What about a UJM cruiser "opposite-of-a-cafe-racer" bike?

What about a UJM cruiser "opposite-of-a-cafe-racer" bike?

This is a discussion on What about a UJM cruiser "opposite-of-a-cafe-racer" bike? within the General forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Several threads over the past few days have caused me to be think about all the cheap '80s UJM cruisers out there on the market. ...

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Tanshanomi's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Kansas City

    What about a UJM cruiser "opposite-of-a-cafe-racer" bike?

    Several threads over the past few days have caused me to be think about all the cheap '80s UJM cruisers out there on the market. Craigslist is fat with Kaw LTDs, Suzuki L's, Honda Customs, and Yamaha Maxims, which is exactly why so many of the new members come here saying "I found a _____ and want to make a café racer out of it." And every time, we tell them that they are the worst place to start. But I think it's time to ask the question, what COULD you do with all these aging misfits? I outlined my thinking in a response to kdog86: basically, stock seat and tank with superbike bars, 4:1, lose whatever chrome can be tossed, eliminate/bob the fat rear fender. Then upgrade the wheels, suspension and brakes. What I'm thinking is *NOT* trying to forcibly restyle them into something they're not, but just scrape off some of the cheese, increase the performance however practical, and see what it ends up as. Team Momba's 550LTD comes to mind. I can't help but wonder how much better this could've turned out if it hadn't been franically cobbled together in one weekend from whatever parts they could find at a swap-meet. I personally kind of like the mishmash of superbike and early cruiser influences.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member TCed's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    traverse city, mi, USA.
    That's far better than a skate board seat and fat tires.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Diamondj's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    Wharton, NJ, USA.
    That's the MOMBA "best thing we could find in the swap meet to turn into a race bike at Mid-Ohio" Kawasaki.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Tanshanomi's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Kansas City
    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondj View Post
    That's the MOMBA "best thing we could find in the swap meet to turn into a race bike at Mid-Ohio" Kawasaki.
    Yep. Here's more info for those interested:

    Kawasaki KZ550 LTD | MOMBA Bike Build | Motorcyclist
    News of the world of motorcycling > Swap meet to racetrack: Team MOMBA's challenge

  6. #5
    Senior Member CAPTAIN AWESOME's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Bentonville, AR, USA.
    If it's the platform you have, and it's already running why not? I like oddball stuff. Some of it at least. They may not be the best available platform, but they can be improved and most of all a learning experience and enjoyable if done right.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Teazer's Avatar
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    Mar 2010
    , IL, .
    and some of us still love the old Fazer. First one I was had been retrofitted with an FZR1000 motor way back in the late eighties. Magna/Fazer Street Rod look and Street Trackers are such a pure American style that are a natural outgrowth of long straight roads and obsession with 1320 times. Love them.

    They are also easier to ride and much better suited to riding conditions - at least here in the Midwest. Cafe Racers really have very little historic linkage to the US. They are an extension of the whole hipster "maker" pseudo retro or retro Nuevo look. Maybe we leave hipsters with Sk8 seats and brats and wait for fashion to move on and we'll build trackers and street rods and 80s Superbike replicas

  8. #7
    Senior Member SkyPuncher's Avatar
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    Jun 2014
    Central IL
    I have had as daily rides in the past both GS850 and GS1100 shafties. Add some up to date suspension and tires and they are mean straight line, long mile riders. I loved them.

  9. #8
    Banned Witworth's Avatar
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    May 2014
    If the fashion wasn't café racer flavoured at the moment, guys would not be trying to make drop ass, chopper geo UJMs into café silhouettes.

    If UJM sof'o'choppers were approached with a slightly different customising focus, they could retain most of their styling, but perform far better on the road.

    I might just be agreeing with the first post here, but I got a few points to make.

    -Most café builders are cheap. Real cheap.

    -Most café builders are more concerned with how they look, than how the bike functions.

    -Plenty of riders are sheep, following other sheep.

    -So many guys have never ridden a good café racer bike, and don't know good handling from their ass.

    That's why few guys build up good UJM sof'o'choppers into good looking and riding bikes.

    There is a long history of guys trying to make the wrong bikes "just plain wrong" fellas.

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    Danger, is my business.

    PS: I'm amazed how many guys "blame Hondakawazukiha" for building so many "ugly" UJM sof'o'choppers. They should be phoning up pappy, and asking why his buddies bought the damn things brand new in the first place.
    Last edited by Witworth; 08-23-2014 at 04:14 PM.

  10. #9
    Senior Member raven's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    milledgeville, ga, USA.
    I think they are great candidates for bosozoku style builds.
    Buell X1
    Honda S90 (box of parts)
    Honda CB750C (runs)
    The Others (mostly rolling wounded)

    My collar may be a little frayed, and maybe I need a shoeshine. But nobody\'s got a mortgage on my soul. I own it. Free and clear. -Phil Lovecraft

  11. #10
    Member sebwiers's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
    Saint Paul, MN, USA
    I have no idea why those are considered poor cafe candidates. There's almost zero difference between the xj750 seca and the xj750 maxim; only one that matters for performance is the seca came with dual discs and anti-dive. Slap a modern performance front end on the maxim, pick some nice bars, and you've got the seca beat. I suspect the same goes for many other 'cruiser' versions of UJM's; swap in a good fork and some better bars, and you've gone a log way. Yeah, that's a ~$500 dollar solution that requires a bit of research / skill, but its a BIG upgrade. From there, its not any more work to change the ergo's and tune the engine than it is for a 'good' cafe candidate. I guess if you don't want to do much work / spend much money, its not as easy as grabbing a cb, but even with a 'good' starting point, lazy and cheap rarely produces good results.

    What the OP has suggested sounds pretty much like 'muscle bike' styling, which is cool, but might come off as bogus on a lower displacement bike. Another interesting stylistic influence might be the endurance racers of the 80's, which are damn near road legal racers anyhow and have the performance & durability upgrades real world riders can benefit from. Most were larger displacement bikes, but TBH there's not much price difference between a small and large displacement 1980's quasi-cruiser, and no reason the styling wouldn't work on a small displacement bike. Although again, its not a cheap or easy style to copy; at a minimum, I think you'd be looking to add a fairing and an oil cooler to most bikes.

    Sometimes the 'specials' and 'cruiser versions' actually have useful performance upgrades. In the case of the maxim vs seca, the 750 maxim came with an oil cooler, maybe because the cruiser intent implied lots of low-speed city riding, and the seca (marketed as a sport tourer) did not. For my seca-stien build, I picked a maxim cooler & filter cover up on ebay, because its meant as a daily rider so will surely get stuck in traffic on occasion. TBH, 'daily rider cafe racer' sounds a hell of a lot like 'endurance racer without a fairing'...
    Last edited by sebwiers; 08-24-2014 at 09:47 AM.

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