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Discussion Starter #1
Im the new guy.
Not just new to the site, but new to the cafe dream. New to mechanic work, and new to tools that aren't shaping and joining wood. Please forgive me.

I received a project bike for Christmas and need some advice and help.

Its a 1974 Honda XL350 and runs well. Carb rebuilt and engine revamped. What doesn't suffice is the rusted out gas tank. Its a teardrop and is not at all the style i am looking for; and this is where I need help!
The Xl350 has a very v-shaped frame, given that its part dirtbike, which I need to compensate for with the seat and tank given that any serious welding and frame reconstruction is out of the question. How do I know that a tank will fit if I am buying it online? Is there a system in place for the type of mounting or size or distance between the front holding rubber mounts and the screw mount in the back I should be looking for, or should I just be realizing that I will need to get some help and some machine work to get a new tank to fit?

Any help would be much appreciated, any at all regarding my bike, given that I want a cafe/brat style and all I have seen conversion wise is more of a bobber.

Kohl
 

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Im the new guy.
Not just new to the site, but new to the cafe dream. New to mechanic work, and new to tools that aren't shaping and joining wood. Please forgive me.
Ugh. Dream? Really? I do not forgive you.

I received a project bike for Christmas and need some advice and help.
Someone not like you enough to give you coal?

Its a 1974 Honda XL350 and runs well.
great!!!! register it, ride it, service it. DON'T FUCK WITH IT. Get a manual and do everything in the service and maintenance section (including new tires). You are new and you want to learn? you learn by riding a motorcycle, breaking it, then fixing it. You don't learn by taking it apart and poking at it with your pecker.

Carb rebuilt and engine revamped.
how does one "Revamp" a carb? new lipstick? It's a vamp joke, it's over most people's heads.

What doesn't suffice is the rusted out gas tank. Its a teardrop and is not at all the style i am looking for; and this is where I need help!
It's not the only area you need help in. Is it a stock gas tank? how bad is the rust. Are you sure you don't want to learn how to clean it first since, you know, you've never worked on a motorcycle before and this is a perfect time to learn something? It's way cheaper and then you can keep riding.

The Xl350 has a very v-shaped frame, given that its part dirtbike,
As far as I know the XL has a very similar frame to all the other cb350s in the front half, it's the rear section that's different. This should probably be the first sign to you that maybe you have picked the wrong platform for whatever the heck you think a "cafe racer" is.

which I need to compensate for with the seat and tank
you don't know what you need.

How do I know that a tank will fit if I am buying it online? Is there a system in place for the type of mounting or size or distance between the front holding rubber mounts and the screw mount in the back I should be looking for, or should I just be realizing that I will need to get some help and some machine work to get a new tank to fit?
you don't, this shit is a gamble. You can measure the tank tunnel dimensions and width but unless you are buying from someplace with published measurements good luck getting people on ebay to send you measurements of their tanks undersides. The best way to handle this is to find a local motorcycle junkyard near you and start test fitting tanks.

By the way, machining is for engine parts, not sheetmetal.

Any help would be much appreciated, any at all regarding my bike, given that I want a cafe/brat style and all I have seen conversion wise is more of a bobber.
yeah yeah you want to be individualistic just like everyone else in this hobby and you don't know what a cafe racer or brat is you just saw someone online refer to the awful bikes from seaweed and gravel (or whatever the heck their name is) as cafe brat and now you want that. We get it. you don't really want a motorcycle you just want something else to bore your friends with at cocktail parties besides woodworking. yawn.

Here is an idea. Rather than use words you clearly don't know the meaning of, why don't you set yourself up for success. Get your bike on the road, running, riding, registered, insured. Get some real gear. Rack up miles riding and learning not to die. break the bike. fix the bike. forget your dream of a supersweet choppah-brat-cafe-mobster for a while while you actually learn the basic skills. Then when you have enough time and experience to get a handle on the magnitude of what's you obviously have currently underestimated, then you get your shit together, do some research, and buy the right bike.

And don't take yourself or any of this hobby too seriously. Except the gear part, that saves your life yo.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the help.*

As I have stated, I'm a novice. I'm a college student in fact. I have to start somewhere. I am actually quite familiar with how to ride a motorcycle. That aside, I was wondering if you would be able to let me know where you started in the realm of riding. I understand that there is a desire to protect your precious sub-culture, and being a dick to people online is how you get those kicks, and the Braveheart mentality. I'm just trying, that is all. I truly do appreciate your assistance, the little that was there. Let me know if there is some type of initiation I have to do before the entirety of the message can be assistance. On a final note, if the post says novice in the title, assume that its not for you; seems cleaner that way. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day.
 

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Look, this sounds like you are the same as every other newbie. You googled "café racer forum" and found us. You didn't take any time to read about this forum or what the goals are. Now you are moments away for butthurt because you are not getting the help you need in your game of dress up. If this is your version of a new dress then please just stop in here and ask for directions to the place you need to be.

If you have questions about servicing then ask. Plenty here can help.
If you want to talk gear then talk away. again many can help.
But if you want to post vague bullshit about "how can I mount a tank so my ass doesn't look big"or "my eyes are green, what color should I paint my frame" then fuck off.

There is no initiation, style,or sub culture. Just ride the freaking bike, then change things that make it work better. Rest is just nonsense
 

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I will try to help.
First, I am not sure what the cafe dream is. Is your only exposure to anything labeled "cafe" internet articles written by hipsters for hipsters that always start with "since such and such was a child, he had a dream to build something that personified his existence as an individual?"
Is it your current plan to build a cafe?
If you want to play, we have to start with the term racer. A "cafe racer" is a bike that has been modified to drive better, often by mimicking race bikes. A lot of the guys on here race. They are not here for looks.
If you are here for help fitting a mojave tank, "brat" seat, and clubmans to the first bike that fell into your lap, and then riding it to the bar with a scarf, leather jacket, and goggles you probably should try dotheton.com
If you are here because you are interested in bikes for what they are and want to make your bike perform better and learn more about how to do that, then we are on the right track.
Now I am new to bikes as well, especially compared to most of these guys, but here is the general advice I can give:
If you have never worked on anything mechanical before, avoid taking on a large project at once. Start with basic maintance items like learning how the points work and how to adjust them. Maybe they could use replacing.
Check your tires, if they need replacing then do so. Do the same with your chain. If your forks are leaking, try replacing the seals.
If your first problem is rust in your tank, then try to remedy that. I have used muriatic acid, and even though its smelly, it works pretty well.
By the time you have checked over the whole bike and made sure it is in tip top shape, you will have probably learned about other bikes while trolling the internet.
If there are fundamental things that you do not like about this bike that you are unable to change, you should probably not spend a ton of time and money modifying it to overcompensate.
Maybe try to sell your well maintained machine and use the money to fund a bike that you like better, and is easy to modify.
If you just got a nice running dirt bike, and have no idea what you are doing with a wrench, I do not recommend hacking different gas tanks onto it without some research and practice first at least.
 

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Thanks for the help.*

As I have stated, I'm a novice. I'm a college student in fact. I have to start somewhere. I am actually quite familiar with how to ride a motorcycle. That aside, I was wondering if you would be able to let me know where you started in the realm of riding. I understand that there is a desire to protect your precious sub-culture, and being a dick to people online is how you get those kicks, and the Braveheart mentality. I'm just trying, that is all. I truly do appreciate your assistance, the little that was there. Let me know if there is some type of initiation I have to do before the entirety of the message can be assistance. On a final note, if the post says novice in the title, assume that its not for you; seems cleaner that way. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day.
See you are already breaking the last rule and taking yourself too seriously.

you are trying, in fact you are probably trying too hard. You know woodworking right? you are basically saying with that first post that now that you have completed the birdhouse kit from Michael's you are ready to build the empire desk of your dreams (with casters because an empire desk has to have casters :rolleyes:).

If you think I only gave you a little assistance then you really have underestimated this hobby. How about this - if the topic says motorcycle, assume you just know nothing and that every question is going to come with information you did not ask for and yet you somehow didn't realize you would need.

You want to know where I started? 20+ years ago with a dirt bike. I rode it off road, I fell (a lot), I broke it a lot, and then I learned to fix it because I couldn't afford to pay someone to do it. Then I graduated to street bikes, then I took four years off from riding, and then I came back to it with a vengeance. I probably owned about 2 bikes before I started modifying my old cheap 70's motorcycles so they could keep up with friend's sport bikes. It's wasn't about how cool I looked, it wasn't about tooling over to the student union (do they still have those) at 20mph. A need for performance drove my desire to make my bike less reliable, more uncomfortable, not how cool it looked. This is the organic approach to building a "racer", you get a specific functional need in mind and then you make improvements to meet that need. That's the whole hobby. If you want to think of a bike as "Art" think of it as performance "Art".
 

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"Cafe dream" really got me chuckling. :)

"Empire desk with casters" had me really laughing. :)

Ya know, I'm very much NOT an old timer here and I'm just scratching the surface of this motorcycle "build" stuff. I'm a damn good wrench but I have a lot to learn about this hobby and I've learned a crapload here reading posts like this one where some newbie comes in looking for good advice, gets said good advice but can't seem to recognize it as such. It sad. However, the responses do indeed add to the collective mass of knowledge that resides here.

While I'm at it, here's a thank you to all you guys that offer REAL advice. You have an enormous amount of tolerance and patience. Me? I'll offer what I can if I know what the hell I'm talking about. If it's wrong and someone corrects me I'll admit my wrong, thank them for the advice and motor on down the road that much smarter.

kohlwebb, if you're still here reading, good. Listen to the advice, act on it, humble yourself, and learn.
 

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I say listen to everyone else. Someone on here I'm sure will be able to help. Don't let one jackass on here that may have some technical knowledge but is a complete dick discourage your ideas. Free thinking is what brought on the Industrial Age and collaboration is what will lead you to less mistakes.
 

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Wow! Imagine that Geeto67 trashing someone's ideas. I say listen to everyone else. Someone on here I'm sure will be able to help. Don't let this one jackass on here that may have some technical knowledge but is a complete dick discourage your ideas. I've noticed that he doesn't like anything he doesn't come up with or may be out of the ordinary. The Internet is designed to share information which he thinks is his to distribute only to people that have worked on bikes for at least 50 years and really don't need help just want to brag about how original they are because they can't think outside of their small world.

Wow!
You are a complete idiot, not just a partial. If that is what you took from Geeto's posts then I guess you do believe the internet was created by Al Gore to spoon feed you whatever your little heart desires. So you don't need to lift a finger to even use the search function here or ask your best friend Google.

Now for the OP, I was going to do a little work for you, but decided you might learn better if you do it yourself. Since you are a student and I am an educator, this makes sense to me. So, as a little learning exercise you should search on here for a build thread for an XL350 done by Wingwalker( I think his name is). Then you should search the Google images for XL350s and see what tanks others have fitted. Then if you click on the image and go to the original page for that image it may tell you what it came from. I like to call this exercise research. It is an interesting concept which may lead to actual knowledge, not just some isolated facts.

Ken
 

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Contrary to whatever bug is up Gonzo's ass, the overwhelming majority here would like you to have a positive and long lasting experience with the motorcycle hobby, including me. the best way to do that is to take it slow and not overwhelm yourself with too many projects that are likely over your head in one project bike and get you a good solid foundation from which you can really get a feel for what you will like most about the hobby.

To that end, post a pic of the bike so we can see what we are dealing with.
Post a better introduction where you explain your tools, your skill level in detail (with pics to past projects even if they are wood working ones), and where you are right now in this mess.

Here are my starter suggestions:
Get yourself a good set of tools: metric sockets, an impact driver, multimeter, and JIS screwdrivers are a requirement. Look for my build thread on the Patina cb750F as there is like a 4 page took discussion halfway in.

Get a service manual. Original honda one (which you can usually download) plus a clymer or a haynes. Also get the Honda basic carb manual and the honda basic tools manual. Read them

As for cleaning your tank there are a couple ways to do it. One is electrolysis using washing soda and a car battery charger. research it on Google and you will find lots of info. Another is caustic chemicals like toilet bowl cleaner. again google it. Either way you might want to put a liner in it and I recommend the Por15 kit and the Caswell kit, google them as well. Or start a new thread asking about tank cleaning and you'll get a lot of specific responses.

Like I said, don't take anything too seriously. We fuck around quite a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay. So I think I get the general idea of this site and I have more respect than I originally did. I read pages and pages of the most senior members posts and comments and I think I know what to ask and how to ask it.

First things first, I want to be clear that I did not want to rush the bike in any way. I thought that an intro as necessary, but I couldnt have been more wrong. I have a 1974 Honda XL350 that runs. Now, the tank is rusted out (like holes at the base, by the petcock. Very bad shape. The reason I even know that the bike runs is a makeshift bottle fed gas line. So I guess my original question should have been "I have no tank, and really need a tank to ride this bike at all."

Im not into the image. Im a mechanical engineering student and have always been project driven. I dont pass time any other way. And when I said that I do woodworking, I meant that that should be a slight indicator of my technical ability and comfort in the shop and solving problems in the same way that a motorcycle hobby will require of me.

I ride mountain bikes all the time, but my dad does the work and I have never lived with him so I do not have the experience that he does with maintenance and such.

Now on for my original question with all of this stuff out of the way, im not looking for image, except in the long run I know what I like and what I dont like. Im planning on working on this bike for years, but if I need to buy a tank now, to make the thing even operable, I should buy the tank that I will want in the long run. So thats my original motivation, I need a tank to ride.

I have tools, and know how to use them, just cant tune a bike or adjust the moving parts. I can also weld. No impact driver, but everything else mentioned.

I have done days of research and googling my particular bike, and have found projects alike mine, and they have been helpful.

Finally, I have no motorcycle graveyards in my general area and thus must resort to craigslist and eBay for a tank (I assume.)

Truly, thank you all for your variety of responses, and I apologize if my first post seemed hipster or poser. Of those I am definitely not.

Last but not least, I did not just post to the first forum I found on a Google search. I did my research and thought then, and still now, that this is the best place for educated answers. I do want a good looking bike in the long run but I want a more reliable bike most importantly.
 

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Short of a savage yard in your local area, ebay is the most likely place to source 'used' parts for your project. Just about any bike can be modified and you could go in a million directions with it. Given your starting with a dirt bike so you might look at prior projects that ended up being a street tracker bike instead of a cafe racer. Cafe Racers projects usually start with a street type bike.
 

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Now on for my original question with all of this stuff out of the way, im not looking for image, except in the long run I know what I like and what I dont like. Im planning on working on this bike for years, but if I need to buy a tank now, to make the thing even operable, I should buy the tank that I will want in the long run. So thats my original motivation, I need a tank to ride.
I want you to recognize something. This above statement is called rationalization of a bad idea. It gets all of us, and sometimes it's way more complex. But the reason I pointed it out is because you can literally see your thought process...."I have an un-useable part that I need to replace...I know what I like...I know how I want the bike to look....I have to buy a replacement part anyway I might as well buy the fancy tank I want".

What you fail to realize is all the other considerations of parts selection because...well...you haven't been riding the bike and you don't know what you want from it. Do you want more fuel and a greater range so you can go more than 100 miles between fill ups? The trade off is that the bike will handle more sluggishly with the extra weight. Do you want small capacity because you are going racing? maybe since race bikes don't usually use more than a gallon. And what about seat placement? you don't really have the seat picked out, are you going to be moving the rider position back? do you want to use the stock seat pan? how will you be adjusting the rider position?

The answer you don't want to hear is for now....get a stock tank in useable shape and then ride the bike. If you are running off a test tank then you don't have a ride-able bike and that means you don't have a solid foundation from which to build a good custom bike. I imagine if the bike is rotted in the tank then there is probably a lot of other stuff wrong with it as well that needs more attention than a custom tank. Besides, if you buy smart, you should be able to sell the tank for what you pay.
 

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"Im not into the image. Im a mechanical engineering student and have always been project driven."

Great....another engineering student....lol
You will find a large difference pre, during, and after school. A few of the people that are pointing out how dumb your plan is are engineers.

"Last but not least, I did not just post to the first forum I found on a Google search. I did my research and thought then, and still now, that this is the best place for educated answers. I do want a good looking bike in the long run but I want a more reliable bike most importantly"

second fail.
Get off the web. Go into your garage, fix the freaking bike. Then go out into the real world and ride the fucking thing.

Just buy the god dam stock tank. You have a shitty base to build the messed up idea of what café racer is anyway.
 
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