Thursday, October 15, 2009

CB350 Lament

Of all my warm feelings about Capitalism, my favorite is the feeling when a manufacturer sees a need and fills it. Even when they are ripping off an obvious style or product. It is no secret that the early Honda styling of their twins were aimed at those who bought British bikes and the current Cruiser styling is aimed at those who want to buy a Harley. But for whatever reason, the need that the customer needed filling was not being met and another manufacturer saw the need, stepped in and filled that need.

The hatred toward Walmarts is an obvious example. It is stated that Walmarts makes it tough for small businesses in small towns to compete with them. Not true, all they have to do is try to compete. For years mid-size grocery stores took advantage of farm communities who would had to drive many miles for groceries and supplies. They had a limited selection and didn't care. The town I live in has just such a store, I pass it by and drive an hour to Walmarts, not just for price and selection, and they are open hours I can shop there, but because they saw a need and filled it. My local grocery store still refuses to listen to the customers who WANT to shop locally. My local grocery refuses to add items I have requested, (there is a multitude of factories that work around the clock right across the river from them, and they refuse to stock foods like protein bars and healthy foods that can carry workers thru the night. And their prices are at least 40% higher. Walmarts does not carry that much clout that they can save 40% over what the smaller chains can purchase.) The smaller chains set back and watch Walmarts grow into a giant, only because of their philosophy of giving the customer what they want. (I do find it interesting that when the working class makes a purchasing decision with their money that it is looked at as low class, but when the upper class makes a like minded decision not frequent one business over another, it's "just business.")

I found it to be an interesting juxtaposition when Ben sent me a couple photos and was telling me about his adventure with his friend Shawn's CB350 and compared it to his Vulcan. I'll let Ben tell it in his own words.

... So my buddy Shawn from Omaha just got back from his 10 day trip on his KZ750 to the Salt Flats. He rode his CB350 Honda down last week to tell us about the trip and got here about 5 pm.
I wanted him to check out my project Vulcan so we traded bikes for about a half hour.
I rode the CB so he could try my Vulcan.

The CB would not idle at stop lights, the electric starter quit working 2 weeks earlier. And it took a lot of kicks to start it every time it died.
Power was bad, (I have owned a pile of Cb350’s and a great CL360 so I know what the power should be like.) it was terrible off the line, really weak everywhere. (that didn’t stop me from flogging it however! Fun bike! I forgot how much I can enjoy one!)

He WAS going to ride home to Omaha that night, until I told him that something was wrong with his bike and we needed to work on it.
I wasn't about to let him ride it back home like that.
So we fired up the cigars, and went to work.
So, we pulled his plugs... rich.
Checked his points...Off.
And his starter may have actually been dragging 100% of the time.

I pulled the drive chain and gear from the starter out, and I actually got Tom Rose on the speaker phone and tired to get him to convince Shawn to toss his starter… didn’t work. But I think Shawn will come around in time.
Cleaned his plugs, filed, cleaned and set his points.
So, we finally got done at 12:15 am... it started with ONE kick, and idle perfectly.
HUGE power increase, didn't try to stall at all.
Epic win!

We had a cold snap that night, and the next morning when he went to leave it was about 40 degrees. He wasn’t really dressed for it, but thought he could make it ok. He left at 5:30 stopped and bought some rain gear at the Wal-Mart (He couldn’t have gotten that stuff ANYWHERE else in town! Flynch is totally right about Wal-Mart) ...he then hit the truck stop for breakfast and to wait for the sun to come up…then he realized that he had lost 1 quart of oil all over his motor and the road.

He called me up and came back... turns out his starter drive cover gasket was leaking. The whole back of the bike was covered in oil. Including his back tire!
Epic fail!
Not sure if we got the gasket bunched up, or what happened, but I cleaned it all up real good, (gasket remover and sharp razor blades folks!) used some very carefully applied amounts of RTV silicon and buttoned it up... TIGHT.
I went back to work and told him to give it an hour to dry and then try it.

IT worked and he rode it home... it 50 degree weather and rain. It’s a 2.5 hour ride on the interstate back to Omaha from here.
He was cold. He survived. Bike runs beautiful now.

That cigar was real good though.

So Ben are you ready to trade Shawn for is CB350? And is Shawn ready to get a late model Jap cruiser to fill his traveling needs?


  1. i need the carbs off that thing!

  2. Nope! I have no desire to get rid of my Vulcan ever... and I have no need of a CB350 at the moment.
    (Because I have two XL350's that can fill that need quite nicely!)
    Not sure about Shawn... I think he loved the Vulcan, but is still wrapped up in KZ culture.

  3. Are Walmarts and Wal-Mart the same thing?