Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

Honda CL360

Posted on June 7, 2011 by Scott in Café Racer, Classic. 30 comments

Living in Australia we sometimes forget how cold it can get in other parts of the world. On the recent Pipeburn ride I heard many grown men whining about how cold the early morning was in Sydney and it was only 16˙C (60˙ fahrenheit). So I take my mohair beanie off to guys like Aaron Ruse from Illinois who has spent the last American winter building a bike in freezing temperatures in his unheated concrete garage. Aaron is a young guy who recently decided it was time to learn some wrenching skills and build his first bike. “I got interested in motorcycles last summer as a way to learn about basic mechanics,” says Aaron. This interest quickly grew into a love for classic motorcycles. He was inspired by his uncle R.J. Ruse and his buddies who restore classic bikes, along with a new friendship with Team Hansan Racing’s Terry Naughtin, and set out to build a cafe racer last winter. “I found a beat up ’75 CL360 and a badly dented and rusted CB350f tank in a back junk yard of a local motorcycle shop and set to work”.

We’ll let Aaron describe the details of this one: “While in its decrepit state, I went through the electrical and mechanical systems enough to get it started and rolling around the block. Then began the tear down. Working solo in my garage over the next several months, I stripped each part off the bike and restored, repaired, painted and polished them. The dented and rusted tank was the first major project and chance to learn about sheet metal body work. Rather than pulling the dents out, I embraced them and accentuated them to become knee and hand dents. This process involved a ball tip hammer, some oak dowel rods, a bit of body filler and tons of patience”.

“Once the tank was primed, I moved on to any part made of aluminum. Using a vintage buffing wheel from craigslist, I slowly worked my way through a mountain of tarnished, dirty parts. As the shiny and functional pile of finished parts grew, the frame finally exposed itself. Determined to take this project as far as I could, I cut off anything from the frame that didn’t make it go faster or help it stop. The concept was to strip the bike down the the basic components and celebrate the great geometry hiding under all the added stuff. Additional seat bracing, triple tree stops, rearset mounts, rear loop, battery box and license plate bracket were fabricated and welded with simple hand tools and a portable MIG welder”.

“After unsuccessfully scouring internet vendors for just the right seat/tail, I decided to try my hand at fiberglass. Sculpted the tail piece shape from foam then laying up glass and finally sanding and filling to a final shape gave me a one of a kind tail that fits the contours of the bike perfectly. At this point, we were in the dead of a very cold Chicago winter and it was time for paint. My “paint booth” is a cleaned out portion of the unheated garage. Over the next several weeks, my very patient wife allowed me to keep all the parts in the kitchen while I dashed to the garage to spray small parts and frames; immediately running back into the warm house with wet part in hand to be hung off cabinet doors or doorways. New tires, rearsets, signal/break lights, and clip-ons were ordered from the helpful guys at Dime City Cycles while the paint dried. Assembly was the next task. Once again, the kitchen was the only logical location for such a project given the weather outside. Happily, despite poor planning on my part (I neglected to to a dry fit of all the parts before painting) the parts came together relatively smoothly”.

Aaron finished the bike just in time for Spring. Ironically, Spring usually means rebirth and renewal, and that’s exactly what happened to this beat up old CL360 – it’s been completely reborn. And when the snow melted away to reveal the roads again, it was like a sign from a higher being to take some beautiful shots and send them to Pipeburn. Hallelujah.

  • redkiwi86


  • Dan-Used to play guitar with Brandon now I’m in NC

    Is this the Aaron Ruse that plays with Brandon Grissom? Don't know if you remember me, but I played guitar at Elevate for a few years… now I'm in NC building motorcycles. Awesome bike! Great for your first! What's your second going to be?

  • jak

    as a colorado guy i can attest to the winter challenges. when a wrench slips in warm weather, it hurts, in freeing weather, i weep. such a nice build, what a great wife. excellent!

  • CHETtheJET

    ….that's getting it done Son,what a great winter you had,as we all can see,may your next be done in the warmth of summer,maybe a matching Honda for the wife,it would go togather twice as fast as your first…hope to see more.(i spent my winter in Michigan on my ass,just dreaming moto's)

  • Bryan G

    What a cool story!

  • What a great Bike!

  • VonYinzer

    Right on man. Good to see it over here as well as on DTT.

  • 522design

    60 degree ………………. Cold ride scoot? Hahahah . Sweet bike. Love it!

  • wow

    i love it!!!

  • Derrick

    nice, i like it…

  • aaron

    there is a build forum listed here.
    my hope in showing this bike is to show how someone with limited resources and no experience can do quality work. I hope this project inspires others to bring new life to rusty treasure.
    Thanks again to pipeburn for featuring this project.

  • Alex

    Beautiful. 🙂 Almost exactly my own preferences when it comes to cafe bikes.

  • Troy

    Just perfect. I love the simplictity, Great job.

  • Jason

    Just plain beautiful. I can only hope my own project that I'm building in the basement turns out half as nice. As for 60 degrees being a cold ride, please. I have commuted to work in temps below freezing more than a few times, with a mesh jacket.

  • psbero

    Wow, what a great little Honda! If I was wearing a hat, I would take it off to you Aaron. Great job 🙂

  • WelderJerk

    Try 5 months below freezing and -40s being normal for 2 of those. there's a reason us in central Canaduh gotta love the snowmobiles too.

  • Mattro

    very, very nice. inspiration for getting on with my half-finished cl360.

  • thumperstew

    Nice old CL360, Cool color. Please post a video of that thing howling around. The real gem is your wife. A lady that lets you hang freshly painted bike parts in the kitchen, WOW!

  • revdub

    Awesome bike and story. I love that frame color. It really sets the whole build off. Kudos on a great build!

  • Kev

    What a great job Aaron! Its a beautiful bike with all the right lines!!
    Kevin White

  • Ash in Bali

    That copper colored frame is an excellent contrast to the overall silver and black color scheme of the bike. Well done Aaron, that old Honda's been reincarnated.

  • Awesome bike.

  • HAZ


  • Matthew

    Hat off! Simple, visceral, gorgeous.

  • Peter

    Great stuff! Love the way it turned out.

  • Foundation982


  • DirtySantana

    What kickstart lever are you using or did you fab the kickstart. I'm having a similar problem with my kick start hitting the rear set.

  • Awesome Bike and I must say you have captured it very well! In the first picture the sun-rays falling on the bike is looking spectacular…

  • G

    I’m just curious on who copied who or if this is the same bike being passed around or just the same bike period. looks better with the og tank and rear seat. Someone clear this up since Chicago is known for not being original in anything anymore (i had 2 cars copied and was stalked by these friggin losers and it turned out they were uncover pigs WATCH OUT). Wouldn’t doubt these were some pigs running this shop. Bike in question:

  • Eugenio Siliceo

    Now I´m in a CL360 project, can you give me your email to talk about it? Thanks!