Common Misconceptions About Cafe Racers

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Cafe racers are a distinct style of motorcycle that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s in Britain.

Born out of a desire for speed and style, these bikes were often modified from standard production motorcycles, stripped down for lightness, and equipped with high handlebars, long fuel tanks, and rear-mounted footpegs for aggressive riding.

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Today, the cafe racing tradition lives on as a blend of classic beauty and modern performance, with enthusiasts around the world continuing to build and ride these iconic machines.

Despite their popularity, there are still several misconceptions floating around about these unique bikes.

Misconception #1: Cafe runners aren't comfortable and don't work

While it's true that cafe racers are designed with a focus on speed and power over long-distance comfort, modern interpretations and custom builds often include more ergonomic designs.

If the standard seat on your motorcycle is worn or uncomfortable, consider upgrading with aftermarket seat covers to create a personalized throne for your ride. You can choose from a variety of options, including tight curves with ergonomic designs, allowing you to adjust the seat to your liking.

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Customize your bike further by choosing accents like two-tone suede, airflow mesh, or classic diamond-stitched leather for a unique and eye-catching look. Upgrading your bike seat isn't just about comfort—it's also a conversation starter, sparking conversations about the impressive customizations you've made to your favorite ride.

Other comfort-enhancing options also come in the form of custom handlebars and tank holders, allowing you to dial in the most comfortable position for you.

Misconception #2: Cafe Racers Are Only For Experienced Riders

While the design and performance features of cafe racers may appeal to experienced motorcyclists, they are not for those with more years of experience. Most cafe racers are built on small, manageable bikes that are suitable for riders of various skill levels.

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Credit: Autofabrica Yamaha XSR900 Type 11

Cafe racers differ from regular motorcycles mainly in their style, purpose, and design philosophy, so the aggressive riding position and stripped-down nature of cafe racer motorcycles can make them unforgiving for beginners or those who are not used to handling bikes with strong sports characteristics.

Cafe racers also tend to have tuned engines, upgraded suspension, and lightweight components to improve their performance, but even a 1000cc sport bike comes with all those bells and whistles.

Ultimately, it is under proper training, supervision, and practice that allows riders of various experience levels to enjoy and enjoy cafe racers.

Myth #3: Cafe Racers Must Be Old Time

As you begin your journey and choose a bike to build your base on, there are countless motorcycles you can start building with.

The café racer aesthetic dates back to the 1960s, but has evolved as more modern motorcycles come with new technology. As a result, the cafe racer spirit is more about style and performance tuning than the age of the bike.

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If you already have a motorcycle that you are considering customizing, you are actually choosing to embrace its unique challenges and characteristics. The choice to change your bike should come from a deep passion. Loving your motorcycle means that any changes you make will likely improve its appeal and performance in your eyes.

For those who start with a modern classic (like the Triumph Bonneville, Ducati Scrambler, or BMW R9T), you will find that the manufacturer may already provide the necessary parts to easily convert your ride into a cafe racer while other classics like the Honda CB. series is an iconic brand with a storied place in motorcycle history, making them prime candidates for a dream cafe racer project.

If you can find, and can afford, a bike, you can turn anything into the cafe riders of your dreams.

Misconception #4: All Cafe Racers are fast

Speed ​​plays an important role in the imagination and passion of the cafe racer, but it's not just about top speed; it's about the bike's speed, agility, and overall performance. The cafe racer movement began in the 1950s and 1960s among British motorcycle enthusiasts who aimed to create lightweight, streamlined bikes.

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Bikes like the Yamaha XS650, Kawasaki W800, and Honda CB750, all of which are popular builds and come with engines between 650cc and 800cc, are nothing to write home about in particular.

Not all cafe racers are built to be fast. Not only is being vintage not a requirement as we just talked about, many are tailored more for style and personal expression than direct functionality. The café racer scene values ​​looks and rider-bike interaction as much as it does speed.

Myth #5: Cafe runners are dangerous

Any motorcycle can be dangerous if driven carelessly. Cafe racers, like any other type of bike, are as safe as the rider's behavior on the road. Using some recent statistics: Arash Law, a California law firm specializing in personal injury cases, shows that the number of fatal motorcycle accidents increased by 3% from 549 in 2020 to 565 in 2021.

Supersport bikes are the most vulnerable as they are built for racing, while cruisers also do a lot of math due to their popularity on the road. Another possibility is the lack of modern technology as mentioned earlier including systems such as ABS brakes. The redesign of the cafe racer will allow the opportunity to improve your technology to create a better riding experience, whether it is comfort or safety.

However, the design of the bike does not make it more dangerous than other types. Good riding habits like ATGATT riding keep riders safe, so make sure you always ride before hitting the road.

Myth #6: Building a Cafe Racer Is Too Expensive

Although custom builds can be expensive, cafe racer culture stems from modifying existing bikes with what was there. Many enthusiasts still embrace this DIY doctrine, finding more affordable ways to make their cafe racers with personal effort and creativity than throwing money at expensive parts.

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Credit: Renewal Cycles welding together a custom alloy fuel tank

With the right approach, it is possible to build a cafe racer without incurring high costs.

You can also check out our article on the 10 essential ingredients in building a cafe racer, where we walk through and break down the steps on how to approach the design.

Old racing motorcycles are known for their reliability and straightforward maintenance, boasting engines that are easy for owners to service themselves. There are many tutorials online, which provide maintenance advice to keep your store running smoothly.

Don't be the guy who ends up wasting a bunch of parts sitting around gathering dust because you forgot to plan ahead.

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