Honda Redux

Reader Contribution by Richard Backus
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A curiously grinning Shane Powers with the 1970 Honda CB350 K2 he bought for the princely sum of $94 at the 2016 Barber Vintage Festival. Some would say he paid too much. Photos by Richard Backus.

Apparently, we have a thing for Honda CB350 twins. In 2016, we took a tired 1970 CB350 K2, stripped it to the frame, then slowly brought it back to life. Along the way, we learned what literally hundreds of thousands of buyers discovered back in the CB350’s heyday; that it’s a great, seemingly indestructible little bike.

We also discovered there’s a great community of CB350 fans, from owners to suppliers, all willing and happy to supply tips and information to help you keep your CB350 on the road – or, in our case, get it back on the road in the first place.

We gave a pretty exhausting accounting of our 1970 CB350 project bike, details of which you can find starting here or by typing “Project Honda CB350” into the search bar at the top of the page. And the paint was barely dry on that bike before ad man Shane Powers launched into reviving the 1970 CB350 K2 he bought at Barber last October and I launched into a father-son project on a 1972 Honda CB350 K4 that’s been languishing in the back of my garage for some 10-plus years.

Son Charlie’s 1972 CB350 not long after we started into it. The exhaust was a mixture of parts, with stock headers and funky aftermarket mufflers.

Charlie’s CB350 a little further along, now with the Mac 2-into-1 exhaust we picked up from Dime City Cycles. The fit is excellent and the sound fantastic.

Powers’ bike could win an award for Best Rusted Honda, its condition perversely motivating him to embark on a complete and total tear-down and rebuild just to prove it can be done, while Charlie and I are taking a more mellow approach, giving the ’72 a mild café overhaul and limiting our work to subtle upgrades and maintenance because, frankly, Charlie’s bike’s in pretty good shape. So far we’ve overhauled the carbs and rebuilt the front forks, plus installed a kick-ass 2-into-1 Mac exhaust system that we picked up from Dime City Cycles. The dry-rotted wiring system still needs some major love, but we’ll get to that. We’ve also been getting more use out of the Skat Cat 40 blast cabinet we picked up from TP Tools and we’re constantly awed by how much time it saves us cleaning parts and the options it gives us in reconditioning rusted bits, cleaning and painting parts instead of replacing or rechroming them.

A shot of the swingarm on Shane’s Honda before treating it to media blasting in our TP Tools Skat Cat 40 blast cabinet (left), and a shot of Shane’s Honda CB350 swingarm after blasting in our Skat Cat 40, which took it down to bare metal in minutes.

We used the Skat Cat to clean up bits of Shane’s CB350 engine including the cam block.

A close-up of the cam block after media blasting. Beats the hell out of using solvents.

Here’s a cool trick we did with our blast cabinet. The upper part of the fork legs on Charlie’s CB were badly pitted thanks to moisture that got locked in by the stock metal fork covers. The lower portion was still in excellent shape, and since Charlie’s going to run without the fork covers we decided to try bead blasting the legs. It worked beautifully, leaving us a clean metal finish that we plan to paint the same color as the upper and lower triple trees, which we also blasted before painting.

Here’s another experiment we did using the blast cabinet. The chrome carb tops on Charlie’s 72 CB350 were pitted, so we thought we’d see if we could salvage them by bead blasting them and then painting them black. Took minutes and worked a treat!

So we’ve proven that Charlie’s bike runs great. Shane’s? Well, time will tell. Moving forward, we’ll post updates on our progress with both or either bike, showing the stuff we’re doing and learning as we move along. Stay tuned! — Richard Backus

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