Honda CB 360G
In 1975, Honda CB 360 to the onerous task of succeeding the
CB 350 (the by-cylinder), which was one of the best sales in its time.
Road Test Cycle 1973
The Honda CB-350 G, a twin-cylinder 325cc touring motorcycle, still stands as Honda's most popular family member despite the fact that it is somewhat outdated (by Honda's standards). It has been a part of the Honda lineup for many years now and has been overshadowed by the razzmatazz of all the Honda Fours. The "G" shares show room space with the CB- 350 Four, a very similar mount of almost the same displacement but differing in that it has only two cylinders. Even though this competition between the two models is a bit unfair due to the new Four's greater publicity, people are still writing out checks for the twin, partly because of the reputation of the previous CB-350's (K-1, K-2, et al.) through the years. We found in our test of this most recent variation on the twin-cylinder CB-350 that this buyer loyalty is very much deserved.
There are a few real differences between the new "G" and its immediate precessor, the K-4, besides the usual handful of cosmetic changes made by most manufacturers with every new model year. The first and readily obvious alteration is the new disc brake up front. Honda's d.l.s. brake stopped the K-4 and had all the power it needed, but the much greater "feel" afforded by a disc makes it a superior front brake for a motorcycle. Things can get very touchy when riding over gravel, oil slicks and the like, so careful control of front wheel braking under those circumstances is vital. The new disc increases that control and is a welcome change for that reason. With the new brake comes a new complementary wheel hub assembly much like those on any of this new bike's bigger brothers, but with somewhat longer spokes tying into a small center hub. This makes the laced wheel more bendable than the more direct, more rigid lacing of the drum brake wheel assembly. Certainly, though, the CB-350 G is meant for smooth pavement and not the pounding of a motocross course. You'll also note a cute eyelid over all the new Honda discs, a fender to prevent water and grit in solution from being thrown back all over the engine.
The engine/transmission unit's enticing silver-satin finish should stay as clean as the gas tank. There's no oil seepage or leaking at all, and it is certainly one of the tightest and most neatly designed powerplants running on two wheels despite its great complexity.
The CB-350 twins (actually 325's) represent the latest in Honda four-stroke technology, employing a single overhead cam and a short piston stroke for high cruising speeds and high rpm power. The carburetion is on the healthy side, too, using a pair of 28mm Kehins. The large choke diameters allow free breathing at high rpm, yet low rpm operation has not been adversely affected, so often the case with attendant low intake velocities which can be caused by over-carburetion.
Power from the twin is taken back to the transmission from the right side of the crank and delivered through double-row, staggered-tooth, straight-cut (say that fast 10 times) gearing to the clutch. The transmission on the "B" has been altered so that this year riders need not fumble with the awkWard, up-around-here-over-to-there linkage used by the 350 K's heretofore. The old system used to shift a lot side to side; now it pushes the shifting rod up and down, too, ameliorating the problem of tricky shifting in earlier models. The new lever selects from among five speeds within the box,
each appropriate to a specific riding situation: a good first for starting out, a decent jump to second without losing too many revs, a third for slow corners, a good fourth for passing and highspeed corners, and a top gear matched to the bike's power band for a good highway cruising speed.
The power delivery makes the transmission very easy to work with. The 325cc engine pumps out somewhere between 25 and 30 horsepower, with the power peak a little above 9500 rpm.
The tach is no longer red-lined at the 10,000-plus rpm figure on previous K's, and we found no internal engine modifications to account for this. The red line has apparently been changed in the interest of reliability, making most riders shift up a bit sooner. The really outstanding feature is good low-end power and high revving ability. This is a case of having your cake and eating it too. Hence, there is no need to keep a watchful eye on the tach to see that revs are kept at a certain low point of power dropoff. You can shift at 6,000 rpm as comfortably as at 9,500 rpm; in either case you can get around quite smartly. Although the "G" isn't the fastest or nimblest bike in its class, it has respectable acceleration times nevertheless. In fact, it will wisk a rider through the "quarter" a bit faster than the CB-350 Four mentioned earlier. Top speed is just short of the century mark, or "the ton" as it's called on the other side of the pond, and is, we think, just a matter of gearing. The "G" is capable of cracking that ego barrier after sufficient, break-in mileage and the addition of another tooth on the primary drive sprocket.
While sheer power isn't this bike's strong suit, handling and balance definitely are. The new version of the CB-350 carries the same frame as the K's and maintains their high degree of straight-line stability through the corners. The high-speed cruising ability offered by the running gear is as much an asset to touring as the engine's willingness to maintain that speed. This, too, comes from only a 52-inch wheelbase, a component that is usually kept long for stability. This short wheelbase makes weaving through traffic a snap, and wheeling the bike around in your garage won't involve a lot of tugging at the rear grab bar to get the thing turned around. The riding weight is substantial, as one would expect in an overhead cam design. Wet, the machine weighs about 370 lbs. In comparison, a Triumph twin with more than double this bike's displacement tips the scales at only 30 lbs. more.
The fly in the ointment for most motorcycles is vibration and the 350 G is no exception. Honda neatly avoids it with four-cylinder designs. Honda's 350 twin will do everything its Four will do and in most cases do it better, except in the smoothness department. To make the buzz of the "G" worse, it seems to occur at just the wrong place in the rpm range. The most noticeable vibration occurs at just over 60 mph and remains until 70 or 75 mph is reached. For jaunts of more than 100 miles this poses a very important problem — rider fatigue. Those who just don't want to put up with the situation can shell out an additional $300 or so and get the Four, which is also quieter, heavier, slower and probably eats a little more gas. Gas mileage on the "G" by the way, is excellent ; 50 mpg is common.
A functional as well as finishing touch to the new "G:' is a set of warning lights situated between the instruments and arranged vertically. The lights indicate a flashing turn signal, high-beam and oil pressure. Two small features that could have been changed on the "G," but weren't, are the ignition switch and the horn. Both occupy. symmetrical positions just under the gas tank on either side of the machine, and are equally inconvenient. The ignition switch is hard to get at and you can't see what position it's in unless you do a one-footed balancing act over the side of the bike or dismount completely to take a look. The horn just can't be heard at any distance.
One of the best features of the "G" which it shares with previous CB-350's is the really good electrical system. The battery at no time had difficulty starting the engine (choke full-on, of course; it's a Honda) and the lighting is outstanding. The turn signals are bright and crisp, the tail light is huge, and the headlight brightens the dark road ahead magnificently. We're very glad to see this quality on some of the smaller machines. It used to be that most 250's making their way down a country road at night would, at a distance, look like someone moving down a dark corridor with a flickering candle. The lights on this machine are safe and inspire confidence while riding at night.
Taken individually, the attributes of the CB-350 G aren't that astounding, but combined they make it a dandy package. In fact, a great attraction of the machine is its balance of price, weight, performance, quality and handling. Honda's CB 350 bikes have become the most popular motorcycle model ever sold, and the "G" is the best yet in the series. There was some talk that the 350 twins would soon be replaced completely by the fours, but apparently Honda is smart enough to stick to a good thing. We hope they hang onto it for many more years to come.
Source Cycle 1973