Technical Q and A for classic motorcycle maintenance and repair.
Editor's note: If you’re having trouble with that old Suzuki, BSA or BMW, Keith Fellenstein is your guy. From motorcycle tuning tips to detailed motorcycle engine repair, he can draw from a wealth of experience to help guide you to success. Send questions to: Keith’s Garage, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an e-mail with "Keith's Garage" as your subject.
Honda CJ360 Model Designation
Q: I found a clean 1976 Honda CJ360 with only 10,000 miles on the clock. I want to do a mild café conversion, which I’ve never done before. Advertisements (including ones in Motorcycle Classics) have vendors listing parts for the mid-1970s Honda twins (CB/CL) but nothing for the CJ. Is there something fundamentally different on the CJ360 as compared to a CB/CL? I don’t care about cosmetics or suspension, I’m talking about the engine, transmission, ignition, wiring, etc. - Eric/Cincinnati, Ohio
A: The CJ was just a cost-reduced version of the CB360, minus the 6-speed gearbox and electric start, and with a drum instead of a disc up front. They were only made for two years so many vendors just ignore the model designation. The styling was mild café to begin with, with a seat cowl and 2-into-1 exhaust. The engine and frame are the same as the CB/CL, so you won’t have any problem with aftermarket parts. One thing to look out for: 350/360 twins were notorious for oil starvation on the top end. Since the steel camshaft ran directly in the alloy of the head, it would wear the aluminum down, causing timing, valve clearance and chain tension issues. If you find you can’t get the valve clearance adjusted to spec, it’s a good sign the cam has worn into the head. If the points cam rubs on the timing plate, or it’s hard to get the gap right on one set of points, that’s another sign. You can still find good cam blocks, and some folks have taken the worn blocks and had them machined for needle bearings, so there are options for repair if you find damage. Good luck with your project! MC