Cafe Racers,,,,WTF??

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

  1. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    they way I see it most of these old japanese bikes were headed to the junk/rust pile w/o this trend & this way they can carry on a new life.

    it's not like a ton of guys are actively searching out older japanese bikes and using them for all their riding need. there are so many affordable, newer and better tech bikes on the market these older ones would just die in the junkyard.

    for example a guy wants a nice comfortable mid-size stand-fitting use-every-day bike for a cheap price, yet is new enough it won't break every other month...he'll buy a DR650.
    #41
  2. Jnich77

    Jnich77 Been here awhile

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    lol... yeah.. about that.. I have had a few small block V-8's that fit that description...haha.
    #42
  3. rpet

    rpet Awesometown

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    I'm probably not the first or last to point out that in Engelond, where cafe racers were invented, they probably kept their fenders on. You know, for like rain and pebbles from the cobbles and stuff.

    No front fender combined with some glass-lensed aviator sunglasses is one of the sicker contemporary fashion looks.

    I live in Brooklyn, where neo-rat-chopper faux-Angel and k-mart quality cafe are at very high, but roughly equal, peaks. It's a crap place to ride a bike without rear suspension.
    #43
  4. R85/8

    R85/8 Been here awhile

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    We did.

    Actually we substituted a light alloy guard for the usually very effective but heavy steel one. One some bikes this lead to interesting front fork effects because the heavy steel guard acted as a fork brace.

    I couldn't envisage riding a bike at speed without a guard. No guard = poser IMO.
    #44
  5. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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    I think no front guard just labels a bike American, for those of us who ride in countries where it rains....and where we ride in the rain, no front guard is a dumb move.
    #45
  6. Bloodweiser

    Bloodweiser honestly

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    ^???

    Is it the world's view now that is just plain doesn't rain in the USA?
    #46
  7. ivantheterrible

    ivantheterrible Been here awhile

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    I'm not trying to be a contrarian, but does what someone else does with thier property really effect you that much? there's a lot in this world that should 'boil your cabbage' or 'piss you off' but should a hack job, fad motorcycle be one of them?
    that's not to say I haven't seen a few CL ad's that made me laugh.
    #47
  8. vernon dent

    vernon dent Been here awhile

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    #48
  9. Geeto67

    Geeto67 Adventurer

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    Here is the problem.....motorcycles are now sold as a fashion accessory. Movie stars don't race motorcycles like steve mcqueen, they get their pic taken on them at stoplights and starbucks like Brad Pitt, or Tom Cruise.

    I remember the real cafe racer trend dying out in the mid 1990s. Why so late? because that us when full fairing race replica sport bikes became cheap enough on the used market that no no longer had to dump time, money, and talent into an old broken down 60's-80's standard bike to make it fast. The motivation behind the original cafe racer movement was to be irresponsibly fast on a street motorcycle. That's it. I grew up in the late 80's early 90's in a motorcycle family - saw my dad trade a real '67 dunstall domi-racer for a new 1986 1000R, saw my friend's older brothers trade their wes cooley styled gs1100s for gsxrs, cb900fs for hurricanes, kz1000s for zx7R and zx10Rs. The motivation didn't change, just the factory finally got what the crazys were rattling the cage for and cafer racer died and the sport bike pilot was born. Even I stopped riding my cb750K for a short while and bought an fzr600 for a couple of months.

    The new fad, doesn't understand any of that. A lot of these new kids aren't after going irresponsibly fast on old junk like the old guard did. They want the bike to look cool curbside, or trolling at 15 mph through brooklyn. They don't understand that low bars aren't a cafe part but one part in the "rider system" (pegs and seat being the other components all connected by the rider) that must be set up for the rider for maximum speed and comfort. Change one thing and change them all. Want to spot a cafe poser? it's the clubmans (that are denting the tank because they are poorly installed) on an otherwise stock bike with stock pegs and a cheap seat. Too many people looking for a shortcut to curbside appeal and they forget that a motorcycle is a system made up of sub systems and when you want to modify it to improve performance you can't just change one thing. Tack on the whole rockabilly lifestyle that was getting a little stale with the chopper scene and you have yourselves something you can use to sell t-shirts, jackets, helmets, hairstyles, buttons, etc....not a lot of "motorcycle" in that whole equation.

    I don't really want to call the old purpose built stuff "cafe racers" anymore. The fad has ruined the term. I prefer the english term "specials" instead, or better vintage performance motorcycle. Sure it doesn't have the marketing appeal that cafe racers enjoy but that is kinda the point. People forget cafe racer was a derrogatory term at one time for the real racers to make fun of the poseurs (according to my old timer dad and his buddies who lived the whole "rocker" era).

    The thing that pisses me off to no end though is this cop out attitude of builders who say "I don't need this old junker to work better - that's what I have my yamakawazuki zxr1er for". What a bunch of bull!!!! The one thing I learned about human nature is if you give a guy who wants to go fast anything he will want to go fast on it, and if it doesn't go fast he will make it go fast by hook or crook. Anybody who uses that piss poor excuse is either lying so we don't know what a nutter he his, or only owns a sport bike because he likes to scare himself in a straight line and doesn't really know or enjoy going fast but really likes his friends thinking he is hot s%#t in a champange glass (instead of the cold diareha in a dixie cup he is). I see a lot of these turkeys who ask me all the time about downgrading their cb750's brakes so they can swap their comstars for spoke wheels because they like the "vintage" look.
    #49
  10. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Adios Mexico

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    :nod All of it.

    Brakes and suspension make you faster, not checker stripes and a loud exhaust. Call that thing a cafe cruiser. The word 'racer' does not belong in that equation.
    #50
  11. Geeto67

    Geeto67 Adventurer

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    "sport chopper" is another one I hear thrown around a lot (because I am trying to coin it).

    Here is the thing that really bugs me. A chopper is an "honest" bike. You look at it and it's pretty obvious what kind of riding it is for - running up and down the main drag at strugis or daytona, eating up lots of straight line highway miles, etc. Nobody is going to mistake any kind of chopper for some excellent road burning racer in the twisties. Its the motorcycle equalivent of a lead sled.

    But these new cafe racers....well they "look" fast, but really a lot of these lowered shitheaps aren't any better than your average paugho framed, 4" over forks, hardtail sportster. It's deceptive. Everything about it is meant to fool you. What I really love is all these brooklyn tools who think their cb350 handles on rails because they pancaked droped it 2". really the bike is worse off but they don't know their ass from their elbow as to what a fast riding motorcycle is like. you don't see a lot of lowered race bikes. The best car equalivent I can think of is those "pro-fairground" pro street cars that only drove on and off a trailer. looked fast, but a disappointment everywhere else.

    The old addage is true - if you build it to a purpose, it will look right in the end. If you force it to look like something without considering the function you get a lot of fail in the function.
    #51
  12. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Desmo's my dog

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    Geeto at advrider? What's the world coming to?!?!?! Haven't seen you at that other site for a while...


    Anywhos, maybe things are just coming full circle and "cafe racer" will become a put down again? I think it already has in some circles.

    I don't mind some of the stylistic builds, I mean, my 160 wasn't built to be fast. And yes, I do have other bikes if I want to go fast. I built it for the look (and to use in 'giro events). And now that I typed that I realize when I had the bike down at Barber I rode it WFO most of the time*** and lived for passing other bikes (made it by some big twins on the road to the track!) so nevermind. :D

    I do mind the rat bike looking POS bikes that newbies are building out of solid old bikes though. Since when is it cool to TRY to make something look ratty? If the bike has earned th elook honestly through many years of use, that's one thing. But to hack something up just to make it look rough, not my thing. At least TRY to make it look nice fer cripesakes you hacks... and for cripe sakes don't do something that makes it look broken.

    *** The fact no one else could tell it was WFO is beside the point...
    #52
  13. Geeto67

    Geeto67 Adventurer

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    the world is ending....did you not get the memo?

    Been here for a while as a lurker but when I dragged home the R80RT I signed up. I needed a semi-decent BMW forum and to be honest the others bugged me.

    Needed a break from the endless stream of "how do I put clubmans on my cb175" newbie question on the "other" site (caferacer.net). It wasn't fun to be a blowhard all the time, and the fashion of cafe racers means that site it less USCRA/WERA/AHRMA racers and more dickbags wanting to know how to install bumstop seats on non running cb360s (because it ALWAYS makes sense to fix the cosmetics before you have it running).

    A cleanly built bike will always have an audience. I may hate small motorcycles but I see so few good restorations on one it is hard to hate one when it is so pretty, even if it was done just for looks. That is kinda what always bugged me about carpy's bikes - they were mostly terrible shitpiles of fail with 16" rear wheels and more checkerboard than a cracker barrel tablecloth but they were at least finished to a high level of polish with nice paint and color combinations. To have that shitpile AND have it look fauxtina ratty - yer doin it wrong. To be honest I don't think the average homebuilt cafe racer is intentionally ratty - I think that the builders (and I use that term loosely) are just trying to force that square peg through the round hole so hard it is shredding the edges.
    #53
  14. gravityisnotmyfriend

    gravityisnotmyfriend Long timer

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    I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter.


    Cafe racers (real ones - not this recent surge of crap) were not about style, they were about speed. Getting the most speed out of small displacement bikes was the goal - the look and style were secondary.

    Now, people are copying that look and style with no regard for performance.


    It's the same thing as putting a giant rear spoiler and ground effects on a dodge neon to try and copy that race car look. It's all about form over function.
    #54
  15. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Desmo's my dog

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    Were small displacement bikes really ever cafe racer material? Bikes began to distract me away from cars a little later in life (around 1980) so I have no first hand knowledge about the whole cafe racer thing, but I always assumed that, like now, bigger was typically better. Didn't (relatively) big twins and singles rule the day?
    #55
  16. Geeto67

    Geeto67 Adventurer

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    Yes and no. For a while (post 1945 to the mid-1950s) in europe all there was to be had was small displacement, and like I mentioned before human nature took over - make it faster. Plus, post war europe was broke so your race bike was your street bike and there were classes going all the way down to 125cc (and 50cc at the IOM starting in the early 1960s). So to that end yes there were small race machines that one would call a cafe racer. Probably lasted until the mid 1960's when bigger bikes from the late 1950s became affordable on the used market. Some of those smaller ducs you play with DesmoDog are pretty sporty out of the crate, and two things I learned from driving in italy - an italian only knows WFO and off, and What is behind him does not matter.

    If you are asking if a cb175 was ever a "cafe racer"? well probably not. At least not in great numbers and probably not in the US. Def in countries where you had age restricted and tiered licensing, but that is what you had MB5s, AR50s, FS1E Fizzies, and the like for, until you could have a proper speed rocket. I think the small displacement vintage performance motorcycle genre was ruled by the two stroke post 1970 - easy to make power, easy to fix, easy to scare yourself on. I used to fix old vespas and a properly tuned race ported P200 mill or T5 engine with the right parts will scare you just as easily as any big bike will to 30 mph. The wheelie prone light front end and the motion of the ocean riding style doesn't help either.
    #56
  17. corndog67

    corndog67 Banned

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    Why would it piss you off? Those old 400-4s, weren't worth anything 10 years ago, they aren't worth anything now, and they won't be worth anything in the future. Those guys that want all that money for them? They'll own them forever. They're just bikes. I went through the cafe thing in the 70s and 80s, I'm over it, but nostalgia can be blind, and things seem better now than they used to be way back when. They still suck, that's why I've been continually getting better and better bikes for the last 40 years.
    #57
  18. Geeto67

    Geeto67 Adventurer

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    Well almost every bike is worthless at some point. I remember when nobody wanted pre OIF triumphs and norton commandos because they were old man bikes. My father tells me all the time about the 427 cobra that the local gas station owner couldn't get rid of in the late 70's.

    the cafe thing now isn't the cafe thing you remember. Most are taking bikes now and making them dangreously unsafe and worse handling then they are stock and are then trying to sell them for more than a nice original one would cost. And sometimes they get it. That is what pisses me off and probably pisses steve off as well - that there are a lot of dangerous cobbled together bikes out there that are attracting new riders like honey. These aren't seasoned riders or old timers paying big money for the majority of these bikes - it is 20-somethings that are buying these as their first bikes. I can tell you in brooklyn there is a whole lot of kids who buy these shitbombs, can't get them to work because they are so poorly built, and then dump them and leave motorcycling for good. There is a lot of bad non-community watching out for each other kinda stuff going on in the new cafe scene and it is...well...sad.
    #58
  19. benthic

    benthic glutton 4 punishment

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    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...

    spencer
    #59
  20. Geeto67

    Geeto67 Adventurer

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    Of course you are drawn to the asthetic, you don't have enough knowledge or experence to understand or appreciate things beyond your eyes. But don't worry you'll get there.

    The thing about beautiful bikes is....every race bike is beautiful, but not every chopper or trendy cafe racer is beautiful. With more miles things that you might think are beautiful now might piss you off in the way they function.

    Like any good thing this hobby isn't instant. The good stuff comes with time and use.
    #60