Speed Read: 4 October, 2020

The latest motorcycle news, customs and electric bikes
In this week’s weekend roundup, we’re looking at a new CB350 from Honda, farewelling the Harley-Davidson Sportster, and casting an eye over a couple of slick new Yamaha customs. And did you know that Indian has just launched an electric bike?

The new Honda CB350 for India

A new Honda CB350! A famous name is back, with classic styling and affordable pricing. But all is not quite what it seems, because this isn’t an update of the iconic parallel twin with Keihin carbs: it’s a model for the Indian market with a fuel-injected single cylinder engine pumping out all of 21 hp.

The oddly named H’ness CB350 is designed to compete against the Royal Enfield Classic 350, Jawa Perak and the upcoming RE Meteor 350. The styling is spot on, and the bike gets modern accountrements such as ABS, traction control (!) and LED lighting.

The new Honda CB350 for India
It weighs a reasonable 399 pounds (about 180 kg) and despite the low output, even has a slipper clutch.

Pricing in India will be just under the equivalent of $3,000. We’ll probably see many predictable calls for this machine to be exported to Western markets, from people who have no intention of ever buying one.

The Harley-Davidson Sportster is discontinued
Goodbye to the Harley-Davidson Sportster As one door opens, another closes. A few days ago, we heard that Harley-Davidson is pulling out of the Indian market, closing down its sales and manufacturing operations. We’ve now just heard that Milwaukee is also pulling the Sportster out of the European market.

The news comes from Harley’s French importer. We’re guessing it’s due to Euro5 emissions regulations: motorcycles already on sale in Europe have to comply with the latest regs from 2021 onwards, and it looks like the old tech in the Sportster is too expensive to fix.

Raging Dagger: A hot-rodded Harley Forty-Eight from Rough Crafts
It also looks like the Street 750 will disappear too, despite the slightly more modern tech in the liquid-cooled ‘Revolution X’ engine.

We knew something was up when the 60th anniversary of the Sportster passed with little official fanfare back in 2017. And we’re sorry to see it go. The humble Sporty might be overweight and underpowered these days, but it’s also a simple, honest mainstay of the custom scene—and supports a huge number of aftermarket part suppliers.

Yamaha XS650 by Motobrix
Yamaha XS650 by Motobrix We’re suckers for a classic bobber, and this beautifully proportioned XS650 hardtail ticks all our boxes. It comes from Motobrix, a shop based in Ontario, Canada run by designer/fabricator Brian Kates.

“This one started out as a $200 rusty pile of parts from an XS650 and a TX500, sitting in a trailer on someone’s farm,” Brian tells us.

Yamaha XS650 by Motobrix
“I used the wheels from the TX and the rest of the parts from the XS650, rebuilt the motor with parts from multiple engines, and welded the frame with a Voodoo Vintage Fabrication hardtail kit.”

“As much as I’m aware that this style of bike has been done before, it has a few details that make it slightly different. It has a chopper-style oil tank that acts as an auxiliary fuel tank, with a fuel pump. It’s kick only, battery-less, and has a foot clutch and hand suicide shifter under the seat. The idea was to keep it extremely minimalistic.”

Less is always more in our eyes, so we’re giving Brian maximum marks for this one. [Images by Light And Gears]

Yamaha XV750 by Café Cycles
Yamaha XV750 by Café Cycles The Virago has been one of the surprise hits of the custom scene over the past ten years, probably due to the inspired work by Classified Moto. This ’83 XV750 comes from young builder Pete Chase of Café Cycles in Rhode Island, and is a fine example of the breed.

“The bike came to me as a failed café attempt, by a client who works on a yacht, winters in the Caribbean and summers in Rhode Island,” says Pete. The Virago already had a Yamaha R6 front end on it, so Pete cleaned up the top triple tree and mounted a set of Motogadget Chronoclassic gauges, plus a seven-inch Motodemic LED headlight.

Yamaha XV750 by Café Cycles
He’s modified the stock Virago tank, lifting it up a few inches in the rear, and installed a seat that uses an Aston Martin stitch pattern. (The paint has an Aston Martin influence too.) A Ducati SS shock tightens up the handling, and Pete has built a new rear frame loop, exhaust system—using parts from Cone Engineering—and aluminum rear fender.

The electrical accessories are mostly Motogadget items, wired into an m.unit Blue box. “One of the biggest pieces of art for me within this bike is the wire harness, which you can’t see!” Pete laments. [Images by Matt Francis Photos]

Indian eFTR Jr electric bike
Indian eFTR Jr electric bike When we saw ‘eFTR’ we thought Indian had gone and built an electric version of the mighty FTR750. It wasn’t to be, but this $750 mini bike looks like the perfect way to get kids into riding.

The powertrain comes from Razor, an American maker of electric scooters and minibikes. But the aesthetics are FTR750 all the way, with an (admittedly fake) gas tank and exhaust system that apes the styling of petrol-powered big brother.

Indian eFTR Jr electric bike
The details look good—a twist-grip throttle, USD forks, disc brakes and even a monoshock out back.

The eFTR Jr is designed for kids over eight years old, and the 175 lb rider weight limit means even teenagers can rip around on it. Heck, I can probably even scrape under that weight limit myself. But the top speed of 15 mph (25 km/h) is more suited to big backyards and rules out the eFTR as a Grom competitor.

Anything that gets younger riders interested in bikes gets a big tick from us, and this looks like a well-sorted product. Kudos to Indian for expanding their product range in a most unusual but innovative way. [eFTR Jr product page]

Indian eFTR Jr electric bike