"Vanilla". It's not a term builders tend to use when introducing their motorcycles, but in this case there's good reason. Jeff Gittleson describes his '73 Honda CB350F as "Vanilla. A no frills build wearing only the essential parts for the function machine". So rather than the 'dull' or 'boring' definition we tend to apply to the term in Jeff's case it's all about purity; and the analogy is one he's using for the work he produces out of his Kinesis Moto workshop.
Jeff’s story is one that might sound familiar. He found himself looking for a new source of income, and didn’t want to end up in another run-of-the-mill job. He wanted to feel passionate each day; waking up knowing he would be doing something that he loved. Although risky, Jeff decided to take the plunge and open up his own motorcycle workshop. The business is built on the foundation of building bikes that balance form with function and, as Jeff puts it, “Riding a bike made to this mantra gives the rider a unique experience undistracted by any bells and whistles. If it doesn’t make it faster, or handle better, you won’t see it on something I build." Jeff continues to developed his no frills style with each new bike build and it's this exact approach he took with his all white, Honda CB350F Cafe Racer.
"On this build the motor is the star attraction." Says Jeff. To make the little 350cc inline four worthy of such attention it underwent a full rebuild. Jeff installed 1mm over pistons, new valves, guides and cam, did some mild porting and added a triple spark digital ignition with high output coils. To free up additional power bike now inhales through a steel dragon airbox and exhales through a Mac 4-into-1 exhaust system. In the search for even more horses a different carb set up was considered, but after extensive research he found no reason to move away from the original units.
Keeping a bike simple and removing all the extra bits equals weight savings, another great technique for improving performance on smaller capacity motorcycles. The starter motor was first to go, followed closely by the turn signals, chunky headlight brackets, fenders, and side covers. The front wheel was also swapped for a drum version off a CB550 twin, for both visual and weight improvements. According to Jeff the roll back to older brake tech hasn't impacted on overall performance. All said and done, Jeff has managed to shave 50 pounds off this Honda, and boost the power output by 8 ponies.
In addition to cutting weight and upping power, Jeff has also tweaked the 350’s chassis. By dropping the front end 1.5 inches he created a more Cafe Racer-appropriate stance and mildly tweaked the steering geometry. Cosmetically, he relocated the electronics, allowing for a little negative space under the seat and built a new wiring harness himself. For more Cafe Racer inspired form and function there are Dime City Cycles rearsets, clip-on handlebars and a new custom upholstered seat. Suspension has been upgraded with a pair of Hagon rear shocks and there's a Cognito Moto triple clamp, new rims and spokes and some Avon Roadrider rubber. According to Jeff with all these tweaks you’ve got yourself an “exhilarating ride.”
Jeff chose a white coat for the Honda so as to not distract from the work he put into this motorcycle, which is “simple, lightweight, and distraction free.” Vanilla might not suit everyone’s taste, but it’s hard not to like this sweet ride.
- Honda CB350 twin front wheel
- New spokes/rims wearing Avon Road Rider tires
- Cognito moto top triple clamp
- 33mm clip ons with new switches
- new seat custom upholstered
- Hagon rear shocks
- Mac 4 into 1 exhaust
- Dime City Cycles fully indexable rearsets
- Drag specialties headlight
- New fork stanchions
- Full engine rebuild
- Steel Dragon airbox
- C5 powerarc ignition
- Custom wiring harness and high output coils.
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