Aaron Ruses 1976 CL360

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Cafe Racer TV Team,

Thanks for featuring my honda CL360 as bike of the week. Its a huge honor as this not only my first cafe project but is literally the first time i have ever done body work, cut steel, welded, fiberglassed, or painted. I got interested in classic motorcycles last year when i visited my uncle’s shop. He and his buddies have created their own cafe culture in rural Indiana. I quickly got my license and bought a stock CL360 in good condition to ride. I picked up a second CL360 for parts a few months later. This was intended to be a donor when things went bad on the other bike and was in terrible shape from setting outside for almost 15 years. I did a once over on this bike and for better or worse, the dumb thing started. I knew that I couldn’t just part it out at that point. it had to become a cafe racer.

Knowing the motor was good, I worked through the winter in my unheated 2 car garage with a few basic hand tools and some rattle can spray paint. Used my buddies welder and cut off wheel for the frame mods. One of the highlights of the project is custom fiberglass seat. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I made a foam plug and sanded it to the basic shape, covered it with tape to protect it from the resin and laid up several layers of glass over the plug. I sanded between each layer to cut down on the irregularities. This allowed finishing with minimal body filler. The seat pad is glued to a fiberglass pan and bolted to the frame through the seat/tail piece. The seat cover is hand sewn from pieces of and old discarded couch. I managed to squeeze a very small battery and starter solenoid in the tail. Other electrics fit under the CB350F tank.

This tank was found in a junk yard for $10. It was rusted and dented but didn’t leak. I gave the dents some symmetry with a framing hammer and some 2×2 stock and smoothed my pounding out with body filler. This took lots of patience to get both sides to match.  Most aluminum was taken off the bike and polished with a 1940’s hobart buffing wheel I found on Craigslist. This is by far my favorite of the few tools I own. Paint is automotive rattle can from the auto parts store. I painted in the dead of winter so to allow proper drying, I would shoot parts in the garage then bring them inside to the kitchen to dry. Small parts were cured in our toaster oven while the frame, seat, and tank were hung from door frames and cabinet doors (I have a very patient wife). Reassembly took place in the kitchen as well.

Exhaust consists of the stock headers with the rotten mufflers removed and a shortened stock head shield painted black. I left the pipes unfinished and they started to tarnish. I think it adds a bit of character. Exhaust tips are actually just some copper fittings from the hardware store. This added a little back pressure and eliminated some of the open pope loud thump. I am still looking for a good way to quiet the bike down as it is embarrassing to start up in the early morning and ride through the neighborhood.  Loaded Gun Rearsets, shocks, tail light and blinkers, along with some other bits were purchased through the good folks at Dime City Cycles however I did try to reused as much from the original bike as i could. Keeping cost down was paramount for this project. I have been riding it for several months this summer and each time I take it out I still get excited. I hope this encourages other first time builders to go after it.

Hope you like it!

Aaron