Time can be your friend, and time can be your enemy. And we’re not just talking about the interest on your credit card balance or the increasing number of grey hairs you see in the mirror. Take motorcycles as an example: That shining example of the newest technology always seems to grab the spotlight and rightly so, as the performance curve among new bikes continues to climb higher and higher. And technological advancements definitely leave old bikes in the dust—who wants to screw around with setting ignition points anymore?
But at the same time, every so often a bike comes along that just gets it right, one that ages gracefully. Or even more rare, actually looks better after 40 years. Recently we found one: Jonathan Wald’s super-clean Honda 350.
Time for a history lesson: Honda’s CB350, CL350 and SL350 were wildly successful motorcycles. Sold between 1968 and 1973, more than 600,000 units came off the assembly lines. The CB was the low-pipe street version, the CL a high-pipe scrambler and the SL a more evolved dirt bike. In 1972 alone, Honda sold more than 67,000 CB350s in America. That’s more of a single model in a single year than many entire brands produce and sell today.
Jonathan Wald describes himself as “just your typical unemployed aerospace engineer.” Hardly. He’s a man with a passion and a vision. And he’s also a man on a mission: In these tough economic times, Wald’s efforts strike a particularly appropriate tone. He has taken a bargain-basement basket-case motorcycle, one that was once the most common bike on the planet, and turned it into a super-sweet, one-of-a-kind ride. He’s done it in an old garage outfitted not with a Bridgeport mill and gleaming Snap-on workbenches, but with recycled kitchen cabinets. Best of all, through his blog entries (http://350racer.blogspot.com) he’s shared his bike with us.
We spotted this machine at a classic California motorcycling haunt, the famous Rock Store. And believe us, it looks as good in person as it does on Wald’s blog.
Wald is an everyman whose adventure wanders through the minefields every restorer faces: he searches for parts, he struggles with disassembly, he strips bolts, he learns to weld. Whereas so many hop-up stories in other magazines start and end with the editor calling in some professional to do all the work, Wald does everything he can himself, even if he doesn’t know what he’s doing. This makes his blog especially interesting, and it makes us appreciate the end result even more. And we hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
Wald’s first blog entry back in December of 2010 starts off short and sweet, just a couple of sentences and no photo:
I recently acquired a 1971 Honda CL350.
This blog will document my journey through converting this old motorcycle into a slick Cafe Racer.
I have zero idea what I'm doing.