Cafe Racers,,,,WTF??

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by Steve G., Nov 25, 2012.

  1. gravityisnotmyfriend

    gravityisnotmyfriend Long timer

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    Lemme clarify my position a bit. Seems to have set off a few people.

    The thing that pisses me off about the "cafe" movement is the people that buy a bike and slap on emgo pods, clip-ons, rearsets, and shorty pipes and call it a cafe racer.

    I've told countless people the same thing when they are looking to modify a vintage bike - or any bike for that matter. Do what moves you - but find out what moves you first.

    If you just got a CB350 - get it running first. Get it reliable. Then, ride the damn thing. Ride it until you get to know it. Find out what you don't like and change it. Make it yours. But, just slapping on parts out of a catalog because that's what everyone else is doing makes me just shake my head.


    I have a 350 and I know that it will never be worth the money it'd take to restore it to factory original. Not in my lifetime. There's too many of them in far better shape to bother with a full restoration. And, it's not that I care that people are chopping up vintage bikes - it's the reasoning behind it.

    I am following my own advice. I got my 350 running and have been driving the snot out of it. I put on taller bars because I'm 6'5" and they are more comfortable. I didn't want to bother with troubleshooting all the fried electrical, so I ripped it all out and added just enough to make it street legal. So, it's a minimalistic in town commuter and is a blast to ride. I've only been riding it for about 2 years, and I'm probably not done modifying to my tastes. But, I am learning what I like and don't like about it and that's what I'll be modifying.

    Or, maybe I'm just an asshole and should stop caring what other people do with their rides.
    #21
  2. SloMo228

    SloMo228 World Class Cheapass

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    Don't worry too much - if the trend continues, in a couple years all the cafe racers will be replaced with street trackers.
    #22
  3. Motoduc1

    Motoduc1 backtrackvideo.com

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    At least they are being ridden; no bike should be left to rot away behind somebody's garage.

    But it is sad to see a fine old motorcycle, hacked, cut and chopped into something that isn't even practical to ride. But that's just my opinion.
    #23
  4. killfile

    killfile 49/50

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    eh... /shrug

    Glad you clarified, the previous 'get a modern bike to go fast' is a far more naive statement than your latest post.

    Enjoy your 350! I'm 6'3' and found that clip-ons and rear sets worked very well until I was in my mid-thirties and I could no longer do 300 mile days in that position.
    #24
  5. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer

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    Since as a friend used to say "He's cool , he's been to California ."I will now predict the next fad.

    Cafe Racers has been done over and over. Soon to run it's course. And be back 10 years later.

    Street Trackers, pretty much the same deal.

    So , what's next ?

    Scramblers You read here first.
    #25
  6. Tanshanomi

    Tanshanomi Your Favorite Uncle

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    I agree that the current café racer fad is as painful as the waning chopper revival. But let me be clear it's the FAD I object to, NOT skilled craftsmen modifying motorcycles, even if their resultant creations are more extreme and less functional than I like. What really boils my cabbage is when neophyte know-nothings make crappy, unsafe modifications to substandard bikes on the cheap and expect others to laud their their work as being on a par with what all those skilled craftsmen have produced.

    Clueless hacks are out there building stupid crap in every style, including extended-wheelbase drag bikes, board track replicas and dualsport-conversion street bikes. The key difference is that there's not a trendy show on TV bringing those styles to the general public's consciousness...yet.

    Just wait until "Adventure Bike Build-Off" comes to the History of Scientific Travel Channel.
    #26
  7. Tanshanomi

    Tanshanomi Your Favorite Uncle

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    Hmmm. Very possibly, but I'm waiting for the Digger fad.

    [​IMG]

    Not really all that different from a chopper or a bobber, but with just that little bit of drag bike and boadtrack influence thrown in. Just different enough that John Q. Public can learn the term and prompy mis-apply it to every otherwise-stock Japanese crapbox with a solo seat, struts, no front brake, new bars and gaudy paint.

    Don't get me wrong, I can dig the Sportster diggers that Arlen Ness did back in the 1970s. Even though I'd never want one, I can appreciate the innovative, out-of-the-box creativity they represented. But there's a big difference between being a pioneer and imitative me-too-ism.
    #27
  8. killfile

    killfile 49/50

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    #28
  9. gravityisnotmyfriend

    gravityisnotmyfriend Long timer

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    It seems you misunderstood - or maybe I wasn't clear. I didn't mean that you couldn't go fast on a vintage bike. I meant that if your only goal was to go fast - there is no way to do it that is easier and cheaper than to just buy a modern bike. It's the motivation behind the cafe trend that bugs me.

    Oh, and there are no 300 mile days for me and my 350. I've got my cruiser for that. I've done a few 100 mile trips on the 350. And it does fine. But, I have the most fun on twisty 55 mph back roads with it.
    #29
  10. gravityisnotmyfriend

    gravityisnotmyfriend Long timer

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    This.

    My thoughts exactly.
    #30
  11. killfile

    killfile 49/50

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    yep, i understand ya now, almost agree, but my mission in life is to ride my slow ass vintage bike fast as hell for as long as possible!

    The motivation behind the cafe craze irritates me too, but I also have to think back on when I started riding my 350, at about age 21/22. i was broke as hell, paid everything I had for the bike and did what I could on a limited budget at a time when I wasn't at all afraid of death and had the cocky confidence that comes at that age. Kinda like the original cafe racers as well. I would have made a lot of the same mistakes y'all are criticizing. Keep that in perspective with the fact that majority of motorcycle builders have been around the block a number of times, should know better, and are charging an arm and a leg for their 'improvements', and it's enough to make me ill.

    The 300 mile days I'm talking about are also on twisty 55 mph back roads, they are just long days! Don't rule it out, it's as fun as hell.
    #31
  12. IHWillys

    IHWillys Been here awhile

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    Heck yeah, the digger! The best form of the chopper out there.

    However, the cafe racer/bobber/street tracker types are largely populated with bikes that are built around a stock frame involving no "your life depends on it" modifications done by the builder. I slapped an XS650 "cafe tracker" together back in 1997. It didn't require me to do a single weld. Now if I wanted to get serious about it, this would change but it is this ease with which the mods are done that attracts so many. A "bobber" just about has to be the simplest modified bike form out there. The whole idea is about simply removing stuff and changing a few basic items like the seat and bars. A basic cafe or tracker involves similar mods.

    In the end though, people are in the garage working on a motorcycle. Fundamentally, that is good.

    Ken

    PS, my hack job cafe-tracker:
    [​IMG]
    #32
  13. Aah5

    Aah5 russ

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    Not a fan of this relatively new style of 'cafe racer' that seems too have its origin in the US
    I far prefer the British style of a modified street bike striped of unnecessary weight fitted up with clipons, race seat and a set of great sounding pipes.
    #33
  14. Tanshanomi

    Tanshanomi Your Favorite Uncle

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    And most of them are a great deal worse of for it.

    Most of the "stock frame" shade-tree customizers start with a bike that just doesn't work for what they're going for. Either learn to weld safely or hire it out, but make it look right.

    [​IMG]
    #34
  15. IHWillys

    IHWillys Been here awhile

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    I will try to post more succinctly in case my point was lost, which would be my fault.


    A digger requires a level of workmanship beyond the average.

    Cafe-bob-trackers don't. Thus partly explaining their popularity with garage hacks.

    Ken

    PS, another angle of the one I assembled, which I don't think is so bad. But I have certainly come a long way since then and would do things differently now.
    [​IMG]
    #35
  16. Tanshanomi

    Tanshanomi Your Favorite Uncle

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    I was alluding to the number of bikes that absurdly get tagged with the labels "cafe racers" and "choppers" in Craigslist ads, when they have absolutely nothing to do with either style of bike.

    I do understand what you're saying, and I agree that everybody needs to start somewhere. As my dad taught me, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well, but most things can be done well only after you've done them badly."

    And I don't think your XS is bad, ether—I was not attempting to slam your old ride.
    #36
  17. Euromad

    Euromad Been here awhile

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    I'm happy to see people resurrecting old bikes and riding them! I look at the current cafe bikes as a form over function kinda thing. Frankly I don't understand why anyone would cafe a 350 Honda with the spindly frame and suspension and slooooow motor. But that's me.
    The thing that gets me are people cafeing something without improving the handling or the motor. The whole point of a cafe racer is to go faster-less stuff for lighter bike, better handling to get thru the corners. Seeing stock swingarms, shocks and spindly forks, blah blah blah makes me smile and order another beer. :freaky
    I like the challenge of getting my old bikes to run better faster and handle better. Currently working on a Triumph 750 and a BMW R90. They'll never go as fast or handle as good as my Buell but I don't care.
    #37
  18. concours

    concours WFO for 41 years

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    AMEN Brother. Most fo what I see can BARELY be ridden down the street, in a OCC kinda way, never mind be FASTER than a stock old bike.

    OTOH, I was stopped a traffic light on the stone stock old Notrun, a passerby smiles and says "Cool cafe racer!" I just waved...

    [​IMG]
    #38
  19. concours

    concours WFO for 41 years

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    Can I get an AMEN!?
    #39
  20. Chet Jr

    Chet Jr Adventurer

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    Just my opinion -

    I've had a lot of different bikes over the years but my current ride is a modified 1989 Honda GB500.

    It's obviously not as fast as my Hayabusa or VMax was but it will do the 1/4 in the 12s and still idle through town.

    It's light weight and good basic design makes it a fun bike to ride.

    It get's 60 miles to a gallon and a lot of favorable comments from riders and non riders everywhere I go.

    Most people will agree that the GB is one of the best looking bikes ever made.

    Cyclewizard is currently building two modified GB662 engines ( stock stroke and 106mm bore ) for me.
    One is going in a stock appearing GB
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/1qk4awse1ftqm6n/Photo Nov 20, 1 53 41 AM.jpg

    and the other is being used for a scrambler version of the GB.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/2iiiucpn1fl9qgm/Photo Apr 02, 10 23 31 PM.jpg

    Performance of both bikes will be much better than the Cycle World GB500 project
    http://www.champsclock.com/gb500hu.htm

    CW and I are seriously thinking of doing a production run of 10 modified GBs.

    Chet
    #40