The 8 Best bikes for a Café Racer project


every café racer project starts with a simple question: which bike should I use as a base or donor motor?

Reading: Best bike to make a cafe racer

In this post we list some of the most popular models that are well suited to becoming a café racer and are affordable for most of us. Classic icons like nortons, moto guzzi bmws, and triumphs are some really cool bikes to turn into a cafe racer, but they also come in five figures (we’ll do a later article on this ;)). Also see my list of the 17 best cafe racer bikes.


selecting the best bike for a café racer project

When selecting a bike for a café racer project, it’s important to know where to start. Do you have any references or ideas? start here. What bikes are your references built on? just choose this model.

Not sure what to build? Search for the bikes you like, starting on Pinterest or Google Images. there are many great projects that can help you get inspired. it is important to consider your budget and be realistic. starting with a rare moto guzzi for your first project is not a good idea if you are on a tight budget.

also keep in mind that every bike is different and if it’s your first project, it’s best to choose a conventional model with lots of help and information online.

Motorcycle Book - The BuildAnother tip before you start building your café racer: make a plan! It sounds so easy, but if you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to fail. You have to make a proper plan. If you’re not that handy mechanic: choose a common bike with a lot of café racer parts available which you can relatively ease “bolt on”. Awesome front shocks, a custom mono shock subframe, a handcrafted fuel tank: they are beautiful but also come with some real craftsmanship. And before you even start, I’ll suggest to give “The Build” a try: one of the best references for building a custom motorcycle [view on Amazon].

It’s also not a bad idea to stage your café racer project. eg: work on a first manageable version with some small customizations (making a list is very helpful!) so you can ride your bike in the summer. go back to your garage in the winter and work on getting another rideable version 2 of your bike, and so on. because riding a motorcycle will help you maintain enthusiasm for the project before the motorcycle ends up as an “unfinished project” on ebay… this happens a lot, also because some ambitions are greater than the desire to learn: working on a motorcycle requires technical knowledge and skills, and if you don’t have them, you have to be patient enough to learn.

See also: The History of Coffee

and remember: #ktssu!

cafe racer motorcycle #1: honda cb

honda-cb550 We can’t actually point out THE #1 base bike for your café racer project, but there is one type that stands out: the Honda CB.

The honda cb series was very successful in the 1970s and 1980s, so there are many on the market. its success resulted in a large selection of aftermarket products and a large number of “custom products”. their engines are very reliable and easy to work with. However, popular cb’s like cb500, cb550 and cb750 are not the cheapest to get, parts are relatively cheap and they have a very wide variation. For example: Complete front fork conversion kits are available for just a few dollars. and sites like ryca motors and benjie’s cafe racer offer complete cafe racer kits – just bolt it on and go!

another great advantage of the slingshot is that since it is used a lot in cafe racer projects, there are many examples available and you can find experiences and solutions for common problems almost everywhere online. so if this is your first cafe racer project, we highly recommend you go for one of the honda cb’s!

also check out our top 10 honda cb café racers!

bmw r series


the bmw r series is very popular among motorcycle builders and that is due to several reasons: bwm is one of the best selling motorcycles in the world, so there are many. the r-series has been shown to be very, very reliable. It has a drive shaft, so it needs less maintenance. they are quite powerful, “torqey” and have a low center of gravity, giving the bike solid handling. there are many different types in versions from 500cc to 1000cc and perhaps best of all: twin boxers have an incredible sound.

Since there are so many, there’s a lot to find both in part words and information.

Also see the top 9 custom bmw r ninet

yamaha xs series

See also: Quỹ đầu tư đứng sau The Coffee House, Juno. báo cáo doanh thu giảm vì Covid, nhưng dòng tiền kinh doanh đã có cải thiện 2022

Yamaha XS650Similar to the Honda CB are the Yamaha XS-series: there are a lot of them on the market and a huge world with aftermarket products. The most popular and powerful bike is the XS650 with a true bulletproof engine which generates a lot of torque and an amazing sound.

yamaha virago

Yamaha XV1100 83

The Yamaha Virago Cruiser was built from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s. This was Yamaha’s first V-twin and the Virago was one of the first production bikes with a single shock rear suspension. Unfortunately in 1984 (2 years after introduction) Yamaha switched back to dual shock rear suspension. the bike is shaft driven which means less maintenance and comes with engines from 500cc up to 1000cc.

just like with honda, there is a large virago community and lots of parts and spares to buy.

honda cx500/gl500

honda-cx500The so-called “poor men’s Guzzi” with a great 2 cylinder engine which can give your café racer an extra cool look and generates an awesome sound. Needs a bit more work than the Honda CB and Yamaha XS to get the well known straight café racer line because of the higher front. The bike is a lit less popular, but there are still a lot of info and the parts are easy to get by.

suzuki ls650 (wild)

Suzuki LS650The Suzuki LS650 is very popular because of it’s massive, fully chromed single cylinder 650cc powerhouse and the fact that it’s powered by a belt drive. Needs some more work on the frame and front to lower the bike, but there are a lot of instructions available online. The massive engine generates lots of torque and a great low sound.

kawasaki z series

Kawasaki Z650

the kawasaki z-series, like the honda cb, is available in many variations, but is a bit cheaper. “big” ones like the z650 are packed with plenty of torque and power.

On the next page you can find a more modern selection of base bikes:

See also: How To Make Iced Coffee With Cafe Bustelo


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