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Discussion Starter #1
Hello guys and gals... I am new to bikes and new to the forum. I am about to purchase my first bike and have been drawn to the cafe style bikes. I found one I am very interested in, but I wanted to run it by the experts...

I am about 6 foot tall 225 pounds or so... I found a '73 Honda CL350. This would be my first bike and first cafe, so do you guys think that thing will haul my fat behind around ok? The other option I have is buying a CX500 Custom from a guy who has owned it for 20+ years and just bought a new one. The CX500 is totally stock, so it's a clean slate to build a cafe just the way I want it.

Thanks,
Ben
 

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Yes the 350 will be able to handle you no problem. You are not going to set any land speed records with it but it will be a great first bike. You will eventually out grow it but for now it will be fine. Good luck and welcome to the two wheeled world
 

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The 350's a great bike to learn on.

On the other hand, the CX may fit you better.

Being new to bikes, I'd recommend you consider the price and condition of each bike. Buying a project when you don't even know how to ride yet is a case of wallet-shock/burn-out waiting to happen.

It sounds like the CX is a runner (and a one-owner at that). Its a nice, sensible first bike--powerful enough to get you around town and small enough that you shouldn't get into too much trouble. You could get it, ride it and sell it next season, and probably not lose much money in the process.



Whatever you do, get the bike that RUNS.

As far as cafe'ing a CX? Well, how creative are you? You're gonna need to be a bit more "artistic" in your approach to a CX than you would a CL.
 

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I am 6'5 and 280lbs and I commuted on a cj360. It wasn't super comfy or fast at all and I had no pretentions about breaking a ton but I could do 80 on it.

at 6' and 225lbs. I would be considering a much bigger bike. At least a cb450 or cb500/550, but I recommend a cb750, gs750, or kz650-kz900 if you can find one that you can afford. The gs750 tends to be the best bargain - as fast as the kz bikes but without the cult following that drives up the prices.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I would not really use the term "artistic" to describe anything about be... I can be creative when I need to be. So I guess being such a newbie I should ask this question: Aside from looks, what else encompasses the "cafe racer?"

I have based most of my bike selection on looks. I haven't gone much deeper than that. Visually I like the way they look. Something a little different for my area.

So help a newbie out and give the skinny on all things cafe!

Thanks,
Ben
 

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that is the biggest problem with cafe bikes is most people think it is about looks when really it is about functionality. If you build a cafe bike for looks then you miss the point of a cafe bike. It is an exercise in improvement through minimalism.

The true core of a cafe racer is getting the most performance out of a vintage machine. This is not meant to be taken as getting the most engine performance, but rather a total package bike. Since the major shortcommings of the 1970s bikes is that they were set up to be good "all rounders" handeling is not their strong suit and usually where you should focus first. There is a certain freedom to this in that if you need a reliable bike you can focus your efforts on lightening the bike and spending on better shocks and brakes and such, or if you just want a 1970s race replica you can put all the proper aerodynamic bodywork and controls on the bike (improving the aeros and riding position). the general principle is start with a race bike and then add stuff back to suit your daily riding needs. A stock looking bike with over the top power is just as much a cafe bike as a full on race replica with a stock heart.

true to form, if you want to get inspiration for your cafe bikes, look where our predeccessors did at (now vintage) road race bikes. This will give you some idea of what bikes you can use.
 
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