Let’s go back, back, back in time to when flares were cool the first time around, and the Honda CB350K4 was all the rage. Paul Webb has a fascination for Hondas of 1973/1974 vintage — we blame the parents. His dad said ‘no’ 30 years ago…
You will understand why back in 1974, as a spotty 17 year old, I was delighted with the purchase of a brand new CB125S when I tell you that my previous two wheeled conveyance had been a bright yellow Puch moped. I loved this little bike (the 125, that is!) and we went all over together, as you do, for a year or so.
I used to visit local bike shops with my bike mates, and one evening found myself pressing my nose up against the window of a Waltham Cross bike shop. Within, seemingly glowing in the dim light, was a gleaming K-reg CB250 K4. I went straight home and informed my dad that I wanted to trade in my 125 for this 250. He said no and that was that for close on 30 years. Shame.
Whizz, whizz forward and it’s the year 2000. I pick up a copy of MCN and there in the small ads. is, of all things, a K4 (a 350 ) for sale for £550, and not far away near Peterborough. By 7pm that lovely spring evening, I was beholding it… indeed I was. The original owner from new allowed me a short ride on it and basically that was it. Not fabbo condition but great mechanically. Boy did I enjoy my ride home — I felt totally at home on it like I’ve not felt on anything else either bigger or smaller. I had at the time several bigger and newer bikes at home — I sold the lot and kept just the 350!
I started using the K4 every day until a month or so later she got stolen (nobody told me that if I left the keys in the ignition all day by accident this might happen…). Long after I had given her up as gone for good, the phone rang and we were reunited, although she had been battered a tad. I’d never restored a bike and, to stop me using her as an every day bike, I decided to have a go at making her too good to use! The result is OUR 57L (my dad had an Allegro new in 1973 with the reg no OUR 675L — coincidence or what?!).
Restoration done, I started to miss using a 350 every day so when I saw one for sale at a Stafford Show I bought it. I told Her Indoors I was going looking for parts but didn’t really think I’d end up buying a complete set! This is the gold one (originally green, but I thought I’d make this one look like the 250 in that bike shop window — remember? Yes? 1974? Yes?). I rode this one until last autumn when I decided to improve her a lickle bit over the dark winter months, and now she too is nearly too good to use, too! Oh dear.
Well, I’d better get another, methinks. So an ad was placed in the VJMC wanted section and — bingo — I got just the thing. £400, nice order (this is the other green one), and a nice runner. I really have so far done nothing other than have the tank and panels beautifully repainted by firstname.lastname@example.org of Shrivenham, and given her a quick polish up. I popped a rack on her and she is going a treat so far and is available for all year round use (honest).
The little 125, on the other hand, is just a bit of nostalgia for me. Runs and rides sweetly, has never been restored and is in the most amazing condition. Still good for 70mph!
That then is my little 1973/1974 bike collection for you to see. I do also have a cable-operated disc brake, one owner from new CB125J in orange but this is stored at my mother’s as it’s a bit bright to look at…
What got you started?