Return of the Cafe Racers - Building a Cafe Racer: By definition

Building a Cafe Racer: By definition

These days when we talk about Cafe Racers by definition a lot has changed. Back in post WW2  England Cafe Racers were built because of a lack of production motorcycles that had the performance the riders wanted. The Rockers or Ton Up boys went to great lengths to defy the manufacturers by building their own “sports bikes”. A high powered (and more reliable) Triumph engine was transplanted in to a legendary Norton featherbed frame and the Triton was born. The Norvin and Tribsa were similar creations that produced the handling to give riders the edge in street racing and the power to break the mighty Ton (100 Mph).

But the motorcycle manufacturers caught on to the trend and motorcycles began to evolve. Improved all-around performance meant that such drastic measures were no longer needed to build a better bike. Today there are a plethora of motorcycles that out power and out perform the classics (sad but true) and building a Cafe Racer is no longer just about the search for better performance, it is an expression of style…but in the most practical sense. Does this mean these modern interpretations are a diluted version of the original Cafe Racers? Well I’d say no. The Rockers were all about style and they were posing on their machines in just the same way the Mods were on their scooters, their motorcycles were practical works of art. This is perhaps the key to building a Cafe Racer. It’s an expression of power and style. There’s no excess, everything you will see is essential and most importantly it all looks great.

So if you want to build a Cafe Racer where do you start? What motorcycles make good Cafe Racers? What parts do you need and what difference will they make? How can you build a Cafe Racer on a budget and who can you ask for advice? I am starting this series of posts titled “Building a Cafe Racer” to hopefully inspire and empower, to give guidance to those who need it and to hopefully have some fun. Watch this space for more over the coming weeks.

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