There is just something about a classic bike from the ’60s and ’70s that seems to sum up all that is good about motorcycling. A raw and mechanical riding experience that combines with clean and stylish lines, all making your heart yearn for the open road. And it seems the beloved machines of that period are adored by many, as auction prices soar to stratospheric heights and there doesn’t seem to be any slowing them down. But while this very bike has all of those wonderful attributes, this is no matching numbers original ready for the main stage at Bonhams. Instead, this beautiful beast was built in sunny Burbank by Ronnie Hansen, from a Frankstein-like mix of Honda 360 parts, and now rolls out of the Freeland Motorcycles workshop, ready to rip up the roads looking as cool as any classic can be.

The first time I saw the bike, I had one simple thought, this is the machine that Honda themselves should have built all those years ago. But playing Monday morning quarterback is easy, the real credit is all Ronnie’s, but his road to building cool customs was partially forced upon him. “I opened the shop four years ago, three months before COVID-19 hit, so it was quite the challenge but I was able to change up the business model from servicing customer bikes to just building customs. I started off with just building pre ‘78 Japanese bikes, mainly Honda’s but it’s grown into British bikes as well,” he tells us.

This build, like the change in business model, wasn’t totally planned and came about when building a customer-spec Honda CB360. “The client’s bike was also a Honda 360 but much more tame so I wanted to go a little over the top.” But rather than shop around for a donor, Ronnie’s shop bike would literally be built with parts he had lying around the place and morph together into one beautiful machine. The frame is taken from a CJ360, a short-lived and lower-spec offshoot of Honda’s CB360. Ronnie has done a great job of smoothing out the original chassis, cutting off the unrequired brackets and tabs and preparing it for paint.

Going for that old-school scrambler vibe, the back of the frame has been neatly hooped, but rather than mount the big fender underneath as so many do, he’s come up with a much neater alternative. The fender starts a considerable way down the centre post for good coverage and then runs over the top of the hoop, so that the mounting is hidden, before flowing out over the rear tyre. This meant the fender itself needed to be notched in two spots to sit over the frame, but the result was most certainly worth the extra effort. The front fender gets the high mount treatment, with the unit itself a mix of metal front and rubber rear.

The factory CB360 tank is actually a really nice piece for what was a budget bike, but when you live in California and you’re going for that dirt-destroying look, there really is only one silhouette to follow. So, Ronnie found himself a replica of the iconic Benelli Mojave tank and went to work ensuring that it would sit absolutely perfectly over the backbone, with the lower lines running parallel to the ground. The seat base was next and sits neatly inside the frame rails, and then it was over to a local upholstery shop who have done a first-class job stitching up a stunning staddle that flows up onto the fender.

To get the bike rolling, Ronnie went for a dive into his pile of old Honda pieces and came up with a front end from a Honda SL350. Not a huge hit in Europe, the SL was a popular bike in the States and is arguably the Japanese company’s first dual sport machine. So not only do the forks work great for that mix of on and off-road duties, but the drum brake gives the bike a nice period touch. Ronnie has polished it all up to have that hub looking its best, before lacing a set of rims and fitting some dual sport rubber. At the rear end, classic 15.4” shocks do the job of lifting the bike’s butt and ensuring plenty of travel.

To provide the punch for the package, another small Honda from the period provides the powerplant and is taken from the CL360. Essentially it’s the scrambler version of the CB of the same capacity, and the 356cc engine with a two-valve head was good for 34hp at a screaming 9,500rpm straight out of the box. To improve the fuelling and help make some more power, Ronnie has ditched the standard carbs in favour of a set of tuned Mikuni units with pod filters. The exhaust is spot on too, with the high pipe headers running down one side of the bike, before spitting out of a reverse cone muffler. The system is blacked out and there are a pair of neat head shields to protect the rider’s leg.

A big bore kit is sitting in the shop, but for now, the standard engine is producing plenty of fun. But back to those beautiful lines and the paint job is simply perfect, the gold painted frame is an inspired choice and is a great nod to those desert racers of old, with the tins getting a mix of gloss black and gold, with some truly exceptional logos to complete the look. The rest of the bike is kept deliberately simple, a set of old school bars wear only the bare necessities and a neat electronics box under the seat hides all of the wiring away. It might be a bitsa bike, but Ronnie has shown that at Freeland Motorcycles, they can make magic with just the bare essentials – we can’t wait to see what’s next.

[ Freeland Motorcycles ]