Archive for the ‘motorcycle’ Tag

1973 Honda CL350 Cafe Racer

Picture 8It is no secret that I love, I LOVE!!! Honda 350’s…and I’m not the only one. The CB is by most accounts the biggest selling motorcycle of all time…hell, I have four of them! CB,CL and SL models. A couple run, one’s a parts bike and the other is in boxes, milk crates and hanging from the rafters in my barn.

My love affair with the Honda twin began in 1971 when I was in a ‘one-upmanship’ contest with my friend Eddie. Even though I was riding a BSA 650 most of the time, the contest revolved around smaller bikes. Eddie won a couple of times but when I got my first SL350, his ‘little’ Yamaha DT1 250 was left in the dust…literally.

I eventually sold the SL350, after I had slogged it through the deserts of Southern California for a couple of years only to regret it a few years later. So…the search was on for another. I ended up with a 1972 CB350 that had been sitting out in a back yard for something like 10 years or so. That little 350 looked pretty bad, but it was all there and the price was right, a hundred bucks. On to my trailer it went (flat tires and all the spiders you could want, plus a dead mouse in the right side airfilter) and home it came with me. I still have it…25 years later.

Once home, some basic service, a lot of elbow grease and a few (?) new parts and I was back on my favorite little Honda twin. Over the years I put a mild cafe treatment on the bike, lower bars, changed the exhaust, moved the pegs back a bit, upgraded the suspension, I even put good tires on it. Now it is waiting for the big bore kit I recently acquired to be installed.

Building Cafe Racer out of a Honda 350 nowadays is a pretty easy thing to do. Parts are available easily; tanks, seats, controls,suspension, you name it and with a good credit card you can have it delivered to your door the next day. But here is the thing about building a vintage cafe racer,if you’re going to do it right, it ain’t gonna be cheap and it ain’t going to happen over a weekend. The time,effort and money you put into it is for your own pleasure…when time comes to sell it, don’t set your hopes too high.Picture 10

So, on that note, I found a super sweet CL350 that has a whole lot of nice parts and a lot of love put into it and is being sold at a reasonable price (so far). This CL motor has been gone through, it didn’t need much it only has 4837 miles on it, carbs rebuilt, new electrics, etc, etc. Then we get into the really cool stuff.

The bike was stripped down and everything was either powder coated, painted or polished. The wheels got new spokes, bearings and tires. Suspension was all redone front and rear, nice handlebars, rearsets and the exhaust, which may be a bit loud but it sure looks good. I really dig the instruments and the headlight arrangement. I think I’m changing the vision I have for my own new 350 project.

This is a really nicely done Honda 350 that will last for a long time both mechanically and styling. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.

Oh and one last thing, the Honda advert says top speed is 100mph…don’t believe them…maybe 95mph is where it tops out. But with a very little work, the little 350 will ‘Do the Ton’. Have fun.

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Picture 41973 Honda CL350 Cafe Racer

1980 Honda CX500 Custom Cafe’

Picture 5The Plastic Maggot. That is what the British and European press called the CX500, and deservedly so. I think, however, that bad styling got in the way of some great technology. Yes, the bike was patterned after the Moto Guzzi 500 v twin but Honda did some things to make it much better, Styling not included. Little things like twisting the cylinders so that carbs wouldn’t hit the riders knee’s. The CX500 really was and still is a really good motorcycle, hey, even police departments around the world loved these bikes.Picture 4

The CX500 was especially nice when cafe’d up.
I found a nice example on ebay this morning that looks like it would be a lot of fun to ride. The seller did some simple but nice upgrades, some minimalistic styling, which follows true cafe racer form, and made this bike ready to ride right now with nothing to do. Nice bike.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. The other thing about CX500’s…they really sound good with a more flowing exhaust like this one has.

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Picture 141980 Honda CX500 Custom

1972 Honda CB350 Custom

Picture 7Here we have a very nicely sorted but not over done Honda. Styling wise it is a very clean Cafe Racer, mechanically I’m guessing it’s still pretty much stock save the pod filters and the tidy exhaust. This is the pattern I am going to use for my own 350 project.

The owner obviously went through the process of dismantling the bike, cleaning, painting and polishing, then went into cafe mode. First stop, Benji’s Cafe Racers for the body work. I believe the ‘El Poquito’ body is absolutely the best looking for the CB. Clean additions like the Air-tech front fender, the polished clip-ons and some nice rearsets take care of the styling and functionality. I also like the silver paint, simple and elegant.

A good cafe racer has to handle well and this bike seems to be on its way to that goal. The shocks are far better than the stockers but what did he do with the front? Upgraded springs? even an oil change? There are some simple frame mods that make a huge difference on CB’s. Looks like the bike has stock wheels with a couple decent tires spooned on.

All in all, this is probably the nicest CB350 I have seen. Good looking, better handling, reliable and so much fun to ride!! This guy (or gal?) has put a lot of time, love and money into this Honda and it shows. And with the low miles it has on the clock (provided it is the real mileage), it will be fun to ride for years and will draw a crowd wherever you go. For more info and more pictures, click on the pics below.

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Picture 41972 Honda CB350 Custom

1996 Harley Sportster Cafe’

Picture 9Recently I spent some time with my friend Erik doing a heart transplant on his Sportster. Erik rides hard, he spends more time on the rev-limiter than most people spend on their bikes. But, Erik takes care of his bikes, well, kind of? After 70,000+ miles of abuse his Sporty decided it was done. A good used motor was found on ebay, shipped to California and without too much drama installed.

Erik has been, little by little, turning his Sportster into a Cafe Racer. Suspension mods,clip-ons, exhaust, seat…it’s all coming together nicely but I know he wants to do more.

Erik is considering new wire spoked wheels, new bodywork and pumping up the motor. It’s going to be a really well put together bike when done. But…I found one on ebay today that is already done and looks to me to a perfect example of how a Sportser should look.

I have to digress here a bit though, I have never been a fan of Harley Davidsons, except one…the XLCR, Harley’s (more exactly Willie G. Davidson’s) first design out of the cruiser/touring market. This has to probably be thee most underloved Harley ever built. It may be powered by a Harley motor but to ‘The Faithful’ it wasn’t a Harley Davidson. The XLCR fit into the same category as the little 2 strokes from Italy…maybe even lower. However, the XLCR has become a cult bike and quite valuable.Picture 8

Today, Sportster based Cafe Racer’s aren’t all that unusual. The first one I ever saw was at one of my semi-regular Sunday stops ‘The Rock Store’ in the Santa Monica Mountains. The license plate on this particular Sporty was ‘DUCHUNTER’ and that was the owners favorite game, chasing down Ducati’s in the canyons. He often won the game.

The ’96 I found today is beautiful. Bodywork is a beautifully shaped 4 gallon tank, a classic Ducati seat and tail section, a sweet looking exhaust, nice clip-ons and classic aluminum spoked wheels. Everything about this bike looks to have been done with a a lot of love and attention to detail. This is how I hope Erik’s turns out but with his own special touches.

For more info and pictures, click on the pics below. And now, I’m going to go out and ride my own Harley powered Buell over to Erik’s and work on his Sporty Cafe Racer.

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Picture 61996 Sportster Cafe Racer

2004? Harley Davidson Sportster – Full Cafe!!!

I’m contacting the seller about this bike to try to get more details and more photos. If this is, in fact, a 2004 Sportster, then it is the first full conversion (including tank but minus some cool 18″ wheels) that I’ve seen. A tank like that is exactly what I want to do to my bike. I’ll post updates as I get them.

BTW, the reason I’m not sure about the year is the oil tank. I can’t tell from the photos, but it is either a 2003 tank (non-flush oil filler cap) or it is a 2004 tank with the side cover removed. If anyone has an opinion, please let me know…





1971 BMW R60 with R90 Motor

No matter how many times I rant and rave about bikes missing some key cafe racer feature, I always manage to find these bikes again and again. Here we have a 1971 BMW R60 that’s been cafe’d out… almost. Everything is there except the bars. I know, I know, the bars are more comfortable than clip-ons or clubmans. But they just don’t work with the rear-sets. And having your feet behind you doesn’t work so well if your hands are up high.

However, if you want a BMW cafe racer, this is a perfect bike for you to finish up by selecting your perfect set of bars or clip-ons that fit you perfectly. The price is relatively low at $1,800 with 2 days left and a fair number of bidders. I expect it will close higher, but not sure how much. It’s a clean bike with most of the cafe mods done already…






1977 Harley-Davidson XLCR

Not a lot of info on this bike in the listing. There is what appears to be a low serial number, and the bike doesn’t seem to be too far from stock if at all (unrestored and very clean looking). Low miles, but no good pictures of the VIN. Current bidding has the bike at $8,700 with 11 bids and 14 hours left. However, reserve isn’t met, which means there’s a good chance the bike won’t sell. I’ll repost if it comes back up for sale and maybe we will see what a nice XLCR can sell for in this economy…







1962 Norton Featherbed Cafe Racer

A while back I posted a listing for a Hogbitz Sportster cafe racer that was the most expensive bike to ever hit the blog ($25K asking price). It was relisted at least once, if not multiple times. This Norton comes in a close second with a Buy-It-Now price of $22,500. As is this the second Norton in a row I’ve posted, it is interesting to compare the bikes, and what differentiates an unrestored Norton Commando from a fully restored and cafe-racerized (including lots of motorwork) Norton Featherbed/Manx. I guess the difference comes down to this 1962 Norton being what is essentially a show bike with a hopped-up motor you could ride, versus the 1971 Norton Commando posted before being an unrestored daily rider that has a frame in good shape with “no visible cracks”.

You decide. $22.5K for a beautiful bike that has been gone through with a fine-tooth comb, or $7.5K for a bike that you might put a little elbow grease into over time (and maybe a motor rebuild while you’re at it). It would be interesting to see what this bike sells for, but it is a Buy-It-Now with Make Offer (2 offers so far), so we won’t be able to watch any climbing auction prices.







1971 Norton 750 Commando Cafe Racer

Here’s a nice looking example of a first-gen Commando that has been converted to cafe-racer duty. Overall, the modifications are spot-on, but I do have one minor quibble: the rear ride height. Shocks one inch longer would really balance the bike front-to-rear, and lifting the back end up would also probably quicken the handling just a smidge.

Other than that, this is an unrestored runner that is currently not seeing much action in the auction. There is a a day and a half left in the auction, and the current price is $4,550. Reserve has not been met, but there is a Buy-It-Now price of $7,500, so we can probably assume the reserve is set somewhere around $7K. With only two bidders so far, it seems there isn’t a huge chance the bike will end up selling.







1979 Yamaha SR500 Cafe Racer

Ahhh. SR500. Always a good, clean-looking cafe racer. Not much else to say. On eBay. 11 hours left. 21 bids, $2,100 dollars. Bid by tomorrow morning if you are interested…







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