The Backburner: Federal’s Four-Year Honda CB360T Project

Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto
Ex-girlfriends have a habit of leaving things behind, but a motorcycle is rarely on the list. Yet that’s exactly how Federal Moto got their hands on this sweet little 1976 Honda CB360T.

“This bike belonged to an ex-girlfriend. It was a basket-case project in the early days of Federal Moto,” says builder Peter Müller. “She was a rider and professional designer/fabricator herself, and wanted to build her first motorcycle with our guidance.”

Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto
“However, as these things tend to go, the relationship with the girlfriend quickly ended. But our relationship with the CB360, now formally in our hands, had only just begun.”

This particular relationship would span four years, but only four months were spent transforming the CB360 into the neat little street tracker you see here. So it’s earned the nickname ‘The Backburner.’

Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto
“Because it was never slated as an official Federal build,” explains Peter, “the bike sat in pieces at the back of the shop collecting dust. Long enough to be a pain in the ass every time we were forced to move to bigger and better work spaces.”

So what motivated Peter and his brother Mike to drag the CB360 back to life in their Chicago workshop? The perfect client, as it turns out. Around the time they were wrapping up their fifth build, a local professional in the financial industry approached them with a commission—something Peter and Mike tend to avoid.

Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto
“We usually politely decline, due to the hassles of managing time and budget expectations,” says Peter, “As well as the inevitable unsolicited art direction when working with a client—versus the strictly in-house conceptualization, design, planning, fabrication, and assembly of our motorcycles.”

“However, this gentleman was clearly not going to take ‘no’ for an answer. After a year of poking and prodding, and an offer to pay in-full, up-front, with full creative control in our hands, we agreed to build him a bike…as long as it was a 1976 Honda CB360T, conveniently scattered across a series of boxes tucked away under our workbenches at the back of the shop!”

Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto
Federal dusted off and organized all the parts, and realized that a number of bits had grown legs over the years. So they picked up the phone, and started dialing their ‘moto-family.’

J Shia of Madhouse Motors in Boston found, cleaned, packed and shipped a complete cylinder head to the guys in less than a week. Brendan Macaluso of Common Motor Collective in Houston dug into his spare parts bins and had full engine, transmission, and carb rebuild kits—and some obscure tools the CB360 needed—ready to ship the same day.

Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto
With everything they needed on their bench—and twelve rounds of design refinements behind them—Peter and Mike were ready to get cracking. They broke the CB’s engine and transmission down to the nuts and bolts, before painstakingly rebuilding everything.

Every last part was inspected, recondition, honed, repaired or replaced. The carbs were rebuilt too, and the intake and exhaust manifolds were ported and polished.

Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto
“The well-documented cylinder head oiling problem associated with CB360s was also solved,” says Peter, “with some oil passage machining—and a rare new-old-stock Honda post-recall oil sump pickup.”

With the motor now sound, it was the frame’s turn to go under the knife. It was stripped and repaired when needed, before the subframe was cut-and-looped, and paired with a new matching seat pan.

Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto
Federal rewired the Honda with a small Lithium-ion battery and electronic ignition, then tucked everything into a custom-made tray under the seat. Just behind it is a discreet LED tail light, and a rear inner fender.

The original exhaust headers were reconditioned, then cut and modded to take a pair of reverse-cone mufflers. “It gave the CB360 a much deeper, throatier, and meaner bark than expected,” says Peter.

Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto
Moving to the brakes, the guys rebuilt the front caliper and upgraded the system with Goodridge Sniper II lines, a modern master cylinder and a phenolic piston. Jeff Stephens at Goddffrey’s Garage then hooked the guys up with a drilled rotor. The tires are Metzeler Enduro 3 Saharas.

For the cockpit, Federal installed new handlebars with POSH mini switches and Biltwell Inc.’s popular Kung Fu grips. There’s a new headlight, speedo and tach up front too, and the bike’s sporting tiny high-output LED turn signals all round.

Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto
Federal finished ‘The Backburner’ off with a new coat of black on the engine, stainless steel fasteners all round and a polar white finish on the frame and tank. Gus Abarca of The Iron Stables handled the paint, adorning the tank with oversized gold Honda wings. As a final touch, the seat was treated to full grain brown leather upholstery.

As we’ve come to expect from Federal Moto, this dusty box of bits is now a sharp, slick street tracker. We’d pick it as a daily runabout without hesitation, but it would have to be for solo missions.

For some strange reason, Peter and Mike left the passenger pegs off.

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Custom Honda CB360 street tracker by Federal Moto