3/23/2006

Cafe Comparison - a buyers guide to 3 ready made racers

So you wanna buy a spanking new bike to fly around town at a ton and a half. Here's the low down on what I class as the 3 of the best modern racers available that will match your rocker style and turn plenty of heads. The Triumph Thruxton 900, Ducati's Sport 1000 and a bike that purists may not consider worthy of the list, the Kawasaki W650.



Triumph Thruxton - Born, bred and proud to be British. The Thruxtons roots are deeply grounded in the place where the Cafe Racer movement began. Now after over 100 years of production the British manufacturer has taken a look at it's past and produced a bike that is a salute to the riders in the 60's who created the cafe racer style. The Thruxton 900 is a cafe racer from the ground up, there's no denying it, but is there a down side to buying a ready made racer like this? Is it a cliche or an individual? (Thruxton owners please comment)

Ducati Sport 1000 - Those crazy Italians (no offense) sure know how to put a performance vehicle together. With 2 of most desireable names in motoring (Ferrari, Ducati) hailing from the big boot you can't deny that they have their fingers on the pulse. But has Ducati hit the nail on the head with their new Sport Classic range of bikes? They say it themselves and it's obvious to see why...the Sort 1000 captures the bold style of the Cafe Racer...and boy does it look good in the flesh. I'm yet to see a photo that does this bike any real justice, it's sex on 2 wheels...without the messy ending. But as with every bike Ducati has on offer you'll be paying through the nose to have one of these sitting in your driveway. Does the name make it good? or can the Sport 1000 prove itself without . (Sport 1000 owners please comment)

Kawasaki W650 (EJ650) - The black sheep in my line up hails from the east, the Japanese built Kawasaki W650. With it's styling influences coming directly from the UK at first glance the W650 is no cafe racer. So why is it on the list? Well firstly it's my choice for a project bike and secondly thanks to it's huge international and Japanese following, building a W650 based Cafe Racer is a sinch. But getting hold of one may be a problem. In Australia they only ever offered a handful to the market so importing one may be your only option. If you're in Japan though you can swing by your local dealer and pick one up today. So how does this little 650 rice burner compare alongside the European big boys? (W650 owners please comment)

Price List:
Triumph Thruxton - $7,990 USD +ORC
Ducati Sport 1000 - $12,000 USD +ORC
Kawasaki W650 - $6,500 USD +ORC

Engine:
Triumph Thruxton - 865cc parallel-twin, 5 speed gear box
Ducati Sport 1000 - 992cc L-twin cylinder, 6 speed gear box
Kawasaki W650 - 675cc V Twin, 5 speed gear box

Performance:
Triumph Thruxton - 69bhp @ 7200 pm, Top Speed 110mph/177kmh
Ducati Sport 1000 - 92bhp @ 8000 rpm, Top Speed 145mph/234kmh
Kawasaki W650 - 46.6bhp @ 6900rpm, Top Speed 115mph/185kmh

Weight:Triumph Thruxton - 451lbs (205kg)
Ducati Sport 1000 - 394lbs (179kg)
Kawasaki W650 - 430lbs (195kg)

Fuel tank:Triumph Thruxton - 4.2 Gallons (16 litres)
Ducati Sport 1000 - 3.96 Gallons (15 litres)
Kawasaki W650 - 4 Gallons ( 15.2 litres)

Styling:Triumph Thruxton - Ace Style clip on bars, rear set pegs, single seat with sloping tail, twin pipes, bullet style indicators, optional checker pinstripes, spoked rims, chrome springs, chrome pipes, classic Triumph tank badges.
Colours: Caspian Blue/Silver, Jet Black/Silver or Racing Yellow/Silver.
Ducati Sport 1000 - Clip on Bars, Bar end mirrors, Contrasting Racing Stripe, Solo Seat, Sachs Adjustable Suspension (not so much styling nut they certainly add to it), twin side mounted exhaust pipes and spoked rims.
Colours: Caspian Black/Black/Aluminium, Red/Black/Aluminium, Burnt Yellow/Black/Aluminium.

Kawasaki W650 - Old School Brit Bike look. Chrome Guards, Chrome single headlight, Bullet style indicators, Twin chrome exhausts, Tank knee pads, classic paint job, 2 up seat, spoked rims.
Colours: Ocean Blue/Galaxy Silver, Galaxy Silver/Comet Blue, Majestic Red/Chrome Plated

I like:
Triumph Thruxton - Looks great on the street. Great British brand highly regarded in Cafe Racer circles. Loads of experience and passion fueled it's creation. Twin exhausts look great. Comfortable riding position. Great looking dials.

Ducati Sport 1000 - Fuel warning light (I'm yet to own a bike that has one). Nice and light like a Cafe Racer should be. 200kmh+ performance figures. Great, trustworthy, experienced manufacturer. Looks really hot in the flesh. Chicks will dig it...if that's your thing. Little design features like the Sachs adjustable shocks and bar end mirrors really make the Sport 100 stand out above the rest.

Kawasaki W650 - I like the style even though it's a clone but it's been around long enough now to stand it's ground. Good top speed for it's size. Japanese manufacturers have become renowned for the technology of their engines and repairs are low cost. If you want to make your own modern Cafe Racer this bike is a perfect base. The huge following in Japan and other countries means you can source pretty much any parts you want to convert your W650 in to a piping hot racer. I will be adding a post soon detailing places where you can find such parts online.

I don't like:
Triumph Thruxton - Looks a plastic in some areas. Ugly mirrors. less than impressive performance figures. Heaviest of the 3 bikes. Why the matte finish on the guards...chrome would have really set them of and made this bike shine.

Ducati Sport 1000 - Ouch there goes my bank balance (repeat statement after purchase then again after each service or insurance payment). The 2 big bits of licorice on the side posing as exhaust pipes are u.g.l.y. Tail lights look like an after thought. Fluid containers on bars look out of place.

Kawasaki W650 - Crazy Japanese paint colour names (Majestic red, galaxy silver, comet blue...wtf!). Not exactly a Cafe Racer is it? Double seat looks like poo. Small engine capacity compared to the other 2 bikes. They aren't kidding anyone it's a Japanese Brit classic rip off bike! All up...pretty crap looking in standard unmodified form.

Now that I've put together a breakdown of each bike I'm scouring the net and collating review results from various online magazines and enthusiast sites...an upcoming post will cover the impressions these bikes have made on the professionals.

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