From the Emirates comes a classy, elegant cafe racer, scourged from a barn in Texas, and given a new life by a South African maestro. Meet the Honda CB350, in its second innings as a rather stylish daily runabout.
Dubai based professional photographer Antonie Robertson is also a motorcycle aficionado. The type who can tear apart an entire motorcycle and rebuild it into a tasteful, focused custom affair. Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Antonie has worked his magic on a variety of bikes, from tiny Italian mopeds to the giant Africa Twin.
As part of Möto Molle Dubai, Antonie has dabbled in custom bikes that have a trace of the Middle East in their finish. His latest build, a 1972 Honda CB350 parallel twin, found its way to him from a barn in Texas two years ago. Referred by a friend in the US, this motorcycle was a case of neglect. Bugs had made its carburettors their home, while the rest of the bike was shrouded in cobwebs. Antonie had the CB shipped to Dubai, where it was stuck in customs. The authorities simply did not believe the fact that Antonie had paid $750 for a motorcycle. It was when they finally opened the crate for inspection, did the customs department immediately clear the Honda for collection.
The bike was so deteriorated that Antonie had to peel away the tires from the rims using knives and pliers. Most of the body and mechanical parts were either rusted or broken. Some parts were simply missing. In the middle of summer, Antonie began systematically breaking the bike down. The engine was rebuilt in his fourth-floor air-conditioned apartment. The cylinders were filed and planed by hand, and then sent away to be bored and honed. The engine now runs on oversized Wiseco pistons and a rebuilt cam.
The bug infested stock carbs are gone, replaced with twin Mikuni VM34 classic carbs. The engine now breathes through a set of K&N filters. The CB350 used to run on points ignition, which has been swapped out for an electronic system designed by Probe Engineering. A new, heavy duty clutch now handles the power the Honda puts out. Antonie has also rebuilt the starter motor, although he prefers to kick start the motorcycle. “It comes to life in a single kick, so it is always tempting to do that!”
The 1972 Honda CB350 came with drum brakes on both ends from the factory. Antonie swapped out the front drum brake setup and set up a disc-caliper unit from another donor motorcycle: a Honda GB250 with Tokico brake caliper. The fork outer tubes of the CB350 were rechromed, and the GB250’s top triple clamp was fitted on top of them. “I really like the slump curve of the GB250 top triple, so I had to go with it once I’d seen it. It gives the front an old school vibe without giving itself away.”
The Honda now has an upgraded stator unit, and lots of wiring cleverly run through the frame. Bigger electrical components are neatly hidden under the seat. Motogadget provided the M-Unit, digital speedometer and switchgear for a minimal, classy feel. To keep the classic vibe alive, Antonie decided to keep the bulb-based lights of the CB350. The speedo, buttons and headlamp all nestle within an aluminium fairing hand-fabricated by Antoine himself.
Antonie then refurbished the hubs of the original wheels and laced them up to new rims with thick stainless steel spokes. The fenders were hand-shaped out of mild steel by Antoine himself, in an effort to learn metal shaping.
The frame was detabbed and a new rear loop was added. Antonie then sanded the entire frame down by hand, without resorting to filler. Down the sides and under the seat hang leather pouches, again hand-sewn by Antonie out of camel leather. The seat was again hand-sewn by the man himself. He also affixed low bars, rearset footpegs, fabricated custom gear and brake pedal linkages, and relocated the side stand.
The Honda wears a custom paint scheme befitting its age and its current location. The tank is a fine gold with period-correct CB graphics running down both its sides. The badges are from the original rust-bucket and went back on, as a reminder of the true age of the motorcycle. Most of the body is blacked out, with just the right amount of silver and chrome. Tasteful job throughout, with nothing that sticks out like a sore thumb. This kind of paint job requires extraordinary attention to detail; something Antonie doesn’t lack. In its current guise, the CB350 would look right at home parked next to a gold souk.
Rebuilding the Honda enabled Antonie Robertson to meet Marco Moller, owner of Möto Molle, and together they finished the build. Marco himself engraved the hare on the CB350’s oil-filter cover. The CB350 helped the both of them to set up their own method of running a custom motorcyle business. And we believe the business is sure to be a hit, if the Honda is any indication of things to come.
Source: Bike Exif