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Discussion Starter #1
hey guys, kinda need a little advice. like many other members, I am trying to get a little guidance. I know there's tons of knowledge floating around this forum and I'd love for you guys to chime in on this topic. I've been looking at the classifieds here in my home town trying find a good bike to "easily" convert to a cafe racer. Now I don't know very much about bikes but I do understand that taking on a build project with a classic bike can lead to a lot of issues. that's why I've been looking for a bike that runs well and can be easily converted. A bike that I myself can easily swap the seat, handle bars and gas tank without running into too many problems. I've come across two bikes so far that to me, had potential but from what I've read so far, they are not so good for a "first project" type of bike. They were the "1979 Honda cb400T" and the "1978 cx500" now I know an ideal bike would be a 1975 cb500/550/750 or an older triumph but those bikes are kinda hard to come by here in my area. There are some, but the ones I do come across are either well taken care of, mint condition classics that go for $4,000-$5,000 or rusted out barn bikes that need a ton of work. so my goal is to find a bike that runs good so that I don't have to mess with the engine too much and that i can kind of just focus on the aesthetics of the bike. that being said, are there any other late model bikes other than Honda, triumph, Norton, that are good for "first time" cafe racer project? I'm sure that yamaha and kawasaki have a few good models to start with but which models, I'm not sure. So if you guys could help me out by just suggesting a few late model bikes that would work for an easy first project cafe racer, that would be great. just so that I know what to search for in the classifieds. In the mean time I will keep searching and let you know what I find. thanks I appreciate any help.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
two that i've just come accross are 83' honda cbx 550f in great condition for $1,500 or a mint condition 1980 kawasaki KZ550 for $1,800. Are either of those a good bike for a cafe racer project? thanks honda cbx.JPG kawasaki.JPG
 

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Why dont you save yourself, and more importantly this forum, the time and read up here first.
Maybe follow some direction and read the "newbies read first" posts as well as some other thread.
Might help get a feel for what is valued here, this will give you an idea if you value the same thing.

Ill skip again and ruin some of it.
-there is no "conversion" to a cafe racer, this is hipster bullshit
-the point is to improve performance of the motorcycle, not just to play dress up
-the CB400T and CX500 SUCK
-Your first bike should be neither vintage nor a project.

Picking a real cafe racer base is super easy.
Look for a motorcycle that was raced, then turn your street bike into a race bike.
done
 

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honda cbx.JPG

I think you should get the cbx, it would make a decent cafe, just need a seat, some pods and clubmans, mostly an exercise in getting rid of extra weight, the muffler, front fender and old seat will probably shave off around 150-200 lbs, you could kneedent the tank as well, but you'll lose some fuel capacity, not too big a deal if you're just bombing around town though. I did a quick photoshop of some build ideas
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Why dont you save yourself, and more importantly this forum, the time and read up here first.
Maybe follow some direction and read the "newbies read first" posts as well as some other thread.
Might help get a feel for what is valued here, this will give you an idea if you value the same thing.

Ill skip again and ruin some of it.
-there is no "conversion" to a cafe racer, this is hipster bullshit
-the point is to improve performance of the motorcycle, not just to play dress up
-the CB400T and CX500 SUCK
-Your first bike should be neither vintage nor a project.

Picking a real cafe racer base is super easy.
Look for a motorcycle that was raced, then turn your street bike into a race bike.
done
thanks for your reply jaguar. I think I understand where your coming from. So, if there's no such thing as a "conversion" to a cafe racer then what did you mean by 'turn your street bike into a "race bike"? what kind of race bike? "cafe style" perhaps? can't I take a regular street bike and make it look and feel like a real "cafe racer"? sorry, is that a typical "newbie" thing to do? something that is frowned upon here? if so, sorry about that. My goal is to have a bike that performs well and handles well and has certain design characteristics of a "cafe racer" but by no means do I want an actual "racing bike". essentially, I want the the look and feel of a cafe racer but just not the speed of one, well not yet anyway. so no, it won't be an actual "cafe racer" but it will have certain characteristics of one. Then again, you suggest my first bike shouldn't be a "project" so not sure what to do. Anyway I'm going to take your suggestion and check out those newbie threads. Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
View attachment 11445

I think you should get the cbx, it would make a decent cafe, just need a seat, some pods and clubmans, mostly an exercise in getting rid of extra weight, the muffler, front fender and old seat will probably shave off around 150-200 lbs, you could kneedent the tank as well, but you'll lose some fuel capacity, not too big a deal if you're just bombing around town though. I did a quick photoshop of some build ideas
thanks man, appreciate you doing that photoshop, looks great! i"ll definitely consider it.
 

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...Then again, you suggest my first bike shouldn't be a "project" so not sure what to do. Anyway I'm going to take your suggestion and check out those newbie threads. Thanks again.
The first thing you should do is take an MSF course or some other rider's course. You might not even like riding. Then you should buy a bike that runs and drives fine. Maintain that while you learn to ride, get an idea of what you want in a bike, get a feel for what's out there. Then start looking for a suitable project.
 

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thanks man, appreciate you doing that photoshop, looks great! i"ll definitely consider it.
Either you are kidding or you didn't read what he posted...

Getting back to the original post, I'm surprised that Suzuki TU250s aren't used more often as the basis for cafe racers. Would seem to me that it'd kick ass over a 40 year old CBwhatever for a bike that can be ridden while it's undergoing it's transformation.

 

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thanks for your reply jaguar. I think I understand where your coming from. So, if there's no such thing as a "conversion" to a cafe racer then what did you mean by 'turn your street bike into a "race bike"? what kind of race bike? "cafe style" perhaps? can't I take a regular street bike and make it look and feel like a real "cafe racer"? sorry, is that a typical "newbie" thing to do? something that is frowned upon here? if so, sorry about that. My goal is to have a bike that performs well and handles well and has certain design characteristics of a "cafe racer" but by no means do I want an actual "racing bike". essentially, I want the the look and feel of a cafe racer but just not the speed of one, well not yet anyway. so no, it won't be an actual "cafe racer" but it will have certain characteristics of one. Then again, you suggest my first bike shouldn't be a "project" so not sure what to do. Anyway I'm going to take your suggestion and check out those newbie threads. Thanks again.
Drop all talk of "style" or any other bullshit looks that you think this is all about.
Pure and simple it is function, zero or very little thought given to looks. Never any thought of style, how well it will photograph or other played out and beaten claims to a "lifestyle"
WAY to many that are coming to the hobby are looking to do little more then wax poetic on the internet and play a game of dress up at the local coffee shop.

What I mean about no "conversion" is that this is a long term process or evolution. There is no build or something like that. You find a bike that has real performance, something that the type was raced. You then ride the shit out of it stock for a while. Over time you will figure out what the weak links are and then figure a way of upgrading those parts. This then makes the bike perform better and gets you closer to a race bike with plates.

You can NOT just start with any old heap of shit bike. The bike needs to have a performance about it.

A project bike for a first bike is a terrible idea. One of the few that is worse then having your first bike being vintage....

Since I am actually trying to be more then just a blow hard dick on this board and offer some constructive feedback I need some information.
-Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? If so how often?
-Licensed?
-Do you know the working end of a screwdriver?
-what is your physical size?
-Have you ever used a vintage vehicle on the road?
-Do you have riding gear?

One of the more over looked issue is funds. This is not a shoe string budget type hobby. The guys "back in the day" did not just slap shit together with no money......
What is your budget right now to get into motorcycles? Not the "I want to find a $500 bike on craigslist and over the next year spend $37 per week on it, as long as the take out place I work at is busy"
I am talking you have $XXXX to spend tomorrow if the right bike is found?

Also, there once was a time that it was demanded for new people to fill in their bio so that the other members here could know where people where.
Maybe there is someone here that is local to you that might be able to help set you on the right path, so fill the freaking bio out.
And some would be willing to help with links to bikes on your local CL that might be worth a gander. I happen to charge $1 per listing past the initial 3. PM for paypal info.

Oh coarse if this heap of shit gets your dick hard then maybe we should save some time. Just google dotheton and leave

This would be the automotive equivalent if you are that new to bikes.
 

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thanks man, appreciate you doing that photoshop, looks great! i"ll definitely consider it.
You are a hopeless if you actually think that he wasn't messing with you. And you are even more hopeless if you actually would consider doing that to a cbx550f thats as clean as the one in the pic appears to be.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Drop all talk of "style" or any other bullshit looks that you think this is all about.
Pure and simple it is function, zero or very little thought given to looks. Never any thought of style, how well it will photograph or other played out and beaten claims to a "lifestyle"
WAY to many that are coming to the hobby are looking to do little more then wax poetic on the internet and play a game of dress up at the local coffee shop.

What I mean about no "conversion" is that this is a long term process or evolution. There is no build or something like that. You find a bike that has real performance, something that the type was raced. You then ride the shit out of it stock for a while. Over time you will figure out what the weak links are and then figure a way of upgrading those parts. This then makes the bike perform better and gets you closer to a race bike with plates.

You can NOT just start with any old heap of shit bike. The bike needs to have a performance about it.

A project bike for a first bike is a terrible idea. One of the few that is worse then having your first bike being vintage....

Since I am actually trying to be more then just a blow hard dick on this board and offer some constructive feedback I need some information.
-Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? If so how often?
-Licensed?
-Do you know the working end of a screwdriver?
-what is your physical size?
-Have you ever used a vintage vehicle on the road?
-Do you have riding gear?

One of the more over looked issue is funds. This is not a shoe string budget type hobby. The guys "back in the day" did not just slap shit together with no money......
What is your budget right now to get into motorcycles? Not the "I want to find a $500 bike on craigslist and over the next year spend $37 per week on it, as long as the take out place I work at is busy"
I am talking you have $XXXX to spend tomorrow if the right bike is found?

Also, there once was a time that it was demanded for new people to fill in their bio so that the other members here could know where people where.
Maybe there is someone here that is local to you that might be able to help set you on the right path, so fill the freaking bio out.
And some would be willing to help with links to bikes on your local CL that might be worth a gander. I happen to charge $1 per listing past the initial 3. PM for paypal info.

Oh coarse if this heap of shit gets your dick hard then maybe we should save some time. Just google dotheton and leave

This would be the automotive equivalent if you are that new to bikes.
thanks for you input jaguar. really helps to hear from people who actually take riding seriously. I think I've come to the right place for advice.

Alright, now my Bio:

-I'm 28 years old. I come from a small city here in Ontario, canada.
-to be honest, I'm a bare bones amateur! never ridden a motorcycle before nor do I have my license for one, but plan on taking the course in a coupe months.
-I've worked with many different tools, on many different jobs, but never have I worked on engines or any kind of vehicle myself. mostly just wood working projects. so the "hands on" ability is there, now its to apply it to something different.
-I have no riding gear, that was something I was going to look into when I get my first bike.
-I'm about 5'-10" 165lbs. so starting out with something like a 250cc is what I had in mind. but could be wrong there.
-I do have a budget. Looking to spend between $1,000-2,500 for a bike and then as time passes I plan on gradually changing some parts on the bike to improve its performance and handling.
-of course this is all depending on whether or not I actually enjoy riding.

So that's basically where I stand. like I said, I'm pretty much amateur in all aspects of riding. so I guess my first goal is to buy a bike and just ride the wheels off of it. Get to know the bike. once I know the strengths and weaknesses of the bike, I can then start to learn the in and outs of swapping out the most important parts of the bike. Anyway, i appreciate you guys giving me some insight and I look forward to learning from you all. Thanks for your time.

- - - Updated - - -

You are a hopeless if you actually think that he wasn't messing with you. And you are even more hopeless if you actually would consider doing that to a cbx550f thats as clean as the one in the pic appears to be.
haha yes i caught that.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Either you are kidding or you didn't read what he posted...

Getting back to the original post, I'm surprised that Suzuki TU250s aren't used more often as the basis for cafe racers. Would seem to me that it'd kick ass over a 40 year old CBwhatever for a bike that can be ridden while it's undergoing it's transformation.

has anyone had experience with this bike, might look into getting this as my first bike? what do you guys think?
 

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Got to agree with most of the advice that's already been given.
To be honest you'll have your work cut out learning how to ride safely.
Take things one step at a time, and don't be a statistic.
Buy a standard, modern bike to learn on, and go from there.
I'm not taking the piss when I say good luck, and stay safe.
 

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Got to agree with most of the advice that's already been given.
To be honest you'll have your work cut out learning how to ride safely.
Take things one step at a time, and don't be a statistic.
Buy a standard, modern bike to learn on, and go from there.
I'm not taking the piss when I say good luck, and stay safe.
1+++

learn to ride first ..meaning take the course first.It can help you decide on what bike you'll want and you wont be in the hole having a bike and then wanting another..or find for now a running cheap dirtbike or enduro and learn to ride it first (my guessis this is how most here have learned , I did...)it will take a total nube's mistakes better than a true new street bike will.. my thought is your safer to learn in a big field than on the road.. just dont spend alot on it 'cause you will find something you want later...

not a suzuki fan but the red bike is pretty sweet , am thinking it may be a bit small in frame for some one 5'10".... bright side is it modifyable into the cafe style.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
1+++

learn to ride first ..meaning take the course first.It can help you decide on what bike you'll want and you wont be in the hole having a bike and then wanting another..or find for now a running cheap dirtbike or enduro and learn to ride it first (my guessis this is how most here have learned , I did...)it will take a total nube's mistakes better than a true new street bike will.. my thought is your safer to learn in a big field than on the road.. just dont spend alot on it 'cause you will find something you want later...

not a suzuki fan but the red bike is pretty sweet , am thinking it may be a bit small in frame for some one 5'10".... bright side is it modifyable into the cafe style.
awesome! you guys are great! you've totally steered me in the right direction and have probably saved me a ton of money and headaches. Just a few days ago I was all eager to a get a late model bike and just start a build. what I didn't realize is that you have to know the bike inside out before you can improve on it. at least put a few thousand KM's on it before you start messing around with the mechanics of it. This is now my main priority, thanks to you guys. I'm just going to get a decent bike and ride the shit out of it!once I get my license, I would really love to try a 2014 Yamaha sr400 but they aren't available in Canada yet so I think I may just pick up an older bike and learn to ride that for now. but just out of curiosity, anyone have any experience with the new yamaha SR400?
 

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Your budget is to small to take on much.
Almost any "barn find" or other vintage bike that has been sitting is about $1500 from passing an inspection and being used reliably.
So in the vintage world a $2000 bike that is legal is a fair bit cheaper then the $1000 projects you find on craigslist.

The main goal for you should be to learn how to ride.
Find an SV650 or something similar. Look for something that is cheap, reliable and will allow you to ride daily. Goal is miles.
After that you can decide if you want something vintage. You might find you want something more modern, or something for the dirt, or any one of a million other things you can do with different bikes.
 

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Canadians. They can't help but assume the best about people. :)

These guys aren't great. They're dicks... But they are right. The first step is to learn to ride on something that's already functional. And I think is was Roccity up there that mentioned that a CB-Something is good option to ride WHILE you're messing with it. I agree with that. My CB350 was fun and easy to work on, a good platform for the look you probably want, and more than enough power for a beginner.

I personally don't mind if someone comes to this hobby because they want a bike to look a certain way. I'd be lying if I said it didn't have something to do with me starting to ride again. All I ask is that you get there safely, and don't screw up a sweet old bike in getting there. Welcome new2this. I'm glad you're here.
 

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Liken learning to ride a motorcycle to riding a bicycle as a child. Exciting, electrifying, soul freeing...close to sex.

Can't think of anyone once new to it that do not love it to some degree.

A lot of the regulars here love it deeply and have taken the hobby to lifestyle levels.
 
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