ONE OF THE MOST creative aspects of motorcycling has got to be Cafe Racer Motorcycles. Generally, it's accepted that the Cafe Racer movement started in the UK in the sixties with the "Ton-Up Boys" and British counterculture bikers. They modified their British and Italian bikes in order to make them faster and sleeker, with "clubman" bars, single seat conversions and tricked-out motors that strived to propel the cafe (or caff) racers to the magic ton. (The magic being one hundred miles an hour!).
After World War II many in Europe and the UK sought out cheap transport as their damaged economies recovered from that conflict. Motorcycles were the best bet for many and smaller bikes were easy on the wallet. As these riders grew older, and their financial fortunes rose, the idea of owning a bike became more a choice than a necessity and the glory days of the British motorcycle industry were in full swing.
Youth chafing at the Victorian morals of their parents and class discrimination drove the generations farther apart. Rock and Roll and the "counterculture'' movement took hold. And along came the Ace Cafe!
Around that movement cottage industries sprang up to service the burgeoning aftermarket. Names like Rickman and Dunstall were the touchstones upon which the cafe racer culture were built. As England was a land seemingly populated by millions of engineers and machinists, cafe racer parts and cafe racer kits were easy to come by. So the cafe racer motorcycles movement grew and despite hard times to come, it thrives today.
With biking in the 1970's becoming dominated by the Japanese, it was natural that bikes like the Honda CB750 and Yamaha XS650 would be the next evolution of the Cafe Racer.
In fact if you "Google" Cafe Racer parts, clubs or magazines you'll get hundreds of thousands of hits for each. So there's no excuse not to get out there and build yer own cafe!
And speaking of, don't forget to take "before" and "after" pics of your project. Not just for posterity but because you can post your pride and joy on this website! Ok, and others...
I suspect that if your reading this you are already pretty much hooked on cafe racers and/or classic Japanese bikes. Have a look around. Your comments and suggestions are always appreciated.
The Rickman brothers became reknowned for developing, manufacturing and offering high tech frames for racing privateers in English "clubman" racing series.
As the Rickman frames' reputation grew for handling prowess, the brothers explored the commercial and racing markets for Honda CB750s and other bikes such as this Kawasaki.
They were shunned by BSA, Triumph and Norton because they were seen as a threat. What a shame.
If only the Brits could have embraced the Rickmans, but it was not to be. In time Rickman became a name much sought after not just for their frames but for fairings, seats, tailpieces and go-fast parts.
Whatever you think of the style of Rickman body parts, they are an enduring icon of the '70s motorcycle industry for the epitomy of high end stuff!
Orginal Rickman parts are worth mucho $$$ today!
For sure the Yamaha XS series of bikes have become the most favoured series of motorcycles for conversion to cafe racers and bobbers.
The reasons are pretty obvious. Intrinsic good style, great underlying reliability, and cheap used bike prices!
There are thousanda of Yamaha XS series bikes out there for sale today because there were hundreds of thousands of Yamama XS bikes sold between the late '60s and early '80s all over the world!
Possibly the most sold Japanese bike other than the Honda Dream series of scooter/bike.
And of course as a result, there are millions of spares and aftermarket improvement parts to keep your Yamaha XS machines running happily on the roads today. For cheap!
This Suzuki GT550 cafe racer is a rarity but a well put together example of a Suzi cafe. Just like its big brother, the so-called Water Buffalo, or Kettle GT 750, this bike is so very rare.
Some folks would say don't wreck a good original GT bike but maybe the thing was beyond saving as original. Either way, it is what it is. And it's great! I love the air-scoop on top of that engine. Ya think there might have been some middle cylinder cooling issues there?
Have a look at some sweet Suzuki cafe racers and the builders that build 'em.
Lots of readers have asked about this particular Honda Super Hawk cafe. Most particularly the tank! That's why it's shown again here. If you know more than please send an e-mail.
Anyway, there are many Honda models that have been cafe-racerized. Reasons are these; Strong reliable engines, strong reliable engines and strong...umm, you get the picture!
That's not the only reason for sure. Let's have a look at so many more Honda cafes. There are so many brilliant ones to draw inspiration from.
Don't forget to send us your own pics and stories.
Have A Great Story About Your Cafe Build-Up?
Do you have a great story about you classic cafe racer build?
What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Built a Yamaha XS 400 12E Dohc '83 Cafe(Sake)racer
1977 Honda CB750K Cafe Racer
CB 125 Cafe
1979 Yamaha XS1100SF Cafe Racer
1980 Honda cb750 cafe build.
1980 CM 200 TWINSTAR
1979 GS 425 Suzuki
SUZUKI T500 CAFE RACER
A Goldwing Story
1971 CL 350
1981 Kawasaki KZ-550 A2 Not rated yet
HONDA TIGER 2001 CAFE RACER STYLE Not rated yet
The legend of cb 77 superhawk Not rated yet
honda gl160 2003 ( rebuildt) Not rated yet
HotRod Wingster Not rated yet
1975 Honda CB 750 Cafe Not rated yet
This is my '75 CB400F with '68 Benelli Mojave 360 sheet metal. Not rated yet
Yamaha XS750 cafe racer Not rated yet
Ivan´s GT750CaféRacer Build "Part 2" ... Not rated yet
GT750A CaféRacer Rebuid 1986 - 1995 Not rated yet
1978 Kawazaki KZ650 Not rated yet