THE KID'S CAFÉ - A 16 Year Olds First Rebuild (Project Log CB350 - 1971)
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Thread: THE KID'S CAFÉ - A 16 Year Olds First Rebuild (Project Log CB350 - 1971)

  1. #1
    Member BabyBiker's Avatar
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    THE KID'S CAFÉ - A 16 Year Olds First Rebuild (Project Log CB350 - 1971)

    Hello everybody,

    So here I am again, finally making a project log as recommended by many. After starting my endeavor I now realize as a newbie I have more questions about this bike than I do dollars to build it . After my previous inquiry about painting the frame, I was so impressed and inspired by the community on this forum, I have decided that I want to be a part of it too. So hopefully by making this log, I can get some much-needed advice and feedback from more experienced people. I am going to try to keep this up to date weekly and will make sure to include many pictures.

    I will start out by giving a little history of me, the bike, and what I want to do with it.

    In the summer of 2016, I purchased a 1987 KTM Enduro (350 2 stroke) to work on. I recall buying the thing for $350. Back then I have very little knowledge of bikes and really did not even know how to downshift properly. I started to do some research and realized that it needed new brakes and a carb rebuild, not just a good clean. Once completed my parents urged me to sell it (probably smart at the time, would have hurt myself.) I posted the listing on Craigslist and within 2 days sold it to a guy for $850, making a profit of about $300. (He was actually impressed with the work.) I soon realized that I actually had a lot of fun learning in this process and that it was not just about the profit.

    So The next summer I wanted to do this again but take it a step further. With the experience of trying to get 30-year-old Austrian parts, I knew that if I wanted to do a rebuild it would have to be a more common brand of bike. I searched Craigslist for a good 2 months and jumped on a listing where a guy was downsizing his business (he has a shop where he rebuilds CBs for a living) and had a CB350 roller with most of its parts and 2 engines. After making a presentation to convince my parents, yes I had to make a powerpoint presentation with a script, It was a go. After the negotiations, I handed over the $450 and got right to work.

    Now into the process itself. I started to disassemble, clean, sort, and label every nut and bolt to the point where my OCD was satisfied. First the roller, then the engine, and then the second engine taking many pictures along the way. I got very familiar with the engine (x2) and knew what parts were going to be best for the one I was going to use. With everything organized into labeled Zip-Lock bags I was able to sell the second engine to a super nice guy in Sacramento just getting started on his project bike. So it is about halfway through summer now and I have 50% of the work done ("So I thought - Ya right" .) With the next step being to revive the frame I started not knowing that I was taking the long hard route. I wire-wheeled, sanded, primed, waited, sanded, primed, waited, sanded, painted, waited, sanded, painted, then waited. With 20+ hours spent on this, I would soon understand that I did it all wrong. Powder coating would have been more durable and actually more cost-efficient, not to mention that I didn't even have the rear hoop welded on yet. After my schooling, I decided to ignore the mistake and assemble the triple tree and swing arm. (Photo Below of the current condition.)

    So here is where I currently need your advice.
    1. Should I disassemble, have the hoop welded on, and get everything powder coated. (I could have other parts such as suspension, and hubs painted as-well.)
    2. Save the money and have the hoop welded on as is and then paint just the rear of the frame.
    3. Save the money and keep the original forks w/ a front drum brake.
    3. GSXR frontend? (The stock triple tree is already installed with All Balls Bearings.)
    4. Is it necessary to buy a good rear loop such as one from Cognito Moto ($350) or one from eBay (≈$25)?
    5. My rear shocks cleaned up nice (Photo below) should they be used or replaced?

    I am sure that I will have further questions in the future regarding polishing or painting parts, tire and rim suggestions, and how to go about rebuilding the engine (boring and resurfacing) but I will cross that road when I get to it.

    All and all I am hoping that this log will help guide me down the right path and help gain me the knowledge for many more rebuilds down the road. Thanks so much for reading.


    Photos of the Rebuild:
    -img_2351-2.jpg -img_2353.jpg
    Engine Teardown
    -img_2550.jpg -img_2611.jpg -img_2714.jpg
    Painting the frame (VHT Roll Bar and Chassis.)
    -img_2562.jpg -img_2665.jpg

    Rebuild:
    Swing arm and triple tree assembled. -img_2963.jpg -img_2965.jpg

    Parts:
    Rear hoop
    Conito Moto ($350) -coginto-moto-rear-loop-led-cb350-cafe-.jpg Ebay (≈$25) -screen-shot-2018-11-03-12.30.47-pm.jpg
    Triple Tree:
    Cogito Moto (for stock shocks) -cognito-moto-top-triple-tree-cb350-cafe-.jpg

    Inspiration: (What I'm going for.)
    -img_2711.jpg -cognito-moto-cb350-cafe-build-rear.jpg -cognito-moto-cb350-cafe-build-triple-tree.jpg
    Last edited by BabyBiker; 11-03-2018 at 02:16 PM. Reason: spelling
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  2. #2
    Senior Member 76TWIN's Avatar
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    Here's what I think I would do if I were in your situation with being a novice bike builder and with limited funds.
    I would rebuild the bike as is and use this experience to learn about the engine and everything about the bike.
    Ride it and learn how it handles. THEN if you still aren't happy with how it looks, you can change the seat, make it into a cafe, bobber, whatever to your content.

    I would also urge you to think creatively for solutions to your design. Not everything needs to be cut up and discarded. You can just as easily turn it into a cafe racer without hacking off the frame and welding a hoop on.
    Hell, I turned mine into a vintage war bike and completely changed its stance without doing any of that. I can easily turn it back to stock OEM condition with little effort.

    These bikes, although still common, are getting rarer by the day. A stock bike will be worth a lot more than one that's been hacked up.
    '76 CB500T Frankenbike
    '73 CL450 (basket case for now)


    Carpe narem.

  3. #3
    Supporting Member Yendor's Avatar
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    TOTALLY AGREEE with 76 Twin.

    Cafe Bikes are REALLY COOL LOOKING - however very few end being FUN to RIDE.
    The change in body position is significant for actual "RIDING" which is completly different then RACING.
    On the STREET you need to Stop & Start and Look ALL AROUND YOU - because if you are NOT looking out for yourself on the STREET belive us all here - no one else is.

    The Cafe position doesn't give you much in opotions for good clear looking around.

    Build it get it running with as many STOCK PARTS as possible - then if you want to mdify it go for it.
    The STOCK PARTS will allow you to trouble shoot issues much better than a lot of aftermarket add-on.

    But in the end it is your bike.
    And YES if you look at my signature I have a pending Cafe Project.
    But I intend to do it with minmal changes.
    BabyBiker, Lefty, ctrider and 1 others like this.
    1970 CB 350 CAFE - Current Project on the bench,
    1972 CB 350 K4 Red - Now a Happy Rider ! !
    1972 CB 350 K4 Green (My Sons) DONE - YES !,
    1st Bike 1970 SL 350 (Brought home in Parts - Trailer/Trunk/Back Seat - I miss that bike),
    2nd - Bike Kawasaki 750
    3rd - '73 XLCH 1000

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  5. #4
    Senior Member 540nova's Avatar
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    Congratulations on your ambition and attention to detail. The way you've marked and bagged everything up shows you have some wisdom and common sense, two different things, and much rarer than that bike you're building.
    I would recommend keeping the shocks.
    If you have your heart set on that style rear hoop, shop carefully for one that has decent wall thickness. Some of the cheap hoops are made of thin, flimsy, low grade steel, that are unsuitable for broom handles. I bought one once, and immediately returned it. The Cognito Moto one is way overpriced (even though I have one). I'm sure you can find one for less on EBay, but is still good quality.
    I would skip the GSX-R front end, for now. You can always come back to it. I just installed one on my CB350, and there's additional costs, than just the forks. It all adds up. You can look at mine on Instagram under merlincycleworks.
    Good luck!


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  6. #5
    Senior Member 540nova's Avatar
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    Forgot to answer one of your questions- if powdercoating is in your budget, it's the way to go. Do your hoop first.

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  7. #6
    Member BabyBiker's Avatar
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    Wow thanks for the fast responses guys,

    I do understand that as these bikes age, fewer stay in there original configurement and that that I am most likely going to contribute to this. It was after my work on the KTM dirt bike that I started to fall in love with the café racer style and the history behind it. Before I made the CB350 purchase I had the idea of a café set in my mind so I would still like to carry out my original intent.

    As far as riding and posture goes, I completely get it. I have heard many stories of how uncomfortable they are to ride, one of which my uncle rode across the country on one (ouch ). I also have a couple of years experience on the road my self with my Honda CRF250L, and know the dangers of how you really have to look out for yourself. "Cars look for other cars, not a large Bicycle".

    I do agree that the GSX-R fork is a little over the top and something that I don't really want to pursue right now. So I guess that leaves me with the OEM forks. When I tore them down I did a little research on how to get rid of rust on the fork tubes. Many sources and forums recommended soaking them in Wood bleach (Oxalic Acid). I did this and something funny happened (Picture bellow). I guess they were just too far gone. So I planed on ordering a new set but saw that they were $160, I figured I could get the (1972) forks with the brake caliper mount to run a front disc brake, but soon found out that they would not fit the older style triple tree. So I guess thats what got me all excited about possibilities for the front end. I actually found a listing on eBay for the tubes (1971) for $125 so I will most likely settle for those.

    As far as the powder coating goes how much do you think it would cost (Frame, swing-arm, Hubs Triple tree, etc)? I have been given a lot of nudging towards the idea as not only does it look better but that it will protect the frame from oxidation so much better. The last thing I want is more rust forming from a chip, or worse when I sell it someone else having to deal with it.

    Again thanks for the quick replies.

    -img_2970.jpg
    Last edited by BabyBiker; 11-03-2018 at 04:02 PM. Reason: Photo

  8. #7
    Senior Member ancientdad's Avatar
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    Powdercoating prices vary wildly... I got my frame and swingarm done at a place in Tampa (south of me) for $250 total. If you can afford to do it, it's the right way to go

    -20180801_184254.jpg

    you're on the right track based on what you've shared so far, particularly for your age... that speaks to both you and your parents. Keep it up
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  9. #8
    Senior Member Crashoverride's Avatar
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    I hand sanded the frame too. Lot of work but you get to know everything well. I think you should set it up stock and make sure you have a solid working engine and electronics and then start cutting it up if you really want to.
    Bike Build http://www.hondatwins.net/forums/1-p...rst-timer.html

    1971 CL350 - SUNRUNNER
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  10. #9
    Senior Member 76TWIN's Avatar
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    One last suggestion.

    Make small changes one at a time. That way when something goes wrong and not working like you wanted you'll at least know what caused the issue.
    I can't tell you how many times I have heard of guys making drastic changes to their bikes and then end up frustrated and giving up because they face too many issues and they didn't/couldn't resolve.

    CL is filled with half baked projects that people gave up on because they bit off more than they can chew.

    The phrase "It was a good idea at the time" comes to mind.
    BabyBiker and ancientdad like this.
    '76 CB500T Frankenbike
    '73 CL450 (basket case for now)


    Carpe narem.

  11. #10
    Senior Member Olivier's Avatar
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    Wow I'm really impressed. :-O
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