There are a handful of machines that seem to bubble to the top of the classic Japanese bike scene. Honda’s unassuming little 350 is one of those bikes. Whether it’s the CB350 with its sporting attitude, or the CL350 with its ray gun side pipes, the Honda 350 is the classic champion of mid-sized parallel twins. Even though it was only sold from 1968 through 1973, the CB350 still managed to sell more than 300,000 units — enough bikes to make them relatively easy to come by still today. Good thing too, as they’re brilliant little motorcycles.
We love the CB350 for a variety of reasons. They’re relatively simple, quick for their size, reliable, but most importantly they’re fully supported. We’re still able to get basically every part we ever need for a CB350. Try finding OEM air filters for your CB450 and you’re SOL. The charm of the 350 extends beyond parts availability though. It’s as versatile as it is good looking. It’s a bike you can leave stock and just ride, or they’re a prime candidate for a small japanese cafe racer. The bike is already light at just 378 lbs, but trim the unneeded weight from the chassis and you’ll add speed with little effort. The CB350, on paper, was capable of the ton right out of the box, if only just. A small amount of tuning and the 350 will punch well above its class.
We know this first hand. Our man Rumpal has a CB350 that he’s trimmed down to a minimalist footprint. Genuine Dunstall pipes, foam filters and a bit of tuning has his 350 running as mean as it looks. He’s able to easily chase down Ryan on his Triumph — a bike with nearly twice the displacement. But even if it wasn’t genuinely quick, the sound alone would make Rumpal’s bike enviable. Doesn’t hurt that it’s a one-kick bike either.
Beyond our own machines, we see a lot of customer CB and CL350s and even sold a few this season on consignment. We had one up on the lift just this week getting some oil seals replaced. I love seeing a CB350 in this kind of shape — the classic english green tarnished only by sunshine and the occasional spill of gasoline. It’s got just the right amount of surface patina and little spots of rust and wear here and there on the frame. Nothing to the point of rot, just character. It’s exactly how these old bikes ought to be, in my opinion. If you’re not doing a frame-up restoration or cafe racer conversion, then patina is your friend. It’s like a streak of grey in a man’s hair: distinguished. “It’s not worn out, it’s worn in” as Robb would put it. To my delight, this is usually the condition I see CB350s enjoying when they come through our door.
The CB350 brings together a lot of our favorite things. We love small bikes. We love parallel twins. We love old Hondas. We love it when we can get all the parts. The CB350 is a bike with a lot to offer to a lot of different riders. It’s a great starter bike because it’s light, forgiving and not too powerful. It’s a great project bike because the engine is easy to work on and there are only two carbs. You can find sporty, modern tires to fit the wheels. You take off and bolt on any number of different accessories to really make a CB350 your own. With the right tires, there are worse trail bikes than a CL350, too. That versatility combined with its intrinsic charm makes the CB350 one of our favorites. Personally, it’s on my list of motorcycles that ought to join my fleet. I can’t think of too many better bikes to knock around town on. Can you?