Honda CL350

Honda CL350 cafe racer
Back in October 2009 , I was deliberating on whether or not to post an orphaned CL350 café racer: orphaned because it was proving impossible to locate the owner or the history of the bike. In the end I took a punt on it, and it turned out that the owner was a follower of Bike EXIF, so the full story emerged. That owner was graphic designer Jonathan Wood, and he’s just sent in details of his latest bike. “After completing my CL350 cafe racer build I didn’t really think I’d do another 350. But a friend of the family had this little gem of a 1972 CL350 with only 2800 miles on it, and the deal was too good to pass up. So I decided to do this one in a completely different style. I drew my inspiration from vintage dirt-track racers, and also from the Japanese Brat Style of building.”

It’s a testament to the classic lines of the CL that this bike hasn’t been heavily modified. The fork has been lowered 1.5″ by cutting and re-threading the damper rods, cutting the springs, and putting in some thicker oil. Jonathan fitted a modified Jeep rock guard inside the stock headlight ring , plus new handlebars, grips and custom length cables. The stock 19″ front and 18″ rear wheels are now shod with Firestone Deluxe tires—the classic Brat Style rubber. New 11″ shorty shocks lower the back-end a couple of inches, the front fender was removed and the rear fender was bobbed. The bike also got new mini billet turn signals at all four corners. The pipes are stock but with 10″ slash-cut tips bolted on instead of the stock ‘suitcase’ muffler. “I then took the whole thing to Downey’s Auto Upholstery here in Wichita, Kansas,” says Jonathan. “I’m convinced that doing a seat using the stock pan is the best route on these vintage bikes, since the frame doesn’t have to be modified in any way.” The unique paintjob was done by Josh Christy of Van Chase Studios. “I told him I wanted a paint scheme that looked as if it had been on a dirt track bike in the 70s, ridden hard, and then pulled off and forgot about … but shiny. I think he nailed the look.” The excellent photography is by Justin Ochs—head over to Jonathan’s Flickr page to see more of Justin’s CL350 shots.

Honda CL350 cafe racer
Honda CL350 cafe racer
Honda CL350 cafe racer
Honda CL350 cafe racer

  • Emmet

    Excellent build, I’ve been following the bike thread on Do The Ton, and I didn’t know you built that other Honda as well! As some would say, you’ve got skillz.

  • mack-o-matik

    this is a real jewel, excellent work – not overdone, perfectly lowered, the proportions fit on any part and detail – awesome! I wonder how these firestones feel with the hardened fork and lowered back though, I’m not quite sure if I should mount these on my xs650 se… you really got skillz dude…

  • thom

    Wow, leave it to a graphic designer to want intentionally, professionally worn paint under clearcoat. Perfect on so many levels…..

  • mudplug

    Amongst the other details, I really like the diagonal line that starts just below the swing arm pivot, follows the frame rail towards the rear shock top mounts and then keeps going round the leading edge of the seat hump.
    (It’s far more graceful in the first photo than my words have conveyed!)

    Very cohesive, a thorough job and a complete bike.
    Impressive.

  • http://www.dimecitycycles.com The Wing’d Piston

    All to often, I think (us included at Dime City) we get so caught up in hand fabricating little tiny bits and pieces, building custom seats and coming up with neat ways to vent brakes and engine cases…that we forget.

    About how provocatively stunning a semi-stock bike can be, that is. Not that this bike isn’t custom Jon, it’s just that’s it’s probably (if you ask me) the best looking semi-stock/semi-custom 350 I’ve ever seen.

    When I look at this 350 I see clean lines and attention to “period” details. It’s so subtle and crisp from almost any angle… Once more, it’s proof that you do not need to spend 150 hours on a custom fuel tank to produce something that will stop traffic..

    Well done Jon, well done! It’s not often that a bike stops me in my tracks. Thanks for reminding what it’s all about. And thanks to you Chris for running the post. The third one down is my new desktop. :)

    Jason Paul Michaels – Dime City Cycles

  • http://www.bradtouchmouse.com Bradley Hughes

    Love this bike. Upon close look Jonathan I noticed that I purchased the same turn signals for my 70 CB450 K3. I have the front flashers installed, but ran into some trouble with the rear. Did you have to bore new holes for yours? Or do you have a trick I can borrow for installing those bad boys?

    Great bike, and images!

  • http://jonathanwooddesign.com Jonathan Wood

    Wow! Thanks for the comments guys. I just build them cause I enjoy doing it. I hope to do more builds in the future.

    I will try to answer a couple of the questions posed above:

    Mack-o-matik,
    The firestones ride nice. They are a bit squirmy in the corners, but overall very acceptable. I am going to probably add some sort of fork brace to the front end soon to see if that helps. Remember that this bike is just a cruise around town, coffee getter kind of bike and I wasn’t really worried that much with the performance aspects of the build. I don’t think for my only bike that I would run the firestones… I love the Avon AM26′s on my cafe… they are great tires.

    Thom,
    That paint is actually single-stage… no clear coat on this baby. Thanks for the props though… as a designer it is hard to give up the control on something like that, but it’s easier when you trust those doing the work. I love it.

    Mudplug,
    You have a sharp eye my friend. That was how I determined the front angle of the bumpstop, continuing that line you described. The slope of the top of the bumpstop was determined by the angle of the tank.

    Jason,
    Thanks for your kind words. You guys have a bang-up operation going down there at DCC and you are definitely my go to source for parts now. Keep doing what you’re doing. A lot of people, including me, really appreciate all your hard work sourcing the best stuff for us to buy.

    Bradley,
    I pulled the inner workings out of the rear signals and then pulled the alloy mounting shaft out. It’s only held in by the one big phillips-head screw/pinch which you have to REMOVE COMPLETELY cause it is in a groove on the shaft. Once you get it loose it can take a bit of coaxing, but the mounting bolt will come out. After that I just used the stock rear blinker mounts that came with the bike… they used the same size shaft and were already knurled etc… works perfect. I’m not sure if your 450 is the same, but look for the mounts still attached to your stock rear blinkers. Once you have them mounted up, just feed the wires back through and re-secure in the signal housing. Done. Hope this helps.

    - Woody

  • http://static-panic.tumblr.com/ Shawn F.

    Does anyone know where those handlebars are from? Ive been looking for a set like them for a while now!

  • Jonathan Wood

    Those bars are made by Bikemaster. They are the “Euro touring bars” and they are available through dimecitycycles.com. They might not have chrome right now, but here’s a link to the black ones. Email them if you’re wanting chrome. Hope that helps.

    JW

    http://www.dimecitycycles.com/vintage-cafe-racer-caferacer-bobber-brat-chopper-streetfighter-motorcycle-parts-black-euro-bars-23-12573.html

  • http://photosbyzak.com/index2.php Zak Shelhamer

    Hey Jonathan,

    Thanks so much posting that link to those bars! They look insane. I’m in middle of doing some work to a 75′ cl360 and I think I am going to order those same bars… Were they hard to install? My friend was telling me that honda routes their electrical cables inside the bars so new bars are going to be a pain? Doesn’t look to hard. Also where did you get that seat? But great job on your bike and processing of the photos! I’m going to save you photos for inspiration!

    Thanks!

  • Patrick

    Realy good job, simple but efficient, I love it!
    Could you please tell me where did you find your rear shock in 11′ and your seat?
    Best,
    Patrick

  • Lauren

    Pretty work! I’d also love to know where you found your 11″ rear shocks. Having so much trouble finding them!

  • http://www.twowheelsmovesthesoul.com Paul Henry Harrington

    Hey Patrick/Lauren,

    Those (along with a host of other goodies) can be had at Dime City Cycles.

    Link below – http://tinyurl.com/39nxnaq (URL shortened)

    They also have a myriad of cafe racer seats and just about everything else under the sun….

    -PHH

  • Jonathan Wood

    Patrick and Lauren,

    I got the 11″ shocks from Dime City Cycles. Their website is dimecitycycles.com. Here is a link to the shocks.

    http://www.dimecitycycles.com/vintage-cafe-racer-bobber-brat-chopper-custom-motorcycle-suspension-eye-to-clevis-279mm-11-inch-chrome-shock-absorbers-damper-32-1152.html

  • Lauren

    Can’t believe I hadn’t found dimecity before now! My day has officially been made. Cheers

  • Patrick

    Many thanks Paul Henry,
    I just bought a CB350 K4 disassembled for restoration (France), I’m looking for some ideas, and your bike will help me a lot to find a style.
    I hope Dime City Cycles can ship to France, they are a lot of good stuff.
    Best
    Patrick

  • http://twowheelsmovesthesoul.com Paul Henry Harrington

    They sure do Patrick…

  • Gizmo

    Sorry to jump in so late but just started researching to get some ideas on how to modify my ’71 CL350. Search over. Love what you’ve done. And thanks for the link for DCC. I’m sure I’ll be spending plenty of time on their site!

  • Rod

    Hi Jon, Sweet ride. I have a 1971 CL350 that I was going to sell, but after seeing your ride, I think I’m going to try a semi-cafe build. Love the slash cut exhaust. Did you get it at DimeCityCycles as well, or someplace else. I really sells the bike!