Bike Of The Week
Alright our ton-up speed chasing brethren, you asked for it and it’s back. The Café Racer TV Bike of The Week! The same rules follow as did with Seasons 1 and 2, so be sure to add your bike to the viewers bike page and get your friends to vote. We’ll be posting up The Bike of The Week judged by the CRTV staff weekly. You’ll get a chance to post up a couple photo’s, a little bio and some tech specs for your trusty two wheeled ton-up steed and who knows, you might even be scouted for a future season of Café Racer! So better get ‘em shined up and loaded to the viewers bikes gallery!
Featured Bike Number 4 of Cafe Racer TV Season 3 – Chris Plank’s Kawasaki Z650
I’m a man of few words, so I’ll keep it short!
At the end of 2011 I saw the Movie: ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ (in german: ‘Verblendung’) from Stieg Larsson with Rooney Mara as ‘Lisbeth Salander’. In this movie, Lisbeth was riding a nice cafe racer. When I saw the bike, my heart began beating faster and I said to myself: yes – time to build a thing like that! Thats the reason why i was looking around for a stock bike. Then i found the 1979 Kawasaki Z650, it hadn’t been used for 12 years and was leaning against a wall in a garage. I had a picture in my mind how the bike should look like, so i stripped it down until the frame was left, and began to build it up again. First i did all the mechanic things like changing all the wear parts, oils, repaired some defects that appear after this long stand and waked the engine up again. Then i bought some parts like handlebars, footrests, tachometer, tail, tyres, lights, etc…, cleaned and polished many parts to get them back on the bike. The whole electrics and battery was getting a new home under the tailend. I like colours that belong to our earth, like brown, green, sand etc, so when I first saw the awesome Marakesh-Brown on a BMW X1, I thought that I would someday make something using this colour. And this ‘someday’ came with the Z650. All of the work i nearly did myself, except painting the colour with the airbrush, and doing the leather on the seat. I loved working on the bike, seeing how it goes forward step by step. And after about 150 hours of work i can now enjoy my 65hp Cafesaki on the Austrian roads – and it makes big fun
Stay on your bikes, cheers, Chris…
Featured Bike Number 3 of Cafe Racer TV Season 3 – David Reid’s Thruxton Custom
Dear CRTV Crew,
Greetings from Afghanistan! This is my 04 Thruxton “Salma”. I first saw an article on the then new Thruxton while I was deployed to Iraq in 04, when I got home I would visit the local Triumph dealer every day till the wife finally said ” Oh will you just go buy it for heavens sake!”. Since then I’ve added a sweptback exhaust system from Bella Corse, alloy fender from MAS, stainless lines, BMW headlight guard, Triumph chrome side panels, alloy tach & speedo cups from D9, alloy Lyta tank from T.A. Baker in Wales, Pirelli Sport Demons front and rear, alloy chain guard, nickel plated chain, Hagon shocks, Joker ignition relocate, stock seat redone in a Manx type style and a fender eliminator from South Bay Triumph. The motor is mildly tuned and the carbs re-jetted. I didn’t remove the airbox and opted for a K&N Hi-Flo instead. Right now I’m deployed again and writing to you from Afghanitan. I have a whole bunch of goodies waiting for her when I get home including finned stator and sprocket covers from Speed Merchants, direct connect front brake resevior from British Customs, and a slew of others. I live in Simi Valley Califonia when I am home and I’m a member of the LA chapter of the Brit Iron Rebels. Thanks to everyone who voted for my bike and hope to see you all soon.
Featured Bike Number 2 of Cafe Racer TV Season 3 – Steve’s OSSA GT
Hello Cafe Racer TV,
The OSSA Sport GT street bike was built around and from a 1972 OSSA Stiletto Motocross bike. The tank and seat are reproductions of those found on the 1967 OSSA endurance road racers they campaigned. The engine is a 1977 350cc OSSA with custom porting and exhaust by OSSA Engineering. The final wheel horsepower is approximately 45. and when combined with a weight of 262 lbs performance is QUICK, to say the least. With 18″ wheels front and back the handling is great to. In those days, the lightweight 2 stroke MX bikes/chassis were modified and built into racers. If you’d like to see the full detail of the build and the resources I’ve collected over that last 30 years around OSSA’s have a look at my website, http://ossaengineering.com/. Hope you like it!
Featured Bike Number 1 of Cafe Racer TV Season 3 – Pierre Frégeac’s BMW
Hello Cafe Racer, (Pierre is a man of few words, so we’ll let the bike tell the story!)
I purchased this bike in 1996 from the government, it was a local Police bike. Before doing any major customizations to it, I simply rode it. Everywhere. 100,000km’s to be exact! Unfortunately I ended up in a pretty bad accident and the bike needed to be rebuilt so I thought it was a good opportunity to start to customize it in “Cafe Racer” flavor. Between my friends Manu, Coco & Titi we tore the bike down and refirbished the bits and pieces that needed it and fabrication new items too like the front and rear brakes from a Kawasaki and Ducati; we also fitted a newer Yamaha front end. The bike will never be finished, it’s a constant evolution for me.
Bike of The Week for Week 14 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2 – Stephen Figueriedo’s Triumph Bonneville T120
Hey Cafe Racer,
I bought this Triumph back in 2007 off a friend & turned it into a multi-trophy winning “daily rider.” Its my only cycle, & being a mechanic by trade, I break it down quite often to keep it running tip top… I tend to “get on her” and with that comes some issues occasionally. I enjoy every second riding it here in New England and I enjoy Cafe Racer TV! I’m a man of few words so I’ll let the specifications speak for her.
1972 T120V (modified to 750cc) Morgo big bore kit
CP1000 gear upgrade in the tranny
Full Kibblewhite top end (push-rods, valves, springs,cups, keepers)
Valve & cylinder bore work by (R. Johnson & Sons: Warwick, RI)
crank balancing & con-rod blueprinting by (Britech)
cams by Megacycle (510-65)
case vented via nose-cone & NUPRO 1/3psi check-valve back into the OIF
Gauge holder by (Triples Rule) modified slightly
saddle by (Hotwing glass)
electronic ignition (Boyer Bransdon MIII)
Progressive fork springs with leak-proof seals & gaiters up front
Hand made stainless steel brake & shifter levers (me)
All polishing, adjustment, & final assembly done by me
I’ve never had it dyno’d, so I don’t know the Hp @ the rear wheel nor the torque curve, but clocked the bike @ 120mph alongside a friends vehicle.
Bike of The Week for Week 13 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2 – Rachel Previt’s Harley 1200 Sportster Cafe
After blowing up my Bonneville Cafe Racer on the way back from Jacks Cafe rockers meeting and being rescued in the rain. I decided I wanted something a bit more modern in the shape of a cafe racer. When this nice ’05 1200cc Sportster came up I decided it would fit the bill. Right away I started dreaming about how it would look and before long I had Steve at Redmax Speedshop cutting the frame down whilst I was sourcing parts. I couldn’t be any happier with how it turned out. The bike is a great ride and always draws a crowd.
18″ Akront flanged rims with stainless spokes and Avon Roadrider tyres.
Supertrapp stainless 2-1 sports exhaust, with carb jetted to match and set up on Dyno.
Redmax seat, upholstery and Lyta alloy tank finished off with spondon alloy clip-ons from an old race bike.
After hours of searching I found an Aston Martin paint colour I really liked and a friend of mine (Glenn) made the decals with the name, which I chose from my love of dry lake racers and vintage war planes.
Bike of The Week for Week 9 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2 – Michael Mundy’s CB550
Thanks for featuring my CB550 as the Bike of The Week!
The 1974 Honda CB550 “Blue” was a storage shed find in St. Pete. I started breaking her down & polishing the aluminum. While looking for a tank, I met Malcolm Tunstall 7 time Daytona GP winner in his shop in St. Pete –where his father Syd who is 70+ years old & still hand-rolls Ducati exhausts. Malcome builds tanks & seat cowls. The seat cowl was from a guy who hand forms the fiberglass in Frostproof Florida. The rear sets were moved to the passenger pegs, 4 into 1 exhaust, Clubman style bars, Dime City mini gauges, gaiters, & new controls.
The paint was originally going to be the metallic blue with a white stripe, but at the last minute I thought it would be too dark & just flipped the scheme. All the work is done here in my garage –painting, welding, engine rebuilding –all of it.
Keeping it alive in the South, Michael Mundy.
Bike of The Week for Week 8 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2 – Michel Groenestein’s XS750
Michel, from The Netherlands doesn’t speak much English folks. What were able to get from him was an impressive specifications list which is detailed below. For those of you who’ve caught it and are saying “Hey, that’s not a tripple?” You’re right, it’s an XS650 that was bored and blown to a massive 750cc! And for those of you who’ve ridden an XS650 and have felt the torque and power you can imagine what is to be felt when cracking the throttle and chasing the ton on this two wheeled vintage speed machine! Thanks for submitting such a unique bike Michel!
Bike of The Week for Week 6 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2 – Roger Reeds 2001 Royal Enfield 500 Bullet
I wish I could say I did all the modifications to the bike myself, but a lot of it was done before I. By who, I don’t know. It was a blurry photo of a dream in a craigslist ad at first. Originally I had this relatively stock Royal Enfield, which I loved.
I yearned to buy all the cool parts from the mail order catalog places that support us Enfield owners (e.g. http://www.hitchcocksmotorcycles.com/home). The bike you see now was a 2 hour drive away from where I was living in San Diego, up in Torrance, but the price was right and it looked like it had some cool parts. I took the trailer up there hoping it was really what it looked like in the photos and I was in luck. I picked this one up for just a few hundred dollars more than I was able to sell my stock Enfield. And the cool parts I wanted were all there: dry clutch, gas shocks, electronic ignition, disc break, alloy tank, matching turn signals/fenders, café bars (of course), and even a cool crank case breather. I suspect it also has an oversized head, but haven’t verified. It sure sounds and feels like it.
All I did was pick it up, dust off the parts, turn a few wrenches doing things like adjusting the dry clutch, painting the side covers black, and installing a glass fuel filter for old times sake. I also installed a floor stand because it can be really hard to kick start without one!
What it is at the core, is an Indian built pre-unit Bullet 500 made in 2001 that I love!
Bike of The Week for Week 5 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2 – John Wheeler’s 2005 Triumph Bonneville
Kind of a sad, but interesting story on this bike. My good friend passed away from a heart attack the day we finished reassembling the motor on this bike. There were four of us there that day, working on the bike, a typical “garage day” on a Sunday afternoon in May 2008. He suddenly stood up and was sweating very profusly and was very disoriented. He then collapsed and died of a massive heart attack at the age of 53. His widow gave his bike collection away to his good friends and I ended up with the cafe bonnie you see here, mainly because it was the project the 2 of us worked on so long, and the year before we had traveled from ATL to Cambria CA for the New Triumph Bonneville Rally that is a yearly event out there. About 70 Bonnies from around the country were there in 2007.
Anyway, back to the bike. Originally this bike was never intended to be as you see it. It started life as a totalled 2005 Bonneville Black. The plan was to use this bike to build a 100 RWHP Bonnie motor and kinda use it as a “test bed”. So it was rebuilt using used (some very used and abused) parts and lots of black tape on the frame to hide all the “crash damage”, and it was kinda thrown together with the big plan being a custom built “featherbed” style frame with modern upside down forks, and high tech shocks, disc brakes, etc to replace the current rolling chassis. Kinda a modern version of a Triton using state of the art suspension, brakes, tires. So this bike was never intended to “live” just hold the motor for a awhile.
The motor – 904 big bore kit, carrillo rods, forged high comp pistons, porting, bigger stainless valves, HD valve springs, billit intakes, FCR 39 carbs, stroker crank taking it 988 cc. Barnett clutch, custom grind cam, shim under bucket conversion, custom programmed ignition module, and from the attached dyno sheet you can see we made the 100 RWHP goal.
So after I inherited the bike, I can’t bring myself to just part it out and save the motor. So having built 3 other custom Bonnie/Thruxtons, I had parts and a vision. So I stripped the bike to the bare frame, removed all the tape and had it powder coated silver, added Norman Hyde Thruxton rear-sets with Linkage I modified. Located some steel side covers to replace the plastic ones, the bike has Excel polished alloys with Buchanan stainless spokes. I added Thruxton forks, polished the lower legs and engine cases, cam cover myself, got an old alloy fender I modified and fitted to the rear, added a MAS alloy Thruxton front fender and it has the 320mm floating Thruxton rotor, and EBC HH pads all around. Stainless Steel Brake lines, I put on Hagon Nitro rear shocks with adjustable preload and compression / rebound damping. My friend who passed away had the bike tank painted with PPG candy apple grape over a gold base coat and the PPG white accent and added I added the Monza fuel filler. I added the Hyde M bars, and a friend made the billet gauge cups, and gauge mount and did the cutting of the Union Jack on the sproket cover. I replaced all the damaged handle bar controls with some adjustable T100 controls. I also added the Hyde fork brace and some progressive fork springs and lighter oil. So basically I built the bike as a “keeper” and plan on riding it as long as I’m able.
Thanks for the interest.
Bike of The Week for Week 4 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2 – Eric Kerkhoff’s 1981 Harley Davidson Ironhead “Harton”
Great to have my bike chosen as Cafe Racer TV Bike of the Week! Here’s a little more about me and the Harton. I´m addicted to motorcycles as a result of my early years as my father always ride, restored and collect vintage motorcycles. Beside my weakness for vintage jap street bikes from the sixties I used to compete in classic racing with a Suzuki t500. Racing at these events you just can´t get around the incredible Norton Manx(s) on the track. Of course, I wanted one…
As I can not afford a Manx Norton I decided to build myself a cafe racer that should have the look and feel of a Norton Manx look. I already had a ´54 featherbed wideline street frame, in which my initial intention was to use a Yamaha XS650 engine, but I found the 650 twin looking small in the featherbed frame. Fast forward a while… For a few years I had and rode a ´81 XL1000 Sportster and I really liked the old Ironhead Sportys, that brought me to idea to use a Ironhead engine instead of the XS650 and to fulfill another wish at the same time.
Getting to the build and performance of the “Harton” and it’s Ironhead engine, it should have a separate carburetors for each cylinder. This is done by reversing the rear head so I could mount the second carb on the left side and the exhaust on both sides to give it that traditional English look. As I already was machining the heads I dual plugged them for better running as well. In my opinion, another thing the bike needed was a open belt drive, this took me a lot of time, but finally got it to work properly. And it looks/sounds smashing!
The engine was fully rebuilt with KB pistons, Crane HI-4 single fire ignition and Kibblewhite BD valves all breathing via Dellorto carbs. After completing the engine and moving to the actual bike the goal was to use so many as possible vintage parts. The original Manx tank would not fit my bike as i needed to have a lot more space underneath it so I built one myself, also the oil tank, exhaust headers, seat and many other small parts are home made, this took me a lot of time but at the end it makes the bike just as I envisioned it which could not have been done with off the shelf parts. I was lucky to find a very rare CMA 8-leading shoe front brake for my project, a Triumph/BSA conical hub was used at the rear, both fitted in Borrani rims using stainless spokes. Other parts used are original short roadholder forks at the front, Megaton silencers and Tomaselli levers, Smiths conical racing Rev-counter and chronometric speedo.
Building this one took me a lot longer than I was planning, but I will never regret it, it ended just what I had in mind when I started the project.
Thanks for the interest and Greets to all,
Eric Kerkhoff – Netherlands
Bike of The Week for Week 3 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2 – Chris Wiesnet’s 1976 1000cc R75/6
Thank you very much for your E-Mail with congrats for my Beamer to be the Bike of the Week. It was a big surprise after watching all these great Bikes on cafe racer TV`s website…
Here is a short description of my Bike:
It’s a BMW R75/6 from 1976 with a 1000cc BigBore engine with a hot cam, porting, etc. It has a Rare “Heinrich”Gas Tank, aftermarket stainless steel Norton pipes, Raask rear sets, 38 Dell`Orto carbs with velocity stacks, self made instrument housing and tail light, rare “Magura” clip ons, a self made alloy seat with bum stop made with real leather, a modified frame, double brake disc and lots of polished Parts…
I bought this Bike 3 Years ago as a bad-restored Motorcycle with big problems i.e.: the engine was not running, etc. After the engine was running I decided to ride to the Ace Cafe in London, which is about 1200 miles from my hometown Munich/Germany. That was a great Adventure and you can believe, ironically, of course, after I got home the Bike was disassembled and after 1 year it rolled out of my garage as what you see before you. I did it with my own hands and no shop was involved!
I am 48 years old and a Beamer like this was my first motorcycle when I was 18 so you can imagine how pleased I am with the result. Back to the Roots! So the best wishes to the staff of the Cafe Racer TV, you`re doing an great job!
Chris from Germany
Bike of The Week for Week 2 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2 – Tim Sampson’s 1975 CL350
Cafe Racer TV Guys,
Thanks for the interest in my CL this is cool to hear! I picked this 1973 CL350 up 2 winters ago for $300 in non running condition with a lot of extra parts. I figured that this bike would be a perfect bike for a cheap and easy build, as well as being a fun ride, bar hopper, shop bike while I looked for the next build. So I got the bike to my shop and with a clean fuel filter and some fresh gas and plugs it started right up. After that I started to go thru the bike and extra parts and sold off what I didn’t want for a profit which went into the build fund.
Then it was time to start working… I started the tear down and cleaning while looking for the parts I needed and could not make on my own. The big parts that saved me alot of cash that I made my self were the seat and the rear sets (its nice to have a guy in our building that has his own water jet). Next step was to get the parts I still needed, so with some trading and buy some parts from friends and the fellas on the DoTheTon.com forum and the guys at Dime City Cycles and few other web sites, it was time to build!
I pulled the starter and am running the smallest battery I was comfortable with. Running stock pipes with some mini slip-ons (it sounds great) For a speedo just using one that was given to me off a mountain bike. Some exhaust wrap, a few rattle cans and a number of six packs latter her she is. This bike is fun to ride and is open to anyone in our shop to take it and go. Still looking for the next project bike to build on (will not be a sub 500 build though) but until then I’ve got the little CL to bomb around on and have fun with in true Café spirit!
Keep on rockin!
Bike of The Week for Week 1 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2 – Aaron Ruses 1976 CL360
Cafe Racer TV Team,
Thanks for featuring my honda CL360 as bike of the week. Its a huge honor as this not only my first cafe project but is literally the first time i have ever done body work, cut steel, welded, fiberglassed, or painted. I got interested in classic motorcycles last year when i visited my uncle’s shop. He and his buddies have created their own cafe culture in rural Indiana. I quickly got my license and bought a stock CL360 in good condition to ride. I picked up a second CL360 for parts a few months later. This was intended to be a donor when things went bad on the other bike and was in terrible shape from setting outside for almost 15 years. I did a once over on this bike and for better or worse, the dumb thing started. I knew that I couldn’t just part it out at that point. it had to become a cafe racer.
Knowing the motor was good, I worked through the winter in my unheated 2 car garage with a few basic hand tools and some rattle can spray paint. Used my buddies welder and cut off wheel for the frame mods. One of the highlights of the project is custom fiberglass seat. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I made a foam plug and sanded it to the basic shape, covered it with tape to protect it from the resin and laid up several layers of glass over the plug. I sanded between each layer to cut down on the irregularities. This allowed finishing with minimal body filler. The seat pad is glued to a fiberglass pan and bolted to the frame through the seat/tail piece. The seat cover is hand sewn from pieces of and old discarded couch. I managed to squeeze a very small battery and starter solenoid in the tail. Other electrics fit under the CB350F tank.
This tank was found in a junk yard for $10. It was rusted and dented but didn’t leak. I gave the dents some symmetry with a framing hammer and some 2×2 stock and smoothed my pounding out with body filler. This took lots of patience to get both sides to match. Most aluminum was taken off the bike and polished with a 1940’s hobart buffing wheel I found on Craigslist. This is by far my favorite of the few tools I own. Paint is automotive rattle can from the auto parts store. I painted in the dead of winter so to allow proper drying, I would shoot parts in the garage then bring them inside to the kitchen to dry. Small parts were cured in our toaster oven while the frame, seat, and tank were hung from door frames and cabinet doors (I have a very patient wife). Reassembly took place in the kitchen as well.
Exhaust consists of the stock headers with the rotten mufflers removed and a shortened stock head shield painted black. I left the pipes unfinished and they started to tarnish. I think it adds a bit of character. Exhaust tips are actually just some copper fittings from the hardware store. This added a little back pressure and eliminated some of the open pope loud thump. I am still looking for a good way to quiet the bike down as it is embarrassing to start up in the early morning and ride through the neighborhood. Loaded Gun Rearsets, shocks, tail light and blinkers, along with some other bits were purchased through the good folks at Dime City Cycles however I did try to reused as much from the original bike as i could. Keeping cost down was paramount for this project. I have been riding it for several months this summer and each time I take it out I still get excited. I hope this encourages other first time builders to go after it.
Hope you like it!
Season 1 Archive – Bike of The Week
Bike of The Week for Week 12 of Cafe Racer TV – Stefan Seibert’s 1968 BSA
Cafe Racer TV Team,
Thanks for taking interest in my Beezer! Here’s a little bit about him…
Born in 68, brought to USA in the spring of 68 he didn’t sell, so got his way back to UK where I found him! I fitted him with 69 goodies like the new fork and other 69 gimmicks. Went back to the states and was sold somewhere in Arizona. In 1994 a German from Bavaria imported the bike from USA to Germany, restored it and drove it for almost ten years. He sold the bike to a collector of bikes (having more than 100 motorcycles.) He kept the bike until 2009 and then swapped the hundred bikes for one old-timer car, don’t know which one but it must have been impressive!
Making it’s way full circle and around the globe, I purchased it back again in 2009 from a classic car dealer in Belgium. I couldn’t have been happier! I made a rolling restoration of the finish, the engine works fine. Nearly changed every bolt and nut, restored the fork, the brakes, the carburetor, clutch and ignition, bought some peashooters and other nice gimmicks. It rides fantastic despite 3rd in the gearbox, still have to work that out.
All in all it’s a very reliable bike with a great deal of history. I drive it fast, only taking care that the oil is really in good condition. That’s really all an old Beeza needs! What I like about café racing is the authentic way of biking and getting a bike of former times going like a beast (in relation) without just giving it to the dealer, spending thousands of bucks for a lots more of plastic.
Thanks and take care guys! Love the show!
Bike of The Week for Week 12 of Cafe Racer TV – Phil Hitchock’s 1968 Ducati 250SS
Cafe Racer TV Team,
I’ve always been in to roadrace – cafe style bikes. Race production bikes like the TZ250/350 YAMS from late 60s to early 80s are some of my favorites. Right now, I am racing a 350 Ducati single in the Australian classic racing circuit. I currently own around 20 italian bikes – mainley singles and mostly Ducatis + a couple of Benellis and an MV175CSS Squalo.
I’ve wanted to build a mini SS for ages using a lot of parts I had laying around. I had seen some done overseas but they used the SS tank and sidecovers and in my eyes, the lines of the parts did not match the frames as as they looked out of proportion. With some true Australia flair I reckon’d I did a better matching everything up! I hope you agree!
All the fiberglass parts are from Roadandrace.com.au. The NCR tank, mini SS fairing & seat + rear guard and side covers were made by cutting and shutting SS type gills into 1972 silver shotgun covers. The front forks are 35mm Yamaha RZ350 in Marzocchi triple clamps, front guard RZ with the wing made to normally divert air into the nicely fited Yamaha radiator working to send it to the Ducati head/exhaust port. The rims are Tagasako Suzuki 18″ dirt bike with spoke holes re-angled to suit the original Ducati rear hub and Honda front fitted with disc from CBR250RR. I was originally going to use twin discs like the SS but they made the front wheel way to heavy. Instead, I opted for a single Brembo caliper that does the job well.
The dash is hand beaten alloy which was then powdercoated in hammertone finish to mimic the SS plastic dash. Guages are from a belt SS recalibrated to suit a single. The rearsets are from 1972/74 Ducati singles with clipons 35mm in size, pantah type as well as m/cylinder and clutch lever. I fitted a nice set of Marzocchi rear shocks and to keep things in contact with the ground a set of Pirelli City Demons. The name sounded right. The engine is a basically a standard 1968 250 bored and stroked to 350cc with ported big valve head and Dellorto 32mm PHF carb. It’s pumped up a bit more with a Road Andrace hot street grind cam and conti exhaust.
I hope you like it! I sure enjoyed building it!
Bike of The Week for Week 9 of Cafe Racer TV – Ry Seidel’s CB360
Hey Café Racer Team!
Thanks for featuring my bike for this week’s bike of the week! The build started as a upgrade bike for my wife , over the years I have had many CB Hondas and in my youth, was in love with the early cafe racer bikes. This bike happen to be there at the right time and having been thinking about how I wanted one to look, I started stripping away and adding the elements I felt belonged. I built the bike over three years ago and have been having a blast to riding it around ever since. As for my wife…well, I’ll get her something else eventually!
All the work was carried out by me in my garage. The hand laid one of a kind fiberglass gas tank and seat pan were formed over a carved foam block. The seat pan and upholstery is based on a early 70’s Italian racer, think Ducati Moto Giro. After making the clip on handle bars the gauges stuck up too high for my taste so I designed and machined a new upper triple clamp to cradle the single gauge and indicators. The front fender is my first attempt on carbon fiber formed on a hand hewn wooden mold.
From a performance perspective the exhaust is unique in that it routes from the head all the way to the center stand mounts and Y’s into a muffler can and then Y’s back out up front . Help keep your toes warm in the cold winters! The rear sets were custom built to mount in the position of the passenger pegs. I even took on the challenge of anodizing them in my own custom setup. The rear shocks are just some old Koni’s that I modified to fit the Honda brackets and all the electronics are moved into the seat with the electric start remaining intact.
I wanted to retain the ready for the track look so I chose to hide the lighting in the form of small LED tail lights mounted into the tail section and a small set of lamps in the front mounted just below the triple on the frame. All the paint work it mine as well; I was going for a WW2 navy aircraft feel. All in all, I couldn’t be happier with her. That’s what I love about Café bikes, they’re built on simple platforms and anyone can exercise their creativity with little knowledge and tools.
Bike of The Week for Week 8 of Cafe Racer TV – Michiel de Molenaar
G’day Cafe Racer TV,
I feel really honoured to have my bike selected as bike of the week!
I got addicted to bike building after I bought a CX500 together with a friend to turn into a chopper. That project turned out much better than we both expected and I got hooked to building bikes. Choppers are nice to build, but I like to ride my bikes hard. So when it was time to buy a bike for myself the only logical thing for me was to build a caferacer. So I bought a wrecked 1988 BMW R80 with a 1000cc engine and turned it into the bike in the photo’s.
Building a bike was a big challenge for me, on one side because I’m not very technical and didn’t have any mechanical background at all before the CX500 and this was my first solo build. On the other side I have to do things LOW budget. I’m a Dutch student (geosciences) with a demanding study so I hardly have any time to earn money. This meant I had to be a little creative. For example: I made the seat out of a bicycle rack I found in somebody else’s trash, the exhaust is made out of a stainless steel coffee thermos I bought for a couple of euro’s and I used one of my leather belts that usually keep my jeans up to strap down the tank. The only part I did spend some money on is the tacho unit. In my eyes a caferacer has to be minimalistic and functional, this tacho has a speedo, a rev counter and all the idiot lights I want.
The result is not a clean and polished caferacer as you often see on the internet and at meetings, but a bike that is a little rough around the edges and so much fun to ride! The added frame stiffness because of the home made frame braces and the low centre of gravity make the handling razor sharp while the velocity stacks, the 1000cc engine and the exhaust provide plenty of go and all the right noises.
Greetings from a caferacer addict (there are more bikes on the way!)
*For those of you interested in following Michiels bike builds stop by his fantastic BLOG located at http://bmwcafe.blogspot.com/ here’s a great little video he shot as well!
Bike of The Week for Week 7 of Cafe Racer TV – Shane Schaap’s 1974 Ducati 750 GT
Thank you for taking an interest in my Ducati and for providing such a great venue for cafe racer enthusiasts to showcase their bikes and share their passion. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share my story.
Aaahhh, Ducati! A two wheeled example of Italian styling and engineering. I have always loved “cafe racer” style bikes and the creativity and ingenuity of the people that built them. My imagination was stired by Ducatis 750 GT, nicknamed “Pompone” (The Big Pump) for its large displacement motor. It was the first of Ducati’s famous bevel twins and the grandfather of their modern world super bikes.
I like the naked, minimalist look of a cafe racer, and the 750 round case (as they are known by the design of their motors) always topped my list of bikes that I would like to restore and customize. In no small way was I influenced by my good friend, Dave Van Stelle, who, along with his father and two brothers, had been restoring and racing Ducatis for more than twenty years. Through Dave’s father, I was able to find a suitable rolling basket-case, a 1974 750 GT. The GT had a great combination of power and styling that I was looking to find for my next cafe racer project. It was a beat-up, uncared for bike, but seeing that beautiful L-twin motor intact made my creative juices start flowing.
After stripping down the bike, cleaning up what I could use and trashing what I couldn’t, it was time to transform the bike into what I envisioned it to be. The paint combination I chose is a racier version of the colors Ducati used on their 1971 750 pre-production models. Underneath the flashy paint, some other modifications I made to the bike include installing high compression pistons, a Dyna electronic ignition, a single “Duc tail” seat, a set of magnificent sounding Conti silencers, which was a major upgrade from the less capable La Franconi exhaust first used on the GT, incorporating a more capable alternator taken from a 1998 Ducati ST2, and replacing the old handle bars for sport clip-ons.
As many know, it is greatly satisfying to take an idea, put your mind and your hands to work, and see that idea come to life. It can almost be addicting. And seeing and riding my 750 keeps me inspired for what possibilities there are for my next cafe racer project.
Bike of The Week for Week 6 of Cafe Racer TV – Michael LaFountain’s 1971 Honda CB350
Hi Cafe Racer Team,
My motorcycle building days started when I was eighteen and saw a 1965 S-90 for the first time in my friend’s garage. I wanted one so bad I would spend hours at the local magazine store searching through every Walnecks and Cycle trader possible (no craigslist back then,) but after about five months of no luck, I stumbled upon a motorcycle tire sticking out of a small dried up creek bed. I dug it out only to find that under it was a headlight, then a frame, and finally a tank. It was a 1965 Honda S-90 identical to my friend’s. I felt like Ralphie finding that Red Rider Christmas morning. I spent my entire summer vacation excavating and rebuilding. We fired up both our 90cc of fury in the same week. They may have only gone 55mph off a cliff, but to us at the time it felt like a Bonneville land-speed record. 15 years and dozens of bikes later, the primary goal has been the same- faster, lighter, and louder. The true essence of the cafe racer.
Ok enough, Nicolas Sparks, Here is my most recent build; it’s a 1971 Honda CB350. I’ve always loved mid 60’s British and Italian race bikes, so a lot of that inspiration went into this build. The Matchless G-50 and the Norton Manx played a large roll in the over all design of the bike. Here are a few alterations made: Bbattery relocation, handmade seat, alternate tank, and clip-ons to start. I handmade the rearsets and spent a healthy amount of time reshaping the cases to really set it apart from other 350’s I’ve seen. With a good amount of weight removed, the larger pistons and steeper cam this little two cylinder really pulls! I really focused on creating lines for this bike that originally did not exsist. To me the lines are everything and it and I am pretty satisfied with the result on this one. The Mike Taggart Guy Webster Vintage Motorcycle Museum in Ojai California is the final resting place of this CB350 if anyone would like to see it in person.
Thank you for choosing my bike as the bike of the week, I hope you guys like it.
Bike of The Week for Week 5 of Cafe Racer TV – Henry Lambourn’s 1990 Moto Guzzi LeMans MK5
Well, here’s my bike. It’s taken me almost a year to get to this point and the project is still ongoing. Look closely and you’ll see grinding marks still on the frame! She’s actually my first bike as I only passed my test recently, but it was the dream of riding a café racer with an open face helmet to the soundtrack of an Italian twin that spurred me on to get my license. To me there’s nothing cooler. Seriously. And its true what they say about money not being able to buy you style, a real café racer can only be created in the garage. It’s crazy how much attention this bike gets me. Sadly only the male kind but you can’t have everything.
So my bike is…..or was a 1990 LeMans MK5. For a bike of this year it’s surprisingly old fashioned and kinda crude actually when compared to say my friends Kawasaki of the same age. But crudeness aside there’s a certain romanticism that just doesn’t come with a Japanese bike. I guess that’s why people kept buying them.
When I bought it as the 12th owner, she was in the perfect condition for the conversion…very bad condition! But the engine and frame were fine and that was all I cared about.
The project itself was inspired by the classic British café racer styling, stripped out and low slung. Combined with the racing modifications of the Deccla racing Guzzi’s. Particularly the stressed engine frame modifications. This exposes the already massive engine even more. Dominating the silhouette of the bike….lovely!
Other alterations done include restyled tachometer, relocating all the electronics to under the seat, upgraded brakes, custom rearsets, biturbo suspension front and rear, repositioned tank, Vespa indicators, 2 into 1 into 2 exhaust and Ducati 900ss mufflers.
Jobs for this winter are triangulating the frame, gearbox rebuilding/re-shimming. Nearly there!
Bike of The Week for Week 4 of Cafe Racer TV – Ralph Millers “Every-man’s Budget” Honda CB650 Cafe
Whats up folks?
Really stoked to be able to show off my cafe racer build in such a great forum and enjoy seeing the show each week. I have been around Harley’s my entire life and came to love riding a variety of models but fell in love with the performance of Buells. After customizing my Buell Cyclone I got hooked on performance bikes and definitely enjoyed the speed factor as well the nimble handling. With loving that style of bike I found my way towards cafe bikes and always thought about checking out the Honda 750’s for a killer city bike as I could find them a bit more on the cheap.
When I bought this 1979 Honda cb650 for about $350 on craigslist I had no intention of building a cafe bike at all. It was originally intended to be a trade off for a buddy of mine who was going to do some work for me, as he wanted a cheap bike to run around town with. Low and behold he didn’t help on the project and now I was stuck with a broken down bike. The bike wasn’t running and was bought as is, which turned out to be quite the issue down the road, as I found out it was wrecked. The left side of the frame was tweaked and the pipes were bent out of whack a bit. The major issue was of course the carburetors and once I saw how bad off they were I knew that to even get the bike running it was going to require major surgery. Knowing all these factors and just staring at it for hours on end, I hatched a plan to make a custom cafe styled bike that would be built on a tight budget and to make as many new parts as I could by hand.
I revamped the frame to allow for the gas tank to sit a bit more flat, created a new style of rear section out of sheet metal, made a new seat pan that locks the tank into place, found a perfect style of fairing taken from a Harley V-Rod and fabbed up numerous parts on the bike to make it distinctive and unique. Most of all though, I wanted to create a cool Cafe Bike that would be built on a shoestring budget and one that I could ride the piss out of. I accomplished both and I dig blasting this bike all around town as its fun as hell and can’t wait for the next build.
- Ralph Miller / Rusty Knuckles – http://rustyknuckles.blogspot.com/
*Be sure to checkout the exclusive Cafe Racer Tee’s that Ralph designed for Cafe Racer TV! They’re like none-other! Check them out by CLICKING HERE.
Bike of The Week for Week 3 of Cafe Racer TV – Ron Gee’s stunning Harley Davidson Sportster Cafe
Café Racer TV Team,
I have been into Cafe bikes for about 10 years. Sport bikes are fun and all…but old cafe bikes have soul. I am constantly looking for a project to “cafe out”. I have had 3 Norton Cafes, a Triumph Thruxton, and Honda CB550 café. For my next project I want to do a Benelli SEI! Such style!
I ride with a bunch of guys with Harleys and catch a lot of grief for my choice of rides, so I set out to Cafe a Harley to put the ridicule to bed! I saw Benjie Cafe Racers Sportster tank and seat and went with it. Finding a donor Sportster was a challenge. ’70’s Sporty’s are either restored and to nice to modify or completely clapped out, but I got lucky and found a strong running/cosmetically challenged 1976 Sporty in Milwaukee.
Once I got it home I proceeded to rip everything off of it- piece by piece it came apart and the transformation began! I powdercoated the rims and re-laced them and went the distance and added clip-ons. Wanting to use the stock Harley controls, I had to turn 1″ bar stock aluminum down to 7/8″ to fit in the clip on fork clamps.
Tons of credit goes to my Brother-in-law, Dave Carnock for the paint and creative fabrication on various parts. The nice thing about working on a Harley is….there are tons of aftermarket sources for trick parts that can be modified. I am not a chrome fan, but the chrome oil tank worked for me…the pipes are J&P cycle stock….again, I don’t like chrome, but am not a fan of wrapped pipes either so I needed to come up with a plan for them. New controls and clocks also from J&P and new front brake caliper from a custom shop since the old ones are junk.
In the end, I think I ended up with a pretty cool café racer with a big v-twin lump as the heart and soul. When she rolled off the line in 76’ she probably had no idea she’d be stripped of all the heavy weight garbage she was born with and turned into a thoroughbred race horse. I’m confident she doesn’t mind! Thanks for the spot guys!
- Ron Gee
Bike of The Week for Week 2 of Cafe Racer TV – Brian Smith from the UK with his gorgeous 1960 Slimline Triton
Hi there Cafe Racer TV Team! My love of Cafe Racers started back in 1966 with my 16th birthday and a brand new Royal Enfield Continental GT. Having always wanting a Triton and living on £18 in my youth I knew it wasn’t in the cards. I kept my heart in it, caff’s that is, and went on to own, build and bend many a bikes.
I retired in 2006 and after scouting eBay bought a 1960 Norton Slimline frame which the previous owner so graciously decided to bend the forks on! A mate of mine was sellingf an engine from a Trident 750 but it was no runner. Three new Corillo rods, three new pistons and a lot of cursing later- she was ready to go!
I grafted in forks from a Suzuki GS500, which I’ll add, is no mean feet with an Imperial frame and metric fork stem! In addition to the troublesome front end I have to fabricate all new engine mounting plates, oil tank mounts, chain guard, etc… In the end, I’d like to think she came together quite well and goes very well just the same.
Brian Smith AKA: SMUDGER