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 Coker’s 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.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II | 1/250 sec | f/2.8 | Focal length 90mm | EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM