Cafe Comparison – a buyers guide to 3 ready made cafe racers
So you wanna buy a spanking new motorcycle to ride around town and make it without having to touch your toolkit. Here’s the low down on what I class as 3 of the best modern classics currently available that will match your rocker style and turn plenty of envious heads.
Triumph Thruxton – Born, bred and proud to be British. The Thruxton’s 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 its 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 downside to buying a ready made racer like this? Is it a cliche or an individual?
Ducati Sport 1000 – Those crazy Italians (no offence) sure know how to put a performance vehicle together. With 2 of most desirable 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 seewhy…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?
Kawasaki W650 (EJ650) – The black sheep in my lineup hails from the east, the Japanese built Kawasaki W650. With its 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 cinch. 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?
Triumph Thruxton – Ace Style clip on bars, rear set pegs, a 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
Triumph Thruxton – Looks great on the street. Great British brand highly regarded in Cafe Racer circles. Loads of experience and passion fueled its 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. Ducati brand boasting rights. Looks really hot in the flesh. Chicks will dig it…if that’s your thing. 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 its ground. Good top speed for its 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 the perfect base. The huge following in Japan and other countries means you can source pretty much any parts you need.
I don’t like:
Triumph Thruxton – Looks a plastic in some areas. Ugly mirrors. less than impressive performance figures. Heaviest of the 3 bikes. The suspension also leaves a lot to be desired.
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 liquorice on the side posing as exhaust pipes are horrendous. Tail lights look like an after thought.
Kawasaki W650 – Crazy Japanese paint colour names (Majestic Red, Galaxy Silver, Comet Blue…wtf!). Not exactly a Cafe Racer is it? Double seat is drab. Small engine capacity compared to the other 2 bikes. Looks a bit like Grandpa’s bike in stock form.