Recalling an old Road Trip from '72

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Rizingson, Oct 1, 2013.

  1. Rizingson

    Rizingson Vintage Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    335
    Location:
    Parker, CO USA
    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 [​IMG]
    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) [​IMG] pic taken in Jan of '72



    [​IMG]

    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. [​IMG] 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. [​IMG] [​IMG]
    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
    [​IMG]

    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
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    My SL350 at Flathead Lake Montana
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    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.
    [​IMG]

    On the Going to the Sun Road
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    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
    [​IMG]

    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
    [​IMG]

    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 [​IMG] We also took time to enjoy a cold Moose Head or two while riding the ferry [​IMG]
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    My brother on the tail of the ferry, keeping an eye on the bikes :huh
    [​IMG]

    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
    [​IMG]

    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:evil[​IMG]

    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.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    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 [​IMG]
    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.
    [​IMG]

    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...

    _________________
    #1
  2. snooter

    snooter Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    86
    great RR-god speed
    #2
  3. ROAD DAMAGE

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer

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    Steamboat Springs, COLORADO
    I enjoyed the nostalgic trip down memory lane. Thanks for posting! :D

    Rob
    #3
  4. gallinastrips

    gallinastrips Been here awhile

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    Jul 11, 2008
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    Taos NM
    :freaky
    #4
  5. mcnut

    mcnut Long timer

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    Bakersfield CA & Sammamish WA
    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!

    Bruce
    #5
  6. Krakatoa

    Krakatoa Waiting...

    Joined:
    May 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    80
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    Great ride report and pictures. I enjoyed reading it.
    #6
  7. akaDigger

    akaDigger Amateur Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    554
    Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
    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.

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. DCrider

    DCrider Live from THE Hill

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    May 7, 2008
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    Location:
    Washington, DC
    love those CLs
    #8
  9. Hoot Gibson

    Hoot Gibson Banned

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    Jul 19, 2013
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    Location:
    Bottom of Grand Lake Ohio
    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::clap
    #9
  10. whipit1k

    whipit1k Been here awhile

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    Jun 26, 2005
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    Location:
    shelby nc
    awesome report, love your "new" 350. such a cool machine
    #10
  11. AustinJake

    AustinJake TE450-KLE-FXDWG

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
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    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Always loved the SLs and CLs, thanks for posting!
    #11
  12. Dan Diego

    Dan Diego Long timer

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    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Just wonderful stuff. Thanks for posting this ride report. I smiled the entire time I was reading it.
    #12
  13. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2011
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    Location:
    Pacific NW
    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. :clap
    #13
  14. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

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    left coast
    nice.
    I love these old reports.
    #14
  15. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Outstanding! :clap
    #15
  16. Pantah

    Pantah Red Sox Nation

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    10,372
    Location:
    India Wharf
    I always wondered what they named that color. I bought one of those in that color with my saved up flight pay. It was 1970 and I was home from my tour. I also bought a Porsche. I was 22.

    Yes, I remember the distinctive sound of the Honda Scramblers. Even the CL77 sounded good, but the 450 was the best. I tried riding it off road a couple times and after about 6 months I traded it for a Yamaha 360 Enduro. Much better! I tried racing it the next year, but it had such poor forks it would go into tank slappers all the time. I traded that for a Penton Six Days 125. Wow! So that is what a real race bike rides like. After that came a string of motocrossers.

    Today I have two dual sport thumpers. I like riding them to remote places on long trips. I didn't rediscover motorcycle travel until I bumped into this site in 2004. Nice to still be able to do some of the things we did 40 years ago. Thanks for the memories.
    #16
  17. Kenbike

    Kenbike Been here awhile

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    Jul 13, 2009
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    South of the big lake
    Love the road trip! So many young people today won't even get a drivers license let alone take a trip such as yours. Thanks for sharing.
    #17
  18. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Location:
    Jennings, Louisiana
    :clap:clap:clap Fantastic step back in time. Touring was so much simpler then it seems now. Loved those SL350s. Remember a guy running one for awhile in our rice field motorx tracks and flat tracks back in '72 /'73. My road ride back then was a '72 Honda 750 which replaced a '69 Norton Commando Fastback What days, Farings? Nada. :lol3:lol3
    Thanks for the time and effort to do this report. Really fun reading it as I know of the places you rode to by being there also.
    #18
  19. Rizingson

    Rizingson Vintage Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    335
    Location:
    Parker, CO USA
    Back then, our cold weather gear was the same as our winter gear. We really didn't have any special riding gear other than a helmet. No heated gloves, vests or even leathers which were too expensive. I noticed that my brother had a coat just about like mine.:rofl I just realized I still had the craftsman tool box, which was bolted on to the back of the SL350 with u-clamps. Talk about a survivor, it's at least 41 yrs old and I still use it for plumbing parts, tools etc. I tried to put stickers on it whenever we got into a new state etc. (kind of like people used to do with their RV/Campers back then to show off were they had been:D)

    Here it is, you can still see stickers from Grand Tetons, Montana, Yellowstone and Vancouver, Canada.
    [​IMG]

    Glad to hear my report has stirred up some memories for some of you. Thanks for your compliments!
    #19
  20. westerlywinds

    westerlywinds Two Wheels-Ride it

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    168
    Location:
    El Paso?
    I had a SL350 given to me about 1978 I rode it a year when the forks broke I put on a Suzuki 185 motocross front fork ,it worked good but bottomed out easily then the headlight quit I had a ford pick-up light bucket ,just drilled a couple of holes got a junk yard bulb 50cents .It had a two into one megaphone exhaust very loud It cost me $15.00 for a year of riding around Moab Utah. :D I called it my Forhonski I also had that coat in green corduroy
    #20