New member, lots of questions!
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New member, lots of questions!

This is a discussion on New member, lots of questions! within the NEW MEMBERS READ HERE! forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Hello, as you can tell my name is Gary Oak and I am an aspiring rider/hobbyist for cafe racers. I rode a little bit when ...

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Thread: New member, lots of questions!

  1. #1
    Junior Member GaryOak's Avatar
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    New member, lots of questions!

    Hello, as you can tell my name is Gary Oak and I am an aspiring rider/hobbyist for cafe racers. I rode a little bit when I was younger but I got into cars and went that route. A couple years ago the Honda NM4 came out and I was thinking it was a cool bike, but it wasn't enough to get me into motorcycles physically. My favorite bikes to look at were the old Indian bikes. Those things always had something that was cool to me. Anyways, I recently got to talking with a friend about cafe racers. I've been going around the internet and from what I have seen there are a lot of options for building a cafe racer. One of the prominent bikes I saw was a Yamaha SR400. It looks great, seems to be a good start. I've also seen Honda XS650's being thrown around for older bikes. Lastly, I've also seen Honda CB350's as somewhat common... I know there are more but these are just what I've seen the most of. It will be my first bike, so I am assuming you'll suggest that I get something cheap and used. Since the SR400 is something I'd most likely by new should I stay away from it?

    I don't really care too much about top end speed. I'll be driving it around the city and on highways sometimes. I might even try to go for a long cruise (1000+ miles) but I don't know how comfortable it would be. I am just looking for some advice. I saw a video for Cleveland CycleWerks where it's a company from Cleveland that designs their bikes but has them manufactured in China then they ship em to the dealer. Seeing as they're Chinese, I would normally stay away. They have new bikes for 3500$ so I was curious if it's even worth spending that amount cash on a bike that's essentially finished for a beginner.

    Any help or advice on what to do would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Farmer_John's Avatar
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    First bike, right?

    Purchase something that:
    Is in one piece
    Has a title
    Runs
    Is servicable.

    Resist anything that tempts you to immediately tear it apart to make it "better".

    Learn how to ride the wheels off it.

    Make known improvements to it in handling and stopping and avoid the popular fashion statements of the day.

    That said, since it is a current model and has been since 1978, the SR400 would be a fine choice, once you "master" the starting ritual. There is a huge knowledge base here and out there on the interweb. Nice thing is, you can pick one up for not a hell of a lot more than one of the current "in" bikes (once you factor in what it'll take to really do them right.

    You want a reliable bike for that 1000 mile cruise, right?

  3. #3
    Senior Member TrialsRider's Avatar
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    "company from Cleveland that designs their bikes but has them manufactured in China"

    should read: Cleveland based company that sells bikes made from cheap off the shelf China manufactured parts.


    … you could do it too if you don't mind buying China motors and bike parts by the container load.

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    Senior Member o1marc's Avatar
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    I'd stay away from the Honda XS650, since they didn't make one.
    www.CreativeCandy.org

    I carry a gun because I'm too young to die, too old to take an ass whooping, and a cop is too heavy.

  6. #5
    Junior Member GaryOak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farmer_John View Post
    First bike, right?

    Purchase something that:
    Is in one piece
    Has a title
    Runs
    Is servicable.

    Resist anything that tempts you to immediately tear it apart to make it "better".

    Learn how to ride the wheels off it.

    Make known improvements to it in handling and stopping and avoid the popular fashion statements of the day.

    That said, since it is a current model and has been since 1978, the SR400 would be a fine choice, once you "master" the starting ritual. There is a huge knowledge base here and out there on the interweb. Nice thing is, you can pick one up for not a hell of a lot more than one of the current "in" bikes (once you factor in what it'll take to really do them right.

    You want a reliable bike for that 1000 mile cruise, right?
    Correct! Thank you for the reply!

    Quote Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
    I'd stay away from the Honda XS650, since they didn't make one.
    Lol, I'm sorry it was late and I made the post before bed without proof reading it. You're right :P

    Quote Originally Posted by TrialsRider View Post
    "company from Cleveland that designs their bikes but has them manufactured in China"

    should read: Cleveland based company that sells bikes made from cheap off the shelf China manufactured parts.


    … you could do it too if you don't mind buying China motors and bike parts by the container load.
    I just don't know manufacturing standards when it comes to bikes. That's the whole reason I asked. Didn't sound good to begin with but I guess it's as I initially thought.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryOak View Post
    They have new bikes for 3500$ so I was curious if it's even worth spending that amount cash on a bike that's essentially finished for a beginner.
    This is dumb logic. First off what CCW sells is a new bike. If you are looking at a new bike the question is no longer what's the value of a used bike but what is the best value for the money I am going to spend. the CW misfit is an ok bargain bike but you get what you pay for. It makes more sense to spend $10K for a brand new bonneville plus accessories, or $6K for a Royal Enfield continental with accesories because you get more useable motorcycle plus a dealer network. Basically the more you spend the more value you get so it is not worth it to spend $3500 when $10K will get you a heck of a lot more value for your money. Ca va? good.

    Now, no offense to your friend but he doesn't know shit about cafe racers. It's no big deal, since most people don't. The guys who do wouldn't steer you to Japanese cheap bikes - they would steer you to italian, european, and british because those are bikes where in the used market you get a lot more for your money, but you have to spend more initially. The only advantage to a generic Japanese bike is that is is so plentiful as to be cheap for those who look at this hobby as nothing but a low budget thing. There are some good Japanese bikes but like anything they have appreciated as well and you aren't going to find one as cheap as some other models.

    but let's stop you right there....what do you really want to do? In one sentence describe it.

    If you want to ride forget cafe racers and learn to ride. Get a standard reliable cheap bike and find out if you like riding. There really isn't a point to "building" a custom motorcycle unless you are going to use it as a motorcycle. But there is a larger lesson here and that is how are you going to know if you are doing a good job with your bike project if you don't know what you like about riding and your preferences for setup, etc...

    If you just want to apply your "car" skills to a two wheeled vehicle I caution you - they don't directly translate. I mean a weld is a weld and all that but motorcycles operate along more axis than cars do and changes affect things differently. Again I point you back to learning to ride because the more you do it the more you understand it.

    So basically, get a license, get a cheap modern-ish bike, get some proper modern gear, and learn not to be killed by an inattentive motorist on a cell phone. Once you have mastered that, we will talk about your "custom bike".
    Last edited by Geeto67; 08-10-2015 at 10:34 AM.
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  8. #7
    Junior Member GaryOak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geeto67 View Post
    This is dumb logic. First off what CCW sells is a new bike. If you are looking at a new bike the question is no longer what's the value of a used bike but what is the best value for the money I am going to spend. the CW misfit is an ok bargain bike but you get what you pay for. It makes more sense to spend $10K for a brand new bonneville plus accessories, or $6K for a Royal Enfield continental with accesories because you get more useable motorcycle plus a dealer network. Basically the more you spend the more value you get so it is not worth it to spend $3500 when $10K will get you a heck of a lot more value for your money. Ca va? good.

    Now, no offense to your friend but he doesn't know shit about cafe racers. It's no big deal, since most people don't. The guys who do wouldn't steer you to Japanese cheap bikes - they would steer you to italian, european, and british because those are bikes where in the used market you get a lot more for your money, but you have to spend more initially. The only advantage to a generic Japanese bike is that is is so plentiful as to be cheap for those who look at this hobby as nothing but a low budget thing. There are some good Japanese bikes but like anything they have appreciated as well and you aren't going to find one as cheap as some other models.

    but let's stop you right there....what do you really want to do? In one sentence describe it.

    If you want to ride forget cafe racers and learn to ride. Get a standard reliable cheap bike and find out if you like riding. There really isn't a point to "building" a custom motorcycle unless you are going to use it as a motorcycle. But there is a larger lesson here and that is how are you going to know if you are doing a good job with your bike project if you don't know what you like about riding and your preferences for setup, etc...

    If you just want to apply your "car" skills to a two wheeled vehicle I caution you - they don't directly translate. I mean a weld is a weld and all that but motorcycles operate along more axis than cars do and changes affect things differently. Again I point you back to learning to ride because the more you do it the more you understand it.

    So basically, get a license, get a cheap modern-ish bike, get some proper modern gear, and learn not to be killed by an inattentive motorist on a cell phone. Once you have mastered that, we will talk about your "custom bike".
    In one sentence? I want a bike that I can learn to ride and learn to work on so later I can modify it into a cafe racer.

    I'm not going to pretend that this entry level bike is going to be my end all be all for my bike purchases. I understand that I don't need it to be a cafe bike up front.

    The reason I looked into Japanese was because I saw more Honda's and Yamaha's being converted with a relatively cheap entry cost and much like cars it seems like there were plenty of parts around.The BMW's cost more up front from what I've seen. If you have any suggestions for me I'd be open to it. That's why I made the thread. I need help because with the wealth of information that I am getting doesn't seem to be sufficient. I've checked Reddit and searched this and other motorcycle forums but I must not be searching right because I'm obviously not getting the information.

    As for logic, coming from cars there are good cars for lesser value. I assume it's the same with bikes. If I am wrong, again that's fine. I just need the information.

  9. #8
    Senior Member busapilot's Avatar
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    Learn to ride on one of these below. Browse this site for which bikes are good canvases with which to begin. Only then, start to design your bike.

    Great bikes on which to learn to ride:

    http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/mcy/5166536100.html
    Maybe $500 overpriced

    http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/mcy/5166389606.html
    I'd buy this myself if it weren't 3000 miles away

    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/mcy/5166274782.html
    HERE'S YOUR TICKET
    Every time I start thinking the world is all bad, then I start seeing people out there having a good time on motorcycles. It makes me take another look. - S.M.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Farmer_John's Avatar
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    The information is inside you. You need to please yourself and what we like, you might not. Your best bet though, is to let go of the notion of "building" a cafe racer. Your second best bet is not to purchase a bike manufactured in a time that the manufacturers no longer support the units with OEM parts.

    If you can't fix what's broke, you can't ride it. If you can't ride it, you can't learn to operate it within reasonable safety parameters. If you can't operate a standard motorcycle within reasonable safety standards, riding a "modified" (not necessarily improved) motorcycle with poorer ergonomics and resulting sight lines turns you into a danger to yourself and others around you.

    Not sure you mentioned having much saddle time. Do yourself a favor. Go find and take a MSF beginner rider safety course. It'll open your eyes to your level of skill and proficiency. Then purchase a normal standard bike with fairly modern gear. Then purchase the best possible riding gear you can afford.

    Then ride the piss out of what ever that is, all the while thinking about what the bike does while under your control. Then research, ask questions, find a shop near you that knows their shit and hang out with them. As much as they will tolerate you. Forget about making it faster. Work on making it turn and stop. 99% of all bikes made in the last 25 years are faster than 99% of us can ride them.

    ...and no matter what, NEVER LOWER YOUR BIKE THINKING IT'LL HANDLE BETTER!

    Learn learn learn. Never stop learning.

    Carry on

  11. #10
    Junior Member GaryOak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by busapilot View Post
    Learn to ride on one of these below. Browse this site for which bikes are good canvases with which to begin. Only then, start to design your bike.

    Great bikes on which to learn to ride:

    http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/mcy/5166536100.html
    Maybe $500 overpriced

    http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/mcy/5166389606.html
    I'd buy this myself if it weren't 3000 miles away

    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/mcy/5166274782.html
    HERE'S YOUR TICKET
    A very strong thank you for those recommendations!

    Quote Originally Posted by Farmer_John View Post
    The information is inside you. You need to please yourself and what we like, you might not. Your best bet though, is to let go of the notion of "building" a cafe racer. Your second best bet is not to purchase a bike manufactured in a time that the manufacturers no longer support the units with OEM parts.

    If you can't fix what's broke, you can't ride it. If you can't ride it, you can't learn to operate it within reasonable safety parameters. If you can't operate a standard motorcycle within reasonable safety standards, riding a "modified" (not necessarily improved) motorcycle with poorer ergonomics and resulting sight lines turns you into a danger to yourself and others around you.

    Not sure you mentioned having much saddle time. Do yourself a favor. Go find and take a MSF beginner rider safety course. It'll open your eyes to your level of skill and proficiency. Then purchase a normal standard bike with fairly modern gear. Then purchase the best possible riding gear you can afford.

    Then ride the piss out of what ever that is, all the while thinking about what the bike does while under your control. Then research, ask questions, find a shop near you that knows their shit and hang out with them. As much as they will tolerate you. Forget about making it faster. Work on making it turn and stop. 99% of all bikes made in the last 25 years are faster than 99% of us can ride them.

    ...and no matter what, NEVER LOWER YOUR BIKE THINKING IT'LL HANDLE BETTER!

    Learn learn learn. Never stop learning.

    Carry on
    I appreciate the advice on the safety course. I'll go check it out for sure. For the gear I was reading how important it is. I am definitely not going to skimp on gear at any point. I actually had a teach in highschool who didn't wear a helmet or jacket, he got into an accident and they had to surgically repair his face and put his skin back on the right side of his body. Gruesome stuff.

    Thank you for the tips!

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