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I want to build a cafe racer

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by oohsam, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. G'day guys.
    I've been doing quite a bit of research and lots of reading about building a cafe racer.
    And now I'm just confused as to where to start.

    I'm looking at an XS850G..but am not convinced its the right bike to start with.
    Can someone guide me to maybe a good bike to start with.
    I can do most things myself.

    Thanks guys
  2. If you want to build a proper cafe racer, buy the cheapest bike you can find, then make it look like you want using whatever parts you want from the wreckers.

    Or, if you want a cafe racer like everybody else, just go & buy an SR250/400/500, then go & buy all the cafe racer parts from places like Benji's cafe racer.

    I reckon an XS would be a nice bike to cafe, myself.
  3. XS850s have certainly been converted to cafe racers by others in the past so it's certainly possible, but then you could make a cafe racer out of anything with enough cash.

    The question is how much time and/or money do you want to spend, since this will affect the range of bikes to choose from. It also depends on how much of a purist you are, ie whether you're bothered by things like electric start or engine configuration, or just want something that looks cafe racerish.
  4. For insperation have a look at the Adventure Rider site in the Olds Cool section for the huge Cafe Racer thread,who would have beleived a CB 250 Honda could be made to look so horny
  5. you want to do something ****ing bad ass?

    cafe a naked goldwing. seen pics of them, they look cool.

    wasn't PART of the idea of cafeing something to make a that doesn't do 100mph do 100pmh? or am i just pulling shit out of my arse?
  6. Pretty much any old school, non-cruiser naked with a tubular frame can be made into a decent caff racer as most of the bits you need to get "the look" are generic and can be made to fit any such bike, eg clip-on or ace handlebars, small reverse-cone megaphone mufflers, rearset pegs etc. The XS850 (as long as the G isn't the awful US Custom thing) is probably as good a place to start as any. The only slightly incongruous bit would be the shaft drive and if the rest of the bike's done right it shouldn't be that conspicuous.
  7. Woah.
    Thanks for the replies guys. Great info.

    So basically, I don't want to spend more than 2k on a base bike. I'd prefer to get one with a running engine, and rebuild it myself. I understand enough to do this, and want a bike where I can get spare parts and info fairly easily. Hence why the japanese bikes are appealing.

    I don't want a 250, as Shady_knife says, I do want something that has a bit of power, and sounds damn nice. So a 250 is totally out of the question. Especially given that the older bikes don't have the performance of the newer same sized engines.

    I'm not a purist, as such, but want to achieve something that resembles the old school, with a touch of new school, and a massive hint of bad ass.
    I have been told that in order to build a cafe racer, I need a bike with a frame that is parallel to the ground.

    I guess my first issue is that I've read so much, and over confused myself with what actual bike to get. I know what I want to do to the bike, once I have it, I think I can work out enough to get done what I need to.
    I can pick up an xs850 for around the 2k mark, which is in running condition, but will obviously need work.

    As far as costs go from there onwards, my primary focus is to spend what is required to get the engine running reliably, as for cosmetic costs, well, I'm not really phased but I think I can get it built for around 3k on top, so a 5k total budget. Ebay is a great resource for cafe racer bits n pieces.

    Problem I find now is, the cafe racer conversions are ever so popular and older bikes are fetching more than they are worth, due to the demand in people converting them...
  8. I wasnt sugesting to do a CB 250,what I ment was I am ammased that what was once the greys most boring totaly without any interst or passion model can be easily make into one sexy mutha of a bike so easily,like a said re that Adventure Rider thread,people are doing old DT dirtbikes,just about anything with 2 wheels
  9. Not necessarily
  10. in my opinion( humbly) the 850g was a huge tank of a bike and not really a good candidate for a cafe mod; once you've got rid of most of the excess weight you'll only be back at where you would have been if you'd started with, say an XS650 Yamaha twin, for example. having said that, do whatever you want; the enjoyment is mostly in the project and not necessarily in the riding of it later....
  11. Suzuki GS400 / 425 / 450?
    Has tube frame and early ones wire wheels.
    I wouldn't be surprised if current model GS500 bits are interchangeable.
    Go fast bits for GS750 or GS1000 may also be usable.
  12. Or you could just get a GS750/1000 and be done with it. I've seen reasonable examples of both go for well shy of $2k in the last year. They're a vastly superior bike to the XS triples in every way anyway.

    XS650s are a nice basis but this seems to have made them expensive of late.
  13. Another vote for the GS series from Suzukis. Here is my effort just shy of roadworthy status:


    I stripped so much uneccessary crap off it, and added a few horsepower by tuning the carburettors to suit individual filters and a 4-1 exhaust. I wanted to fit a large round headlight where the dirtbike cowl is, but never got around to it. Not the best handling thing, but it was sure fun to ride. Sold it due to buying another bike, never got it on the road... definitely regret that.

    I would also recommend you having a look at some big singles and twins. The Yamaha SR series is good, as are the CB series from Honda. You could even cafe a dirtbike like the XR600R or XT500, but you might have to check out aftermarket tanks for those as their frame structure in that area would seriously limit options.

    Cheers - boingk
  14. Forget jap crap,they are only wannabe cafe racers.
    You need to meld US and Pommie stupidity into something like my latest project,THIS is a cafe racer project.

  15. To add my tuppenth worth - I looked around at various starter bikes to build a cafe racer style bike from, and in the end I picked up a CB750 because I could learn a lot from the internet on how to mod this popular bike (and I like Hondas).

    But - I would also look at an SR (plenty of parts here to mod them with).

    As said by others, don't let the stock starter bike choice limit your imagination, some of the best mods I have seen start from the most unlikely source bikes.

    Also - have a look on Bike exif at some of the more unusual mods, sure - there are CB's there but there are some other stranger choices too.
  16. Back again fellas.
    I have noted all your opinions and suggestions, and advice. And have actually just returned from a 3 hour return trip with my new bike.
    I purchased a Suzuki GS1100G. The bike is very rough, however, the engine and frame are good.
    The engine does not run but cranks over (not seized). It was running once upon a time, and the owner has advised me that it is in very good working order.
    The shaft has been fully reconditioned and looks brand spankin.
    He assures me there is not much work to get the engine running. And I got it for a basement price.

    I will start a new thread with my build..and pictures. I'm anxious to get this going asap so I can start the tear down....stay tuned to my project/build thread. and again, I thank you for the guidance and inspiration!

  17. The final drive on these was a weak point, the right angle drive from the box to the shaft used to drop its guts if the owner was a member of the "one wheels enough" club..

    but if treated with only minor abuse they were a beautiful reliable bike..