Monday, August 12, 2013

Rise of the Bridgestone Baron?

I'm not sure how it happened.  A scant few months ago, the word 'Bridgestone' was hardly in my vocabulary, save for the tires I just had removed from my Triumph.

Fast forward 2 months and I am deep in the throes of bringing a 175cc Dual Twin back to life with a 90cc sport waiting in the wings.  Over the weekend,  my father and I left for a 7 hour round trip through scenic cottage country in Ontario to acquire this;

Yes, it is another Bridgestone...The big one, the most desirable one.  An early GTR, 350cc the biggest bike the company ever made.  When new, these were only $80.00 to a $100.00 less than a brand new Triumph Bonneville!  It is estimated that fewer than 8,000 units were ever produced and at that buy in price, that's hardly surprising!

This all started innocently enough, I swear.  I may have mentioned before that the most expensive aspect of restoring a bike these days is shipping costs.  There have been items I've purchased that were more expensive for me to ship than buy!

I thought perhaps it might be best to reach out to the motorcycle community and see if anyone had any bits and pieces lying around.  I got a response from a very nice gentleman who had this 350 collecting dust in his garage.  He offered it at a price that I couldn't turn down, even when factoring in the purchase of gas and the cost of renting a van for a day.  I had actually never seen one up close and personal before and they just don't seem to exist anywhere, let around these parts.

The seller was really a Honda guy at heart, he had about 7 of them!  I wish I had taken a picture of his immaculate and unmolested 1971 CB350.  It was a true survivor and a rolling time capsule.  It didn't feel right to ask to take the pic, he seemed like a fairly private guy so I wanted to respect that.

In addition to the bike, he also threw in these goodies;

I haven't gone through the box yet, I did notice an NOS crank, spare tail light lens, extra carb and sprocket.  The extra tank is in better shape than the one on it, so I will clean, polish and swap.

Here are some better shots after a bath in warm simple green (great product by the way) and a spray down.  I have given some of the chrome a light polish with WD40 and steel wool to see what I am up against.

Could this be the actual mileage?

I haven't delved into this bike too deeply yet.  I am inclined to believe that this could be a 5000 mile bike based on a few factors from my initial impression.  The tires are matching Bridgestones, which could very well be original.  It also appears as though everything is original and further to that in fairly good condition.

  I won't be getting into this one too deeply yet, she has good compression and kicks over freely.  My plan is to actually get it to run and clean up as much of the rust as I can.  I really don't want to restore it, I prefer to have an intact original with some great patina.  Also, it's unlikely that I will be able to afford to at this point!

Next post I will discover what year this gem was built in, catalog some parts and get back to some 175 business!  Stay Tuned.....

Please enjoy the fantastic John Barry theme song from 'The Persuaders' one of my favorite shows of all time.

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