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What's your most important tips for a complete beginner who are looking to build a cafe racer? Are there any beginner mistakes youi might have done yourself, and how do you avoid them to successfully complete the project?
 

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Buy an OEM service manual for every motorcycle you own.
Should be your first purchase. Memorize the book.

Oh and Don't buy anything until you actually need it, unless it is original replacement parts that you don't mind keeping on hand.

... and ride lots, it's a waste of time and money otherwise.
 

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Don't build a bike until you've ridden a bike for a few months at least!!! and know #1 it's for you and #2 how important for any mods to be well thought out and planned.

Based on that you will build a bike that is meant to be ridden or a bike that will be used for a summer then put away/put on craigslist and never used again.
 

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Here first off here is another vote for getting a factory service manual as your first purchase.
If this is to be your first build then my advice is to stay away from anything exotic. It may be a bike you really love but exotic or fairly old will mean parts are hard to find and will cost a lot. Know the history of the make and model you are planning to build. We are building a pair of Suzuki GS1100E's (GSX1100) for Classic Superbike racing the problem with these motorbikes is that the engines were and are used for Drag Racing so it has created both good and bad issues. With these motorbikes there's lots of racy parts still around "BUT ! " not a lot of good used bits and those can come at a premium price. This can also be true of newer big bore Yamaha's and Suzuki's as those engines are being used in both circle track and road racing. If you are going to build from an older Brit bike remember these are often restored so again the parts can be costly. Here remember that BSA was the largest production then Triumph then on down the line. If build quite a few bikes for myself and others and the builds that do not go out of control are the '70's and '80's Big four Japanese manufacturers in the 750 cc and down range. Oh, and shaft drives can often end up as a parts problem also not to mention that there are far fewer places to go for mechanical help.
Also (this is the thing everyone hates by the way) once you have figured out what you are going to build and gotten your shop manual then sit down at the computer and start looking up the parts and labor you are going to need to make the bike yours. Things like wheels, fairings, engine bits like cam shafts. This is your beginning for your budget.
When you find and ride (if it's ride-able ) then sit down and do a time line not really about how long things will take but rather the order in which you plan to do things. As your time line comes together start creating your real budget. If you think you might need something (steering stem bearings for example) include it in your budget. The worst thing that can happen is you put in all this work and in up with 3/4's of a bike and no more money.
Most important take your time learn things and have fun or the whole project is a waste.

cheers to you !
 

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the british stuff isnt necessarily too expensive. theres various l
ways to go other than high priced commandos and bonnevilles. there are still options that can be reasonable and shouldnt be overlooked if one comes up. look at this 3TA



this was a period piece, using the 70s dunstall-style fiberglass.

british stuff is idiosyncratic, but they are easy to work on and parts are generally no longer rare
 

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:geek:Yes indeed what a nice ride. Didn't know that Brit parts were still cheap. Most of my builds have been Japanese or retro-mods based on modern Triumph engines. The one build I've done with older British motorbikes was a Royal Enfld. Parts were tricky.
 

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that one isnt mine, sadly. my only single is a 69 441 victor, which i curse, and which responds by trying to break my leg.

the british stuff went through about 20 years of nothing-being-avaliable, but then people decided to call them classics instead of beaters and now you can find almost anything remanned or some NOS.

theyre a reasonable option now
 

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Now I'm sad I sold my 650 single carb. Had a Bonnie when I was in college and that's the reason I got the single carb one. May not have been as fast top end but sure came away from a stop nicely. Sorry the red baby isn't your's I bet
 

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Specifically, try to avoid the pitfall examples shown here.
103927


You need suspension travel. For comfort, for control, for ground clearance. What this bike looks like sitting still and unloaded is an exaggerated picture of how it will look with your butt in the saddle.

If you ride your creation in anything other than a straight line, avoid clown shoes. They're wiggly, ponderously heavy and do not inspire sportly handling (isn't that the reason we do these things up?).

Also, for comfort and control, go one way, all the way. Either use rearsets and clubman/clipons or superbike bend bars with the stock foot position. You'll have a much larger field of vision with a stockish set of controls and can still look "cool".

The main thing is to focus on making the bike safe to operate and relatively reliable before you start doing other stuff to it. Pick good bones to start with and you'll come out with a better result.
 

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Do not build a cafe bike as your only bike. Have a daily driver so you don't need to rush or take shortcuts.
Get at least 2 of whatever bike you are working on so you have a reference and spares. 3 is better.
Leave the engine and electrics stock until you know what you are doing and have the bike running and riding well.
Do not remove the electric starter. The extra weight won't matter, but trying to kick start a new to you bike with unknown issues will matter immensely.
 
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Do not build a cafe bike as your only bike. Have a daily driver so you don't need to rush or take shortcuts.
Get at least 2 of whatever bike you are working on so you have a reference and spares. 3 is better.
Leave the engine and electrics stock until you know what you are doing and have the bike running and riding well.
Do not remove the electric starter. The extra weight won't matter, but trying to kick start a new to you bike with unknown issues will matter immensely.
Totally agree with all that you have said ............except some folks can not afford two or three motorbike (all depending on their financials and what they are building) this said I would (returning to what TrialsRider has said) I would remind everyone to get a quality shop manual. This and I shall add take LOTS OF PICTURES ! and those from lots of different views. This will be of great help with things that at first glance seem self-explanatory like cable and wire routing.

Again and most important have fun !
 

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If you want to race competitively you need 2 rides. I had to make one working bike out of 2 today so I have something to ride this weekend and replacement parts can take a while to order.
 

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I'm unsure that he is a racer building a racer or a rider building a cafe racer. Kind of two different kettles of fish. Always brilliant to have all sorts of spares but if you are racing it's mandatory. If you are a weekend punter then it's nice. IMHO
 

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If you are just bolting "cafe" parts onto a bike then you don't really need a parts bike, just do the work in small bites so you don't have the bike torn down and unrideable for long periods. But, if you are really building a bike from a barn find, an abandoned project or boxes of parts, then getting a parts bike is a solid part of the build. Anybody need 3 FZ600s? 1 has a title.😁
 
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