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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking to purchase a used bike for a cafe project. I have not ridden many bikes other than Sportsters, Softails, and Baggers. I did own some slow cruisers years ago. Suzuki Volusia 800, Honda Shadow Ace. But mostly Harley's since then.

Looking to get something that is not to difficult to modify, is relatively fast, and not too old. Something from the mid 90's thru 2005. I don't mind doing some cutting and minor welding. Mostly looking for something exposed shocks, cut the frame under the seat put cafe seat on the bike, change brake and signal lights in the back, headlight out front, clip ons and rear sets, and throw on a V&H pipe.

Bikes I have considered are Suzuki SV650, Honda Nighthawk 750. I have also considered some faster bikes such as CBR 600's, Ninja 600's or 750's but frames look like they would require alot of modification, and not having shocks in the back makes them look silly with a cafe seat setup IMHO.

Any suggestions on bikes to look at that are fairly easy to modify into a cafe bike that have some speed to em? Looking to spend under $2,000 for a decent running bike to modify.
 

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I think you just said the target bike has to be:
Fast
Twin shock
Tube frame
Cheap

I suspect that some of those requirements are mutually exclusive. And what was that nonsense about cutting the frame under the seat all about?

Your could look at an early Bandit, but why would anyone change one into a cafe racer? It's built to ride not to pose.

Didn't someone post pictures recently of a Ninja with a cafe body kit? That might be a way to go. Or a Triumph triple and cafe racer body kit.
 

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buy a triumph thruxton. finance it. bam done. low monthly payments.

alternatively: buy a 90's tube frame buell. Use Instagram filters to make pics seem old timey. bam. done.

double alternatively, buy a 90's ducati 900ss/cr. it has Cafe racer right in the name so nobody will doubt your mad tyte street cred yo. Use above mentioned instagram filters. bam. done.

cut the frame? yeah you can fuck right off with that shit.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Not interested in a sportster. Been there done that. Looking to build cafe racer from a japanese bike. Not to pose, but because I like the way cafe race bikes handle, look, and ride. If you knew me you would know I am far from a poser. I could have a bike and ride all alone in antarctica and be happy with it, I dont care what people think. Its my bike. Could care less about posing.

The cutting was about putting a cafe racer seat on a frame that has tubes under the stock seat that point the seat up. Point is to flatten out the seat position with the lines of the tank and bike.

I like the Blue Collar bobber kit for the Ninja 250, but I have ridden a ninja 250 too small and too slow...But that would be the look I am going for. another option would be to purchase a faster street bike and turn it into a street fighter style removing the fairing and some of the other parts. Just throwing ideas around. Ninja or CBR's 600's can be had for under $2K.
 

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Where are you located? Many of us like to look through Craigslist for where you are and make suggestions. I really think with your criteria, you are looking for something in the early to mid 80's. Look at a kz650 or 750. Maybe a Suzuki GS750-1100.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Where are you located? Many of us like to look through Craigslist for where you are and make suggestions. I really think with your criteria, you are looking for something in the early to mid 80's. Look at a kz650 or 750. Maybe a Suzuki GS750-1100.
Have people had luck with bikes from the 80's? I was leaning towards bikes from the mid 90's up thinking they would be in better running condition with less issues. Also, they are typically faster bikes.

I did see the honda hornet. I was looking at bikes from the 80's since they look like they are already easily setup for a standard motorcycle style and or cafe racer style. There are some like the CB1100...but are too expensive. Are there any bikes with some decent power that are setup from the factory like an SR400 or TU250 style from the 90's up? Otherwise maybe your right about going with a bike from the 80s.
 

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To be brutally honest, I don't think the OP has a clue what he really wants...


I say, buy a bike you think is what you want. Ride it to see what is important to you. Then make your mods.
What you think is great about a cafe racer now may not turn out the way you think.

I hope someone comes around that can say it better than I just did.
 

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To be brutally honest, I don't think the OP has a clue what he really wants...


I say, buy a bike you think is what you want. Ride it to see what is important to you. Then make your mods.
What you think is great about a cafe racer now may not turn out the way you think.

I hope someone comes around that can say it better than I just did.
Pretty much agree. If you are wanting a 90's bike for the modern performance but are wanting to make it look like something from the 60's then you're doing it all wrong.
 

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it is very obvious that you want a bike that loooks just like what all the other sheeple have
handling and performance be dammed
cafe racers were not fast compared to todays sdandard and cruiser bikes
todays cafe racers are just sick abortions all of them bludgeoned into ther exact same look that some retarded moron came up with ..and speedily riding them is a death wish
what kind of riding will you do? and where? ar e you a typical american fat f^%Yk 6feet tall 3 feet wide and 240lbs ?
going fast is only relative to the nature of the road
would you consider yourself a beginner ,novice, intermediate or expert rider ?
do you gear up every ride ? do you ride in weather ?what kind of boots ,gloves and jacket/pants do you wear riding ?
what helmet?
do you always use front and rear brakes?
can you ride a wheelie? have you ridden dirt much ?
have you raced in any organized competition?
is your driving record clean ?
are you a blue or white collar worker ?
 

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Not interested in a sportster. Been there done that. Looking to build cafe racer from a japanese bike. Not to pose, but because I like the way cafe race bikes handle, look, and ride. If you knew me you would know I am far from a poser. I could have a bike and ride all alone in antarctica and be happy with it, I dont care what people think. Its my bike. Could care less about posing.
Calm down there tough guy, we are just having a little sport with you. But you are goig to have to re-adjust your thinking a little.

The core of this hobby isn't really about looks. I know that is what brings people in because they are sick of the chopper nonsense they see on TV, but it really is a different way of looking at motorcycles from what most people are used to.

A cafe racer is almost by definition an old bike. Why? evolution. The thing that originally drove people to modify their bikes was racing, specifically track and street racing. It's the same thing that evolved into the superbikes in the 1980's, and then the sport bikes of the modern era, plus gave rise to streetfighters, etc.... Think of it as how 30's hot rods paved the way for modern musclecars, and those in turn paved the way for the second horsepower wars we are experiencing now. It's all the same quest - just the equipment changed. And similarly you can't make a 1932 ford out of a 1969 camaro, or a 1969 camaro out of a 2009 camaro, but you can have a heck of a fast fun machine. Just as there are some exceptions in the car world (jeeps, prowlers, etc...) there are some exception in the bike world too, but you have to be really smart about it and do your homework. Nobody is just going to hand you plans to turn your sv650 into a bsa lightning.

The point is - play to the strengths of each bike in it's generation, and use racing as the pattern from which to draw inspiration, not the bike blogs.


The cutting was about putting a cafe racer seat on a frame that has tubes under the stock seat that point the seat up. Point is to flatten out the seat position with the lines of the tank and bike.
yeah I know why you mentioned it, assuming it was necessary means you aren't doing enough research and thinking about this right. Lots of race bikes in the 1970's had upturned tail sections and if someone hung lights on one of them they would undeniably look like a cafe racer. Hell, my 2006 Ducati Sport 1000 has an upturned frame under the seat and nobody in their right mind would say it isn't "cafe racer" looking.

Honestly, there are a lot of people on the internet arbitrarily cutting their frames without understanding how frames actually work or how they are introducing weakness into the bike. Just because you saw some dipshit do it on the internet doesn't mean it's a good idea.

I like the Blue Collar bobber kit for the Ninja 250, but I have ridden a ninja 250 too small and too slow...But that would be the look I am going for. another option would be to purchase a faster street bike and turn it into a street fighter style removing the fairing and some of the other parts. Just throwing ideas around. Ninja or CBR's 600's can be had for under $2K.
Part of this game is that it takes money to play. The cheaper you buy a bike for, the more you have to spend in parts or fabrication to make it do what you want. The bikes that cost more, the triumph bonnevilles and W650s of the world carry a premium because their access to the aftermarket is really good. You can build an awesome bike out of one of those with just bolt on parts and no cutting, but it's gonna cost you $3K to get into one. Same with a Guzzi. If your top dollar for a platform is $2K, maybe you should be thinking about 1970's bikes, esp ones with big aftermarkets like SOHC cb750s and xs650s.

That being said here are the 80's/90's bikes I would look at:

- Airhead BMWs: they were made until the mid 1990's but the 70's and 80's ones are the ones to play with. Monolevers made after 1985 I think are the best value of tech + old design, but they have less aftermarket access than older twin shock models. market is soft on them right now so you can find one in your price range, but likely not much under $1800. They aren't slow, but aren't sportbike fast, and def different.

- w650: rare in the states but they made a ton of them. again, not sport bike fast, but not slow. huge international aftermarket.

- Tonti framed guzzi: made from the late 70's all the way to the mid 2000s. You can find early 2000's ones sometimes under $2K running but it costs a decent amount to back date it to an older look. Still for outright beauty, you can't beat a guzzi.

- 1990's ducati 900SS: these are climbing in value but still cheap enough. It's fast, it handles well, and there are lots of opportunities to make them look great without hacking them to shit.

- Any Royal enfield 500cc single imported to the US. These are basically old bikes but made recently. They 100% have the look, but it's a 20hp single, it ain't going to blow your hair back 0-60. Then again, the point is to have a different experience right? nothing more fun on backroads than a light sporting single. try to get one of the 2009+ UCE bikes, they are 100% better than the literal 1957 tech of the old bullet.
 

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i think if a person is not huge weighs well under 200 ls geared up that an rd350 or rd400 based custom would be biggest bang for the buck
lots of aftermarket go fast engine technology is available
this to me right here is what you should build
 

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he said modern and to me modern starts lates 80's with the 17" wheels and really hits stride 90 ish with usd forks with cartridges. that and the perimeter frame designs starting mid 80's are what has made what we have today.

so early 80's are just old shit to me.
 

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he said modern and to me modern starts lates 80's with the 17" wheels and really hits stride 90 ish with usd forks with cartridges. that and the perimeter frame designs starting mid 80's are what has made what we have today.

so early 80's are just old shit to me.
ah fuck motorcycles are fun and its way more what a rider can do than having 17's
mobius rd.jpg
 

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i think if a person is not huge weighs well under 200 ls geared up that an rd350 or rd400 based custom would be biggest bang for the buck
lots of aftermarket go fast engine technology is available
this to me right here is what you should build
Ha! that's funny RD or a 2-smoke triple were going to be my next suggestion if finances are tight.
 

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ah fuck motorcycles are fun and its way more what a rider can do than having 17's
View attachment 95489
yeah, once again it's the self righteous old bastard who could out ride all the kids on a moped blah blah blah card. you're a much better rider and far more vaild motorcyclist than me. happy now?

not really was this thread is about tho, is it?

he said modern. i was just classifying modern. 70's and 80's bikes are a fair way from modern. 70's and 80's bikes hacked up into a cafe racer hipster dipshit look for cheap are even further from modern. do you think this guy will spend $1,500 on just the suspension?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
You guys are too funny. Very interesting reading for sure. Thanks for all the input and suggestions. I agree that if I don't have to hack anything up that would be best. Just want to keep it simple, bolt on seat, clip on's, change or move lights, put on decent sounding exhaust, take off some parts that you don't need , add some I like and ride.

For the record I wanted something that was fairly modern so there were less issues to deal with, and has some power since I am 6'2" and 228. Bike needs to have some size to it so I am not too cramped. Rode my daughters Ninja 250 which I know can be made into a decent looking cafe racer and my wife laughed said she couldnt see the bike. LOL.

I have a Road King for my regular rider. Looking for something to ride around town, some highway riding, just want a different bike to ride that doesn't cost much has some pep and is fun to ride. Cafe or brat style will do. Always been a fan or those styles and ridden a few bikes that were that style, enjoyed how they handled on backroads and twisties.

You are right though, I have an idea of what I want but not specific enough to pin it down to a specific bike. Will keep looking. Ride some and figure it out. thanks again.
 
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