DCC’s AHRMA Lightweight Production CB350 Racer
1972 Honda CB350
Dime City Cycles has become synonymous with cafe racers, and with good reason. Between award winning builds, top notch customer service, and a unique, carefully cultivated catalog, it's easy to see why. You would be forgiven for thinking that a couple guys with an extra dose of cool and bravado combined a good idea with several metric tons of hard work and DCC was the result. In fact, that's only partially true. This institution of classic speed was admittedly started by accident. Turn the clock back, and those guys were just two tonners with day jobs, and a crazy passion for vintage motorcycles. Embarking on their first build, they quickly realized that the market place was lacking, and if they wanted to bring their vision to life they would need to innovate and create. The local population appreciated their handiwork to say the least. After a few bike show trophies and a slight alignment of planets, Dime City Cycles was born.
Over the years, DCC has done builds for marketing, charity, popular television shows, and just for fun. Although a fixture of the cafe racer scene, it wasn't until now that they decided to build a real deal, class division racer. With the reputation and pedigree DCC has become known for, this build dubbed the D33 racer, delivers a serious dose of performance while executing a level of aesthetic and attention to detail rarely seen in the paddock. Dime City Cycles already sponsors a winning race team headed up by AHRMA champion Scott Turner. When asked why he decided to go racing, DCC's fearless leader Herm Narciso simply says "Why wouldn't we? It's a natural evolution, you have to live who you are". It may also have something to do with Turner, a long time friend, egging Herm on and bragging about the spoils of the sport. Herm, not one to shy away from a challenge, decided it was time to go racing Dime City style.
It takes a smart person to know what to do. It takes a wise person to know what not to do, and so it was decided that rather than diving head first into a heavyweight, or superbike division, a novice light weight production class build was in order. The running donor bike, an amalgam of 1972 and 74 Honda CB350 twins was already on hand. It was purchased from a friend purely for inspiration, and has been quietly awaiting its day in the spotlight. With a class appropriate bike on hand, a wealth of knowledge about the CB350 accumulated, and a plethora of affordable parts to be had, the little CB was the perfect candidate to take racing.
With a reputation to uphold, DCC decided to build a show quality race bike, as unique as any other build before it. The engine was completely rebuilt top to bottom, including all new bearings, seals, and clutch with the help of Chuck "Super Tune" Quenzler. Stock pistons from Wiseco were dropped in, along with new valves by Kibblewhite. A fresh set of wheels were laced by Scott Turner, shod with Heinedau race compound tires, driven by a 520 chain conversion kit from Rebel Gears, and halted by new grooved shoes. Suspension duty is handled by Hagon shocks in the rear and a drop in Race Tech spring kit at the lead, while foot controls are DCC originals, and hand controls are from the experts at Magura. The mechanical work is impressive to say the least. On the aesthetic front, a full frame powder coat by Profab customs provides a clean backdrop for the phenomenal paintwork done by Moe Colors. The all important saddle was shaped and upholstered by Lance's Tops. Speaking on the differences between building a show bike and a race bike, Herm admits that at this level of build there were more similarities than not. But advises that any corners cut are made apparent much sooner due to the abuse a race bike handles and that Loctite and safety wire are your new best friends.
It's easy to look on at motorsport as a hobby for the well-heeled. The reality is, one can join in the fun with a modest outlay. There are great deals to be had on bikes, and after getting them to proper running condition, there are only a few simple modifications required to get them track ready. The class rules are neatly outlined in the AHRMA handbook, and anyone can do it. So you have the mindset to go racing, and the wheels to take you, next is getting licensed. Don't worry, Herm says there is no parallel parking portion of the exam. AHRMA works in collaboration with Fast And Safe Racing School, and the course is available at select venues through the year. In our case the course was proctored by none other than world class champion Andrew Cowell. There is a full day of classroom instruction covering subjects like trail braking, racing lines, and passing techniques. Don't worry, even if you're a seasoned rider like Herm, there is plenty to learn. Always receptive to advancing his skills, Herm said "you don't realize just how much you don't know until you spend time with someone who does". After the classroom session is over, it's time to move out to the track and practice what you learned on a few sections. This is followed by an open discussion forum, a mock race and the final verbal exam. That's it, time to get some laps under your belt.
Summing up my time with Herm and the D33 race bike, I asked if he had any advice for someone thinking about getting into AHRMA racing. He enthusiastically and emphatically said "stop thinking and do it!"