EICMA 2017 Cafe Racer Collection
Milan was once again buzzing with motorcycle mania as the world’s top manufacturers gathered to showcase their latest developments at EICMA 2017. This year we were pleased to see a glut of retro-styled, “modern classic” motorcycles amongst the new releases. While that is great news for nostalgic types like us, what was even more exciting was the announcement by not one, but 4 manufacturers that they will be releasing café racer themed models in 2018.
Let’s take a closer look at them…
Kawasaki Z900RS Café
Kawasaki had already unveiled their stunning new Z900RS at the Tokyo Motor Show, but they still had a trick up their sleeve for EICMA. Along with the standard trim Z1 inspired Z900RS, Kawasaki has also unveiled the Z900RS Cafe. Boasting the same performance, handling and electronic specifications as the standard Z900RS the Cafe is, simply put, an exercise in styling and boy does it look good!
Oozing ’70s old-school style the Z900RS Cafe features a retro bikini fairing that perfectly captures the era. Narrow, low slung handlebars provide steering clearance and position the rider for more spirited riding. The tail remains the same and the standard Z900RS but Kawasaki has added a new seat design that features a higher rear step to mimic classic cafe racer styling. Perhaps the most striking feature of the Z900RS Cafe, however, is its ‘vintage lime green’ paint scheme. The classic Kawasaki livery is topped off with bold white racing stripes and black pinstriping.
If we were to nitpick our only gripe about the Z900RS Cafe would have to be the lack of wire wheels. Although the slim spoke cast wheels Kawasaki created for this range do a good job of mimicking them, nothing screams classic like laced wheels. That small gripe aside we are very excited to see this bike hit the streets in 2018. With its 110bhp performance and modern handling, it’s sure to be a hoot to ride. The Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe will be priced slightly higher than the standard Z900RS at around $14,500USD (TBC) and we’re hoping for a release date in the first half of 2018. For more details of the new Z900RS, you can read our full feature on that bike here.
Honda Neo Sports Café CB1000R
Honda teased us with the Neo Sports Café CB1000R concept last month at the Tokyo Motor Show. At EICMA 2017 they went one step further and unveiled the final production version of the bike. Styling changes between the production and concept versions are limited to minor tweaks, mostly for legal requirements. According to Honda the Neo Sports Café “elegantly combines more with less”, a design approach synonymous with café racers. Honda has integrated the latest in engineering and electronic gadgetry into the CB1000R to deliver “cutting edge” performance while its design draws on classic café racer styling trends.
“The 2018 CB1000R stands out from the crowd by moving away from the standard super sports-derived big naked formula to create a motorcycle that melds exhilarating function to a form that offers a radically fresh, visually stunning two-wheeled aesthetic. It’s a motorcycle that looks, feels and performs very differently from what’s gone before.” – Honda Japan
Honda has paid special attention to reducing exterior plastic components on this bike, recognising that motorcyclists in the modern classic sector have developed an aversion to the stuff. Honda claim that on the Neo Sports Café there are only 6 visible plastic parts.
The Neo Sports Café, otherwise known as the CB1000R is powered by an engine derived from Honda’s CBR1000RR. The re-tuned 998cc inline four produces 15kW more than the RR version with a power figure of 107kW and 104Nm of torque. Honda has also developed a unique 4-2-1 lightweight exhaust that enhances mid-range muscle and produces a deeper engine sound. Other features on the bike include an anti-slip clutch system, a ride by wire throttle with 3 selectable performance modes, adjustable Showa suspension and dual radial mount four piston caliper brakes.
Suzuki SV650X CAFÉ RACER
The third Japanese manufacturer to unveil a production-ready café racer styled motorcycle at EICMA was Suzuki with their SV650X. Similar to Kawasaki’s Z900RS Café the SV650X has the same basic specification list as the bike it’s based upon, the big differences are in its styling.
Café racer styling influences are somewhat evident on the SV650X. Suzuki has wrapped the bike’s headlight in a small bikini fairing that bares slotted details and added high-mount clip-on handlebars to the fork legs. The bikes larger capacity fuel tank also has a redesigned silhouette and the rear end features a tuck and roll style seat. The SV650X also gets a unique silver and black paint scheme with contrasting red details and they’ve wound back the styling clock with the use of classic Suzuki livery on the fuel tank.
Suzuki also plans to release a range of aftermarket parts for the SV650X which include the dual fog lamps seen in these press photos. The lightweight SV650X is powered by a 645cc v-twin that produces 75bhp and handling can be fine-tuned thanks to its adjustable front forks.
Royal Enfield Continental GT 650
The fourth cafe racer on the list hails from Indian manufacturer Royal Enfield and is perhaps one of the most significant developments from the company in decades. Enfield unveiled both the Interceptor and cafe racer styled Continental GT at EICMA 2017 and both bikes are powered by an all-new parallel twin engine that was developed at the companies UK based tech center. The brand new engine uses a single piece forged crank with a firing order (270 degree) designed to produce an engine note similar to that of a v-twin. The previous version of Enfield’s Continental GT laid claim to being the companies most powerful engine, but thanks to the new 650cc twin the2018 GT produces around 30% more power (47bhp and 52Nm).
The café racer influenced styling has been carried over to the new GT with a Manx-esque fuel tank, single seat and clip-on handlebars. Unfortunately, the bike’s frame rails extend beyond the shorter tail unit rather than modifying the subframe to tighten things up.
Of all 4 cafe racer styled bikes shown at EICMA the Enfield Continental GT is the only one sporting wire wheels. This simple difference gives the Continental GT a more distinct classic bike appearance than its Japanese contenders and earns it a big thumbs up from us. Both wheels measure in at 18 inches and stopping power comes from disc brakes equipped with ABS. The Continental GT 650 will be available in the rather oddly name colors of “Ice Queen” white, “Sea Nymph” blue and “Black Magic”. Disappointingly the racy red of the previous model is no longer an option…perhaps we can expect to see this color scheme reintroduced in a special model, à la Triumph’s Thruxton R?
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