While race and track bikes tend to be built with “go” rather than “show” in mind, even at the highest levels, vintage racing is sometimes a different story. While there are plenty of lashed-up, rattle-can bikes on the classic circuit, there are also some really nicely prepped machines that look like they’d be at home on a custom build show, and this Honda CL350 definitely has one foot in both of those worlds.
Honda’s CL350 was introduced in 1968 and, much like the new Ducati Scrambler, was meant more as a fun, versatile streetbike than a real offroad machine. Americans love their dirtbikes, so the CL350 sold very well at the time, and its basic reliability means there are plenty of nice ones still around. They’re rugged, make decent power, and have a very classic look, making them popular today in both stock form and as the basis for café-style rebuilds.
Powered by a 325cc parallel twin with a chain-driven overhead cam, the CL350 put out about 33hp in stock trim. But there was plenty more to be had and the engine was both lightweight and very tough, with much of the bike’s overall weight coming from heavy-duty offroad-capable parts. This means that there’s plenty of weight to lose when building a dedicated streetbike or a roadracer like we have here.
From the original eBay listing: 1972 Honda CL350 AHRMA Racebike for Sale
The bike was built to a very high standard using the best components and lots of Italian “bling.” It uses the preferred CL350 frame (reinforced) which like the Honda CB350 version – has competitive advantages compared to the SL350 model frame. It was also remarkably reliable. No DNSs and no DNFs during its one full season of competition! Add fresh fuel, battery and rubber and you’re ready to go racing with a very competitive mount!
I also used this bike myself to pass AHRMA’s Fast and Safe road-racing school at NOLA. This is an excellent track day bike! Or – a unique exotic for the collector who wants a special bike with real race “cred” that was built to an aesthetic level rarely seen on racing machinery.
Would be a great conversation piece as a static display for any private collection, restaurant or coffee shop …but I would prefer that this bike is acquired by someone who plans to continue its distinguished racing career.
This is a special bike that goes as good as it looks. Draws a crowd wherever it appears!
This is an well-maintained machine. The assembly / paint was expertly done in 2013. Beyond that, it does have the honest patina of actual racing action. It will require new rubber and a fresh battery.
Honda CL350 (high pipe, street-bike) was selected as the basis for this build. The frame (merely spot-welded at the factory) was “fully” welded during our build. All joints, attachments, pressings, perimeters, etc. were completely welded together for maximum rigidity. Extraneous brackets were removed. The steering head bearings were replaced with tapered roller bearings (All-Balls). Swing-arm is stock. Paint is urethane single-stage (no clear coat).
Front brake was extensively tweaked by Vintage Brake. They did all their magic turning, backplate service and brake shoe matching magic to build these serious binders. Front has Ferodo shoes. Rear is NOS Honda CL350.
Many thanks to Race Tech for their help, support, design & guidance. Front forks are 1981 35mm Yamaha 650 twin with Gold Valve emulators and 80kg/m fork springs. SL350 Honda triple clamps are used for the (larger) 35mm fork size. Rear shocks are custom, fully adjustable Race Tech shocks. They did the math based on the build sheet dimensions and superbly constructed them. Steering damper by Shindy Daytona.
Most internal parts are from Bore-Tech. Racing Cam is from Megacycle along with their valves springs & lighter retainers. New guides were installed. A big bore, high compression piston kit from Bore-Tech was installed. Stock crank (roller bearings). Cappellini needle bearing / overhead oiling / oil filter setup to eliminate running the hardened cam in plain aluminum carriers. Cappellini supplied the trick oil cooler as well. Degreed the cam according to Megacycle specs. Ignition is electronic and run off the crank versus the cam end. Stock Honda clutch and gearset.
The “SL350” the seller mentions in the first paragraph was introduced in 1969 and used a heavier frame more in keeping with legitimate off-road riding, but that obviously makes it less suitable for a track bike. This example uses the lighter CL/CB frame intended for street duty. The smaller Honda twins are, in general, very popular in vintage roadracing: they’re rugged as all get-out and are still very affordable, with maintenance and tuning parts readily available. Although it is possible to spend ludicrous amounts of cash building one to this level, that’s not really necessary, and you can still have a blast on something less polished.
As you can see from the close-up shots, this is a beautifully-prepared bike and, although the $8,900 Buy It Now price is very high for a Honda CL350-based anything, it’s probably worth that, considering the fabrication and care that’s gone into this build. As is often the case, you’re left with a bit of dilemma: do you risk trashing something this nice on track?