as someone participating in this cafe racer fad and a new rider, I wanted to chime in. I'm just learning about bikes and wrenching, but what appeals to me about the fad are the aesthetics of a beautifully built "cafe racer". the bmw I'm working on has been a ton of work, and when finished will have the cafe racer "styling", but by many of the definitions put forth here, will not be a cafe racer - I haven't tweaked the engine for top performance, I haven't shaved off every last gram of superflous metal, etc. But it will have an aesthetic that I like. I'm not a racer. I'm fast straight, but have a lot of shyness in the turns, but I can still appreciate a bike that I think is beautiful, and want to own a beautiful bike.
That said, I can totally agree with the opinions about cafe shitboxes. I'm a member of a Cafe Racer Meetup here in SD, and the only "cafe racers" in the club have stock triumphs from 2000 and newer, and one poor guy whose bike looks like a cafe, but is incredibly poorly built. He was suckered by a craigslist "builder" that hacked up a Honda CB750 into the right shape, but didn't do an ounce for reliability/safety...
1978 BMW R80/7
"all we need is time and courage." - Renner
"A lightened flywheel on your bike is like me getting into Spandex and putting on track shoes to walk the dog." - M