Doing the ton -- that’s 100mph -- is, of course, a goal. But it’s not the only goal. Becoming a beautiful cafe racer is something that even tiny displacement bikes can aspire to do. Take a look around the hippest neighborhoods across the country and you'll see motorcycles that look like something out of an old Steve McQueen movie—retro, minimalist, and tough. These bikes revive the 1960s café-racer look made popular when European kids stripped down their small-displacement bikes to zip from one café hangout to another. Take a look at the top 10 cafe racers.
10Honda CB750 by Wrench King
As with most things it's the small touches on this Honda that really make the difference. The polished top clamp, custom grips that match the seat leather, hugger style number plate holder and polished cylinder heads add a level of finish that demonstrate the Wrench Kings high standards.
Other than that Cool Firestone tires, RFID tag wireless key, Custom seat with oil reservoir by Marcel van der Stelt,hidden blinkers in front, modern, electronic Daytona speedo, stylish tail lights with integrated brake lights and blinkers, overhauled engine, rear shocks are the major specs.
9Honda CB 550 by Little Horse Cycles
Anthony Scott shoots and writes about bikes for a living. And with help from Little Horse Cycles of Portland, Oregon, he’s built a pert CB550 that oozes charm. The engine’s been taken back to factory spec and there’s a new rear frame, but it’s the bodywork that catches the eye. The Benelli Mojave tank is a mainstay of modern builders, and it’s not hard to see why. The swing arm was taken out and rebuilt using NOS parts, and although the brass bushings are great, you can’t go wrong building a swing arm back to original spec.
This ensured that a wandering rear wheel wouldn’t be a problem for this racer. To lower it closer to the ground, the bike also received a fork drop of 1.5 inches.
8Kawasaki Vulcan S by Oficina MRS
The Kawasaki Vulcan S by MRS Oficina, a name that keeps its heritage intact, is more than looks. It is a quite capable street bike and racer as well. The Vulcan engine remains a 650cc, which has proven to be quite capable. Soares went custom with his own design for the exhaust system, making it full stainless. He also modified the swingarm, covered the original bar mounts with alloy blanking plugs.
Soares lowered the forks about 20mm by shortening the clamps and adding stiffer springs, which reportedly makes for a more balanced and lively ride compared to the comfy feel intended for the original cruiser. He also paid homage to Kawasaki by keeping the bike green, but he went with a really cool looking metallic green. It looks really sharp and Kawasaki would be smart to incorporate this coloring into its regular line up.
7Honda CX 500 by Wena Customs
Dubbed, “The Twister” this is the first custom bike from builders Przemek and Andrez. After being inspired by CX500s from overseas, they embarked on their own take, after a history of riding trials and working on the the high-performance side of motorcycling. The largest impact is from the hand-formed tail section and mono shock conversion. This significantly slims the profile of the bike, and takes a serious amount of fugly away.
From there, everything was disassembled, sandblasted, and refinished. As for the go, the engine received minor tune-up work and cone air filters, along with that neatly integrated exhaust. Finally, clip-ons, a new gauge cluster, headlight with internal indicators, levers, mirrors, and rearsets were added to modernize the look from its dour beginnings.
6Honda CB 750 by Cognito Moto
this 1974 Honda CB750 proves nothing serves a weekend biker as well as a machine that will carve the canyons, hammer in a straight line, look the goods parked up and importantly starts with the first hit of the button. With the front end sorted the twin shock rear had to be brought into the 21st century as well and these are no ordinary upgrade. The Fox Podium RC1’s are velocity-sensitive, fully adjustable bolt-on shocks that are specifically tuned for street and café racers.
They also feature low speed compression adjustability that allows the rider to tailor the suspension for comfort and performance, meaning no compromises need be made between a day on the track or a commute through the traffic. With such a mighty suspension upgrade braking is drastically improved with the Gixxer’s 310 mm twin discs and Tokico four piston calipers. A set of custom rearsets not only look brilliant but stomping on the neatly knurled right pedal activates the refurbished rear brake for some sideways corner entry.
5Honda CX 500 by Classic Way Atelier
It is not an easy one but not so difficult either. It looks clean, exclusive and simple. The front end came from a suzuki GSXR including the wheel and breaks. The rear also makes justice to the rest.
A simple tubular structure with a perfect rounded seat cowl. Also there is a subtle thing that makes a huge difference in this model - The upside down forks. It makes everythign look more proportional.
4Honda CB 550 sl by Unikat Motoworks & Studio
A Japanese motorcycle that looks even more British with an air cooled inline 4 cylinder, SOHC, 8 valves and a maxm power of 50 HP (36.7 kW) - 8500 rpm.
The Black and grey combination with a touch of red seat and handle reminds you of the Austin Healey. The perfect leather for the custom seat arrived from an old Mercedes 300 sl Gullwing.
3Royal Enfield Continental GT by Zeus Custom
The Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 named the “Zeno Racer” is the perfect example of what a cafe racer should be. This elegant model comes with a maximum Power of 29.1 bhp @ 5100 rpm. Using the stock frame, Zeus built a one off subframe to hold the custom seat. Furthermore they machined a one off custom tail light to complete the back end. In addition to the custom subframe, a new swingarm was designed.
The new swingarm is designed to mount the Ohlins rear shock in a unique position and features a trellis look. A set of aftermarket clip ons were added while keeping the traditional look. The engine features polished cases and a bunch of custom cnc machined goodies. In addition to looking good, a set of pod filters were fitted to the carbs to help the engine breathe. Additionally, the exhaust is wrapped in titanium exhaust wrap and finished off with a set of chrome shorty cone mufflers.
2BMW R nine By Taiwan's Rough Crafts
Despite the ferocious look, the R nineT is relatively “stock” underneath the aggressive exterior. Firstly, it’s worth looking at the bike as an overall package, from the retro styled gas tank and 50s-esque rubber single seat, to the R90S inspired front fairing.
The stock wheels were scrapped and replaced with one off, billet CNC, Rough Crafts wheels that give a nod to BMW’s iconic “Snowflake” rims. The Brembo brake assembly also features custom made 330mm rotors, as well as Beringer controls. Beringer also supplied the handlebar controls, but MotoGadget provided the grips, bar end indicators, and speedo.
1Honda CX 500 by Auto Fabrica
when Auto Fabrica decided to tune-up an old Honda CX500, they were pleasantly surprised with the smooth lines the CX500 featured once it was stripped down to the frame. In fact, a simple cleaning was all it needed before figuring out complementary bodywork. For Auto Fabrica, a hand-beaten aluminum tank added a streamlined appearance to the bike, flowing naturally into its resting place. The front is a CB450 19-inch unit, and the rear’s a 16-inch rim fit to a Honda hub. The engine was rebuilt with gas flowed heads for an extra boost and the carbs reconditioned and rejetted to run foam filters.
The exhaust system was also hand bent from 316 stainless steel. Any unnecessary element on the CX500 was smoothened out in one way or another to give the final design an almost liquid appearance. It’s now featured in an exhibition in Geneva that honors mechanical art, hosted by watchmaker MB&F.