Which bike is easier to turn into a cafe racer?
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Which bike is easier to turn into a cafe racer?

This is a discussion on Which bike is easier to turn into a cafe racer? within the Technical forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Hello, i am fairly new to Restoration/alteration and just wanted to get the opinion on which is easier for a beginner to modify. my options ...

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Thread: Which bike is easier to turn into a cafe racer?

  1. #1
    Junior Member Jumlas22's Avatar
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    Question Which bike is easier to turn into a cafe racer?

    Hello,

    i am fairly new to Restoration/alteration and just wanted to get the opinion on which is easier for a beginner to modify.

    my options are a honda CL360, engine has been restored already i do believe.

    second is a kawasaki kz550. engine got a thorough fix up and a has a new MC and clutch.

    both selling for 1500. i want to start somewhere and i definitly dont wanna get into the engine. im good with my hands and i am a quick learner with this sort of stuff.

    so thoughts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    I think you should go buy a new triumph thruxton and forget this old jap bike nonsense. You'll be happier. Maybe find a used one. Finance it if you have to, Credit unions give great finance rates.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
    - Samuel Beckett
    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
    - Kevin Kelly

  3. #3
    Junior Member Jumlas22's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geeto67 View Post
    I think you should go buy a new triumph thruxton and forget this old jap bike nonsense. You'll be happier. Maybe find a used one. Finance it if you have to, Credit unions give great finance rates.
    that sounds nice. but i dont feel like dropping 10 grand on a bike (even over time) and the thruxton is heavy, and way more power than i need. (going for rides around town, no highway) plus i wanna work with my hands.

    i mean, id take one off your hands if you wanted to give me one :P

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Tanshanomi's Avatar
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    First question: KZ550A (Standard), GPz, or LTD?
    ...Even the MOMBA guys couldn't make a decent-handling bike out of the LTD:

    Kawasaki KZ550 LTD | MOMBA Bike Build - Motorcyclist Magazine All Pages

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  6. #5
    Junior Member Jumlas22's Avatar
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    its the a1 so probably standard. ill probably go with the cl360 (needs a bit of work and sounds appealing). thanks for the tip!

    and for the record im not some young hipster ass, im just a guy that wants to gets his hands dirty again.

    browsing this place i see hipster oustings alot so i just wanted to clarify.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Tanshanomi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jumlas22 View Post
    its the a1 so probably standard. ill probably go with the cl360 (needs a bit of work and sounds appealing). thanks for the tip!
    A KZ550A1 is one of my favorite bikes — a jillion times more capable, enjoyable and desirable than a CL360, hands down.

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  8. #7
    Senior Member kerosene's Avatar
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    Second that. Isn't cl360 with one gear less than cb360?

    anyway the 360 isn't that special...
    -

  9. #8
    Junior Member Jumlas22's Avatar
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    how about for modifying? also is 1500 a good price? 13000 miles on it. recently cleaned up and rebuild. i will have to go check it out before i know what else needs doing to it that they arent telling me.
    Last edited by Jumlas22; 03-11-2014 at 02:52 PM.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    The thruxton is 36 lbs heavier than that kz550 you are looking at cupcake. The CL360 is still a 400+ lb bike. I don't know what you consider too much power but the kz550 is still putting out 52 hp vs the triumph's 60 (and truth be told the kz550 is probably faster).

    As far as working with your hands, when ti comes to bikes there is always that opportunity be it a new R1 or a 1940 BSA M20. If you are new to working on bikes, it is better to start slow with something you can ride and managable tasks instead of junk that needs too much all at once.

    and you mention $10K...and yeah that is a considerable chunk of change, but think about this - it buys you a warranty for the things you can't afford or don't have the skills to fix yourself. When it comes to old bikes the biggest hurdle you can have is finding a shop to work on the thing in the first place that knows what it is doing. Sure there are brit and italian specalists, but there is no money in fixing old japanese bikes because they were worthless for so long that hardly anybody has the knowledge anymore that is needed.

    So lets look at your two selections for a second....both thos bikes are at least 30 something years old and more likely closer to 40. They have work done but again - it is dubious if the shop knew what they were doing or not, but even if they did there will still be teething problems from a fresh rebuild: a gasket didn't seal right, a bolt wan't torqued right - these things need some mileage to flush out the bugs. Not 20 miles but 1500 miles minimum - the mileage needed for rings to properly seat.

    Say each one of these bikes costs you $1500. And let's assume the kinks have been worked out of the engine. That still leaves neck bearings, swingarm bushings, unknown modifications by previous owners, Entropy (rust and other corrosion), cosmetics, setting the bike up the way you want (bars, seats, pegs, levers, etc), the inflated cost of NLA parts, a helmet a jacket and boots, unexpected repairs and repairs you have to pay a shop for. Oh and the tool investment which is usually between $500 and $1000 for the proper things like metric sockets, JIS screwdrivers, impact drivers, specalized service tools, measuring tools (calipers and feeler gauges), a torque wrench, manuals, a box to house them in. Over the next two years expect to drop between $2K and $3500 in the bike getting it to where you want to be. Add the $1500 purchase price and you have roughly $3500 -$5K invested in a bike. This is not counting your labor and time which I am sure has an opportunity cost but is basically lost to the wind. And in the end what do you have? a bike that is probably worth $1800 - $2K.

    Now That still doesn't get us to $10K for a new thruxton, but a used 5 or 6 year old thruxton is closer to $5K. For that $5K you spent over time you can have a bike that doesn't have entropy issues (rust and corrosion), and you can ride all the time. It will start, run, and for the most part you could replace your car with it as a comuter, i.e. it is not a useless shitheap you can't ride on a highway somewhere if you need to (my father always used to say there is nothing more useless than the sky above you, the runway behind you, and the horsepower you left in the dealership showroom - you can tell he was a pilot). Plus you get to do the fun stuff like bolt on blinkers, and seats, and pegs, and mirrors, and other bling all while it runs and goes down the road reliably. But $5K lump sum is too much you cry! hence a $10K financed motorcycle - which if you have decent credit is $160 a month. Sure you piss $2K of that into the wind with deprecation, but you'll easily piss $2K of opportunity cost into the wind fixing a broken shitpile. Remember in the used market you always buy the previous owners labor for nothing and the installed parts at a huge discount (usually 60% or better).

    Now lets talk about aftermarket. Neither of these two bikes you mentioned have a decent one. So to answer your question which is a better platform for YOU? neither. Both will require skills outside your skill set to keep running. What do you do when you can't find that discontinued muffler bearing? you have to pay someone to make one or adapt another from another bike - and that means machine shop time. As a newbie you want a bike that has an aftermarket, decent network support, available OEM spares, etc. It is just easier on the wallet. The 360 kind of has that being a honda but out of the small honda twins it is the unloved brother of the well loved 350. The Kz550? shit you are going to have to make anything custom for that bike, and most of the service items aren't genuine kawasaki.

    For old bikes with a decent aftermarket look at:
    SOHC CB750/550
    KZ900/1000 (a freight train of a motorcycle so not for a newbie)
    norton commando
    pre 1979 triumph/BSA
    CB350 twin
    cb400F
    Harley sportster (not an ironhead unless you really don't like yourself)
    1999+ Triumph bonneville
    Ducati Monster/900SS (metal tanks only)
    Yamaha XS650

    There are others, but that is the short easy list. Did I just name every old bike on CL that carries a premium? yes I did. You know why? cuz they are worth it. Those bikes have a following, will only appreciate in value, and have huge knowledge bases and aftermarkets. You pay for the opportunity to easily find solutions to the problem you face.

    now...somebody cut and paste this into the newbies read this section.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
    - Samuel Beckett
    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
    - Kevin Kelly

  11. #10
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    oh and we haven't even addrressed the factory chopper trap (like if the kz550 is an LTD or something) where no matter what it will cost you twice just to get it to stock performance spec if at all.

    And please don't be one of these fucking morons that thinks they have to strip the bike to the bare frame or cut the frame rails off as step one for expressing your individuality.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
    - Samuel Beckett
    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
    - Kevin Kelly

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