Instructables

Building a Budget Cafe Racer

Featured
Anyone into motorbikes has probably seen a Cafe Racer at some point, they are a fairly common type of modified bike for a retro look that doesn't resort to old Harleys and Indian cruisers.  They are similar in concept to a bobber, strip a bike down and leave only the essentials to lighten the load for speed.  Bobbers and Cafe Racers are not the same, from what I know of Bobbers and Cafe Racers, Cafe Racers have a forward seating position, like a sports bike, Bobbers are more of a cruiser, leaning back seating position.  My intent with this build was not to create a true to the name Cafe Racer for various reasons, but make a highly stylized bike to look like one.  I will cover a few reasons for this.

/***
UNDER CONSTRUCTION! 

UPDATE:  Out Of Province Inspection and Fork Seals taking longer then expected.  Oh well, we got a dump of snow, so its not like I could bring it home, even if I wanted to!  :P
***/
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Reasoning For a Simpler, Toned-Down Builds

One big reason for going toned down was cost, obviously.  I completed this build for about $1000 TOTAL.  The bike I purchased for $500 in a running and driving condition with only 1500 original KM (900 miles) on it, which is fantastic, not so much for a 1984 bikes usually as it means it has sat but I was lucky, it was inside and I did replace some cover gaskets (valve cover, some crank cover gaskets) and the inside was immaculate.  It had good tires, tank, seat,  etc. as well.  It was a steal of a deal.  It may be fair to assume though that a budget of $1000 for a bike alone would be good.  No point in buying junk.

Reasoning for not doing a true to the name Cafe Racer build was the low kilometers.  If you bikes engine is in really good health (everything factory spec, good compression, etc) I suggest not putting on pod filters.  Pods require re-jetting carbs, not a problem usually (although there are some bikes its impossible to run pods on, the carbs just won't jet properly), but they DO NOT filter as well.  If you have a bike that is super duper, pods will gnaw away at the compression quickly.  Pods do reduce the life expectancy of an engine, fact.  With an engine with 1500km on it, I would not pod it since its a good bike and could last a VERY long time.  As well, the airbox could only be removed if the engine was taken out (Which it was), but this makes for very difficult swaps to change it back and forth from pods to the airbox.

Another reason for the toned down build on my bike was if I am doing it up, but I still want to ride it a lot, I don't want it getting dirty so I decided to leave the rear fender on.  Some Cafe bikes do have fenders, usually retro chrome ones, not cheap black plastic like mine.  My fender came in 2 pieces, so the part that sticks out the back and holds the license plate came off and I left only the fairly well hidden inner half that would keep the engine from getting too much muck on it.  If the fender on a bike is one piece, it could be cut and modified to have only part inside the frame to keep things clean without a big ugly black fender sticking out the back of the bike.

After going through decisions like this, I decided to do a Cafe Racer styled bike, but not true to the Cafe name.  Essentially, making a true Cafe bike just requires removing more stuff that isn't 100% necessary for the bike to run and be legal and swapping out big ugly stock factory parts, like the airbox, with smaller/sleeker aftermarket parts, like pod filters.

Now I am not saying that don't do a full on Cafe build, but if you are, don't pick the bike that is like new, picking something with more kilometers, had its break in phase and won't suffer from some of the problems that a really super low mileage bike may.  And be mindful of what complications some mods bring.  As well, be weary or super low mileage bikes, sitting generally isn't good and you can easily get a money pit if you buy a bike with very low mileage that is old.

UPDATE:  I am highly against Pod filters truthfully.  They look good, I give them that, but are a pain.  On XJ bikes, if you install pods you will HAVE TO re-jet, then re-jet again, fiddle and re-jet again, try syncing the carbs and re-jetting again, then try re-jetting again, and re-jet again...I think you get where its going.  Pods can be a huge hassle on some bikes, and XJ carbs are too fiddly to have them installed (Although, some people have done it successfully).  Its good to Google your bike and research its quirks as well.

The other thing I have against pods is that on cars anyhow, pods will 99% of the time give you no improvement or actually reduce performance.  The engineers knew what they were doing with air-boxes, my suggestion is leaving them installed unless you know that pods can be fitted easily to your bike, don;t plan to do tons of riding, and you are in a dry, clean (not dusty) environment.
8steve8811 months ago
Great project.
On the subject of the braking system, personally when I buy a second-hand bike I always budget for all new seals and braided lines. At the same time change to DOT 5 silicon based brake fluid, this will give an as new feel to the brakes and ensure the system stays in top shape for years to come. Don't forget to examine the brake rotors for minimum thickness and hairline cracks.
It is no use modding a bike without being able to stop safely. It's the best money you can spend on a custom, not forgetting the tyres of course.
Another vote for you. :)
Wesley666 (author)  8steve8810 months ago
True, but there was always a possibility I may not be able to keep or finish the bike, which is what happened, I moved, couldn't get it moved. As luck would have it though, my all time favorite bike popped up for sale in the area I moved to, a 1994 Triumph Daytona 1200 in Pimento Red. I mean I was sad to see this bike go, but there is no bike I wanted more then that Triumph, and now I have one, one of 25 of the Canadian models. Destiny I guess! Haha! I have the full history on it right back to its original purchase, new tires, brakes, carb tune up, the whole works less then 3000km ago, so she is set.
HolyTracker12 months ago
Great instructable and tips. Love the bobbers and at first couldnt realize why you didnt have any comments. We bobbers/rodderz are a different race I supose. Fav´d and voted 5 plus.
Wesley666 (author)  HolyTracker12 months ago
Thanks mate! I bet if it was an electric Cafe bike I would have a lot more comments, people go ape for electric vehicles. But just you wait, I have something cooking that will get everyone excited, bikers and DIYers!

I thought at first it was because I hadn't finished it. Still in the shop for Fork Seals and OOP Inspection. Time of year when everyone is bringin' bikes in from the depths of winter storage for tune ups so it takes awhile.
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!