From Texas barn to the Persian Gulf: A CB350 from Dubai

From Texas barn find to the Persian Gulf: Antonie Robertson's Honda CB350 cafe racer
Antonie Robertson is a perpetual tinkerer. In the 20 years I’ve known him, he’s fiddled with everything from Italian scooters to a Honda Africa Twin. But it’s custom motorcycles that have held his attention the past couple of years.

Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Antonie now lives and works as a photographer in Dubai. He’s also part of the custom shop möto Dubai, but his handsome 1972 Honda CB350 twin resto-mod isn’t an official shop build. It’s a personal project that introduced him to möto owner and founder, Marco Möller.

From Texas barn find to the Persian Gulf: Antonie Robertson's Honda CB350 cafe racer
They say that restoring a classic bike is a journey, but few journeys are as long as this one. The story starts a couple of years back, when Antonie stumbled across a bona fide barn find via a friend in the States. “The CB350 was in Texas, with cobwebs and bugs nesting in the carburetors,” he says.

“I had it shipped to Dubai where customs took forever to clear it, because they didn’t believe the value was only $750—what I had paid for it. It was in such a bad condition that when they eventually opened the crate to inspect it, they cleared it the same day without question.”

From Texas barn find to the Persian Gulf: Antonie Robertson's Honda CB350 cafe racer
“The CB350 was completely trashed, with everything rusted, broken or missing. I had to cut the tires off the old rims with a bush knife and pliers—they were fused on.”

Antonie started stripping the Honda down in his basement garage, smack bang in the middle of summer. With temperatures hovering around the 115 mark (46 °C), he eventually hauled the engine up to his air-conditioned fourth floor apartment, and started rebuilding and restoring each component. He treated the CB350 to a pair of oversized Wiseco pistons and a “slightly hot cam,” and the cylinders were filed and planed by hand, before being sent off for boring and honing.

A pair of Mikuni VM34 carbs are now tuned to run through K&N filters. Antonie’s also switched the points ignition system to an electronic setup from Probe Engineering, increasing performance and reliability substantially. He’s also installed a heavier duty clutch, and rebuilt the starter motor. “She fires up with one kick, though” he says, “so it’s always tempting to kick start instead when you are out.”

From Texas barn find to the Persian Gulf: Antonie Robertson's Honda CB350 cafe racer
The CB350 comes stock with drum brakes, but Antonie upgraded the front end with refurbished parts from another barn find—a GB250. The GB’s Tokico caliper was rebuilt with new seals, fittings and paint, and hooked up to a new Goodridge line.

The fork stanchions were re-chromed, and the lowers had their cast marks filed down before being re-painted and rebuilt. Antonie also had the GB triple trees machined down to fit the CB’s neck, and installed tapered bearings.

“I really like the slump curve of the GB250 top triple,” says Antonie, “so I had to go with it once I’d seen it. It gives the front an old school vibe without giving itself away.”

From Texas barn find to the Persian Gulf: Antonie Robertson's Honda CB350 cafe racer
There’s extensive wiring work at play here too, with most of the wires running inside the frame, and the bulk of the components housed under the seat. Antonie’s also installed an upgraded stator, and a healthy dose of Motorgadget-ry—including an m.unit, a digital speedo and push buttons. “I kept the bulb-based lights to keep the look and feel old school,” he says.

The speedo, a couple of buttons and headlight are all embedded in a hand-shaped aluminum fairing. And the left-side pannier has a recessed plug built in for hooking up a battery tender.

From Texas barn find to the Persian Gulf: Antonie Robertson's Honda CB350 cafe racer
All that remains of the Honda’s wheels are its hubs. They were cleaned up with new bearings and seals, before being laced to new rims with oversized stainless steel spokes. The fenders are old mild-steel items that Antonie re-formed on an English wheel—part of the process of teaching himself metal shaping.

He also de-tabbed the frame and added a new rear loop, opting for a slightly squared effect. He then hand-sanded it all down for final paint, without using an ounce of filler.

From Texas barn find to the Persian Gulf: Antonie Robertson's Honda CB350 cafe racer
As for the side pouches, Antonie stitched those by hand using camel leather, shaping them to fit the frame perfectly. The seat’s his work too, sewn with a Juki Walking Foot leather sewing machine that he picked up. The Honda’s original toolbox is still attached—but now contains a leather tool roll, packed with the basics.

Final tweaks included adjusting the ergonomics with low-slung bars, and rear-sets mounted to the passenger peg brackets. Antonie fabbed up his own shift and brake linkages, and relocated the side stand.

From Texas barn find to the Persian Gulf: Antonie Robertson's Honda CB350 cafe racer
In keeping with the resto-mod vibe, he took the original tank, cleaned it up, and had it repainted in a classic Honda scheme. It’s running a brand new petcock, seals, fuel cap and trim, but Antonie popped the original Honda badges back on, scuffs and all.

“Half way through this build I met Marco,” says Antonie, “and it was because of this CB350 that we started building bikes together. He did a lot of the metal work on the frame and parts and inspired me to push the boundaries on the details side. He also engraved the hare you see on the bike’s oil filter cover.

When his workshop got to the point where I could work there, we moved the bike to möto Dubai and finished up the final fabrication and electrics there.”

From Texas barn find to the Persian Gulf: Antonie Robertson's Honda CB350 cafe racer
“Even though this was a personal project of mine, the Honda helped us figure out our process and build quality. Which is basically to take everything apart, and make it perfect. As clean as the day it came out the factory. Custom, without being too ostentatious.”

We reckon Antonie and Marco nailed it with this CB350: It looks fresher than a glass of ice-cold mint lemonade from a souk café.

More, please.

Photos by Antonie Robertson | Instagram | Follow möto Dubai on Facebook | Instagram

From Texas barn find to the Persian Gulf: Antonie Robertson's Honda CB350 cafe racer