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Old 10-01-2013, 02:46 PM   #1
Rizingson OP
Vintage Rider
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Joined: Sep 2013
Location: Parker, CO USA
Oddometer: 328
Recalling an old Road Trip from '72

I've never attempted to write a trip report, let alone re-creating one that happend over 40 years ago. So hope I don't bore you guys too much
Just got back from a ride on a bike I picked up last spring (1971 SL350 K1) which gave me a chance to wax nostalgic on a road trip I made during the summer of '72 with my older brother. He was riding a 1971 CL450 and I was on my 1971 SL350 It was my last summer of being single so I naturally wanted to ride solo and rough it a little along the way.

My '71 SL350 K1 and me (before gray hair) pic taken in Jan of '72

I had purchased a used '71 SL350 in the fall of '71 thinking it would be a pretty good off road bike, boy I sure found out it was way to heavy for that, even though it had a much lighter frame and minus the starter that the K0 had. The bike still had less than a 1K miles on it when the top end got wiped out from oil starvation. The dealer told me there was a recall on a gasket (I forget which one exactly but think it was the left case gasket) which blocked or partially blocked lubrication to the top end. Because I had bought it used they wouldn't repair it under warranty. Being fresh out of Auto & Diesel mechanics school, I figured that little motor wouldn't even come close to intimidating me. So I pulled the engine out outside on the gound (no shop in those days) and lugged it upstairs to my apartment and rebuilt the top end, changing cam shaft, rockers and cam bushings as well as the correct case gasket. I might of even got a little oil on the carpet.
Leaving Denver in mid July, we headed for Canada to where ever the road took us. My brother was riding his '71 CL450. The first day we made about 500 miles and camped out in our new pup tents along the Snake river between the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Next morning the bike seats were totally white with frost which had me thinking just how tough I really was.

The bikes at the north end of Yellowstone

After spending some time in Yellowstone seeing all the attractions such as "ole facefull" as well as the feeding of bears (which wasn't discouraged back then) from the safety of your car. (That had me looking for an escape route in case they thought we had food as well, especially given the gridlock of cars we were trapped in, that were watching the bears) Next on the plan was getting to Glacier Nat. Park.

Gasing up in a ghost town in Montana

My SL350 at Flathead Lake Montana

It was a nice ride until we ran into a huge hailstorm north of Missoula heading up to Flathead lake.
We couln't find anywhere to get out of the storm, not even a culvert. Lucky for us a VW bus, painted up with peace signs and flowers that was full of hippies heading to San Francisco stopped and let us get inside till the storm was past. I think they where some left over hippies from the "Summer of Love". Boy, the inside of that bus smelled like a barn full of hay on fire. We even had the munchies when we got back on the bikes. Of course I tried not to inhale.When we got to Flathead lake everywhere you looked someone was selling cherry cider. Once we got to Glacier Park we travelled the "Going to the Sun Road" through the park.

In glacier park after adjusting and lubricating chains.

On the Going to the Sun Road

After leaving Montana on Highway 89 we crossed the border into Canada. Don't recall to much about that crossing except being asked how long we would stay and how much money we had.

Finally getting to the border

I don't recall the exact routes that were taken in Canada but remember going to Waterton Park. Most of the trip across Canada involved gravel logging roads almost all the way across Alberta and British Columbia to Vancouver.

Here's me on one to the gravel roads somewhere in British Columbia

From Vancouver we got a ferry boat ride to Victoria Island, which I remember as having many beautiful views riding from Nanaimo to the city of Victoria. After some time there we decided to catch a ferry to Port Angeles where we got the 3rd degree search re-entering the States.

The bikes in the back of the ferry boat, last on first off We also took time to enjoy a cold Moose Head or two while riding the ferry

My brother on the tail of the ferry, keeping an eye on the bikes

Once back in the State of Washington we rode to Olympic Park and the coastline, seeing the Ocean for the first time was pretty amazing for a South Dakota farm boy.

On the Washington coast line, viewing the Pacific Ocean

I remember being in a hotel in Yakima WA, on a Sat evening realizing I had to be back to work on Monday morning. So with just over 1200 miles to get home we knew we had to pull an Iron butt ride (this was before we ever heard about such a thing) to get home in time. So we left shortly after midnight hell bent for Denver. We stopped for a quick power nap of about an hour on picnic tables in Idaho and the only other stops were for gas, snacks and once for cleaning our bubble shields (yea no farings) after hitting a swarm of bugs by Mountain Home Idaho which looked and felt like yellow hail.
Coming down the last pass and Floyd Hill now seeing the lights of Denver was a great sight, as we had finally made it back. We rolled into Denver just after mid-night for some quick Z's before heading off to work at 6 AM. I recall my ears were still ringing with the sounds of the 350's motor the whole next day. I was too busy riding hard to even take a picture on that run from the coast to home.
My only regret is not making more time and getting up to Alaska. Other than the repair needed due to a factory gasket screw up, that little Honda sure was dependable. (I checked and adjusted valves once as well as chain adjustments and lube) I had also replaced the rear 40T sprocket with a 36T CB350 sprocket so I could run about 62 at 6K rpms most of the way until the blast home. I recall passing a few Harley's and even a Triumph parked along the road dead. Rode right by one Harley rider stranded in Utah trying to wave us down, but we were on a tight time crunch, plus who needs someone complaining about your "Jap" bikes when his bike is dead on the road dripping oil everywhere. I guess that was one of the 96% of Harley's still on the road instead of one that made it home

Some photo's of my new, to me, nostalgic ride. Always had my eye out for another and it finally happened. The good ones seem to get snapped up really quick! And hard to find one with good mufflers!

Note the factory optional fork braces that my orginal SL didn't have.

As a dirt bike the SL350 failed miserable IMO, but it was a very good handling bike on gravel roads and possibly one of the first so-called "Adventure" bikes before the term or genre was even thoght of.

I did spend some time looking for a CL450 in Candy Topaz Orange to duplicate the bikes we used for the roadtrip, but got impatient and ended up with a Strato Blue Metallic CL450 instead, much to my brother's dismay
Here's the Scrambler from my collection in that year 1971. I really like the sound of the 450 Scramblers, as they did sound quite raw even with stock mufflers.

I hope my little road trip brought back some memories for some of you. Obviously attempting a trip like that with that size/type of machine today would get many people questioning your sanity. I love reading peoples travel adventures especially on machines that seem unlikely for the task. Sometimes the best memories come from the unexpected things that happen (that's why it's called an "adventure") rather than a smoothly planned excursion on the main interstates. I have to say back then we didn't worry about things as much as today, such as no cell phone if you broke down or no credit cards for emergencies, just enough tools to hopefully repair whatever happened along with your own survival skills. Your basic plan was, "if it is to be it is up to me", a concept many don't or can't accept today. Hopefully some of you can also share some travel stories as well from the '60s or '70s on vintage bikes!

...the era is gone forever, fortunately the motorcycles remain...

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Old 10-01-2013, 05:26 PM   #2
Joined: Mar 2012
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great RR-god speed
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:29 PM   #3
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Location: Steamboat Springs, COLORADO
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I enjoyed the nostalgic trip down memory lane. Thanks for posting!

Formerly known as: Routt County Rob
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:38 PM   #4
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:56 PM   #5
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Joined: Apr 2006
Location: Bakersfield CA & Sammamish WA
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Man, this hits home for me. As a young boy my parents would make an exception to my normal bedtime so I could stay up late to watch "Then Came Bronson". When I was 14, I would spend class time staring out the Seattle classroom windows dreaming of the places I could venture to on a SL350 (later a Yankee 500). And yes my grades sucked! Never got the SL but my best friend eventually did and when I turned 16 and I got my license a CB450 was what I rode to high school on.

Thanks for dusting off the cobwebs!


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Old 10-01-2013, 06:39 PM   #6
Joined: May 2012
Location: Phoenix, AZ, USA
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Great ride report and pictures. I enjoyed reading it.
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Old 10-01-2013, 06:56 PM   #7
Amateur Adventurer
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Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Evansville, Indiana
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I'm ashamed to admit that the first thing I saw that made me go all nostalgic is that awesome coat. Very popular style in '71. I never imagined it as a "biker" jacket. I was just 13 yrs old then.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Ferris Bueller
Baja 2012, my first moto tour
Oaxaca, Estados Unidos Mexicanos

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Old 10-01-2013, 07:03 PM   #8
Live from THE Hill
Joined: May 2008
Location: Washington, DC
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love those CLs
ADV'ing from America's fine Crapital...
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:23 PM   #9
Hoot Gibson
Joined: Jul 2013
Location: Bottom of Grand Lake Ohio
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Good Stuff

I was back from Vietnam and still a SP in the Air Force stationed in Upstate New York/Dad was still alive and the road was ahead....40+ years flies by in the blink of an eye....Great Stuff/Thanks for the time warp:
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:43 PM   #10
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Joined: Jun 2005
Location: shelby nc
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awesome report, love your "new" 350. such a cool machine
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:53 PM   #11
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Location: Austin, TX
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Always loved the SLs and CLs, thanks for posting!
Get fit. Stay safe. Enjoy life. Learn something to help someone in need.
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:11 PM   #12
Dan Diego
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: San Diego, CA
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Just wonderful stuff. Thanks for posting this ride report. I smiled the entire time I was reading it.
I have no interest in living a balanced life. I want a life of adventure.
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:36 PM   #13
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Location: Pacific NW
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Wow! Sure brought back memories for me for sure. Just a couple of years after your ride, my buddies and I took off from Wyoming through some of the exact same country you did. I was riding my Triumph and my buddies on there Nortons. We were out for about 4 weeks if I recall. Had a great trip sleeping under the stars until we had to buy some tents in Canada because of snow and rain! Thanks for the reminder of the good ole days... Loved your pic’s.
The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:57 PM   #14
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I love these old reports.
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Old 10-01-2013, 11:55 PM   #15
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I'd rather be dragging a club than clubbing in drag.
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