Workshop Series – Cafe Racer Kits

our workshop series continues this week with an interview from ‘cafe racer kits’ in the uk. Ian Saxcoburg is a mechanical draftsman who ran his own engineering businesses before starting the cafe racer kit business. Along with his wife Tracey de Him, they produce a range of cafe style ‘kit bikes’. The range currently includes conversion kits for the Triumph Triples, the Honda CX500, CB250N and CB400N. I talked to the couple about their kits and how they develop their designs.

cafe racer kits

Reading: Cafe racer kit

cafe racer kits

Where did the idea of ​​producing cafe racer kits come from?

after watching the usa cafe racer series, ian was inspired to start something new. he wanted to build his own cafe racer based on a honda cx500. after a few weeks of development, he thought he’d do a small batch of ten to see if anyone was interested. we took the finished bike to the bristol classic motorcycle mechanics show in 2012 and our timing couldn’t have been better. we sold the first ten kits in 3 months.

Our main idea was to continue using older, cheaper and more readily available motorcycles. the cx was ideal. the first cost £100 and there were thousands stashed away in people’s sheds and backyards. we realized that not everyone has access to manufacturers and that the costs involved for a unique design do not make economic sense for most people. we also developed a working manual which meant almost anyone could complete the conversion by themselves. some of our previous clients have not had any workshop experience. for them, construction has been a great confidence booster.

cafe racer kits

How is each of the cafe racer kit designs developed?

Initial kit development begins with research. we look at the style of old motorcycles and draw inspiration from them. Obviously, the use of the cafe racer style is very important and we try to achieve the best results using the lines of each bikes original frame. overlaying sketches on the original frame means we can make everything fit and flow harmoniously. then we use chipboard or cardboard to simulate things. ian also uses 3d software to visualize his ideas. We use a 3d printer for small parts prior to manufacturing to check they fit, look and function properly.

How are the pieces of your kits made?

We produce as many of our kits locally as possible. the fiberglass parts are handmade locally. we build an initial shape using foam and then file it to shape. then a mold is produced to make the original parts. we work with manufacturers who are happy to make small batches. this means we can devote a high level of attention to detail.

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Our metal parts are also laser cut locally. we have made jigs for welding and drilling test pieces to frames. Our 2 manufacturers are very skilled in their work and have come to understand our products very well. they help us develop subtle changes to ensure the pieces fit together effectively. we also use a qualified machinist for prototype parts. here on the isle of wight, we have a good resource of skilled practical and technical people.

Ian will also sometimes be in the shop hammering, filing, shaving and bending until he’s happy with a part. he has a bending machine that he developed and many of the parts are individually bent. he also has a dedicated space for shot blasting small parts, drilling, polishing, painting and deburring machined components.

cafe racer kits

how long did it take to develop your triumph hurricane kit?

The initial development of the triumph kit took about a year. At the time, Ian was working alone, so he was often in the workshop or office late at night. Ian was in his ‘teacher’ mode. when he gets like this, you know something cool is going on.

Having three sling kits under his belt helped tremendously during the development of the hurricane. however, there were still many challenges to overcome. the triumph frame was more modern and wanted a bolt-on subframe instead of welding. in the end the triumph was a phenomenal bike to ride. the frame is solid, parts are easy to come by, and the ride is excellent.

what was the public’s reaction to your hurricane kit?

the triumph kit was featured at the stafford classic bike show in 2016 and it was quite the sight! we knew it was awesome and even before the show opened, other stalls and the press were going out of their way to take a look at the bike. the color scheme was amazing and anyone who knew his winning record was very happy to see the colors of the hurricane again. our booth was small but drew a large crowd. by the end of the weekend, we had both lost our voices!

Because the Hurricane’s initial run was short, we only wanted 10 shells to get it off the ground. we had no problem with that. one person left a deposit at the fair and by the end of the day had purchased a donor bike. after that, we were pretty sure we had a winner. we will ship our 200th hurricane kit this month.

ian also developed the less aggressive roadster version for taller, larger or arthritic bodies. it also has a double seat which attracted some customers.

how does the kit affect the bikes performance?

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The conversion reduces the weight of the Triumphs by about 40 pounds. this makes it much easier to handle. the smaller tank and capacity also make it lighter. we were delighted to see a couple of our conversions on the paris monthly circuit this year. then matt botterman also entered his hurricane win in the bike shed ‘cafe racer cup’ so we know he’s a good racer!

cafe racer kits

cafe racer kits

Are you thinking of developing more cafe racer kits and parts?

ian is back in teacher mode. He is designing a new kit based on the 1970s Rob North Racer using a Triumph RS 955. Based on key elements of Rob’s bike, it will have a fairing and retro look. we hope to have a prototype on display at the uk stafford fair this october with a launch date in the new year. it will use the stock tank, a bolt-on subframe, and our own seat design. It will be a simpler kit to install but it will have all the style of the racers of the time. after that we will move on to another make/model as we have used the triumph a lot. we know there are plenty of other bikes out there that deserve a makeover.

We have also developed a switch and wiring system together with axel joost elektronik in germany. the camp; the d box system runs all the accessories on a bike, allowing for simplification. Ian has also developed flanges to turn ugly Comstars into spoked wheels. these have become a bestseller! the spoked wheels really add authenticity to the retro look.

Very often new products are also developed when we receive requests for assistance during the construction of a client. For example, the water pipe cover on the Triumph was often lost, broken, or thrown away, so we created a fiberglass replacement part. for a team of 2, we don’t do too bad!

cafe racer kits

Anyone who has tried to build a cafe racer from scratch knows how much time and money it takes. Thanks to Ian and Tracey, they’ve streamlined the process (and cost) to allow the average citizen to create their own really cool cafe racer. Whether you’re a beginner or even a seasoned builder looking for a new project, be sure to check out what’s on offer in cafe racer kits.

cafe racer teams

cafe racer kits

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