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Cafe racer advice

Discussion in 'Naked' started by Damomelb, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. Hi gents. First post here and just looking for a bit of advice/opinion/anecdotal leanings etc.

    Let me preface this by saying I am a complete novice both as a rider and with the spanner.

    I'm looking to get a cafe racer style bike as my first bike. I have been told by some that perhaps the older technology and riding position on a lot of them are not ideal for the novice rider but they are essentially the only style of bike that interests me so that pretty much puts alternative styles out the window. I'll be using the bike around town. Commute to work and leisurely on the weekend. Nothing longhaul etc.

    Although I endeavour to eventually build my own project bike once I am a lot more competent on the tools, I am looking for a ready to go (within reason) bike.

    I'm gonna come clean. Aesthetics play huge role in the bikes I have in mind. I love the look of some of these classic cafes and as such would like garner a few opinions on the mechanical side of things.

    Max budget on-road $7000 and has to be Learner approved in Victoria.

    Thoughts on these options:

    Braaap Mercury: I'm sure you blokes have heard of the newish 2014/15 Mercury Cafe Racer 250cc from Braaap. It looks great and the entry level price is very attractive @ $3,999 (without any mods). Discs both front and back, 250cc, 4-stroke, Air cooled, SOHC, Vertical, 1-cyl. (I wish I could just link it but I'm still too new on the site :( ) . My questions would be: is it too new of a model/company to risk it? There are very few reviews online etc. Would the 250cc on this size bike be a bit underpowered? I'm not huge but not small either (6ft, 85kg). They do offer a 450cc DIY kit for an extra $2.5k but this seems like a rather pricey upgrade considering I'd be paying someone to do it for me etc.

    Yamaha SR500 (Late 70's-late 80's): Look great and apparently an all-round classic and especially in the cafe racer scene? I like the idea of the larger donk but am unsure if it's worth the dealing with older component and apparently they do need some TLC with a spanner occasionally which is not my forte (yet).

    Royal Enfield Bullet 500: Love the classic styling and once again the 500cc but have been told the bikes, even the newest models are retro in every sense in that the 2014 models have drum brakes, rudimentary suspension and sound a bit like lawnmowers.

    Comments? Advice? Others to consider?

    PS sorry for the mammoth first post!
  2. okay, first up, welcome!
    I'd go for the Yamaha sr every time, especially as you're new to customization, these bikes have a wealth of knowledge and parts available, they're also really easy to ride, so good to learn on.
    The Royal Enfields are pretty cool too but the SR would be a bit easier to learn and live with.
    I dunno much about the braaps, but I personally wouldn't buy one.

    Further, if you go the cafe route, please get rearsets, I see so many people who just throw on clip on handlebars and leave the foot pegs in the standard position, it's terrible to ride like that, rearsets improve it tenfold and make it more fun in the twisties.

    Finally, the best advice, actually ride the thing, way too much of the cafe scene is just about looking "cool" in the most visible place they can find, but these bikes are loads of fun and deserve to be taken to the good roads(y)
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. I'd also recommend the SR. I used to have an SR500 and as KurtzKurtz says they're very easy to ride, at least once you get them started ;) Actually mine always started fairly easily, never really bothered with the decompressor and cam window and stuff, just the white 'tickler' button on the carby.

    From what I've heard about the Braap and the Enfield I think the Yamaha's likely to be more reliable too though that's a completely uninformed opinion. Admittedly mine was only 10 years old then but since then they've got more and more classic so they're probably better looked after now. I did bend an exhaust valve but while it's a known issue with the oil feed (especially if you wheelie - which I didn't) it's not that common. Apart from that it would chew out muffler internals fairly frequently. This may have been because I only used cheap MCAS mufflers which I replaced at least yearly

    Not sure if newer SR400s are affordable yet? I think they're around 9k new?
  4. Interesting info gents and very helpful. Is there much difference in the tech/spec of say SR500 from say 1978 to the last production model (as far as I know) in 1999? Was it simply a case of the same bike rolling off the line each year or was the SR500 continually updated in tech and styling? Like I said, apologies as these may seem like silly questions but I am the newest of newbies!

    Thoughts on a Honda CB350 KO? Late 60's early 70's models?
  5. I think there may have been changes in the wheels and the paint. Wikipedia suggests some in the US at least may have had drum rear brakes. The 400 has spoked wheels and has fuel injection since 2010. I think it's pretty much the same bike since 1978 except for cosmetics but you'd want to confirm that.

    I had a ratty CB360 earlier - amazed to see them being cafe'd. My experience was that the Yamaha needed much less maintenance. The 360 was probably faster but not by much.

    I thought CX500s were all the go for customising at the moment, though I'm thinking it must be hard to find one that hasn't been molested :D
  6. Oh man, I know a guy who got a really nice one for FREE. He has no interest in it but just won't sell it, it's just sitting around waiting for some love.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. XS650 is a nice bike. I think they're hard to find parts for but can be converted quite well. Old BMW's are awesome
  8. SRs are too dear these days.

    The Braaap looks like fun. I'd do it myself, but I'm not afraid of a spanner. For $250 you can ad a lifetime warranty. But be skeptical about that.

    Although that sounds way too dear for the 450 kit. You'd never get that back.
  9. #9 Damomelb, Aug 5, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2016
    Through my initial searching it would seem that XS650's although beautiful are well out of my price range :(

    Any old BMW to investigate?

    Am I being paranoid/too picky about the 250cc being underpowered? I'm really seduced by the looks of the bike but am feeling I'll want more power after the LAMS is over and the 400/500's seem like they might fill that void?
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. Saw a mercury the other day, wasn't impressed: sounds like a tin of marbles and looked cheap (exposed wires, plastic parts, etc.) Another option could be the TU250 if you're a learner
  11. A lot of us learned on 250s. they are underpowered, but that can be part of the fun. The Braaap is about 50kglighter than the GSX250 I learned on. so even the skinny-arsed 75kg I was doesn't compensate for that difference.

    The only place I used to really notice it is above 100. So unless you are doing a lot of motorway work, 250 is enough.
  12. You wont get a sr500 for $7k.

    I would go the tu250
  13. Actually, you will. $7000 is plenty for an sr500 at the moment, the 400 is cheaper though.
  14. BMW R65 is a lovely bike, easy to work on, LAMS compliant and will have enough go for when you would be bored of smaller engined bikes.
  15. Are you sure, theres none on bikesales at all. The cheapest sr400 is a brand new one at $9k
  16. Like turning something like this

    Into something like this

    • Like Like x 3
  17. There's loads of 400s on bikesales for 5-6k.
    As for the 500, bikesales isn't the best place for them, there's a couple there below 7k but they are already mildly customized.
    Ebay, gumtree and justbikes usually have some nice ones at good prices.

    for example Yamaha SR500 in VIC | eBay
  18. Hmm maybe i was wrong. I swear they used to go for over $10k. Maybe they have gone back out of fashion.

    Though that example has drums both ends
  19. Saw a Royal Enfield parked next to me today. Looked like the sweetest candy. Very very cool looking bike.