Most people think that deserts are hot and dry, but really it’s just a lack of precipitation that defines them. So when I saw this snow-bound Honda CL350 ‘Desert Sled’ from Montana’s Number 8 Wire, this fun fact came rushing back. Just because there’s sand involved, it doesn’t mean it’s hot…
For most of us, our first bike build is a learning experience. It’s as much a lesson in what not to do as it is discovering the aspects of a build we already have a knack for. But if there is an area most of us fall down on with our first attempt at a custom creation, it’s maintaining continuity throughout the build, particularly in the visual aspects. For Miguel Castro, his day job as a Design Director at Rosetta in San Luis Obispo meant this was one aspect where he was never going to have a problem. So what bike would make sense for a first build? Maybe something that’s mechanically simple and yet fun to ride? Something with vintage styling but still capable of carving up the coast roads of Central California? Sure, the humble Honda CL350 (this is a 1969 example) was released as a factory Scrambler, but it has always made much more sense as a Cafe Racer. And here’s the proof.
No 8. Wire Motorcycles is named after the thick fencing wire that embodies the ‘can do – make do’ mentality New Zealand was built on. As one of the most far-flung reaches of the British Empire, early settlers in the land of hobbits found themselves having to improvise their way around everyday problems that couldn’t be solved with a ready-made product and stack of cash like back in the mother country. And it’s that innovative attitude that Colin, the Kiwi ex-patriot head of No. 8, aspires to. Heading a one-man shop based in Missoula, Montana, Colin works on all manner of motorcycles. In recent months he’s turned his hand to the diminutive GN125, a R90/6 bobber, KZ550 tracker, a passing Goldwing tourer and even a Polaris snowmobile. But most of his time has been spent lavished on this curious Honda CL350 scrambler.
The custom bike scene, like any other art form, often finds itself bending to the will of fashion. But there’s no shame in that – music, painting, dance and almost any other genre you care to name have to endure the same challenge. And while in the heat of the moment a certain trend can seem to the viewer to be very ‘cool’ or ‘exciting’, it’s often only a matter of time before the truth becomes apparent. That’s when cool becomes lame, exciting becomes humorous and your wardrobe full of flared trousers becomes an embarrassment. But what happens when time doesn’t weary? When something improves with age? Well, that’s when timeless happens. Classic happens. This happens.
There’s an interesting phenomena, the name of which I haven’t figured out yet (suggestions on the back of a stamped, self-addressed email please), that somehow dictates that any cool custom shop we stumble upon will have a back catalogue of bikes inversely proportional to the distance they are from the west. Recently found a new shop in downtown London/New York/ LA/Sydney? See that one bike they have displayed proudly in the window? It’s a safe bet it’s their only one, too. But find yourself wandering through, say, South Jakarta and the lucky money’s on any bike shop within spitting distance being a veritable custom bike factory. Like this one for instance. Downtown Bintaro’s own Studio Motor Custom Bikes. A quick skim of their website and I counted at least a dozen of the sweetest bike’s I’ve seen in a good while, including this here gem. Please give a warm, 12 bike salute to Studio Motor’s hard-working boss, Donny Ariyanto.
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A year ago we featured another Honda CL350 built by Jonathon Wood (AKA Woody), which was one of our favourite builds of 2009. Instead of creating another cafe racer, this time Woody created what he calls a ‘Brat Tracker’. “It’s basically a bratstyle and street-tracker inspired motorcycle” says Woody. This latest project was based on a “super clean” 1972 CL350 that he picked up a little while ago.
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