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Building a cafe racer, which way to go?

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by incitatus, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. Thruxton

  2. Bonneville

    0 vote(s)
  1. Ok, I am feeling the fourth bike coming on. Some things are definite. It’s going to be a café racer, and it’s going to be a Hinkley twin. I built café racers in the 60s and early 70s, so I am not even slightly tempted to go for an old Brit bike, I have been there, and don’t suffer from rose-tinted nostalgia. I can’t yet fess-up to Mrs. Incitatus so soon after sneaking the Duke under the radar, so it will probably be a, ‘just after I take her to San Francisco in January’, strike. In the meantime it’s plan, plan, and plan.

    Here is the essential dilemma. I have two basic ways to go, 1. Buy a Thruxton, which is well on the way to being a café racer already, and finish the job Triumph started. 2. Buy a used Bonneville and do the entire conversion myself.

    The Thruxton has some problems though. There are no used ones around yet, so it would have to be new. I consider a Norman Hyde alloy tank and a matching single seat essential for a real café racer, so I would be throwing away a brand new tank and seat, ditto the mufflers, (but the headers on the Thruxton are ‘right’). On the other hand, I wouldn’t have to replace the clip-on’s, headlight and brackets, instrument mount plate, rear-sets, or the 'right size' alloy rims and tyres.

    Bonnevilles are around used, so the upfront cost will be less, but it is a long way from a café racer. Like the Thruxton, I would still need the Norman Hyde alloy tank, matching single seat and mufflers, but I would also need; headers, clip-on’s, headlight and brackets, tacho, instrument mount plate, rear-sets, and would have to replace the steel rims with wider alloy rims and new tyres.

    There are quite a few other bits and pieces required to finish what I consider a café racer, like alloy mudguards, fork brace, fork gaiters, bar-end mirrors, and various billet alloy doo-dads, but these are common to both options.

    So….which way to go…….Ladies and Gentlemen, start your grey cells.
  2. If you are going to do that much work anyway go the bonnie.

    Myself, I wouldn't do that much work. Trim the rear fender and a few other things. As a result, it'd be the bonnie (edit Thruxton for me).

    I do wish Triumph had been abit more weight conscience with these bikes, however.
  3. As far as I know the engine used in the Thruxton is in a slightly higher state of tune than that used in the Bonnie so that's another factor to consider. Personally I reckon the Thruxton's the better option (though I like them the way they are) - if you're really lucky you might be able to pick up an ex-demo bike cheap. At the very least the new parts you do remove you might be able to pick up a decent price for from someone trying to repair crash damage. Just to further complicate things might also be worth checking out the Kawasaki W650 as a possible cafe racer project (smaller, lighter, cheaper).
  4. Is that so?, Thanks, I'll look into that. I had assumed they were exactly were the same engine.

    Yes, they are nice, but they are only a stying 'impression' of a cafe racer, and I want to build an authentic one, in the real spirit of the 60s. something like this, http://www.delight-suzuka.co.jp/truxtoncaferacer2.html Which ironically was built in Japan.

    I did consider it, but as an old ex 'rocker', I just can't bring myself to base a cafe racer on a japanese bike. I'm sure its a fine bike, but no, not for me.
  5. No contest. Enfield with the Clubman kit. $10,000 and you've got a bike that leaves me a-quiver. My p0rn filter now blocks http://www.royalenfieldaustralia.com/special_bikes.php

    There's a rumour that Enfield may release a new 750 Interceptor. If the kit fits it, this would be an even mightier bike. But 650 is fine with me.
  6. The answer to your question is simple...

    Do you want to do this for the jurney or the destination.

    If the objective is to Have a cafe racer the Thruxton is most of teh way there.

    If the objective is to Build a cafe racer than you have more building to do on the bonnie...
  7. You might want to check out what tuning kits are available for which motor (790cc for Bonnie, or 865 for Thruxton) if you intend to try tuning it a bit. I DO know the 790 resonds very well to a bit of fettling, and I imagine the 865 would also, if you can get the parts.
    There's a mob over in EnZed that do a bit of business in that regard, so I hear.
  8. There's a good review of the Thruxton on mcnews.com.au which outlines the differences between the two engines.
    This was a 2004 review though, the current Bonneville engine may be different.
  9. My tastes don't run quite as antedeluvian as yours I think Chairman. I went through the antique collecting phase in the 60s when I couldn't get anything else. These days I prefer my bikes to have major service intervals of more than the Enfield's 5,000k's. In addition, while never having ridden an 'Indian' Enfield, I have ridden the real thing, and they were nasty, nasty motorcycles. Better suited to being admired than actually ridden, their reluctance to deviate from a straight line was legendary.

    A very good point, and one I am seriously considering...... :grin:
  10. If you get a Bonnie, get the T100 version of course. Cost a bit more, but they've got the 860cc motor, instead of the weak 790.

    They're about as rare second-hand as Thruxton's though. And there are some differences between the two engines- despite both having the 860cc engine, the thruxton is supposedly slightly faster.