamaha YDS6B

Hey, you need this bike. Well, you need it if you’re the type that likes vintage two-strokes that have a racing pedigree. I have spent a good amount of time with Yamaha RD series motorcycles and have wrung the daylights out of a CB350 trying to keep up with an R5 Yamaha. The Yamaha street going two strokes of that era were truly race bred.

These little sleds were fast for their size, out handled anything else from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ and could give bikes twice their size fits on a tight twisty road. Early styling was a bit iffy but by time YDS6 model showed up, you wouldn’t be embarrassed to ride one to school or to your local Sunday hangout.

And now for a quick little ‘Motoworld’ history lesson…what would one these posts be without that?! “Sherman, set the ‘Wayback Machine’ for Japan 1957”. “Ok Mr. Peabody, but what’s back there?” “The early stages of a great motorcycle racing dynasty Sherman”. “Does that mean I’ll get to ride a motorcycle Mr. Peabody?” “No Sherman, you have a tough enough time on the 10cent pony ride outside the supermarket”

The YDS was actually based on the YD racers of the late 1950’s, over the years came the TD series and eventually the all-conquering TZ’s. Through the 1960’s Yamaha basically sold over the counter racers, you could go to your dealer and if you had the money (you didn’t really need a good resume’ back then, just the $$$ and a good relationship with the owner). Buy the bike, stock it had around 28hp and was good for about 85mph (remember we are talking about a 250 here), then you bought the race kit which brought up the HP but there was still one small problem…these bikes were not what you would call reliable. There is lot’s of info available on the net if you want to know more of the details but basically is was lower end bearing failures and seizures. Yamaha did a good job of addressing the problems and like I said came out with the TZ’s which are still to this day fantastic motorcycles.

In the hands of Jarno Sarrinen, Kel Carruthers, ‘King’ Kenny Roberts, and many more, the Yamaha little two strokes were, and in vintage racing today, awesome motorcycles.

Now onto this really neat little bike I found on ebay this weekend. It’s a YDS6B 250 in really good condition (yes, it does need a little love…mostly just some elbow grease) and the bonus here…it’s comes with a pee-load of parts!!! The owner has a great deal of info regarding the work that has been done and a lot of pictures showing what comes with the bike. This IS a great bike for a conversion to a proper Cafe’Racer. Really all you would need would be a set of ‘clubmans’, maybe move the foot pegs back, upgrade the suspension at each end, some nice sticky rubber and you will have a great vintage ride.

Click on the pics below for a lot more info and good pictures. Hurry up, this bike is a great deal.

1970 Yamaha YDS6B

1983 Honda GL650 Silver Wing

I have written before regarding the GL Silver Wings, I love these bikes. I bought my dad a GL500 Silver Wing Interstate when he wanted to start traveling with me and his old CB350 just wasn’t going to cut it. He had a great couple of years and quite a few miles on that bike and loved it…until, some riding friends convinced him he needed a Gold Wing. I went along with his new passion for touring and bought him a Gold Wing…side note here, he crashed his, as he called it, ‘real Wing’ the first day he rode it home…cost me almost as much to fix it as it was to buy it??!! But he was Ok.

Honda was on the right track with this bike, a mid size all around motorcycle with a distinctive look, sound, and feel but the motorcycle buying public just wasn’t going for it, The first iteration was just plain ugly, I believe it was called the plastic pig. Next they made a touring version, the Interstate, better, but still… OK, let’s make a turbo sport bike out of it, better again (the CX500 and 650 Turbo models are highly coveted these days). How about a flat track racer? A good bike in the hands of Bubba Shobert, but still….a flop on the sales floor.

OK…it was a bit heavy for its size (549lbs!!!) but with a couple of modifications to the suspension, it wore its weight well. Sixty five horsepower out of a 650 twin doesn’t hurt either.

Honda pumped up the CX500 to a 650, the GL models got good improvements as well. Honda upgraded just about everything on the bike and really made a wonderful motorcycle. Still, everyone looked at it as a ‘Gold Wing for beginners’, my dad is the perfect example of ‘if its good, bigger must be better’.

I have seen CX Honda’s made into wonderful cafe racers and customs, but still, for a solo tourer, the Silver Wing ‘Interstate’ package is a bike that shouldn’t be overlooked. Reliable as the riding day is long, comfortable for all and plenty of power to cross the Rockies or drone through the plains of Middle America.

Today I found a really nice GL650 on ebay in great condition with low miles and a few extras. It’s an ’83 with a variety of windshield sizes (personally, I would never ride with the big one in the pictures…) and the extra seat for a passenger. Really, this is a wonderful motorcycle for someone who travels solo and wants a reliable and unique ride. It will need new tires and probably a good go through by a mechanic, but after that, it’s time to put in your request for a vacation to the boss (wife) and go for a ride.

Click on the pic’s below for more info and more pictures. The Honda CX/GL series V-Twins are really worth the time and money because they work so well and are quite special.

1983 Honda GL650 Silver Wing

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.

1971 Honda Sl350

’72 Honda CB350 Four

This is a bike that everybody should own. TheCB350 Four is a true jewel. This little four cylinder motorcycle purrs like a kitten and then just takes off, it is really one of the most fun motorcycles to ride ever built. It has absolutely no personality. I mean that last comment in a good (?) way…really. I call them sewing machines on two wheels, it’s that smooth. Ironically, the CB350 Twin was actually faster than the Four. The benefit the Four had over the Twin was the smoothness and that it would cruise all day long at 75-80 miles per hour and not even be breathing hard by time you stopped for dinner. The CB350-4 is a perfect little solo tourer and commuter.

The 350-4 was born out of racing. Two of the greatest roadracers, Jim Redmond and Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood, won just about everything on Honda’s 350 Fours.In 1965 Jim Redmond was truly dominant on the little 350, winning every race he entered. At that time Soichiro Honda himself believed the 350 four cylinder motorcycle was the perfect combination, light weight, high revving with good power and torque. What more could you ask for?

The little 350 Four was only on the market for two years mainly because it wasn’t a strong seller, pretty much every other 350 out there, including Honda’s 350 twin was faster and in the early 70’s motorcycle sales were based speed, I bought my H2 for that very reason. Another reason for the short life span was that it was just about as expensive to build as the CB750. So in the end, for Honda, the value just wasn’t there.

The CB350-4 was replaced by the CB400F and over the years has risen to cult status while the 350-4 remains the ‘red-headed stepchild’. My personal opinion is that the CB350 Four was also a styling dud, especially when compared to it’s replacement. Still, the 350 has a solid fan base for those that like smaller motorcycles that are fun to ride, economical and trouble free. With a little bit of work you can make these little four bangers go a bit faster and handle really well, a lot of 750 riders are surprised to look in the rearview mirror and see a ‘little’ 350 anxious to pass them on a tight twisty road.

All of this brings me to this neat little great condition CB350 Four I found on e-bay today. It is stock other than the points ignition being replaced by an electronic unit which is always a good thing, the chrome is in great shape and the bike has very low miles. It’s a nice bike and a lot of fun to ride. It’s no speedster but you will have a smile on your face every time you ride it. You can’t go wrong with a low miles Honda four. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.

’72 Honda CB350 Four

’72 Kawasaki S2 350

Ok, here we go again. Little hot rod bikes. To me, a 350cc motorcycle is the absolute perfect size. Plenty fast enough to keep up with freeway traffic, light enough to be a good handler, sips gas…and with gas prices heading into the $4-5.00 range, what wouldn’t you like about a 350cc motorbike?

The Mach 2 triple replaced Kawasaki’s A7 Avenger twin as the ever increasing war among performance bikes kept building. Here’s the deal, this bike had to go up against Yamaha’s RD350…did it succeed in that quest? No. Is it a great bike? Yes. Sadly the S2 350 was probably the most ignored of the Kawasaki Triples of the time. The 500cc H1 would give you the biggest giggle factor per CC of any bike around (provided you were going in a straight line…corners were not the 500’s forte’. The H2 750 would leave any other motorcycle (and most cars) in a cloud of blue smoke, and the little 250 Triple was a just a blast to ride. So why didn’t the 350 work in the sales department? Because it wasn’t the RD350. Simple.

After a couple of years Kawasaki replaced the S2 350 with the nice but boring KH400. The 400 was smoother riding but, like all the Kawasaki Triples, was being tuned down to just OK. Not the exciting ‘scare the SH*t out of you’ of the first generation triples. The original 350’s were and are, fun to ride, you could wheelie these bikes at will in the first three gears.

So, I found this really good condition Kawasaki 350 on ebay this morning that would be a lot of fun to own and ride. It’s got 23,000 miles on the clock, no biggie…I had over 75,000 on my H2 (yes, I did do the top end a couple of times, but with a 2 stroke motor, pretty easy stuff). The owner threw on some new tires, a new battery, steering head bearings, fork seals, shocks, and other bits and pieces that make this a buy and ride motorcycle. It has been repainted but the color and stripes are right. It does have the signs of a bike that is forty years old, but all in all, really good condition.

There is one thing I would do…replace that not so good front drum brake with the disc brake set up off the ’73 model. Probably easy to find at your local salvage yard or on ebay. Actually, there are a least a dozen forums dedicated to the Kawasaki triples where you could find the conversion parts. Oh, one more thing, Kawasaki triples have a tendancey to surge at freeway cruising speeds (steady throttle), all you have to do to cure this issue is drag out your Dremel tool and raise the exhaust port about 1/2 millimeter, it’s amazing what that little change does. And…if you want a little more ooomph out of the 350cc motor, pull the baffles out of the mufflers, cut about 3″ off the internals, re-wrap them (you do still want to keep the bike quiet) and you’d be amazed at how the bike feels.

This is a good bike that can be good commuter, but…me…I’d give it a mild cafe treatment and ride it everyday. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. It’s good bike and well worth adding to your collection.

’72 Kawasaki S2 350

’71 Yamaha CS3 200

Do you like purple? Do like small displacement 2 strokes? Do you love having fun on really tight twisty canyon roads? Do you love easily motoring by big bikes through a tight corner and giving them a little ‘see ya later’ wave as you pass them? If you answered yes to at least three out of four questions, I have found the bike for you.

I found a cool little 1971 Yamaha CS3 200 on ebay this morning that would be a blast to ride. These little bikes were overshadowed by the RD series that came out but the CS3 200 was still a super fun ride. I spent a lot of my motorcycling life on Honda CB,Cl and SL 350’s. These bikes all put out around 22 hp and would top out at around 80-90 mph. Guess what…so did this little Yamaha!? The little Yammie was lighter and quicker and maintenence was minimal. What more could you ask for.

This little bike is a perfect candidate for the cafe treatment don’t you think? A set of lower handlebars, a tire upgrade, some fresh oil and maybe new springs in the front end and, if the budget will allow, get rid of the spongy items they passed for shock absorbers at the time. Now, regarding this particular bike, I have a couple of questions. Number one, why was the motor rebuilt at only 2070 miles? had it been abused or just because it had sat around for decades? Number two, pretty steep opening price. Reality check here, this bike is worth maybe a grand but not a starting price of $1450. Not to disrepect the bike or the owner but just to put a dose of reality in here. I think this a very cool little bike that would be a lot of fun to ride everyday. Click on the pics below for more pictures and a bit more info.

’71 Yamaha CS3 200