While the idea of belting down a freeway at a ton and a half on a big bore Cafe Racer sounds like a blast, it’s not the sort of practice most of us often get the chance to do. In fact it’s probably illegal where many of you live making it an even less frequent exercise. In big cities small capacity motorcycles rule the streets and although many may argue “There’s no point making a Cafe Racer out of a 250cc bike!”, I beg to differ. Big bikes get the blood pumping but small bikes make you smile. I am lucky enough to have one of each and I have to say my little 200cc thumper is the best fix for Monday morning blues. It’s quick off the line, splits through busy traffic without knocking a single mirror and handles like it’s on rails. So when a bike like this latest build from Tricana in Portugal appears in my inbox I’m all smiles.
Over dinner with friend Jonathan of Tricana Motorcycles was told by a lady friend that she wanted a Cafe Racer, his solution to her request went something like this…
“I want a cafe racer and I want you to build it for me.” She had always liked motorcycles, and was looking for a ride and nothing else would do except for a cafe racer. I explained that she should start with a light Japanese bike to gain some confidence, and then, evolve to a more powerful base and she agreed it was a good idea. However this was a project had a twist, this cafe racer would be built in the memory of her late father. So when the moment to choose the name for the bike came, she chose “Saudade”, a Portuguese word without direct translation into any other language that simply means the feeling of deeply missing somebody or something.
At that time I had a Yamaha SR 250 in the back of my shop and it was the perfect bike for the project. It was a real mess with many parts missing, so a big part of the work was to find those missing parts and restore the components that I wanted to keep.
Originally the bike had alloy wheels, so I used a front hub and a rear drum brake from another bike, a front brake disc that was mounted on the wheel of a Honda CB900 Bold‘or and a Brembo caliper from a Guzzi. I also had to design a new support for the caliper and the disc/hub in aluminium to mount everything up.
The front suspension came from an old MX bike that I found in the Portuguese equivalent of Ebay. I have to say that was the part that took me more time to adapt. I had to lathe it down to level the bike out how I wanted, I also had to adapt conical bearings to the triple trees.
I repositioned the original tank supports so I could lay down the front and again keep the line that I wanted for the bike. The seat is an custom designed part from Tricana Motorcycles and is attached with only one bolt, the same bolt that also attaches the gas tank. When I finished the handle bar I called Sofia to come to the shop to position the brand new CNC machined rear sets designed to fit a Ducati 999. We chose a comfortable position so she could use the bike on a daily basis and easily go manoeuvre through traffic.
The intake has a K&N filter and the exhaust is a titanium Akrapovic. I’ve also made a removable chromed support for a leather bag, and placed a rear led light in the left side of the bike to clean the rear and keep some of the racing style of a Café Racer. The new Michelin 17” tires also gives some modern racing look.