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‘75 Honda CB360T – ‘Cowboy’

Posted on August 29, 2013 by Scott in Rat, Scrambler. 47 comments

By guest writer Phil Guy.

By all appearances Erik Harland Ludwig of Denver, Colorado, is living a fair approximation of the Man Dream. The 26-year old lives in his shop, ‘Machine Shed’, just him, no women (not permanently, anyway), no potpourri or cotton tips, just tools and grease and auto parts. By night he manages Meadowlark, quite possibly Denver’s smoothest bar, and by day he strips back and builds up, fabricates and assembles. Motorbikes or cars, it doesn’t matter, he loves both. No big surprise then that tearing out of this vortex of gritty cool is this raffish dirt rat, affectionately known as ‘Cowboy’.

The base? A ’75 CB360T. ‘Bought stock and nowhere near running,’ says Erik. The motor was stripped and rebuilt, getting new hardened internals in the process. The carbys, too, rebuilt and re-jetted. The frame was detabbed and the sub-frame shortened, and gained a rear hoop of Erik’s making. The tank is from a ’72 Husky 400 Cross, and demanded some top tube mods for the right fit.

Like many rat builds, the provenance of some parts are known—‘I made the tail light from random rusty metal bits and shaped the lens from the stock tail light’—while others, not so much—‘I think the headlight is an old rusty fog light bucket for a car.’ And what about that seat? ‘It’s a rolled up Mexican blanket that was lying around the shop, held on by my grandfather’s old broken belt. I use the blanket when I go camping up in the mountains.’

Erik did all the work himself, even mounting the tyres. (‘A pain in the ass,’ he recalls.) Custom fabrications include the metal electronics box under the seat, the starter unit and kill switch on the bars, and a simplified wiring harness. The rear fender was taken from a ‘78 CX500, cut short and kick-up to a ducktail.

‘It’s insanely fun to ride,’ Erik says. ‘Especially in the dirt.’ We don’t question that at all—we just hope that blanket stays in place over the bumps!

Not surprisingly Erik is now getting requests for commissioned builds. It wouldn’t surprise us if he got a request or two for a life swap either.

[Photos by Sara Ford]

  • Jack

    Great use of things just hanging around. What tyres are they, I’m trying to finish my Honda xl and stuck on tyre choice, the old Kenda tyres look good that are on, are these Kenda?

    • Jesse V

      I put some Continental twinduros on my xl project. super happy with the big block pattern.

      • jack

        Hey you got any photos of these, was considering these. I would really appreciate a look.

        • Gregory Grant Rilea

          Either of you guys got pictures of your xl builds? I’m stripping my 185 and considering stuffing a cb350 motor in it.

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      Golden Boy Trail Tires

      • Gregory Scott Fuller

        Shinko SR244’s. I use them and love them. Long-wearing for a trail tire, and good road manners. Unfortunately don’t come in wide 19″ for my 450 trail bike, So I use a combo….5.10 Golden Boy on the back, and a 3.5 SR241 trials tire on the front, been a solid set for the last 3 years and have rebought them everytime I needed.

  • Daoud

    A rat bike by any other name is still a rat bike.

  • revdub

    I would have named it “The Dirty Hombre”. The type of ride at home on a dusty western road. Meetup at dusk for some cold cervezas and stories of past exploits.

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      haha awesome.

  • Banks Gilberti

    seen blood sweat and tears poured into this thing with my own eyes. Erik my be living the life but hes worked hard for it and his knowledge of anything with wheels is unparalleled. keep em coming dood.

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      Thanks Banks, now get down here so we can go ride.

  • coldsunshine

    What? No saddlebags?

  • KP

    It’s refreshing to see a well-used bike that has been repaired back to Honda reliability while also operating at such a high level of functionality. I’d love to ride this thing, very cool.

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      Thank you.

  • 3s and 7s

    The tank is perfect. Just the right amount of dents and scratches. Like the use of things found lying around.

  • Love the tank – it looks like Boba Fett’s helmet – battle worn. The Husky tanks were the coolest looking tranks on the planet. I can’t believe no one makes copies of these for universal use.

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      Yeah they are hard to find. i got luck with this one.

  • itsmefool

    This guy, and this bike, seem like they’re straight out of an Elmore Leonard novel (RIP)! Of course, ol’ Leonard wouldn’t have noted the kind of tank on this bike, but as a Husky Cross fan, I appreciate those details! Cool bike, EHL!

    • Erik Harland Ludwig


      • arnold

        Sorry Erik, didn’t want to top you, great build, but I just finished rereading “Get Shorty” and don’t get the same connection as itsmefool does.

  • bill smith

    I have to say I generally scoff at ratbikes or ratbuilds, But this one is well above ratbike or ratbuild status and I love it….I say it is a clever blend of talent ,function and old fashion use what you have.

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      Right on man, thanks.

  • Britbike

    This could hardly be considered a rat bike. It’s rolling art, based on the same magic that motorcycles hold on anyone who stops by this blog. The only rule is that there are no rules. We’ve all seen too many OCC shows to think that chrome and billet are the sole criteria for a good looking ride. Bravo! Great job.

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      I agree, thank you.

  • Stephen

    Now this bike I love, obviously built by a guy who just digs building something he can ride the hell out of. No need to polish it and tuck it in the garage at night. Hey…I think I threw that blanket away some years back!
    Great job Erik

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      Yeah I don’t really like polishing.
      Thank you very much,
      and as for the blanket, finders keepers right?

      • Steve Swann

        I love the seat. I built a bike recently and used a cut down skateboard as a seat. I rolled up a small sheepskin to protect my vulnerability.

  • bob hesh

    This thing is the boss.

  • arnold

    Reminds me of “Banjo and John”.

    • Good ole Jay Snider.

      • arnold

        Yep, he’s another fella we need to invite to the gallery opening, besides us of course.

  • mtiberio

    I had a Honda 360. A POS bike if there ever was one. I can think of no better fate for one than to end in this state…

    • One of my bikes is a CL360 and on many a day I’d have to agree with you. I got so mad at it once I left the keys in it parked in front of a bar over night. It’s heavier than a old Bonneville without the grunt, the suspensions stinks, and the cv carbs that came stock are the worst around. But, like all marginal bikes there are work arounds and once you lighten it up, address the handling issues, and throw away the Keihins and replace them with Mikunis (cheap used ones are plentiful – they are used on snowmobiles as well as bikes) and you have a nice mild mannered bike to putt around on. Like Dirty Harry once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

  • genevieve davis

    This is so well written I can hardly stand it. The pictures of this bike & the description of the bike & builder make me want to shake this man’s hand. Great bike, great post.

    • nobby burton

      I agree. The writing makes me feel like I’m sitting there with him, listening to him talk about the bike. Awesome.

  • Davidabl2

    I saw the term “rat bike” thrown around a few times, but I think it’s time for a new category:”Elegant Rat.” This bike, of course, is an example of same.

  • Jesús Learte

    This bike is elegant and well balanced. The tank is superb, as the headlight. And the seat, made from a blanket, will be, with no doubt more comfortable than standard razor – shape seats that are widely used by current designers.Congratulations!

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      Yeah thanks, seat is still pretty comfortable. I ride it everyday.

  • emeglasson

    Wow. Nice work. This bike is a brilliant balance of grungy funk, minimalist styling, proper proportioning, and thoughtful re-purposing. Hat’s off. It looks like a hella lotta fun. The blanket-as-saddle is genius; makes me smile.

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      Thank you.

  • Scott B

    What size are those Golden Boy Trail Tires?

    • Erik Harland Ludwig

      18×4.10 front
      18×4.60 rear

  • Jaime

    This is a “rat rod” in the truest sense of the word in that the mechanicals are built up and perform well and the rest of the bike utilizes what was on hand. There’s no shame in that.

  • Mikael Lewis

    I love that there is no seat and the clutch cover is upside down. Awesome!!

  • This bike rules. character up the wazoo. I’m working on a 72 cl350, and I’m keeping it rusty…but the stock bars are bent and gotta go. What model/brand handlebars did you use?These look about perfect.

  • Pingback: The Angry Welshman / Blanket bike()

  • Badger

    Cool, cool bike! Loving the seat, maybe not so practical over here in the Englandshire rain though!…