“Four wheels move the body while two wheels move the soul.” This philosophical statement is common for motorcycle lovers. If you have ridden cafe racer motorcycles, then you agree with me it’s true. Anyone with keen interest on motorbikes might have seen a Cafe Racer at one time. A cafe racer is a lightly-powered motorbike that has been stripped to leave only the essential parts so as to make it light and maximize on speed. They share a common concept with bobbers but have a leaning forward seating position as opposed to a leaning back seating position of the bobber. They were very fashionable in the 60s and 70s (the golden age of motorbikes), which is why passionate motorbike lovers and fanatics try to bring back those good old days.
Technological innovation has enabled motorbike riders to build Cafe Racer motorcycles using classical aesthetics while maintaining the taste of the golden age of motorcycles. In addition to bike aesthetics, there are even companies making high end selvedge denim kevlar motorcycle jeans but for now we are going to look at the basics of building a Cafe Racer, with emphasize on major factors to consider.
Just like any other project, building a Cafe Racer requires a dedicated motorcycle lover to plan. Planning helps to see a project from initiation to completion. As much as many people may view it as a hobby, building a motorcycle is a serious undertaking that has crucial basics. If these basics are overlooked, the result would be a cafe racer that is either incomplete or that is without performance enhancement. When defining the course of action, three factors should be considered: Knowledge, time, and money (vintage motorcycle parts don’t come cheap!).
1. Knowledge – Research is key to having good results. Start by gathering as much information as possible about cafe racer motorcycles. Luckily, information about motorbikes is ubiquitous on the internet. Search the web and view pictures of racing and hotted-up bikes of the 70s to get a good picture of what cafe racers looked like. Dig deep into the anatomy of the motorcycle and know how each and every part has evolved to the current parts on modern bikes. Read the article and magazines to know cafe racer engine parts and how they perform. Some of your friends will know where to get good parts at favorable prices. The key point is gather lot of information to help you make informed decisions when building your cafe racer.
2. Time – Know whether or not you have enough time to build a racing machine that is not only fashionable but also safe and comfortable to ride on. It is important to remember that your project will only be beneficial if it is completed successfully.
3. Money – Knowing how much you are expecting to spend is very important. Your budget will guide many decisions including the type of donor motorbike to choose, which parts will be used and so forth. Budget and time will dictate what your cafe racer will be in the long-run.
4. Selecting the donor bike – This is probably the most difficult decision you will have to make before building your cafe racer. The perfect combination you would be building the best performing frame and pairing it with a powerful engine. Though transplants aren’t necessary, decades of racing and technological advancements have made cafe racer building a lot simpler. Starting with a modern bike, major operations would be aimed at removing unnecessary parts, reducing weight, improving handling, unlocking the horsepower and adding preferred stylish looks.