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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everybody! I've been a member for a while, but being sidetracked with other projects makes this is my first actual post. Anyway, I've been thinking about opening a garage building bikes, more specifically Cafe Racers. I just love them! lol I'm on my third bike currently, a 1981 Suzuki GS450, which is a surprisingly good ride. I am having a hard time thinking of an original and catchy name for the garage. I don't want it to be too on the nose either, like "Josh's Custom Motorcycles." So, I was hoping you guys could help me out. And, who knows, maybe a few of you will like the bikes. Anyway, thanks for checking it out.
 

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If you're going to start doing this on your own...I've been doing it for the past 11 years full time since retirement, so here's my 2 cents:

If you you like doing it and want to keep on liking it, then don't quit your day job. As soon as you HAVE to make a living at it it, will just put the pressure on you and will soon become 'just another job'.

Remember you're getting into this to make money, not friends. Don't go out of pocket for other peoples parts, make 'em pay up front...the labour charges can come later, but NEVER hand over a machine until you have been paid in full...it's the people you trust most who will shaft you.
Be honest to the point of stupidity: Why? Happy client = more clients and above all don't screw people over, it will come back to haunt you.
Don't do things you're not qualified to do...somebody's life may depend on it.
Use common sense, if somebody is asking you to do something you know will adversely affect the safety of the machine, turn the job down.

As far as the name goes...in the words of William Shakespeare "Whats in a name?" It's the product that really matters.
 

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OK, you are considering opening a garage. This forum could be helpful to you. There are pro bike mechanics here, parts fabricators, custom builders, and other experts. Lots of guys who have worked on bikes for a living, signed leases for shop space, built bike- related businesses, made money (and lost money), and bought and sold more bikes than you could shake a stick at.

Now, look at the one and only question you have come up with for us. You want us to help you think of a name for the business. Really?
 

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Is there really any money is building custom Cafe Racers? I look at some of the bikes that shops are turning out and while beautiful, they have so much time and money tied up, they can't make a profit. After all, even with thousands of dollars of work, it's still a CB750 or XS650 or whatever.

It seems like the guys that make the money are doing service and selling parts. Am I off here guys?
 

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Ok....do you want to open a general motorcycle shop? or do you want to have a "cafe racer shop" like there used to be "chopper shops". that's right I said used to be, because there are far far fewer niche shops than there used to be.

honestly, I have never heard of you or seen your work. what are your credentials? how about you post a pic of the bikes you have "built" already.

If I were to do it....and keep in mind I am not a professional mechanic and at most have worked for small niche shops for short periods.....what I would do is get "semi famous" first. what does that mean? I would build a full out no holds bared all my talents in one motorcycle kind of bike and then whore it out to the magazines and TV as well as every single local bike show there is. Then I would make contacts with people who would want to replicate the bike as well as journalism people. When the time is ready I would sell the bike, find a customer with deep pockets to have me build the next bike for him and repeat. work out of your home garage and take jobs by appointment only. The other way is to get known for something special like setting an LSR record for a turbo bike - then everyone comes to you because you are the only turbo bike guy in MI.

the other way you could do it is to be a jobber - taking in small jobs one at a time until you have a full schedule. I don't advise it because the kind of people that use jobbers will literally argue with you about a $15 handlebar being too expensive. The advantage is little overhead and you don't have to keep a lot of spares in stock.

THE biggest thing that makes or breaks a motorcycle shop is scheduling. Too many shops take on job after job with no idea when the bike will actually be finished. Customers are used to dealer style schedules, they will wait a week, they will hem and haw about two weeks, they will be pissed off about three weeks. I'm not talking big jobs here - just the small basic stuff.

having a physical location without a means to pay for it out of the gate is near worthless. if you get a shop first and then look to find business you won't make any money for 2 years and you will be lucky to break even in the first year. If you start with a book of business and customers and then get a shop out of need you have a better chance of survival.

honestly, if you just want a shop to have a shop then open a motorcycle themed coffee shop or bar instead. All the costs are the same but people actually want to hang out and spend money in those kinds of businesses.
 

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"Dick riders"
 

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"Anything For A Buck"
I seriously doubt the genre of Cafe Racers these days is enough to open a specific Cafe Racer only shop, you'll starve to death. Is there a Cafe racer scene in your area? If you don't see others around in abundance. It reminds me of what my dad keeps telling me when I say that I want to remanufacture the fairing that was on my bike that is no longer available. He reminds me if there isn't anyone making one now like what I want there must be a reason for that. Just because I think it is the best since sliced white doesn't mean 1000 others see it my way.
 

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Marc, that clear fairing you used to have , was it made by Tracy? If so I think I can help you with finding another. Pm me.
 

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Marc, that clear fairing you used to have , was it made by Tracy? If so I think I can help you with finding another. Pm me.
No, it was made by a company called "Futura" out of Italy. When my friend went back to get more they were out of business. This was back in 1979. I don't know how many of you Ca. guys remember RaceCrafters in Canoga Park owned by Lyn Abrams. Please do see what you can find on the Tracy fairing though and post it here for me or PM me the info.Thanks
 

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its not looking good over in the uk .most of the forums are ded ,blogs are the same , i dont fink its just the cafe racer sean the bobbers and choppers stuff looks to be going down the pan . starting a shop in these times is a big no , in the usa it may be better ??? if i was you do the stuff your doing as a hobby . like the man says when its your job its not the same , i wish you all the look in the world if you do get a shop ;)
 

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I don't want to harsh your mellow... but the whole point I, and many other people. am/are into cafe racers and choppers are because of the "I do my own work" culture. Even if I don't do my own work and buy a good or service then I do so in the most frugal way. How many people brag about how expensive their cafes are? It's always, my bike cost me only $1500 after I bought and built it. That don't leave a lot of room for profit for an honest man.
 

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As others have said you need to check out the economics of the idea. Cafe's are typically built not bought and at the end of the day buying a project bike for 600, dumping 2k into parts, 1k on paint and body work, countless hours, you really think you are going to sell even a really sweet bike to someone for enough to make your money back let alone make a living? (numbers are just rough estimates)

Make it a serious hobby and take on projects...or like i think someone else mentioned get into the parts biz...I have been doing that for a while. Recently bought a non running untitled cb360 for $250...sold over 1k in parts and still stuff left. It will pay for your expensive hobby.
 

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Is there really any money is building custom Cafe Racers? I look at some of the bikes that shops are turning out and while beautiful, they have so much time and money tied up, they can't make a profit. After all, even with thousands of dollars of work, it's still a CB750 or XS650 or whatever.

It seems like the guys that make the money are doing service and selling parts. Am I off here guys?
Even servicing doesn't really pay the bills.
Until your retailing a lot of stuff it's just a full time hobby
 

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My guess is Jenks750 wants to build hipster bikes, not that there's anything wrong with that, well........ Anyway, there's probably a market for them just about anywhere, especially if he can ship them.

Id take everyone's advice so far: forget about a shop and find shop space. Build what YOU want to build and sell them as you go. It's a fad and it'll be all dried up in a few years so forget about it being a career. Check out a guy named Magnus Walker: he's made a decent living doing what I'd imagine you're looking to do, but with pre 73 Porsche 911s.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I'm not trying to be rude in any way whatsoever because I do have respect for each of you and your own knowledge on the subject. However, you can only form opinions based on your own experiences or what you currently know, which is why I'm not upset by what I perceived as you lot telling me to bugger off. Because you aren't aware of my business plan, my investments, my ability to get cheap, efficient parts or make them, or generally what resources I have available. With that in mind, the only thing I really needed was a name.

Now, as for the one who suggested "Dick Riders," you've made it quite clear that the first thing you thought of was a penis. There's nothing wrong with being homosexual, I just don't see why you would recommend your idea of a good time("dick riding") as a potential name for my business. And, yes, that time I meant to be a little rude. Sorry, it's late and I'm a little grumpy. I hope this post doesn't leave a bad impression, I'm usually quite a nice guy.
 

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I own and run two restaurants. No, they're not bikes shop but they are businesses so I have at least some insight to what it takes. It's a risk and it's no guarantee you'll succeed, that's all these guys are saying.

As for names....... give us something to go on. Where are you located? Nicknames? Something
 

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I'm not trying to be rude in any way whatsoever because I do have respect for each of you and your own knowledge on the subject. However, you can only form opinions based on your own experiences or what you currently know, which is why I'm not upset by what I perceived as you lot telling me to bugger off. Because you aren't aware of my business plan, my investments, my ability to get cheap, efficient parts or make them, or generally what resources I have available. With that in mind, the only thing I really needed was a name.

Now, as for the one who suggested "Dick Riders," you've made it quite clear that the first thing you thought of was a penis. There's nothing wrong with being homosexual, I just don't see why you would recommend your idea of a good time("dick riding") as a potential name for my business. And, yes, that time I meant to be a little rude. Sorry, it's late and I'm a little grumpy. I hope this post doesn't leave a bad impression, I'm usually quite a nice guy.
yea, bullshit

If you truly had the ability to do it you wouldn't be here asking such a vapid a question as "what should I name my imaginary bike shop"

See some of us here own businesses, many of them are even motorcycle/automotive related. You make think you're the Christopher Columbus of this deal, but you're nothing new. There are some basic economic principles in play that are bigger than me, you and your pipe dream.

Don't get pissed, prove me wrong, post up when you've sold your first bike, post up when your shop's had it's first month of positive cash-flow, for sure post up when you're paying all your bills from your shop's profit.

And for sure tell us your shop's name
 

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I'm not trying to be rude in any way whatsoever because I do have respect for each of you and your own knowledge on the subject. However, you can only form opinions based on your own experiences or what you currently know, which is why I'm not upset by what I perceived as you lot telling me to bugger off. Because you aren't aware of my business plan, my investments, my ability to get cheap, efficient parts or make them, or generally what resources I have available. With that in mind, the only thing I really needed was a name.
actually we asked you all about your business plan/model on the first page and you still have yet to answer. There are so many people that come here to jerk off using their keyboard that those wh share information and look like they got their shit together get rewarded, those who are secretive and cryptic are just assumed to be trend jumping morons. Guess where you are falling right now.

Whomever said Cafe's are built not bought .....that is the stupidest shit I have heard. More jingoistic macho nonsense held over from the chopper world. There are plenty of people who get in over their heads quickly in this hobby and need a place to sort things out. Also there are plenty of people I would buy a high performance vintage bike off of any day of the week - lance Weil while he was alive was one, Pete at motoborgotaro is another.

tht being said, stay away from Japanese bikes - the people who buy Japanese bikes to convert to cafe racers are the cheapest motherfuckers alive.


But Jenks, If you are coming here asing about a name I think you are seriously undervaluing the concept of "branding". If you have a really good logo, name and color scheme, you can probably prop up your business on t-shirt and sticker sales, not at first but you'll get there. I may not think much of dime city cycles as a business but their branding is extremely effective and their logo is pretty good.
 
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