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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I'm new to the forum. I joined because I really want to restore/cafe a bike, but I'm having a hard time deciding what bike. My mechanical skills are novice at best but I'm excited at the prospect of learning new skills and building a bike.

I'm looking at mainly Hondas because they seem to be the easiest to find parts for. I'm thinking about a '77 cb400f, but I'm not sure if the 4 cylinder will be too much for my first project being that I'm not that mechanically advanced. So I don't know if I should dive into the in-line 4 or stick to a twin for now (I really like the cl350). I've been riding on the street for about 8 years (2003 SV1000s) and still love it. I do basic things myself (oil, brakes, chain/sprockets) but that's mainly it.

Any recommendations would be much appreciated. Any models/years to specifically stay away from on any of the Hondas?

Thanks,
Steve
 

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Just buy a bike and ride said bike.
dont make work for the sake of work.

stop all ideas of a cafe racer, project, build, making it your own or any of that bullshit.
just keeping an old bike running and learning to ride are enough work for you.
 

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Forget Hondas, they are old and crusty. Find a GS550 or GS750 and just make it work like the best lightly modified stock bike you can. 400F's are sexy, but after riding a SV1000 you will wonder why you bothered when you ride one. 400F's were good back in the day, they are no longer very good and being over forty years old will not make them better like old fine wine.

Forget "project", think fixing up a stock old bike to work very well. It is an important focus, and point to make.

-hic.
 

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Guys - he already has a bike. A pretty good bike, in fact.

He wants a project.

I'd say you're thinking the right way by choosing a bike that has a good aftermarket. Honda CB's generally have a strong aftermarket due to their sheer numbers.

The twins are a bit easier to work on - and being that they have 2 of most things instead of 4 means they are cheaper to do engine re-builds on.

Get yourself a running bike though - nothing will destroy your enthusiasm quicker than buying a bunch of boxes and not knowing where to start. With a running bike you are 80% there from the get go.
 

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Yes it is nice that he has a morpdern bike.
But I have seen to many novice mechanics take on to much to soon with vintage bikes.

find one that is 100% stock and running well.
try and keep it that way.
after a while you will identify weaknesses in the bike.
figure out a way to improve those areas and do that.
 

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A 350 is going to be boooooring after riding a 1000. Maybe consider buying a well running two stroke. Fun project bikes, made for shorter trips and fast enough to not be a buzz kill. Plus...they are very simple. Avoid the desire to heavily customize and just keep it running for a while. Plenty of maintenance on a stroker.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Oh yeah - don't get a CM, CX or Hawk. They're universally hated and have pretty much no aftermarket.

Thanks! Good to know, I was looking at a hawk.
Yeah I figured a twin would be easier so I'll try to stick to that. Does anyone know of any cb350 years to stay away from?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Two stroke is a good idea. I was looking at an H2 but the ones I've found have been out of my price range.
Not to put any of them down, but I'm pretty sure that all these 70s bikes are going be less exciting than my modern 1000. But that's not why I want one. I want to have a piece of history, something fun to work on a ride around a little. Any other 2 strokes worth checking out? Any I should stay away from?
 

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The CB350 years. I think they are very over rated and fashion trends mean they sell for about four times of what I think they are worth IMHO.

Plenty of relatively cheap and unloved Suzuki twins out there: GS450E or S, GS (GSX ) 400 eight-valve Twins or even discount horrors like GS300L's. They can be made into great smaller CC custom bikes. Mainly far better motors than 45 year old Hondas as well . 1981_GS450S_ad-1_980.jpg GS400E.jpg GS300L Lyla build hayabusa org.jpg

Typical old Suzuki charging issues, are a fault. It's a fairly easy fix.

Forget old two strokes for a noobie spannerhead. Maybe after cutting your teeth on a bike that needs about zero motor rebuilding. Two stokes can be a soul and wallet destroying exercise for the first foray as a gearhead.
 

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Not to put any of them down, but I'm pretty sure that all these 70s bikes are going be less exciting than my modern 1000.
You'd actually be wrong about that. Or maybe you need to redefine "exciting". A lot of these bikes are ill handling with inadequate brakes and suspension systems that are about as advanced as a stone. Your modern bike is "exciting" because it is effortless to get into extralegal speeds and in over your head quick - with many of these old bikes you don't have to be doing 0-60 in 1.8 seconds and be over 60 mph to be in over your head. There is a lot more to manage and a lot more to be cognizant about while you are riding. To ride an old bike in modern traffic takes a lot more concentration and is a lot less forgiving.

But that's not why I want one. I want to have a piece of history, something fun to work on a ride around a little. Any other 2 strokes worth checking out? Any I should stay away from?
A "piece of history" is kind of a stupid reason to want an old bike. Anything that rates as a "piece of history" is already outside your price range (H2 kawasaki for example), and anything common and cheap isn't going to provide you the same riding experience as one of the more legendary bikes. Honestly if you want japanese, cheap, and a piece of history a SOHC cb750 or an XS650 are probably your only options and neither can be had for less than $1500 for a runner these days. Ironhead sportsters are also cheap but it is a lot of work to make one go around a corner and the odds of you getting a shit one is very high since they are pretty much "my first harley" for every dirtbag who hasn't made it to prision...yet. If you really want a piece of history, go buy an old brit bike because they really just don't make them that way anymore and they handle better than most and will deliver a unique riding experience. OIF Triumphs and BSAs are relatively cheap, esp BSAs. Guzzi tonti frame bikes (850T, T3, etc) can be had relatively cheap but nothing to fix on a motoguzzi is cheap.

Any old bike will not run out of things for you to do on them so buy the nicest running, registered, and riding one as you can afford.

If you are still settled on a two stroke the ones to look at are kawasaki h1s, yamaha RD400s, Suzuki T500s, Suzuki GT series triples, and that is about it. All the others are not going to have a good aftermarket or be too expensive (like the h2 or rd350 - both have good aftermarkets but are stupid expensive for what they are).
 

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Modern bikes can be a total yawn on a normal street ride because they are so smooth and waft along on a tiny of a whiff of throttle at near legal speeds. Most older bikes need throttle action and gearbox shuffling to get anywhere. Older bikes are far more engaging, rewarding and entertaining.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You'd actually be wrong about that. Or maybe you need to redefine "exciting".



Your right I need to define exciting as it pertians to different types of bikes. Was not my intention to offend or sound ignorant.

Having a "piece of history" isn't my reason for wanting one, that's just the icing on the cake as I can see it.

I'm not settled on a two stroke yet, just something ill have to look into and research. I do think I'm going to stay away from a 4 cylinder though (at least for this, my first classic bike). I think having to deal with four carbs might be a little much for my first go round. Your probably right about not being able to afford a good two stroke, so I probably won't have to put much time into that. My budget is pretty limited to start. Looking to get a running bike for less than $1000.
 

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Looking to get a running bike for less than $1000.
Good luck with that, any bike that is running for $1000 generally isn't going to be worth having (unless it is a friend deal or something similar). I think you should broaden your budget by at least 50%. Something you must know - you buy all the previous owner's parts at 75% discount and all labor for free so the more you spend on a good bike the cheaper it is as a project. Like we have said, it is an old bike and you will never run out of tasks, but let the other guy pay the $600 it costs for the crank seals or bottom end rebuild.

For $1200 to $2000 there are lots of bikes that are common but worth having, most of them japanese:
- later Honda SOHC cb750 (74-78)
- late 70's/early 80's xs650 (even the psuedo chopper ones are ok if you are looking to get into cheap and spend more down the road - if I was going to do a phil little storm kit I would look for an xs special to start with)
- 1971-75 Suzuki T500
- Honda Cb500T
- Suzuki GS450
- Suzuki GS750 (and 1000 if you look hard enough)
- kawasaki kz650.

There are lots of others, but I am limiting the bikes that I think have an "older" feel to them not found in modern bikes. I could easily recommend a 1979-1982 DOHC cb750F SuperSportand it would be easy to find one in your price range but they "feel" more modern than the older bikes because they have semi good brakes and much more stable feeling on the road. To put it in airplane parlance - riding a SOHC cb750 back to back with a DOHC cb750 feels like you are going from a stearman biplane to a beechcraft bonanza.
 

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Only reason I really recommended the two stroke route is they have a strong following right now and would be worth what you put into in most cases. Any dime a dozen jap 4 stroke will never get you out of it what you have in.
 

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Oh and you would be amazed what a 70s t500, h2, or rz350 will do to your butthole when you get on the throttle.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'm glad I joined and started this thread, I've gotten lots of great tips and I info already! Thanks guys
 
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