Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

1974 Honda CB350 – ‘The Red Rocker’

Posted on December 25, 2013 by Scott in Café Racer, Classic. 21 comments

If Santa Claus was to ever ditch the reindeers and sleigh, we could definitely see the old guy riding this stunning little red CB350. Aptly named ‘The Red Rocker’, this bike was built by The Pacific Motorcycle Co. who are based in the city of Nelson on New Zealand’s picturesque South Island. The “Red Rocker” was an idea owner Ron Smith had for some time, as an old battered 1974 Honda CB350 twin had been sitting in the shop for a few months after being given it by one of their customers. As the story goes, one of their customers had broken down on the old black CB about an hour from Nelson. He called Ron and said, “I’ve left it there, she’s given up! If you want to collect her, she’s yours!”

There have obviously been numerous CB350 café racer builds over the years but the guys at Pacific wanted to make sure this one was unique. “Ron didn’t want people sighing at the sight of another one, so this HAD to be different!” says Alan. “It had to be red, so that was to be the main canvas of the project. The other inspiration was the 1950’s Corvette with its distinctive scallops in the wing and doors.” So with a very rough photoshop draught in hand, they got to work.

“First of all, as in most of our builds, it was completely dismantled and any unnecessary parts discarded. The standard CB frame is a bit ugly to say the least with its pressed steel and spot welded gussets, so that was tidied up, including a rolled trim around the inside of the frame, a rear loop with fillets to keep clean lines on the back of the frame to accommodate the seat unit and any unused tabs were ground off.”

“The next thing was the tank, this one was definitely going to be a focal part, as we said earlier the Corvette Stingray from the 50’s was used as some inspiration, so the tank was cut and extended by six inches, scallops were cut out either side and new rolled steel panels welded in to mimic the Stingray style. The original fuel capacity is still as original as the extension part of the tank was reserved to hide the lithium battery.”

“Being a red “canvas” another major component, the engine, would also be a focal point. That had to be red too! In the style of Honda’s famous Red Rocket, where the frame and engine was red, hence where the name was derived from, but christened Red Rocker as a play on words to the café racer scene. Engine internals have been lightly enhanced with a big bore using CB750 pistons, a ground camshaft and a bit of port & polishing.”

“Apart from the draught being….”she has to be red”, the exhaust system was a major area where we wanted to do something different, so the whole exhaust system was fabricated in house so that both headers were equal, then came together via a collector/muffler unit under the seat before exiting out the rear of the bike. It was quite a task to get it lined up and fit exactly, but satisfying when it was achieved, finished in red (of course) with a triple coat internal heat proofing and some much needed polished heat-shields.”

“Another kind of theme that began to take over were the slots, seen in the heat-shields, front air-scoop (which hides some of the electrics), chain-guard and headlight bracket, all manufactured in house.
Going back to the air-scoop, we decided to make this originally to clean up the front of the frame as it’s uneven at the front to mount the engine, so we decided to cover it, but it also makes for a great place to hide things!”

“One task that we employed was to use as little “off the shelf” bolt on bits as possible, so components such as the polished aluminium rear sets, tail-light, bell-mouths, aluminium  fork boots, fork tops, exhaust clamps, tailpipe surround  and everything else you see is manufactured by The Pacific Motorcycle Co. The only thing we couldn’t handle was the Pacific logo on top of the handlebar clamp which was CNC machined by Topliss Brothers Engineering.”

“To keep some classic Honda (nearly) recognisable parts we decided to stay with the original speedometer and tacho as it kept a more classic feel and fitted perfectly  inside the Lossa clubman bars, but we opted to make our own overlays with Pacific logo inside the dials to keep with the whole theme of the bike.

The front mudguard is a mixture of an old Suzuki 125 item fabbed up to a Roland Sands Harley fork brace that we had lying around, that just seemed to fit, after much alteration that is!”

“The seat unit was also made by Pacific, first attempt at fibre glassing, lessons were learned for sure and will much quicker task next time, we made the ‘plug’ and from that a mould was made for the final unit you see here, sounds simple, but wasn’t.”

“It was then time to strip and get everything painted and powder-coated, plated etc. a few parts were zinc plated too. As soon as the frame and tank came back, we knew it was going to look extreme, but that was intention, to grab people’s attention! The motor was slotted in, actually that’s a badly chosen word; it was far from slotted in! It did take a fair bit of levering in! Especially when you are trying to be careful against a newly powder coated frame and engine.

The seat pad was covered with an unusual pattern for the quilt stitching, again, just to be different. Then finally came the choice of handlebar grips and nothing we found would compliment the bike, so we decided to make those too and had the centres cushioned and covered with the same material as the seat.”

“We just about achieved what we set out to do with Red Rocker, which was a team build with Ron, Alan, Lee & JD all having had a significant hand in the build. We really wanted to see just what we could come up with and what we were capable of for our first build. Not all Pacific bikes will be quite like this, some more everyday rider customs are now on the agenda, but this one was to grab attention and to show what we could do.”

Well, it certainly got our attention and given it’s color, we thought it was the perfect bike to post on Christmas Day – although Santa might need to lose a few pounds before he could comfortably ride this one.

  • Joe

    Impressive fabrication, but the red is atrocious.

    • Fast2Furious

      Just out of curiosity what atrocity that has occurred in the last 50 years would you equate this paint being on the same scale as.

  • Daniel

    It’s very hard to put the engine back in the frame without tearing the paint…even with a mate. my respect sir !

    it looks to be amazing to see, this red looks good!

    • Aaron

      An easy way to do this without ruining the paint is just wrap the frame in painters tape and then remove it once the engine is in and mounted. That how I’ve always done it and haven’t had any problems.

  • Wow what amazing attention to detail! Very creative. Reminds me of an old Flexible Flier Sled or an old red wagon for some reason. Or an old tractor. Super cool.

  • Billy McNelis

    Probably the most delectable custom I’ve ever seen in my 73 years. Well done, mates

  • Fast2Furious

    I have a 1980 250 Elsinore Red Rocket this is a nice homage to those
    bikes. In the words of the original Red Rocker,
    “Some like it like hot I like it red…”

  • Jed

    Super fun.

  • eric

    i’ve always hated the “paint dipped” look and this bike doesn’t change that, but looking past the red this is a really tidy classic look.

  • Roman


  • Love the red! Love the bike. I like to see this kind of wild but ridable bikes on Pipeburn. Great attention to detail. I Really like the scalloped tank with homage to the 50’s Corvette. BTW, the Corvette Stingray name is the 2nd gen C2 from the mid-60’s.

  • coldsunshine

    At first, I was put off by all the red. After looking at it for awhile, it does have sort of an old Corvette feel to it…

  • Joe


    CB350s were only built from ’68-’73…..

    • Fast2Furious

      Good catch Joe. This is also not a ’74 CB 360 since those featured a double loop style frame where this has a backbone type. So what gives Pipeburn what is the correct info on this build.

      • 1974 was what the builder told us. But you are right, the cb350 was apparently only built till 1973. The cb350f was built till 1974.

    • Pacific Moto

      Yep, your right, but it was registered as a 1974.

  • Andrew Ramming

    Nice bike. some great details on it. the RED, OMG ! I guess you can’t tell it’s a bad idea till it’s done. Glad it’s not my bike!

  • Patriccio

    Truly impressive build. Were I the owner, I would be indecisive about either riding it or plopping it into some MOMA for eternity. The color coordination is quite nice. It could be pink, red & yellow, & I would still like the build. This build transcends fashion. MOMA would be a nice home for it.

  • arnold

    Quit a bit of thought there. You are on a right track.ald

  • Road Runner

    I think you fellas NAILED IT !!!! I’M IMPRESSED with your concept,execution,attention to detail……AND HONDA RACING IS HISTORICALLY RED !!!!!!! I LOVE IT !!!

  • Tony

    Is the exhaust high level to heat up the fuel before it goes into the carbs. Bet the petrol cap hisses.