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1971 Honda CB350 – Ellaspede Customs

Posted on August 23, 2011 by Andrew in Brat, Classic. 39 comments

Ever found yourself in the midst of a stalled custom project due to a nasty case of procrastination? Whether it be a sudden and irrational dislike you develop towards your less-than-perfect tools, an aversion to spending too much time in that cold, damp box you call a garage, or the guilty realisation that yes, maybe your better half is right and that you should spend some “quality time” on relationship building. Whatever the case, the excuses are myriad but the results are the same – an unfinished bike. Consider then the design team of Steve and Leo at Brisbane’s Heluva Pty Ltd who had their project put on hold by nothing less than Australia’s worst ever floods invading their shop. All this and they still managed to turn out one of the most original and innovative CB Hondas we’ve seen in a month of blue moon Sundays. Feeling a little guilty now, are we?

Leo takes up the story. “To give you a bit of a back ground, Steve Barry and I (Leo Yip) are both industrial designers and met whilst at university. After finishing our degree we landed jobs in the design industry. I worked in a consultancy designing electronic consumer goods, Steve in a medical design company designing surgical equipment.”

“After a while of working for ‘the man’ we were both ready for a change and discussed the idea of building bikes and designing related products for ourselves. We left the jobs and started our company Heluva Pty Ltd. In 2009, we bought a run down, rusty and non-running 1971 Honda CB350, from just outside of Bundaberg. Once back at headquarters (Leo’s garage) we assessed the bike and started sketching ideas. A wide range of plans for the bike came out but we as we were setting up a business and had other projects on the go we didn’t really act on it until mid 2010. By early 2011 the bike was close to being released, but then the Brisbane flood hit us hard.”

“We managed to save the CB350 and some other bikes we had since obtained from the rising water by pushing them up a few flights of stairs. However, the aftermath was basically 6 months of clean up and repurchasing a lot of tools. The water level caught many people out and the insurance dramas are still on going.”

“It has taken a while but with a makeshift workshop we finished the 350 and took it to its first show in August this year. Our knowledge and skills from Industrial Design and car restoration have helped in creating 001. As mentioned, we started off by sketching the motorcycle, then went onto to shaping the tank and seat out of white foam.”

“From there we went to metal, hand fabricating the tank and seat. We didn’t want to just do another ‘café’ CB350… I guess it was more a case of knowing what we didn’t want rather than what we did. The result (we think) fits with our idea and design style of taking elements of the old and blending them with the new. We haven’t really defined what the style of 001 is… and we kind of like that about this bike.”

“001 is the first of hopefully many bikes to be released under our brand name ‘Ellaspede’. We are currently working on a few others and hope to release another one or two before the end of 2011.”

So, what are you waiting for? Some kind of well written wrap-up parragraph that finishes the story and makes you feel all nice and warm inside. Get off your asses, go to your bikes and get wrenching. After all, if it’s not six feet under a muddy river then you haven’t really got a decent excuse, now have you?

  • GuitarSlinger

    Amazing what the custom bike builders these days are doing with ancient and at the time rather boring Japanese M/C's from Cafe to Bobbers to Choppers

    Truth be known a few tried in the 70's but the movement fell on its face . So its good to see so much success today .

    A great idea that was a long time in coming

  • love the rear section!! and the batle with the elements!! Good job

  • I find it refreshing to see what creative people can do with something rather ordinary like a Honda 350. Great piece of engineering!

  • Really great little bike! I resolve to get an old Honda 350 / 400 / 750 and start working on one again.

  • auro

    this is really a nice, well thought machine, with beautiful finishing touches. well done!

  • Spud

    Tail light looks like its gonna emit an energy blast to blow the villains into bits. (Reminds me of Cyclops from the X-men). The rear tire seems too big for the bike though.

  • cmc

    At first glance I didn't think much of it, but by the time I had finished the article I was smitten. Perhaps that top photo isn't it's best angle. The others reveal it as a fantastic, interesting and no doubt fun-to-ride and comfortable machine.

  • rob

    congrats to the guys who built this–they sure did get it right. with mufflers, a seat that looks thin and cool but still comfortable, hidden tail light, handlebars made for real people, and a sweet tank, this bike is right on. Also, the hidden wallet/tool pocket in the seat is pretty genius, and fitting for my personal crusade of trying to figure out just where anyone stashes anything at all on all these "stripped-down" cafe racers… i guess everyone has a film-crew in a van following along with things like registration papers, a couple of wrenches and maybe (gasp) something for a flat-tire when your vintage firestones are roasted thin from gravel-road burnouts? anyway, rock on to Ellaspede!

  • Jay Allen

    I don't know what to call the style of the back end – Cafe Muscle????? but I love the bike, and great writing by the Pipeburn staff and Leo too

  • David

    Very very nice. Fresh!

  • P.F. Flyer

    I am going to be the odd man out on this, but it is just plane ugly. Looks great from the rear and no doubt from the front, but that side veiw is just plane ugly. The seat doesn't work with the tank, the tank doesn't work with the engine, the engine…. It looks like parts stuck together with no direction. Applude the effort, but not the outcome. Sorry Charlie!!

  • visions

    what a classic looking bike! such a future-retro look and that exhaust setup is perfect


  • rob

    @P.F. Flyer: interesting that you say that about the seat/tank combo, because i was thinking that the lines of the seat match the angles of the tank so much better than all the round tank/flat-as-a-pancake seat deals we have seen by wrenchmonkees, blitz, deus, etc… i mean, it finally looks like someone thought out how to make a flat-style seat that could actually be comfortable and look like it is meant to go on the bike… but, i guess that's what makes horseraces! i am happy we don't all have the same opinions in this world, makes it a lot better place.

  • davmo

    What a beautiful piece of art. Amazing that some of the beauty of these bikes, and their simple elegance is once again being appreciated. Well finished and complete.

  • ian hoodless

    top job boys !!

  • auro

    what tyres did they use, exactly?

  • g

    Love the bike overall, especially the seat, just worried that there doesn't seem to be any travel for the rear suspension? Is this just dropped down for the photo shoot cool look, or am I missing something. I'm new at this so maybe it's me but …..

  • DAoud

    Ho hum! Once again strip it down paint it nice and you've got a cucstom. I don't know what tires those are but I had a pair on my tractor once. I like the paint job, too bad they had to put their name all over it. Can't they remember who they are?

  • Hi all and thanks to Pipeburn for the great article featuring our first bike.
    Thanks also to everyone that commented. It's great to get feedback be it positive or negative.

    In answer to some of the questions:

    'Spud', the tyre choice was one we debated and yes at times I agree that the rear looks big. (Some have said the front looks too big also) but we wanted it to look a bit tough and to completely distance this bike from the piss-weak look standard CB350's have. Thanks for the 'Energy Blaster' idea too, may have to employ that in the future.
    'Auro', the tyres are Firestone Deluxe's (18 x 4 F / 16 x 5 R). We had these for a while not fitted and were initially a little worried when we saw so many people using them but in the end it was the look we wanted for 001 so stuck with them. I don't imagine there will be too many 'gravel road burnouts' so hopefully wont have to stash tools for that.

    'Jay', "Cafe muscle" rear end. Yes, I can see how you think that. We wanted to taper the rear to give it a slender, low look. And speaking of which, 'G', the suspension travel is limited to about 35mm, so no, not an off-roader or even rough-roader… This is more a show bike than anything and whilst limited we do ride it… so far haven't bottemed out. (Lengthy bump stops and plenty of pre-load help with that).

    The look of the bike is not to everyones taste and has polarised a few… that's ok, it is a little odd we agree but that is also what we like about it. 'P.F. Flyer' I appreciate the honest comments but similarly, 'Rob' thanks for offering an opposing opinion about the same thing. We did sculpt the tank facets to blend with the seat because of some of the same reasons you sited.
    Please feel free to leave comments on our website as well
    Cheers, Steve

  • Tec

    Love it! Thanks for the extra info. Not sure what DAoud is on about, looks like a lot more work than just a paint job and plus the name is fairly understated compared to most other custom builds. Looking forward to seeing what else you guys make.

  • @Tec – Agreed. Me thinks @DAoud has been playing with some Nitrous Oxide, and I don't mean fitting it to his bike…

  • @Steve – One thing that really floats my boat is the "hatch" in the seat. Can you tell us all a little more about that?

  • Truly inspirational! I picked up a cb350 last weekend and have been throwing some ideas around, Ellespede you've really opened my eyes!

  • Leo

    @ Andrew – The 'hatch' in the seat is basically to stash your phone, wallet, camera or just a bit of beer money while you are riding. We hate riding around with stuff in our pockets and we figured there is a fair amount of wasted space in a seat so we put the two together. Sort of like a mini glove box for your motorcycle. You can check a picture of the 'hatch' opened with my wallet and iPhone in it here



  • 'DAoud', I am getting older and perhaps the memory is fading a bit so yes, it's always good to have a constant reminder of who we are.

    With regards to the 'Ho-hum stripped down' and 'paint-job comment', perhaps you haven't seen an original CB350 recently? Or perhaps our aim to produce a semi-factory look finish has worked and you just can't see the work that's gone into it?
    To fill you in so you don't appear so naive next time, the bike was stripped (as you suggested) but then underwent modifications to the frame and swingarm, ie. custom rear section, removal of unnecessary brackets, seam welding and bracing for extra strength, drilled to take an internal wiring harness and finally powder-coated. The tank, seat, seat trim bar, switch block, headstock, bar ends, carburettor trumpets, exhaust pipes and clamps, mufflers, engine cover, foot pegs, cables, master cylinder bracket / operation and rear suspension were all custom made and a new custom wiring loom (which in itself took well over 100hrs to make) was installed. The front end is from a CB750 F, shortened with adjusted springs. The brakes are CB750 twin piston the Rotor is CB750SS machined down to fit. The rims are custom built Morad aluminium on CB750SS hubs. The handle bars are XR600 machined to take the reverse levers and internal electrics and cables. Everything was either modified, replaced or refurbished.
    It is sometimes difficult to see the behind the scenes work that goes on in many custom bikes, cars etc. and whilst I welcome all comments, for your own credibility, it may be worth looking a little deeper before opening your mouth?

    'Andrew', I see Leo has just replied to your question but yes, the seat compartment came from just needing somewhere to store things. It's big enough for a wallet and phone or some tools. It was logical given we were making a custom pan that formed a cavity.

    Thanks again for the comments.
    I'm off to find some new tyres for the tractor,

  • Ben

    I've seen this bike in the flesh, and I have to say the pictures don't do justice to the amount of work that went in to this bike.

    A lot of thought was put into the finishing of the bike and the end result shows. The only thing that I would add to this bike would maybe be rudder a or some paddles in case Mother Nature has another leak.

    Well done Leo and Steve!

  • Ash Bali

    I dig the seat shape and brake light set up, very innovative. The brown seat cover, however, is very idiosyncratic, and people will love it or hate it, with the rest of the bike's colour scheme. Good luck with your venture.

  • Gloo

    Great workmanship, nice taste. But I have to agree with some folks, the style is tired as heck. One look on You Tube and you can see every muppet with a reciprocating saw has a bike that looks pretty much just like this from fifty feet away. So while those muppet bikes are no where near the same caliber of this effort, the style is precisely the same. Yes, the bike is far and away different from a stock CB350. But the point is that in today's world of used Jap bikes out there this is "just another hacksaw bobber" as far as it's archetype. It's just getting far too formulaic.

    This bike style is just so overdone by anyone with a $500 Jap bike and a hacksaw. I think THAT might be what some folks here are trying to get across. At least that is what I'm hearing. This is "just" a way bitchen rendition of that culture. Flat seat is lack of imagination, but that isn't this builder's fault, this bike is a version of this type of motorcycle culture. A homage if you will. So the flat seat is just a representation of the cottage industry look that is so popular today. I don't care for it, but that doesn't make it bad. It just means that I .. me .. don't like it (so what?).

    This motorcycle is a beautiful specimen of the Standard Muppet Hacksaw Japbike Bobber of these days. This is what Bobbers look like in 2011, and this is a nice version of that expression. Whether you like flat seated bobbers or not is of no matter. I do not, myself. But that does not make this a "crappy bike". It's just not what I like to ride, it's that easy.

    Sidenote: I fear the American infatuation with the old Cafe Racer bikes will kill that genre as well. It will become another homogenized smoothed over and overdone style just like the long forked chppers were for so long.

    In closing: There are two types of attitudes most people adopt when building style into a bike. Bikes built to be looked at with no rider, and bikes built to be looked at WITH a rider. This is one of those bike types that is designed to look cool without the rider. Hence the emphasis on the seat and lack of rear fender. The priority is on Showroom Style, not Highway Style. You either like this, or you do not. 🙂 But either way it's still a bitchen bike build!

  • SR85

    I like it. The tail light, fender, seat combo is awesome. I think to give the bike a bit more presence an extended swing arm would look fantastic

  • davmo

    Wow, didn't mean to post twice on the same bike, but some of the above comments got me thinking. First of all, really like the bike, as previously stated. Can't understand the criticism being so harsh, but everyone is entitled to their taste. As far as the bike being formula,
    I need to see that equation written out. A lot of people who have never made a piece of art can minimize the final result by saying how "simple" it is. Yes, deceptively so. As Michaelangelo said,: " I just remove the parts of the stone that aren't part of the finished sculpture"
    Simple and logical once it is done, but the decision is not just what to add, but to not add, or even subtract. I know you guys don't need an art lecture, just don't be the hick in the national gallery who thinks "that paintin' must be hung upside down!" Well done, mates. I don't have to tell you to be proud.

  • Gloo

    It's a simple desgn formula, like most things are. Just look at all of the styling cues it takes from every other bobber out there. I'm sure that was intentional, it seems like the builders were focused on producing a bike of this style from the outset. They hit it, right on the head, no doubt about it. As for the forumula used, I'd "spell it out" like you want but I would just be nitpicked apart. Besides your eyes can tell you what you're asking of me. It's right there in 16 million colors.. The point is valid. I never said it was a solid formula, I said it was "formula-ish". It wasn't "harsh criticism" it was a simple opinion. Everyone can't love everything, it's that easy.

    As I said this is a great example of a very VERY common take on modifying a bike. You can only locate about a bazillion examples of the same TYPE of modifications done to countless bikes. You Tube is jam packed with "like examples" of that same exact design formula.

    Flat seat, low bars, strip off whatever you can't make work into the design or anything that is ~baggage~ (basically) is what the ~formula~ is. It HAS to follow that form or it won't be a recognizable bobber. You have to follow a design and construction formula to even make a cheeseburger. If you don't, it won't be a cheeseburger. This bike is an excellent cheeseburger. While great and fine, it's still a cheeseburger.

    Every bike "type" has a formula to it that is followed. If it didn't follow the form, it wouldn't be the end design now would it? How can something be "cafe" or "bobber" or whatever if it doesn't follow the same formula of design that all of the other bikes of the same type follow? HOWEVER …What I am getting at is that if one isn't careful one can end up following a formula of design too closely and end up making just another McBike (design wise. This statement has ZERO to do with workmanship and quality of build.)

    The workmanship on this build is (as previosly stateds by me and others) fanstastic. But categorically it is a formulaic design. It just another friggin bobber. A really great one, but nonetheless .. it's still just another example of a very common "chop chop" that most muppets will do to their bikes cuz they don't know any better. A fine example of pop culture, mainstream design elements, and a connection to the "bike builder" that lurks within all of us.

    Relax a bit, try decaf. I didn't lay any harsh criticisms on the machine or the builder. But ANYONE tell me that this bike design, this type of "chop" isn't as common as pebbles these days. I'm just kinda tired of the look and I voiced my opnion of that.
    I'm no-one. I graduated from high school 35 years ago with a D+ average from a rural school in Arizona with easy standards. So I'm no genius by ANY stretch and I'll be the first one to point that out. But how can anyone deny that these types of machines are connected to an easy design formula that nearly anyone with a hacksaw hasn't tried to achieve? The look is overdone and overused, but I totally understand why that is. It's because the basic look is easily achieved … just whack the rear end off and make a seat out of leftover drapes or whatever you can locate. Go ahead, tell me that this type of machine isn't what is the most popular archetype out there these days. I'll accept you opinions, but that doesn't mean I agree.

    TV shoes get cancelled all the time because they become too formulaic. To predictable. To much adhesion to a standardized framework.

    I still say this bike is great example of a very overdone design formula. It is obviouisly a formula, or it would not have been recognized as a "bobber". We all know what it takes .. what formula it takes .. to design a bobber. Vary from that design formula and you no longer have a bobber. Right? Low stance, take off a bunch of parts, make a "cottage" type seat, drag bars or the like. Bobber. What separates this one from all of the others is the workmanship and attention to detail. Many bikes of this type are just flat blacked and called "good". Fortunately this is a much more refined example of that type of bike mod.

    From the looks of the workmanship I'd venture to say that this builder coud excell at any design style he chooses. This time he chose a bobber. Hopefully he'll stray a little bit on the next one! 😉 Leave his comfort zone, try something dangerous for him. My money says he'll hit it right out of the park no matter what he chooses to do.

    Take care and enjoy life. L8r.

    PS: I've built over dozen race bikes over the last 36 years, everything from full on streeters to sand duning quads, Jap bikes to Harleys. However nothing spectacular or worthy of showing off, just "formulaic" race machines (seen one seen em all! Haahaa!!), but it seems I was asked to produce "my builds". They're out there, you've all seen them already. 😉

  • Prince

    cool bike

  • donald branscom

    Looks like it has fattosis! LOL

  • Jack

    this is amazing. Well done mate. Given me alot of good ideas for my own. I love the break light and indicators

  • Chris Howard

    Beyond amazing in my opinion. What an awesome creation.

  • Can we have some more info on those switches! Look amazing. Great build. 

  • BikeRefinery

    I know they can cause a bit of a headake but 100 hrs on a wiring loom? Did you short circuit yourself? 😉    Anyway, I like the bike and according to me it’s something new which is a real accomplishment in todays bike building scene! The handlebar switch and glove compartment are nice details!! Looking forward to see the upcoming build!


    Bike Refinery

  • Rob Love

    check out the newly posted video from these guys… riding this bike, it really does look like the ergos are pretty good.  and the seat looks like it will actually support the weight of the rider.  cool stuff: 

  • Ryan

    Brilliant piece of craftsmanship! Everywhere you look there are small details that are excellent. I have a question though. How much is handling affected by the size of the tyres? I would love to put bigger tyres on my bike but everyone says that its strongly not advisable.