1976 Honda CB350F from Norway
Fun little bike with a glassy smooth engine
Fork stanchions heavily rusted and also bent. Naturally, they leaked.
Steering stem bearings badly dented and required replacement.
All four mufflers rusted though, lacking about 1/4 of the outer walls. Made my own 4-2 system, see main text.
Threads for one spark plug ruined in the cylinder head. Helicoiled.
Two bearings in the cylinder head for the camshaft badly scored. Smoothed and left alone.
Oil pressure switch malfunctioned and required replacement.
Rear fender had a big hole in it from rust attack.
You know the saying; they do not make them like they used to. I'll add: Thank gawd!
4 mufflers fed by small pistons in a lowly tuned engine doesn't get hot enough to evaporate accumulated water, and hence they rust through from the inside. Luckily, my abused bike came with brand new upper mufflers. Buying new lower mufflers would have cost more than I paid for the bike, and was out of the question. Instead, I cut off the lower mufflers and retained the headers. I then drilled holes in the new mufflers and got hold of two 90 degree bends. I used these to weld the inner headers to the outer - and upper - mufflers. So for virtually no cost, I ended up with what was practically a brand new 4-2 exhaust system.
This was, in my opinion, what Honda should have fitted to the bike from the factory. The 4-4 system made the bike very rear-heavy, but with only one muffler on each side, the bike became much better proportioned, sporty looking, even.
With the badly holed stock exhaust system, top speed was limited to about 115 kph / 70 mph. After replacing that with my own version of a 4-2 based upon the stock system, top speed increased to 140 kph / 85 mph upright and 155 kph / 95 mph prone. So although open - in this case from rust - mufflers make a lot of racket, they do not guarantee a lot of power.
The bike had either been dropped or run into a solid object before my time, because the fork stanchions were bent. That was not a design fault, but the metal gaiters were. Although they prevented most of the dirt and dust from staining the stanchions, they also trapped moisture. And this moisture had allowed rust to form and replace most of the chrome. After sanding the stanchions and fitting new seals, the leaks were almost gone, but friction was high, and using bent legs increased friction a lot more as the fork dived. Being poor isn't always ideal.
The rear shocks were Konis and carried WAY too stiff springs. Made the bike feel like a hard-tail. Even two-up they basically refused to move.
Comfort was enhanced by a good riding position, as long as one didn't have to carry a passenger, and by a silky smooth engine. On the other hand, the seat was about as inviting as a 4x4, and the suspension harsh to the point of being useless. With stock suspension in good condition, I'm sure comfort would have been far better, but the seat would never become inviting.
Fuel consumption was not much to brag about. By removing the foam filter but retaining the mesh, 5 litre per 100 km / 47 MPG (US) was the norm. With the complete filter in situ, 5.7 litre / 41 MPG (US). The small tank limited the range to a maximum of 240 km / 150 miles until bone dry. Still a lot longer than your bum will last.
After painting the bike Laverda orange - with a spray-can and hence not such superb finish - including the former chromed-but-rusty fenders, the bike caught a lot of attention. Whenever and wherever I stopped, people gravitated towards the old little Honda. New Harleys and Gixxers and whatnots were all initially ignored around the 350 Four.
I toured Europe on the thing, butt on fire most of the time, and have plenty of good memories from my two years with the bike.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th October, 2012