1971 Honda CB 350 – One Year Review

Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance

It’s difficult to imagine a more user-friendly classic motorbike than Honda’s legendary CB 350. Once the best selling motorcycle in the world, the CB 350 is still coveted as an entry-level collector’s bike today.

My CB 350 had fewer than 7,000 miles on the odometer when I purchased it. One year and 3,000 miles later, I sold it and moved on to another bike. I rode it several times per week, mostly on country roads and rural highways. I really wanted to experience a 1960s-70s era bike and the Honda offered it in spades.

The CB 350 was light and nimble. Although small compared to today’s monstrous, overpowered motorcycle engines, the 350 was considered a mid-sized bike for its time. It remains a great motorcycle for beginners. Its 36 horsepower rating is sufficient for comfortable cruising in the 50-60 mph range without intimidating a new rider.

CarParts.com
Shop the NASCAR Justice League Collection
Shop for 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Gear at Store.NASCAR.com

I found a “New Old Stock” original Honda luggage rack and mounted it on my CB 350 so I could carry my gym bag or a backpack with greater ease and comfort. The rack was wide, carried everything I needed and the weight didn’t upset the balance of the bike. 

Honda’s dual-carburetor 350cc twin engine seems pretty indestructible. Although my bike had fairly low mileage, I’ve spoken with many other CB owners whose bikes have gone well beyond 30,000 and sometimes even 40,000 miles. And the 350 powerplant created a truly magnificent sound when mated to Emgo’s Dunstall replica silencers. The tone was low, gentle and rumbling without the desperate “look at me” volume of some bikes.

The engine redlines at 9200 revs, but I never accelerated beyond 8000. There was no need. The little Honda pulled hard between 5000 and 7000 rpm’s and was reasonably tame at 65 miles an hour. If you need more than that, I recommend a bigger bike. The CB 350 really hits its stride between 40 and 55 miles per hour. The engine wasn’t comfortable at less than 2000 revs, but at 3500 to 4500 it felt perfect.

Maintenance on the Honda was fairly straightforward. It used oil, but only in microscopic amounts. Not bad for a 45-year-old bike. It ran without complaint on 87 octane fuel so long as I faithfully used STA-BIL 360 Fuel Stabilizer in every tank. Failure to do so would have been disastrous because today’s ethanol-laced fuels induct moisture and attack every gasket and seal in the fuel system. With STA-BIL in the tank, the engine never missed a beat and suffered no damage from ethanol whatsoever.

My Honda CB 350 averaged 37 miles per gallon of fuel. That number remained largely unchanged regardless of what brand of fuel I used or whether I was riding primarily on the highway or city streets.

Fuel mileage was, however, sensitive to spark plug condition. The plugs fouled regularly and if ignored, would foul to the point of stalling the engine. Cleaning or replacing the spark plugs about every 600 miles seemed to do the trick. The only other way to seriously alter fuel mileage was through consistent hard acceleration, in which case fuel mileage would drop to about 30 mpg. The maintenance routine wasn’t bad at all and reminded me why these bikes were considered so reliable back in the 1970s.

Time machines aren’t cheap, but the Honda CB 350 is. For less than $4,000 you can still go back in time and experience the 1970s in all their glory. The slightly too-soft ride, mildly stiff throttle and minor vibration aren’t annoying or severe, but they’re just enough to constantly remind you that 1971 wasn’t such a bad place to be.

Stephen Cox

Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions

Driver, Super Cup Stock Car Series and Electric GT Championship

Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN

Previous articleToyota NCWTS Iowa Post-Race Recap
Next articleNathanial Sparks Takes Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup Victory at Road America
Stephen Cox is a racing driver in the Electric GT Championship, the Super Cup Stock Car Series and the World Racing League endurance sports car series. He is also a television host and CEO of Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions. He is currently in his 10th season as a co-host on NBCSN’s Mecum Auto Auction. Stephen also serves as producer for the Super Cup Stock Car Series telecasts on MavTV and other programming on Fox, Outdoor Channel, Velocity and more. His past television work includes hosting: Champ Car World Series Indianapolis 500 NASCAR Winston West Barber Dodge Pro Series Paris-Dakar Rally USAR Hooters ProCup Stock Car Series Mid-American Stock Car Series ARCA Truck Series Stephen Cox is among America’s most versatile professional racing drivers. Few drivers have competed on both asphalt and dirt. Fewer still on both road courses and ovals. Fewer still in both open wheel and stock cars. And virtually none can add the elite division of off road desert racing to their resume. Stephen has not simply raced in each of these divisions – he has scored championships, wins, poles or top ten finishes in every single category, and in 2017 he adds the international Electric GT Championship sports car series to the list. From ARCA ovals to SCCA road courses, endurance racing to Rolex GT sports cars, from Tecate SCORE Baja Trophy Trucks in desert sands to the Hooters Pro Cup Series and Super Cup Stock Car Series on America’s famous southern ovals… Cox has driven them all, and won. Track record holder at Midvale Speedway (OH USA) Track record holder at Gingerman Raceway (MI USA) 18 career wins 17 career poles Mitsubishi factory test driver 2004 GT Challenge Series champion 2004 Championship Motorsports Association Rookie of the Year As a writer, Cox has authored: L&M PORSCHE; the story Penske’s 1972 Can-Am championship SHELBY LEGEND, TRANS-AM WINNER; the 1966 Ford Mustang Group 2 SCCA Racer AGAINST ALL ODDS; the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona Cox also authored the Small Team Sponsorship Guide for beginning sponsor-hunters, the classic book and seminar that redefined the way entry level teams attack corporate sponsorship.

1 COMMENT

  1. I loved my CB 350. One funny story, I worked about a mile from home at the time of ownership. I discovered on more than one occasion (failure to turn fuel on) the float bowls in the carburetors held almost enough gas to make it to my office. Great bike, still miss it!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here