Bike of the Month
Sonicweld Honda CB 350
by Peter Hipp
In 1989 at an American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM) race weekend at Sears Point, I was racing my Honda CR750. There was a motorcycle swap meet near the race pits and at the end of my race day, I wandered into the swap area. There was one swapper with a lot of different parts, and leaning on his pick-up truck I saw a Honda CB 350 in a special frame. I asked him the price and he said, “$350”. Without hesitation, I immediately pulled out the money and gave it to him. He said, “Maybe I was to cheap, do you know what frame this is”? I replied, “Yes I do, it is a Sonicweld frame with Betor forks set up for flat tracking”. The seller told me he was on the way to the Sears Point swap and stopped at a yard sale, where he purchased the bike for $100. There was moss growing on the frame from being stored in an old barn in a wet climate.
I put the Honda onto my 2-rail trailer, facing backwards, between the to race bikes and transported it to my shop/house on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Weeks later I started cleaning the carbs, adjusting the valves, setting the timing, changing the oil and more. After all the fettling, I installed my remote fuel set up and started the motor up. It sounded good and was not smoking. Driving it around the block, it ran and shifted great.
As winter set in at Lake Tahoe I started the process to make it into a road racer. I was thinking that I was going to start racing with the AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association) club. The class I would go for was Sportsman 350, which could bump up a class to Sportsman 500. All AHRMA vintage bikes are eligible to race in two classes. After market frames (Trackmaster, Champion, Sonicweld, etc.) are legal in the Sportsman classes. The Honda 350 motors are actually 325 cc and the rules allow the engines to be pumped up to 350cc, plus you can bore to 4th over, which makes it 362cc. Another criteria of the class is that the front brake must be a drum brake. Number plates are yellow for this class. AHRMA uses different color plates for different classes because there are multiple classes participating on the track at any given time. The different colored plates help the spectators determine who they are watching. In 1998, the AHRMA race was at Sears Point was in May or June and my Sonicweld Honda CB 350 ran in the top 5 in 350 Sportsman class.
I like the Sportsman 350 and Sportsman 500 classes, bikes and riders out there, and raced the 350 Sonic for 10 plus years at tracks all over the nation. My brothers, Steve and Kurt, as well as Steve's son, Kevin all have and currently race Honda CB 350’s. Over the years, I have learned how to build these motors and my bikes are currently some of the fastest in the nation.