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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking around at bikes, and I keep finding myself drawn to the Yamaha SR400 retro scrambler. I am over the sport bike thing and looking for a taste of nostalgia. But then, while searching Craigslist last night, I found myself looking at old Hondas...CB350's and such. I know a bunch of you older guys had them, and maybe some of the younger guys as well, for a starter bike. What is your opinion of them? Were they fun to ride? Dependable? How were the brakes? (Please specify if yours had a front disc or drum). I'm just looking for a good crosstown commuter.
 

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How old are we talking?

Back when they were new-ish they were sturdy, reliable bikes. And now after they're properly gone through they are sturdy, reliable bikes. But that's the rub.. at this point most of the bikes from the 70s and 80s need some work and reconditioning to get them back to that state. Is that something you will enjoy doing?
 
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I have, and regularly ride, a '70 CB450. It starts right up, and runs as smoothly as any newer bike. But then, I've been servicing bikes for a long time, and made this one run this way. If you're at all handy, it's nothing you can't learn, but there is a learning curve. I have replaced the dual points with an electronic ignition, which helps with the smooth running and reliability, and I just went through the carbs to balance them properly.

Very fun to ride, but longer rides (greater than 200 miles) can get tiring, because of the vibration. Brakes are very strong, with a front disc and rear drum, but the older models with front drum brakes can be adjusted to stop as well.
 

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I had a brand new CB-350. It was a great bike, but I quickly moved on to bigger things.
I now have a '76 Goldwing and a '77 Trail 90. Both are great bikes.
The CB-350 had drum brakes, but it was a light bike and the brakes were more than adequate.
Same for the Trail 90. I can almost lock the front wheel on that one. One day I stopped so quickly that my brother almost ran into my ass with his Sportster. LOL!!
The 76 Goldwing has three disks. It stops very well. But of course brakes have improved over the years.
My '99 Goldwing stops much better even though it is quite a bit heavier.
 

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I was wondering who was going to mention the vibration!! I used to ride 70's and 80's Honda street bikes, and on longer rides my hands would get numb from the vibration. And even my backside...

YES they were a LOT of fun to ride, but today's bike are much smoother and more comfortable. Well, all things considered and equal, that is. I don't find the sport bikes where you have to lean far forward very comfortable to ride...

Very fun to ride, but longer rides (greater than 200 miles) can get tiring, because of the vibration. Brakes are very strong, with a front disc and rear drum, but the older models with front drum brakes can be adjusted to stop as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
How old are we talking?

Back when they were new-ish they were sturdy, reliable bikes. And now after they're properly gone through they are sturdy, reliable bikes. But that's the rub.. at this point most of the bikes from the 70s and 80s need some work and reconditioning to get them back to that state. Is that something you will enjoy doing?
I have found a few early- to mid-70's Hondas in very good condition, in the $1500-$3000 range. One, for instance, was a 1971 CB350 that looked very clean. The seller said it was in very good condition and ready to ride, but just needed one side cover. It was $2800 but I think it sold.

Another was a 1973 CB350F in good shape, a great runner, but had lots of "patina." $2500. https://seattle.craigslist.org/tac/mcy/d/1973-honda-cb-350-four-watch/6595070865.html

Just to clarify, while I would love to restore bikes, it's not in the cards right now. I am looking for something I can buy and ride
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have, and regularly ride, a '70 CB450. It starts right up, and runs as smoothly as any newer bike. But then, I've been servicing bikes for a long time, and made this one run this way. If you're at all handy, it's nothing you can't learn, but there is a learning curve. I have replaced the dual points with an electronic ignition, which helps with the smooth running and reliability, and I just went through the carbs to balance them properly.

Very fun to ride, but longer rides (greater than 200 miles) can get tiring, because of the vibration. Brakes are very strong, with a front disc and rear drum, but the older models with front drum brakes can be adjusted to stop as well.
That's cool WintrSol! How easy is it to convert to electronic ignition? If I plan to use the kick starter regularly, would this influence my decision whether to do this or not?

How about converting drums to disc? Difficult? Expensive?


I can turn a wrench and am decent as far as mechanical aptitude, but I don't have much experience with motorcycles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I had a brand new CB-350. It was a great bike, but I quickly moved on to bigger things.
I now have a '76 Goldwing and a '77 Trail 90. Both are great bikes.
The CB-350 had drum brakes, but it was a light bike and the brakes were more than adequate.
Same for the Trail 90. I can almost lock the front wheel on that one. One day I stopped so quickly that my brother almost ran into my ass with his Sportster. LOL!!
The 76 Goldwing has three disks. It stops very well. But of course brakes have improved over the years.
My '99 Goldwing stops much better even though it is quite a bit heavier.
Good stuff OC! Was your CB350 the twin or the CB350 four? I have read good things about both
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I was wondering who was going to mention the vibration!! I used to ride 70's and 80's Honda street bikes, and on longer rides my hands would get numb from the vibration. And even my backside...

YES they were a LOT of fun to ride, but today's bike are much smoother and more comfortable. Well, all things considered and equal, that is. I don't find the sport bikes where you have to lean far forward very comfortable to ride...
Yeah, I read that in a few different reviews. I'm not concerned with that, as I plan to just ride to work (at this point)(see what I did there?). Work is something like 7 miles from home
 

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That doesn't surprise me at all UK!!!! You definitely love your old bikes :)
I was selling Hondas during the seventies. The mechanic and I would assemble all the new bikes and I would test ride them. I also owned a few.
Wintr was referring to his CB450 when he talked about vibration. It was not an issue with nearly all the other street bikes. Honda I think, was also the first to use a counter balancer. They also used hardened valve seats much earlier than most folks think.
The CB450 was unique with the torsion bar to close the valves, instead of springs.

UK
 

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I've reduced vibration in the handlebar by adding end weights, 1lb each end, and new mounting rubber; vacuum sync of the carbs goes a long way too. You still have two pistons moving up and down, and, since it is larger than the 350 twin, has more vibration that just can't be eliminated. The Honda fours were much smoother than any of the parallel twins, almost as smooth as the Goldwing boxer engines.

There is more than one electronic ignition available for the 450, and some include setups for other bikes. Usually, it just involves pulling the points and installing the electronic sensors, and a bit of wiring. If points are properly adjusted, starting the engine is little different compared to electronic. It's the frequent adjustment I wanted to eliminate, since mine has two sets of points to keep in adjustment. Sometimes, I kick it over, sometimes use the button, as the mood strikes. I'm more likely to use the kick when it's warm, because it seldom needs more than one kick.

Swapping brakes from drum to disc on the 450 involves replacing the front forks, brake control lever, and wheel, since the drum brake is part of the wheel hub. This may be true of many others, assuming there are compatible swaps. Not sure I'd bother, as I never had problems stopping my S90 or 305 Super Hawk, both with front drum brakes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have been looking at different bikes all afternoon. I like a lot of them. I am starting to get a crush on the CL models, like this one.

https://eugene.craigslist.org/mcy/d/amazing-quality-1974-honda/6600931996.html

I really like the exhaust going to one side and raised higher. My understanding is that these were designed this way for off road scrambles back in the day. It's a cool look. Other than this, are they pretty much the same as the CB450?

That is good to know about the drum brakes WintrSol. Sounds like they work well as they are. Top speed on my ride to work would likely be around 40 mph anyway.
 

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The CB450 was unique with the torsion bar to close the valves, instead of springs.

UK
No kidding, didn't know that.

I liked the four cylinder Honda 350's and 400's.
The 400 was way cool with its four into one pipe going up and out one side.
A friend of mine had a red one. He sold it not long ago.

I had Kawasakis back in the 70's...
750 H2 Triple
KZ 650
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
No kidding, didn't know that.

I liked the four cylinder Honda 350's and 400's.
The 400 was way cool with its four into one pipe going up and out one side.
A friend of mine had a red one. He sold it not long ago.

I had Kawasakis back in the 70's...
750 H2 Triple
KZ 650
That H2 was very popular around here, I remember my dad's coworker had one back in the day. He let my dad ride it and he said it was fast...but not as fast as his other friend's Z1. He said he took off across Aurora (a big 6 lane highway) and by the time he got to the other side he was doing 50. Nothing special by today's standards, but in the mid-70's that was really something!
 

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I have fond memories of my old 1978 CB400T Hawk II. The twin, not the 4.

Probably the reality wasn't as rosy as 30 years of memory has blurred the sharp edges but I loved that bike, it was light, fast, and never stuck despite always havinga dead battery thanks to the dual electric or kick start. I bought it from my brother for $500 in the mid 80s, rode it for a while then stopped, not sure why, I just moved on to other things I guess.
I must have sold it but I don't remember. I wish I had it now, or one like it, I'd love to recreate those days, and probably do something crazy like a Saddle Sore 1000 on it, just because I could :)

I should look around for one to restore...
 

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I really like the exhaust going to one side and raised higher. My understanding is that these were designed this way for off road scrambles back in the day. It's a cool look. Other than this, are they pretty much the same as the CB450?
Except for the front brake and pipes, they are identical in all the important ways; the engine in my CB450 has a CL serial number. You do lose a few horsepower to those pretty pipes, though.
 

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Fisken and Semi.
My most favourite around town bike was the 400 four, with the 4 into 1 pipe. They had a low seat height which was nice for folks with ducks disease. I owned more than one of these. RE Smith got charged and convicted for dangerous riding on one of them. Cops claimed he was doing 120 to 140 mph. I appeared as an expert for the defense. Told the judge none of them could exceed about 95.
My previous favourite around town bike was a 500 BMW. Was very comfortable and handled awful.
The nicest and smoothest of the Honda fours, was the 500 and then the 550. Alan Cuthberston ( famous BC jockey ) bought one from me. And so did the guy who worked at the Spaghetti Factory. ( Famous thief )
The best highway bike was the 750, and later the Gold Wing. Ticker Ted bought the first one.
The 750 with the auto transmission was the same pretty blue colour, of the earlier CL350 with the high pipes. The dealers thought they would sell well. We were wrong.
The CM400 which went back to a twin was a nice bike. Not as fast as the 2 stroke Yamaha or the four stroke Yamaha that replaced it. But a nice bike for around town. Has three valves per cylinder I recall.
The CB650 had some problems with the overhead cam. Not sure of the details. I know where there is a low mileage 74 CB750. One owner. Sitting in the basement for quite a while.

I used a CB750 master cylinder on one of the race bikes, and it worked well. Had a big Lougheed disc on front.

I have a CB450 torsion bar in my tool box. Will post a pic when I get back to my Island.

UK Forgot. I also rode all of the Kawasaki 3 cylinder 2 stroke bikes. 350, 500 and 750. The previous twin cylinder 350 was a better bike IMO. Had one in Hawaii in 68. The 250 twin was the favourite bike to ride in the 250 production class, as there was much room to modify and cheat, with the ports and rotary valve. I also owned a half share in an H1R which was the factory 500cc race bike. Sold it to Alex George in Glasgow.
 
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