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E3 Motorcycles ’71 Honda CL 100

Posted on September 3, 2012 by Andrew in Scrambler. 56 comments

New York. Probably the most famousest city in the world. Well known for it’s food, architecture, night life and it’s custom bike scene. Um, ok – you got me. So maybe the bike thing was a bit of a stretch. Now I’ve never been to the ol’ City That Never Sleeps, but at a glance it seems like pretty much exactly the wrong place a biker should be holed up in. Killer traffic. Expensive rent. Lots of cops. And the world’s largest collection of working traffic lights. But glance again, because out of the hot dog scented steam haze of a Brooklyn street comes E3 Motorcycles, and a rather lovely Honda CL.

Let’s give a warm, big apple (mmmm – waaaarm apple) welcome for David from E3. “I built this for my friend Zac who works around the corner from my garage over at Saved Tattoo. He was looking for a low displacement vintage bike to get to and from his shop. We were aiming for a rock solid daily rider for Zac to rip around Brooklyn on and decided to look for a CL100 or CL125 as a foundation.”

“Found this bike up in Mass., took a road trip, and got to work. It’s a ’71 CL100 that was broken down to the frame and rebuilt/refurbished in about 14 days time start to finish.”

“We kept things minimal and understated with the Matte Black finish. We reupholstered the stock seat pan with new vinyl that we had laser etched with Zac’s artwork.”

“It’s got all new bearings, seals, gaskets, cables, rubber components, brakes etc. Rebuilt the front end and replaced the rear suspension. Sorted out the tuning, replaced any needed OEM items, and got into a few minor mods. Nothing super crazy or fancy but the bike came out rad overall and is a pure blast to ride.”

  • John McCluskey

    Love it! Wish I had one to bust around Portland. Though I’d shave the turn signals, the giant bright orange and chrome ears stick out to me. Maybe change to subtle close-in LED clusters.

    • Mike Cambareri

      While I agree with you from an aesthetic standpoint, “subtle” turn signals in NYC traffic would be about as good for your health as Russian roulette. Here’s to function over form.

    • gone

      Jeeze ! If you can’t build this yourself or at least have built an exact replica of this … well you’re living in the wrong city or just don’t know where to go .. Any half baked bike shop / mechanic could do this to a tee ! This’n aint rocket science ya know . More like nuts n bolts can o sray paint and a tool or two !

      • davmo

        Yeah, a little puzzling. I read the builder’s explanation of the process above, and fully understand what they were shooting for, just a bit pedestrian to place under the “World’s Finest” banner.

  • Bikes like this remind me of women who look so nice when they take off their make up. This ride looks very natural. There is beauty in simplicity. With those signals? Well…lets just say she forgot to take off her earrings.

  • revdub

    Black on black on black. I like it. The laser etched seat is different. Throw a little pedal on that kicker… it would look great.

    • arnold

      I bet we could find a spot on the other side to locate a little pedal too. Sorry Rev, I couldn’t resist.ald

      • revdub

        You know I’d have to sneak some pedals on somehow. 😉

  • speirmoor


  • The last picture with the bike in sunlight on a NYC sidewalk shows it off much better than the other pics. This would be a great city bike – the tires are appropriate for the crappy streets, the seat looks comfortable, and the pipe wrap looks like it belongs. on the bike.

    • I know. That last pic is beautiful. I like the artsy pics too, but I really like seeing the bike in the environment it’s going to be ridden (and I’m not talking about on the sidewalk.)

  • This bike brings to mind Kaizen (the philosophy of working to achieve perfection.) Perfection does not have to be found in complexity, nor is it found in reinventing what already works. This bike (subjective elements aside) seems to be an effort, even if subconscious, of achieving Kaizen. Certain mods are made inside and out for improvement, but items aren’t changed just for the sake of changing them. There have been other bikes on here that exemplify this philosophy. This little Honda is well suited and “perfected” for the environment for which it was built; rugged, rough and busy NYC streets. Well done, fellas.

    • gone

      Please there Mr Stark . Say it aint so ( your comment here ) FYI this bike won’t last a week on NYC’s streets . Guaranteed !

      • Only if it gets stolen. And I’m going to call you on this one, GS. Point out any aspect of this bike that would make it less than capable of handling the streets of NY. And after it has lasted well beyond a week leaving many smiles in its wake, what do I get for your “guarantee?”

        • gone

          Motor – Severely underpowered . You need serious torque and acceleration to survive the traffic of NYC // Suspension – Fragile and weak . You need major handling and suspension travel to survive both the traffic and the streets in NYC ( see my initial post ) // The overall construction – Fragile . This may be a great bike for Politically Correct Portlandia etc …. but in NYC ridden daily it’d be toast !

          In NYC you need tough / fast and durable . Period ! This bike aint it . As a hobby bike in NYC … maybe . As a daily rider ? Not a chance .

          That clear enough for you Mr Stark ?

  • Where’s the master cylinder?

    Edit: Duh, never mind. No disc = no MC. Mule was right when he said I shouldn’t build bikes. I’m so ashamed.

    • itsmefool

      Philosopher, not photo analyst, eh, Tony? Your namesake would be ashamed, too.

      • Well I started at the top…commented…then worked my way down and said “oops.” So I’m over enthusiastic. Maybe if it had HUD and energy repulsors it would have made more sense to me…


    • gone

      Lol ! +1 …. Pipewrap + spray paint now = a custom worthy of our attention . Hmmmmn . Kind a makes one wonder about that ….. don’t it now .

  • Jesús Learte

    Being classic, it looks modern, very modern, shaped the bike to its essence. Perfect for its purpose, fantastic. Envy…

  • Is that “hammertone” spray paint on the engine covers? I haven’t had the guts to use it, yet. I’ve seen it on bikes built by Denny Berg but nowhere else until now. Looks good!

    • I think so too. I imagine it could be overdone, but not in this case.

  • arnold

    Very nice daily driver. The only accessory it is missing is a big honkin’ chain and lock, to slow down the people that feel that it would look better elsewhere .

  • vachequipis

    A nice bike and a good restoration but, are nice photos, pipewrap, new grips, rattle can mat black paint and a customized seat good enough to be on Pipeburn ?!?

    • Patently.

      • gone

        lowering our standards a bit …. perhaps ?

        • Sense when are standards a prereq? OUR standards or YOUR standards?

    • Ugh

      So many bikes on this site and similar are overengineered on the basis of cosmetics that reduce reliability
      and ridability, simply to make a ‘cafe’, ‘bobber’, ‘chopper’
      ‘dirttracker’ out of something that has brand name cache (“Hey look, a perfectly functional ’67 Triumph Tiger has been made into a drag racer!”) or to make something that, realistically, is only going to be ridden one weekend a month to show off to the owner’s friends and/or girlfriend and as conspicuous status machine.

      This is the
      opposite of those machines and I think this is a great inclusion to
      Pipeburn because it shows that motorcycles can be customised with practical purposes and every day riding in mind.

      • vachequipis

        I am not a hater of this bike, in fact the opposite. I respect “keeping it reel” My beef is although a great functional bike it is not inspirational.

  • The low handlebars make the bike look much bigger than it actually is, although I would worry about rider positioning.

  • gone

    Famousest ? Really ? Hmmn .

    NYC a biker culture ? Well matey … despite potholes big enough to hide a VW Beetle in … traffic that’d just as soon run over yer ___ as drive by you …. Taxi Cabs impersonating Mob Assassins on a regular basis … not to mention those Suicidal Bike and M/C messengers … oh and those idiot pedestrians so absorbed by their smart phones they forget to look where they’re going …….. well yer damn right theres a biker culture in NYC . Probably one of the largest and most diverse in the US I might add .

    Now as to this bike …..zzzzzzZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz……… oh ….. excuse me . Fell asleep there for a second . Seeing as how this bike is about as dull as its paint job and in fact makes watching paint dry look exciting by comparison . Not bad mind you ! Just plain out and out B-O-R-I-N-G .

    Makes me a bit ashamed …. this bike hailing from my old neighborhood . Back to sleep now . Wake me when something interesting comes up there TS ! ….zzzzZZZZZZ

    • Slapping hood of car, “HEY! I’m ridin’ here!”

  • I can tell already this bike is going to get a lot of comments. I’ll say again that I like this bike because it was built for a purpose – as an urban enduro, It was made to be ridden and it fits the city streets as well as any messenger pedal bike. I agree with Tony about Kaizen – it fits this build because the bike is no more than it needs to be for the intended purpose or the environment in which it’s ridden. I’d ride it – in fact my townie bike is a stripped down cl350. Easier to handle around town than the sporty.

  • itsmefool

    How long before a pants leg gets chewed up in the chain? Oh, wait…this Honda was made for skinny jeans crowd, right?

    • lol. I would have said “I laughed,” but apparently Manxman and Andrew are locked in a copyright battle over that one. How about “I chortled?”

      • itsmefool

        Chortled’s a good one…my now-deceased feature writing prof would’ve loved it!

  • E3

    Hey guys- Thanks for the comments and critique.

    The finish on this bike was left a bit rough intentionally. No excuses for laziness here- Just ask anyone parking on NYC streets how long a nice shiny sub 200 lb bike would last out there. I had two of my enduros stolen last year alone- two chains and a disc alarm on each.

    Sometimes ya gotta build to the environment. Look at what most of the NYC messengers are riding around on. See many blinged out bikes? I went for function and reliability on this one on a budget on par with what some guys shell out for a set of Carbs or paint job.

    Guitar Slinger- Love the sophomoric NYC poetry. Feel free to swing by my shop next time your in your old hood and I can show ya some of the more involved projects I’ve been working on. As stated above- the bike was built in a very short time, on a modest budget, with a specific intended purpose and goal. My sincerest apologies it didn’t get the armchair warrior seal of approval. I have a CB750 in the last Iron&Air Magazine that’s on the exact opposite end of this spectrum. Would be honored to get your feedback on that build.

    Tony/Manxman- I appreciate your input and take on the bike. My goal was to hook Zac up with a reliable bike that performed well first and foremost, looked nice, but didn’t attract to much attention. We spent 90% of the budget on seals, bearings, gaskets, cables, tires, electronics, suspension, and brakes. The bike was actually quite simple and beautiful as it rolled in. I didn’t see the need to start chopping fenders and changing up what I thought was a very nice bike to start with. I agree- sometimes less is more.

    *The engine cover paint is VHT high temp black wrinkle. Nice finish and seems to wear well so far…

    And Richard- Sorry about the pipe wrap. If you happen to have an extra CL100 Scrambler exhaust around your shop that isn’t all pitted and rusted I’d love to buy it off ya for a fair price. The thing is- this one was in rough shape. No dents or holes to goof up exhaust flow but the finish was pretty sub par.

    You make some top notch bikes. By far some of the finest attention to detail out there. I really dig your work and overall approach to bike building. If I could offer a bit of constructive criticism- I’m pretty sure everyone and their dead grandmothers know your feelings and thoughts on pipe wrap at this point. I get it. We all get it. But ya know what? Some people dig the aesthetic and sometimes it serves a slight purpose. I know it’s overdone, the essence of all that’s wrong with the current state of vintage rebuilds, and a dying trend- but man- ya gotta let it go. If not for us, think of the children. And the children’s children:)

    • (meditating)…kaizeeeeen…

      Love your build approach. I could see right away the intent and that is the mark of a fine artist; to get across your point without having to explain it. If I’m ever in NY, we gotta philosophy over a pint.

      P.S. I’d love to see your take on the aforementioned CB.

      P.P.S. I’m using wrap for the very same reason; I have some really beat up ugly ‘A’ pipes that just need to be covered. People don’t like it? So sad, too bad.

    • gone

      Hey an opinion is an opinion and thats mine on this entry of yours . BTW I lived in NYC when just surviving another day was an accomplishment in and of itself .. been back regularly since …. so I’m hardly waxing sophomoric poetic …. rather just stating the facts as they truly are . You on the other hand are being a bit of a Rube/ Suburban Urban wanna be in your response . But sure toss up the CB and lets see if its truly an Urban Warrior rather than just another cute little hobby M/C albeit on a budget like this one is !

      BTW though . I’m not sure what your standards may be but I for one most certainly would Never put up a ‘ Budget ‘ anything that I’ve done for public consumption . Pride being one reason and reputation being the other ( I have a standard to uphold ) Maybe thats part in parcel of the NoBrow Post Modern Zeitgeist but IMO it only serves to demean your credibility

  • Ugh

    Hell yes. This bike is nearly perfect. It’s made for riding cheaply and seriously and frequently. The work on the bike is done to make it ridable, durable and to resurrect a great, simple and unpretentious Jap bike from yesteryear.
    Literally the only thing I’d change on this machine is the handlebars – narrower means easier lane splitting.

  • msb

    Really like this – I have an old bike in NYC and this really puts it to shame. Very very nice!

  • rennie61

    Looks like a very cool bike to ride around a city. Don’t listen to the ‘moaners’ it’s not aimed at them. I think it’s great to have real bikes for real people done on a budget and looking this good. You know stuff that enthusiasts can do. Not just ‘experts’.

    • I appreciate your point about budget. In a perfect world, money would be no object and we could all just build exactly what we have in mind. The bike I’m building is a “hobby bike” (i.e. I don’t NEED it for anything) but I have about a zero budget set aside for it. One has to think a little harder and get creative when they have few resources they can turn to to help get it done. When I’m done, I’ll send a pic to Andrew. If he wants to post it, I have no problem with that. I also won’t worry about the haters who comment about the pipe wrap (covering the beat up pipes) and the rattle can paint (covering up everything else.)

  • tmcsp

    Sweet. Perfect bike for dodging NYC’s army of yellow cabs and scaring old ladies but ripping down the sidewalk.

    Riding in NYC can be fun simply because the ‘rules’ of traffic are suggestions and it’s a constant urban battle for survival. Gets the blood flowing. This bike is absolutely perfect for it’s environment.

    • Traffic rules are “suggestions.” That’s funny. Reminds me of the California stop.

  • Cordon

    Awesome with the bike, how about the helmet ?

  • Alex MacPherson

    The finish on the engine panels looks like hammertone. Cool !

  • Really like the simplistic custom. All the interesting hallmarks in a tidy, managable package. Top drawer gents.

  • Tacobill

    Why,oh why, do I read the comments? I should just jam a pencil in my eye.

  • t.ashok

    motor bikes should be modified very very simple for people who look at the motor bike customised should like it & say it is very simple superb decen strong smart & charming it should not be to much of xtra fittings & people shld not get confused or think it is complicated even the dummiest people shld like it as the front ferder & the back fender should bee in full length & the front & back fender both should have flaps & engine water gaurd this is how i feel the bike shld be this is the perfect motor bike