MissMarie None
6/12/09 6:59 p.m.

Hi all! I'm brand-new to the forum and to motorcycle riding, but I could use a little advice.

It's T-minus one month until I complete an MSF safety course and get my motorcycle license. In the meantime, I've been looking at bikes - and (just in like in my love life) I'm lusting after one I'm not sure about.

It's a '72 Honda CB350, 17,000 miles, good shape - new battery, new tires, the current owner's a mechanic who replaced a lot of the engine parts. Before he bought it, it was sitting in a heated basement for two decades. Seems a value at $1K. I love the way it looks and feels - but again, I'm a total newbie. In doing some research, I've seen some folks say it's great for beginners; other complain it'll be a maintenance headache.

What do you think? Would you recommend it for a total beginner, or should I keep hunting?

wherethefmi HalfDork
6/12/09 9:09 p.m.

Keep hunting, parts are going to be a scrounging nightmare, my old boss had an addiction to them, and had a hard time getting parts, even though he was the parts manager at a HONDA dealer.

jwdmotorsports HalfDork
6/13/09 6:13 a.m.

They are cool looking bikes. I have a 74 CB360 in the garage waiting for me to work on it.

Anyone know if CB350 front ends work on CB360s?

stuart in mn
stuart in mn Dork
6/13/09 7:32 a.m.

Well, if it's in good condition you shouldn't have to do any parts hunting. CB350s are kind of like the stone ax of the motorcycle world - they're simple, reliable bikes that are easy to ride. When I was a kid you couldn't swing a cat without hitting one, they were everywhere. As far as getting parts for older bikes, in my experience old Hondas are the easiest; they built a zillion of them, and if you can't get parts from the factory there are a number of old parts dealers out there. http://www.honda350k.com/

MissMarie New Reader
6/13/09 9:52 a.m.

Good to know. When I do (eventually) get another, newer bike, think I'll have any problems transitioning from the "old style" to the "new?"

wherethefmi HalfDork
6/13/09 10:16 a.m.

Well I wasn't trying to be a doomsayer, just relaying my experience, also that was before the internet was so prelevant, I mean I didn't even have more than one email account back then. And I believe that a newer bike will be harder to transition to only cause performance will be much better in a lot of areas. Brakes will be much better, acceleration will be faster, tires will be wider/stickier, but that's half the fun. That would be the case with modern bike to modern bike also.

WLB New Reader
6/13/09 10:46 a.m.

The oil pump and oil filter--if you can call it that--on 350's are primitive. New cam bearings have been non existant for around 20 years. $1000 seems grossly over priced unless it is absolutely mint.

BoxheadTim New Reader
6/13/09 4:22 p.m.

The CB250 & CB350 were Hondas bread & butter bikes back then, they performed well enough and they to tend to work OK. Depending on what spares you're after it shouldn't be that hard to find them but Honda will most likely list them as 'unobtanium'. Over here in Europe you should be able to get the parts from either David Silver Spares in the UK or CMS in the Netherlands. I think both of them should be able to send parts to the US but you might be surprised about the shipping cost.

I don't think these bikes have got any massive weaknesses (OK, the words "Honda" and "Camchain Tensioner" usually cause massive fright in anybody into older Hondas) and if the guy is competent then it might be a decent buy. But please take someone with you who knows bikes so you don't end up buying an overpriced shed. Oh, and if the bike has the usual Honda swinging arm comedy disk front brake I'd be careful riding it in wet weather...

Don't expect it to perform like a modern bike, but most middleweight modern bikes are a lot bigger and a lot more powerful.

Regarding the price - I don't know that much about the US used bike market apart from going to through the relevant mags whenever I'm over there, but I'd also think that it's a little on the high side unless the guy's thrown a lot of money and time at it and the result is, well, mint.

ManofFewWords Reader
6/13/09 6:30 p.m.

I think your answer might be related to how much of a mechanic you are. I had a 74 cl360 which was a great bike for what it was, but I also like tinkering.

MissMarie New Reader
6/14/09 12:54 a.m.

I'm not mechanic-minded at all, so I'd be outsourcing most of the work. I'm just really digging the vintage look of the CB350.

(For comparison purposes, the other bike I'm contemplating is an '01 GZ250. Totally different, but also good for beginners, from what I understand.)

It's exciting to be buying my first bike, but it's also a bit disconcerting - I don't want to screw it up!

alex HalfDork
6/14/09 12:17 p.m.
WLB wrote: $1000 seems grossly over priced unless it is absolutely mint.

I disagree. The days of the free 'Jap crap' bikes are long gone. Early Hondas are beginning to climb in value. Or, they were until the economy started circling the drain a couple years ago.

If the bike is totally roadworthy and needs no work to get you our and riding as soon as you bolt the plates on, it's absolutely worth $1000. If it's in really good cosmetic shape, too, the deal is even better.

I do recommend taking along a friend who's knowledgeable, or dropping it by a trusted shop for a once-over. If it's in good shape now, it shouldn't need much in the near future - they're dead simple machines. Common maintenance parts are still readily available. You'll run into a little trouble if something odd breaks - like a handlebar switch group or something - but there's almost always one of these being parted out on eBay or Craigslist these days, so it won't cause a major headache. Just a minor one.

My only qualm about recommending this bike to you as a first ride: this is a bike that will require occasional fiddling. If you're disinclined to that sort of thing, I'd suggest buying as new as possible.

But if you're at all inclined to tinker, these bikes are a great way to learn the lost arts of carburetors and breaker point ignition systems. Great way to start conversations in bars, if you like confused looks.

BoxheadTim New Reader
6/14/09 12:22 p.m.

Well, with the CB350 you'd need someone who knows their way around old Hondas. They're not that hard to maintain but most people who wrenched on them when they were new have long since retired.

The GZ250 is probably slightly easier to live with (especially if you have a Suzuki dealer or mechanic close) but I'd personally prefer the CB350. In fact if/when my wife and me finally manage to live on the same continent and maybe even in the same city, I'm seriously thinking of getting her a CL350 to learn to ride on...

Jensenman SuperDork
6/15/09 6:49 p.m.

The old CB's were tough as nails. Having said that, they have 1960's technology such as ignition points which require cleaning and gapping every so often. The cam chain tensioner on older Hondas puked mostly due to lack of correct adjustment, which isn't hard but it does bear checking every so often. Everything on it (throttle and clutch cables, drum brakes, etc) will require periodic adjustments. What that means is that yes they are a 'tinkerer's bike'. Nothing earth shattering, any decent manual can walk you through the odds and ends. If you don't plan to go that way and learn to fiddle with it yourself, you'll need to find someone who does and that can be tough now, the 'old guard' who grew up working on those have all pretty much retired by now. EDIT: Boxhead Tim beat me to that one.

If it's really cherry (paint clear and original, rims and spokes not rusty, starts quick and easy with no smoke, everything works) then it could be well worth $1k. I agree with having someone who is knowledgeable about these old beasts go with you to look at it.

Xceler8x Dork
6/16/09 9:01 a.m.

All mechanical stuff aside it's just about the perfect size for a beginner bike. The gas mileage should range from good to astounding. They also say you meet the nicest people on those.

pinchvalve SuperDork
6/16/09 9:46 a.m.

I think a beginner bike should be 500cc and $1000. And a Honda. But that's just me.

10/5/13 11:29 p.m.

got my license in MI 20 years ago. Never rode. found a 72 CB350 here in NJ. unused by second owner in 25 years. 3000K miles total. garaged and covered in dust, some rust. as a newbie/first timer who can turn a wrench any suggestions on books/websites for getting her up and running? check list of things to look for when considering acquiring her this coming week or deciding to pass on it? All insights/advice/counsel welcome. looking for a winter project to keep me focused and busy until the snow melts in NJ as we just relocated from GA!

Woody MegaDork
10/6/13 3:58 a.m.

Zombie thread.

alex UberDork
10/7/13 10:13 a.m.

In reply to jojoringo:

Gently turn the motor using the kickstart lever. If it turns pretty freely (there will be stiff spots when you hit the compression stroke), you're in pretty good shape. If it doesn't kick over nicely, drop your offer to $250. Unless by some miracle it was stored dry, it will definitely need a complete carb rebuild and thorough fuel tank cleaning. Replace the fuel lines and the in-line filter as well. I believe 350's all had cable drum brakes, no fluid to worry about. (If that's not the case, replace the brake fluid.) Replace the tubes and tires, they'll be dry-rotted past the point of safety.

Aside from that, look for places that critters may have infiltrated. They really like airboxes, and you'll occasionally find nests or stores of food in the low point of the exhaust pipes. Check the wiring for any spots where it may be brittle enough to start cracking. If electrics start acting up, get to cleaning the corrosion off the contacts before you start replacing parts.

These things are really pretty simple, so work on doing your diagnostics carefully and thoroughly and you should be in good shape by spring.

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