1974 Honda XL350 | Me & My Bike

Photography by Joe Gresh

NAME: David Aldana
AGE: 62
HOME: Fayetteville, GA
OCCUPATION: Retired Pro motorcycle racer

“My bike is a 1974 Honda XL350, side-intake, bored and stroked to 488cc with a high-compression CP piston. Honda’s cast-in-head plain-bearing cam has been replaced with a Megacycle needle-bearing unit. A Mikuni 38mm carb with K&N filter handles the air/fuel mixing. My friend Larry Underwood has done extensive machine work in the transmission to allow more positive gear changes. Larry also did the head work, cam sprockets, needle bearings, and grafted on a vintage 185cc Honda CDI ignition. I build exhausts, so naturally the XL has one of mine.

“There’s not much Honda left on the bike as the frame is a Champion. The wheels are quick-change style by Cheney, who also made the triple clamps that squeeze lightly modified 35mm Kawasaki forks. I installed a Barnett clutch, along with many parts rescued from local salvage yards. The bike weighs about 220 lbs. and handles great with the Works Performance shocks.

“I started racing motorcycles when I was 14 years old. My first bike was an 80cc Suzuki. I raced that until I was 18, then got a factory ride on a 250cc Ossa. Around that same time, I started racing a factory BSA at Ascot Park in Southern California. From our success there, I went on to chase the AMA National #1 plate.

“I got close, managing to win four national championship races. Rent the movie On Any Sunday and you’ll see me in the hunt. My career highlights include competing in the Trans-Atlantic Match Races and the FIM World Endurance Championship. In 1981, Mike Baldwin and I teamed up to win the Suzuka 8-hour on a Honda RS1000. In ’85 I retired from top-level roadracing and in ’99 was inducted into the AMA’s Hall of Fame.

“Today I compete in the AHRMA Vintage Super Senior 60 class, and last year won the championship. The XL488 runs so good, I also won championships in the Senior 50, Sportsman 600, ’70 Singles and ’70 Singles 50+ classes. That’s a lot of laps for an old bike, much less a 62-year-old rider!

“After 48 years, and thousands and thousands of laps, I still enjoy racing motorcycles. I appreciate the many great comrades I’ve met over the years, and this old XL Honda allows me to make lots of new friends. Thank goodness for motorcycles!” MC

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