By Ross Sharp - 31 Aug 14
Excuses bug me, and I can conjure them up as good as most. The tank might get scratched, loads of bikes get pinched around here, my clutch lever is on the way out, I'm still running my engine in, those parts I ordered aren't here yet, the weather is no good, I don't live in Santa Cruz..... I could go on but you've heard them all before and have plenty to add. Luckily there are others out there that just get out there and 'use what they built'. Steve from Ontario, Canada is one such guy; we featured his CB350 a couple of years ago, and since then he has ridden through rain and shine, continuing the development of his trusty stead. Regular hard working father-of-two Steve picked up this '71 CB from a farm kid some years ago, before making some mild mods. He didn't try to reinvent the wheel, take the world by storm or high five himself with self-c0ngratulatory powder coated praise; he just tweaked what he had, with the time left over from shift work and family duties, in his own garage, using the skills he picked up over the years. And now, stacks of miles later, he's changed a few more parts. Apart from the powder coating, Steve has carried out all the work himself, learning along the way. The recent paint job being the hardest task to date, nearly ruined by some old dude that backed into a space, not seeing the Honda, shoving it a full car's length back. Somehow, the bike didn't topple; maybe bike gods do exist. The manky wiring loom has been upgraded and tidied, powering a new dash set up. Tricky to see from these pictures but there's a custom dash mount to support the lights and mini speedo. From the side profile it goes to show that you don't need to go crazy when customising your bike. Clip ons, decent paint, some powder coat and stubby exhausts is a good place to start. And if you plan on riding the thing as opposed to just taking pictures of it, perhaps avoid the wafer thin brat seat. A bit of winter doesn't hold Steve back; "It's been a great dependable whip (that I have to tune every now and then of course) for in town use as I had originally intended, and, I have put a heap of miles on it. Ridden in wind, rain or shine and in temperatures ranging from -15C (yes that's a negative and not including windchill!! :-)) to 35+ degrees C so this thing's seen it all. -15 is my limit though. Although the motor loves that fat cold air, cables, brakes, tires........everything starts acting weird so.......not cool". And his modest approach stretches to the aesthetics "I know she's nothing much at all compared to what you guys post on your site but this one's positive proof that, despite what many think, these things aren't necessarily just show pieces sitting there to be looked at. They're still racking up miles, leaking oil and getting us from A to B. The only difference is, we've got big smiles on our faces and bugs in our teeth. Mine's obviously got tons that I could still do to it to either clean it up or modify it more but I avoid doing stuff just for the sake of doing it. Right now, it's where I want it and it's being used all the time so, for me, it's in a good spot". As this story is posted, it's the last Sunday of August; knitwear makes its way back to the top of the drawer, leaves lose their effervescent green and bikes across the Northern Hemisphere start to be banished to garages for a cotton-covered hibernation. Let's all take a leaf out of Steve's book and just enjoy what we've got, right now. Here's to an Indian Summer, a kind autumn and a winter of riding and tinkering.