Despite his Taiwanese workshops rather specific name, Alex Gao’s ‘Cowboy’s Chopper’ builds all manner of custom motorcycles. One thing that is consistent across his portfolio, however, is his tendency to think outside of the box. Cafe racers are a common addition to the lineup and his latest build is one of our favourites so far. The appropriately named Hyper Cafe is Alex’s interpretation of Ducati Hypermotard 1100 cafe racer, a bike we don’t often see being customised to such a degree. With a completely revised riding position and all-new look, the seminal Italian Supermoto is almost unrecognisable, but in this instance, it’s a welcome transformation.
“A Ducati Hypermotard isn’t the usual Ducati model chosen for cafe racer conversions, but the owner approached Cowboy’s Chopper with the intention of injecting more excitement into a tired platform.” says Alex. “What can be more exciting than an almost street-legal, light-weight, speed demon of a cafe racer?”
Alex developed the Hyper Cafe over a 3-month period alongside other projects in his Tapei based workshop. The first stage of the build was the most dramatic since it involved dispensing of the Hypermotard’s iconic angular bodywork. Alex then took his hammer to sheet metal and began shaping an entirely new look for the Ducati.
The new fuel tank and the tail assembly are Alex’s modern interpretation of a classic cafe racer configuration. The new tank is a mix of Norton Manx and Commando Roadster styles with a distinct stepped ridge along the backbone and scalloped knee dents. Most impressive though is how at home the curvaceous tank looks on the triangulated frame. Shaped to slot perfectly onto the rails of the frame it has a factory-like fit and finish which is a testament to his metal shaping skills. Alex even designed the tank to establish an upward sloping bone line, creating a suitably aggressive stance for the fiery Italian.
In the rear things are looking much tighter. The Hypermotard’s tail has been trimmed by a couple of inches thanks to a mandrel-bent bolt-on subframe. The new subframe supports both the revised tail and the rear of the extended tank. A tightly proportioned Imola style rear cowl with numberplate wings wraps around the subframe and conceals a custom exhaust setup. Unsurprisingly the tiny ribbed seat only offers enough room for one.
According to Alex the most difficult task he faced working on the ’09 Hypermotard 1100 was getting his head around the bike’s electrics. To add to that challenge the bike’s owner threw a last-minute modification request into the mix that took some creative thinking to conquer. “The owner wanted to add on an auxiliary fuel tank to increase riding range.” says Alex. “Installing an electric fuel pump in the auxiliary fuel tank and having it all work was very challenging.” Alex’s solution was to mount the auxiliary tank in front of the riders left foot, alongside the oil cooler. Designed to withstand a low side crash it feeds fuel back to the injectors with the help of the integrated pump. The bespoke setup looks a little out of place, but it adds enough extra mileage to cover the extra distance the owner wanted from the bike.
Out of the box, the Ducati Hypermotard 1100 is no slouch. The combination of a 95bhp Desmo V-twin and a 171kg kerb weight will see the bike chewing up the 1/4 in under 12.5 seconds. The standard suspension and brakes are also very capable but there is, of course, always room for improvement. To get even more out of the bike’s handling package Alex trimmed away every ounce of fat he could. Then to boost the power figure he fit a set of Zard headers and mid-pipes that terminates via the custom made muffler in the rear cowl. To complete this Hyper Cafe conversion Alex has installed a classic 7″ headlight, clip-on bars, low profile bar end mirrors and some rear-set pegs.
I’ve been a fan of the Ducati Hypermotard since its release but could never picture myself riding anything so modern looking. If however I was offered the chance to ride this stunning cafe racer conversion I wouldn’t hesitate giving it a go. In fact, the only problem I could foresee in such a scenario would be having to give it back.