Restoration of motorcycles to a high standard is a tricky balance of showing sensitivity to the designs and build processes of yesteryear whilst honouring the burning desire to implement improvement. The term Restomod was coined a while back and it sums up the process nicely. When a bike is as intrinsically pretty as one of the small capacity Honda twins from the sixties and early seventies it seems a shame to go too far with customisation for fear of erasing that link with nostalgia and them good ol’ days.
I’m rather partial to these versatile little bikes and this ’73 CB350 is about as clean as you’ll find. The Pacific Motorcycle Company nestled at the northern tip of New Zealand’s south island have quickly made a name for themselves by producing custom bikes from classic donors with better-than-new results. We’ve featured a few of them over the last couple of years and this ‘The Dark Angel’ came courtesy of a box of parts left over from a previous build.
Pacific’s chief builder Alan Pritchard picks-up the story, “Back when we started our first ever build, The Red Rocker, which was also a ’73 CB350, we had the donor bike plus we’d also bought another in case we needed parts for the build, it was in reasonable shape but didn’t run too well. As The Red Rocker took shape more and more was stripped off the other donor until in the end it languished in the corner of the workshop, just a frame and a few boxes of parts.” A sad but familiar tale.
“We had started another build (an XV920) when Pacific’s owner Ron decided to have a shop clear-up, the CB was dragged out of the corner put on a vacant bench to be worked on side-by-side with the Yamaha project. The brief was pretty simple, to rebuild her, but not make too many drastic changes, unlike the XV, the CB’s are rather more aesthetically pleasing and easier on the eye, so this one would be not as radical as the Rocker!”
The engine was completely rebuilt including a newish crank as there was far too much play in the old one. Once completely stripped-down, cleaned and blasted refurbishment and reassembly could take place. All rewarded with a satin black paint finish for the barrels, side cases and heads, the main cases left in a vapour-blast finish. The frame was mostly left untouched due to New Zealand’s rather draconian regulations, if any major parts of the frame are cut, the whole bike is then subject to a Low Volume Inspection, which means stacks of paperwork and unwanted costs. Finding a customer for project bikes isn’t always easy but in this case Serendipity helped out. “The Yamaha and the Honda were progressing nicely when our graphics guy Jason called in for a visit, bringing a friend who was searching to buy something a bit different from the usual ‘showroom’ rides he’d seen. Turns out he loved what we were doing and liked the vision we had for the two bikes, so commissioned them both, the XV for him and the CB for his wife.” Score!
We had initially intended for the CB to have a much higher stance with longer CX forks and longer rear shocks, but now had to tailor it to the customer. The original CB fork tubes were fitted and shorter YSS shocks, which had to have new clevis ends machined, as finding a suitable set for early Honda’s with a clevis fitting proved virtually impossible.
A new seat was fabbed to sit on the frame rails and ‘hook’ over the back of the uncut frame, loaded with high density foam and finished in a soft black leather.
The mudguards are own-brand PMC items which the guys use on most of their builds, here they’re cut and shaped to suit. The tank is standard and the side panels were retained.
Handle bars are Zeta MX along with the newly-developed PMC handlebar switches. Alan is quite proud of these“Aluminium machined with neat switches, big enough to use with a gloved hand, they were named the “Davros” switch after Ron said they reminded him of the Daleks! They consist of three switches on each side for lights indicators, horn, start etc. with the wiring running through the bars keeping it all neat and uncluttered.”
All the hardware, frame forks etc were coated satin black, including the rebuilt wheels which now have some rugged Shinko rubber fitted to give a bit of a scrambler feel and look. The Headlight is a 5 ½” Bates with halogen indicators coupled together with PMC’s headlight/indicator mounting kit and tail light is a mini Bates LED. The rather drab original footrests were changed for some machined aluminium ones with the toe shifters turned in-house.
Having gone this far there was no point relying on a 43 year old wiring loom so Alan made a fresh one, incorporating a new stator and regulator kit from Ricks Motorsport Electrics and now fires-up with ease. The old CV carbs were swapped-out for a pair of Mikuni VM’s with Ramair foam filters that sit neatly inside the mouth of the original side panels.
The exhaust was built in-house from stainless steel and is now one of the standard-fit modifications on all Pacific built bikes, unwrapped and uncoated tubing flow into a pair of stainless reverse cone mufflers. With the CB motor uncorked the pipes sound great according to Alan “Angels are supposed to sing, but this is the Dark Angel…… and she howls!”
He didn’t want to go crazy with the paint, preferring to keep it classy with a simple silver and traditional Honda wings on the tank. Looks to be a top job from where I’m sitting.
Alan and the crew at PMC seem to have well and truly found their custom feet and must surely now be one of the go-to custom shops in New Zealand, north or south island. With subtle improvements and upgrades resulting in such a handsome machine it would now seem a shame to see one of these classic CBs restored in the old fashioned way. Perhaps the restrictive vehicle modifications rules have had a more positive outcome than Alan expected. via The Bike Shed