1969 Honda CL350: Dual-Purpose Riding, Sixties Style

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Vincenzo Lo Grosso’s restored 1969 Honda CL350.
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Vincenzo Lo Grosso’s restored 1969 Honda CL350.
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Vincenzo Lo Grosso’s restored 1969 Honda CL350.
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Vincenzo Lo Grosso’s restored 1969 Honda CL350.
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Vincenzo Lo Grosso’s restored 1969 Honda CL350.
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Picture yourself on this 1969 Honda CL350 Scrambler.
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Both the engine and the bodywork of the bike were repainted by Underground Colors in San Francisco (undergroundcolors.com).
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Melissa Tan, a friend of Charlie O’Hanlon, takes a spin aboard Vincenzo’s restored 1969 Honda CL350.

1969 Honda CL350
Engine: 324cc air-cooled OHC parallel twin, 64mm x 50.6mm bore and stroke
Claimed power: 33hp @ 9,500rpm
Top speed: 100mph
Weight: 346lb (157kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 2.4gal/45-50mpg
Price then/now: $700/$1,500-$4,000

Honda might not have been the first motorcycle maker to market a high-pipe 2-cylinder scrambler, but it was probably the most successful.

Many manufacturers had traveled down the scrambler-style street-oriented route before Honda, including BSA and Triumph. None of them, though, were as successful as Honda and their CL350 model, and according to Honda restoration guru Charlie O’Hanlon, none of them have the same cachet.

“Honda CL350s are really their own entity,” Charlie says from his shop — aptly named Charlie’s Place — in Los Angeles. “They have a very ‘Japanese’ style, with plenty of class. But they were built to be ridden, they were built to be reliable, and they were built for people to have fun on them.”

Honda broke open the American market for small, rider-friendly motorcycles in 1959 when they established their import business in LA. Prior to Honda, many of the motorcycles being ridden on the streets and in the dirt in the U.S. were heavy American-built V-twins. Lighter British iron was more sporting, but still featured relatively crude production qualities.

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