I'm thinking about purchasing a vintage Honda bike. What I like most are the 70s Cafe Racers. I was wondering if there are any collectors, mechanical engineers, builders out there that can provide me with advice. Anything you can share would be great.
I tried to post this question in the Want to Buy section but I don't have permission due to being a rookie. Thanks in advance for all of your help.
yeah the pictures do it no justice, its by no means perfect, but it sure is a pretty sight to see. I told him he should take it off the trailer and let me take some pics of it with mine but he was in a hurry.
Street: 2009 CBR600RR Metallic black Track: 2007 GSXR 600 black/white/blue
Something that nice would be a shame to cut up into a cafe racer.
So W0lf, my first piece of advice would be to NOT cut up a pristine bike. Fine one that runs, but the cosmetics aren't that nice. You won't be using them anyway. Basically, all you need is a running engine and chassis. Check the forums I linked to - those guys do some really cool stuff.
You shouldn't have to pay over $1000 for a runner. In fact, with some luck, you should be able to find one for $800. And if you are really, really patient, $400. Search craigslist as opposed to ebay.
The whole idea of a cafe racer is to build it yourself. If you buy one already built, then the price will be much higher. And I wouldn't want to buy one already built because there are a lot of hacks out there that don't know what they're doing. Plus, building it is the fun part.
There are a ton of places where you can buy the parts you may need. And there's a lot of guys that make their own, such as fiberglass seats. It will be more appropriate to get into the specific details once you have a bike. For example, it's kind of pointless to give you all the places where I bought my stuff for a Honda if you end up with a Yamaha.
But you should join the dotheton forum I linked to above. That is a cafe racer-specific forum for every make and model. The SOHC4 forum is specific to the old Honda single overhead cam 4-cylinders. Lots of the guys there make cafes out of them, but many others keep them stock. Both of those places will be an invaluable resource for finding parts, or how-tos on making things.
The first step for you is to search those forums and get ideas and have a rough knowledge of what can be done and about how much things cost.
"Part of the adventure of building a motorcycle is having a limited budget. Part of the soul of the bike is having to kind of work for it. And if you just, you know... buy whatever you want and put it all together... yeah, it'll be a cool bike, I guess, when it's done. But if you really have to scrounge around and try and find obsolete parts and stuff, and really have a target budget when you build the bike, and you can make something really nice, I think that's part of the reward of the bike when it's done, and that makes it appealing." Carl Bjorklund
So this is the idea. This fellow at dotheton took this:
and turned it into this:
I've seen a lot of cafe racers since I've been in the scene, but this one really strikes a chord with me. I think it's just the coolest thing. Really take a close look at the two pictures. Look at all the work that went into it. Notice the monoshock?
But there are a ton of nice cafes that guys are making. It takes a lot of time, patience, and resourcefulness, but there's nothing like riding a bike that you've put together yourself from the ground up and that's been on the road longer than you've been alive.
Soichiro, I get your point. However, is this possible with someone like me who have very limited knowledge of bikes? I'm sure these guys work on bikes 24/7. I'll give it a shot though.
Yes, I think it's possible. I mean, unless you're all thumbs. But look at the opportunity in front of you to learn all these new things! You can learn welding, and fabricating, and electrical wiring, and carburetor tuning, and on and on. But ultimately, you're going to have to make the decision whether you think you're up to it or not. I have a friend that couldn't build a wood box to save his life. Nothing wrong with that, but I'd say he probably shouldn't invest too much money in a project like this. You'll have to be the judge. And the place to start is browsing those other forums to see what everyone's doing. If you just want a basic cafe (I'd say like mine, minus the engine work), then yes, that is something almost anyone can do.
When I got mine, it was a stock CB 750. It ran, and it ran fairly well, except for a little oil leakage. The first thing I did was change the look of the bike. The photos in my intro thread are what it looked like before "Phase II". Phase II was engine modifications. Now... I put a lot of money into the engine, and it's not stuff for someone with a limited budget, but I looked at it as an education on auto mechanics. I didn't know the first thing about engines before I tore mine apart. I was handy with the tools because I have a machinist background, but that was it. Phase III will be an alloy CR-style gas tank and cleaning up the area under the seat. Maybe a new seat too. I plan to make the tank and seat myself, but who knows? Plans get modified.
If you take on a project like this, you'll need friends in real life that can help with the work (such as maybe a friend with a welder, etc.), and you'll need friends on the internet that can give advice and explain how to do stuff and where to get parts. Maybe there'll be a guy on a cafe forum that lives near you? You never know...
But yes, it's not going to be easy. But it's a great opportunity to learn. And once it's done, and you've seen the inside of the engine, and you know how to clean the carbs, and set the timing, and you can recognize that your timing's off or you need to adjust the tappets by the sound of the engine... you'll never worry about the bike breaking down because, a. you'll be on top of it way before it ever gets to that point, and b. you'll know how to fix it. But it will take a little time and dedication to get to that point.
I do strongly suggest getting a runner though, so you can ride it right away, and modify it in stages. Maybe dedicate one weekend to swap handlebars, maybe another for the seat, etc. And if you live in a cold-winter state like me, then you'll have the whole winter to work on it.
Well, now here's a big question that I almost neglected...
Do you have a garage? Or some place to work in? Can you bring the bike (or bike parts) into your house or apartment if you don't have a garage? You'll need a place to work.
Also, some of your budget money will go towards tools. So factor that in.
I definitely want to learn and think that I could get it with help with friends that have knowledge about bikes. I do live in a townhome w/o a garage, however, my brother-in-law was generous enough to allow to store and work in his garage...haha. I guess the first thing is to get a bike first then go from it. I pm'ed you the link to the listing to see what you think. Thanks bro.
Great topic, and some really great lookin bikes. When I decided to start riding again my plan was to get an old Beemerand cafe' it out.
I ended up getting a late model bike only because I decided I didn't need another project vehicle. My K5 Blazer is enough.
A friend of mine just picked up a late 70's Honda for 500. it is reAlly nice. I'll post a pic up soon.
This thread reall makes me want to do one too.
Ha ha! :) I'll try to find more pics of some sexy cafes.
By the way, all those bikes I pictured are from members of the SOHC4 forum. They belong to (starting from the video): squirely, godfrey, freezingprocess, traveler, paulages, gorms, shortround, and funjimmy. At least that's their forum names. :) The SOHC4 forum is specifically for the Honda Fours, and being that mine is a Honda Four, that's why I'm familiar with them.
And thanks for the compliment JMO. If you want to own one someday, it'll actually cost much less than your 600rr. ;) The trick is to find a beat up runner and build it yourself. And make it exactly the way you want it!
This was taken outside the Barber Motor sports museum in Birmingham, AL. That is a place to go for some ideas to see what has been on vintage bikes right up through today's modern bikes. I have some pics from that place one time when i was down that way on business.
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