BikeExif BMW cafe racer BMW motorcycles BMW R65 cafe racer Custom Motorcycles Other Motorcycle Blogs

The Keeper: Gasoline builds a BMW R series for Cam Elkins

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
You may not know the name Cam Elkins, but there’s a good chance you’re familiar with his work. He’s the man behind the brilliant short films called Stories of Bike, which explore the relationships between custom motorcycles and their owners.

After several years filming other people’s bikes, Cam decided it was time to get a custom of his own. He selected a 1986 BMW R65.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
“I’ve always loved boxer engines,” he tells us. “I think they’re reminiscent of old WW2 airplanes, which had such a sleek but utilitarian look to them.”

“And when I first got into the cafe racer scene, it was the custom R80s and R65s that tended to catch my eye. So in short, it’s been a dream for a long time.”

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
The R65 is a wise choice for a custom from the R series. It’s light, the handling is quick, and steering stability is good—thanks to a beefy upper triple clamp. So it’s the perfect airhead for twisty roads, especially if it’s a post-‘85 model with the monoshock configuration.

Cam got to know Jason Leppa and technician Sean Taylor at Gasoline while filming a promo video for their custom Harley Sportster, the A-15. So when he’d saved up enough to buy the R65 and put some money toward customizing, he knew whom to call.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
“I knew Gasoline would do a great job, having seen their custom work up close.” So Cam delivered the BMW to Gasoline’s workshop in south Sydney, Australia. And as a style guide, he pointed them towards a super-clean R80 from the Spanish shop ROA.

“The brief was to build a forever bike,” says Gasoline’s Jason Leppa. “One with timeless style and clean lines, with modern controls and handling.”

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
Gasoline have absolutely nailed that brief, and delivered one of the cleanest looking R-series BMWs we’ve seen. There’s not a line out of place, or a sliver of pipewrap—and even the 18-inch cast alloy wheels look good.

To counter the age of the R65, Gasoline started by dismantling the original engine and gearbox. They vapor blasted and rebuilt the drivetrain with all new bearings, seals and gaskets, and then restored and powder coated the final drive unit.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
The carbs were overhauled too, and new jets installed to match the improved breathing: there’s a DNA filter upstream, and a custom-made 2-into-2 stainless exhaust system, with a balance pipe between the cylinders.

The get the stance right, the front suspension has been lowered 40mm and the rear raised 50mm, with the help of a new shock.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
There’s a new top clamp from Retrofit Collective, which fits neatly with a headlight bowl mount and fork brace from TinWorks.

Purpose Built Moto supplied the small profile headlight (and control unit) to complete the modern retro aesthetic.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
Gasoline added clip-on bars, with Beringer hand controls and switch blocks (and brake calipers). Motogadget supplied the speedometer, grips and m.view mirrors—which have a polished aluminum rather than glass surface.

And there’s more German engineering in the shape of discreet Kellermann brake and signal lights.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
It’s all hooked up to a new wiring loom and, at Cam’s request, an electromagnetic cruise control device connected to a custom throttle tube.

It’s one of those almost impossibly clean builds, with paint to match—a deep royal blue and a subtle matte grey, colors with a clear link to BMW’s history.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
But as we all know, simplicity can be deceptive. “The style looks easy to achieve, but the build process wasn’t!” Jason admits. “Nearly all the modern components had to be modified to fit, and took longer than expected to source.”

The effort was worth it, and reflected in the name of the bike: The Keeper. “It preserves its 1980s history, but will be ridden well into the future,” says Jason.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
Cam Elkins now has a bike that can hold its own against all the beautiful machines that pass in front of his camera. And if you’re lucky enough to be going to the fabulous Machine Show in Braidwood, Australia this weekend, you can see it in the metal.

The rest of us will have to drool over this (very fine) photoset instead.

Gasoline | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Rob Hamilton

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline

BikeExif cafe racer Custom Motorcycles Motorcycle sidecar Other Motorcycle Blogs Triumph cafe racer Triumph motorcycles Triumph Scrambler

A Triumph sidecar built to deliver cold brew coffee

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
We love sidecars, but they’re usually sedate rather than sporty. And a classic café racer with a chair? That’s even more rare.

So we love the look of this most unusual combination from sunny Queensland in Australia. The ‘Cold Brew Cafe Racer’ comes from Tom Gilroy of Purpose Built Moto, and it’s built around a Triumph Scrambler.

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise

The project started like many others: A couple of blokes meeting up for a beer at their local haunt. Tom’s favorite spot is the iconic Sandbar restaurant in Surfers Paradise, on the famed Gold Coast stretch of Queensland.

“I rolled up on my GS550 to see my mates Jake and Rich, who threw an idea my way,” Tom recalls. Jake’s family own the Sandbar, and the idea was to build a sidecar rig to deliver Vittoria Cold Brew Coffee to the coastal community.

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
A deal was done: Tom would build the rig as a creative collaboration with the coffee company and the restaurant. And all agreed that the bike had to perform with and without the sidecar.

“When it’s not delivering a morning boost to Gold Coast residents out walking their trophy dogs, it has to handle a fast-paced Sunday afternoon run over the mountains!” says Tom.

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
The donor was a 2009 Triumph Scrambler, with the air cooled 865cc parallel twin—and a 270-degree firing interval for that famous exhaust note. A Cozy sidecar would be attached, mimicking the style of the vintage Steib 350 and 500 series sidecars.

“I was glad to do something different with a Triumph,” says Tom. “They’re such a staple for custom builders—and with a sea of bolt-on parts available, it’s easy to blend into the crowd.”

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
Tom wanted a timeless look that never grows old: “A bit like a vintage Rolex.” While he set to work on the bike, he sent the sidecar body to a friend for a cleanup.

The brakes and suspension were top of the to-do list. Tom’s given the Scrambler hefty 54mm polished USD forks and twin disc brakes from a Triumph Tiger, and a custom triple clamp. He’s also lowered the forks 40mm and rebuilt them to suit the ride height with the sidecar attached.

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
The rear suspension was treated to a set of all new K-Tech Bullit shocks, a spring-less system that offers an incredible ride. (“I was a little apprehensive on this one but the product over-delivered and presents a really tidy finish.”)

New wheels were the next big ticket item: specially machined alloy soft lip rims, 17” x 3.5” at the front and 17” x 5.50” at the back, laced up to the existing hubs. The massive rear wheel was wrapped in Shinko Stealth 003 rubber and required sprocket offsets to fit.

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
Up top, Tom’s built a short, hooped tail with a flowing cowl and integrated lighting. And since the color scheme was to be white with metallic highlights, he decided to integrate a few touches of brass into the design. “But you have to be careful,” he acknowledges. “It’s easy to go overboard with such details.”

Look closely at the tank, and you’ll notice a subtle raised edge following the top line. “I’ve seen a lot of chopper builders using round or flat bar to add a 3D aspect to the tank design,” Tom explains. “I like the concept, so I’ve adapted it to this café racer design with 6mm solid brass rod, hand-shaped and welded to the tank and tail sections.”

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
TIG welding brass to mild steel wasn’t the easiest feat, but after a few runs and stuff-ups, Tom got the hang of it. And then he added other brass details like custom-turned EFI choke and idle controls, EFI caps and a billet brass fuel cap.

The final piece to finish off the silhouette was the front cowl, which is a 2017 Thruxton piece—modified to fit the front end, and housing custom PBM Speedhut gauges. Clip on bars are finished with new levers and PBM’s own minimalist button switches. The Tarrozzi rearsets are a very neat upgrade too, because Tom has repositioned the master directly above the right foot brake, eliminating the need for a clunky linkage.

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
Tom has been dabbling in building exhaust headers, so he was determined to craft one for the Triumph in-house. He’s used a single sided 2-1 design with the collector placed just before the muffler—so the headers could frame the triangular stator covers. “When you hear it fire up [in the video below] you’ll see why we all love it so much!” says Tom.

Marios at DNA Performance Filters made a one-off set of custom brass filters, laser etched with a PBM logo. “Paired with the color-matched EFI body, brass caps and polished bowl (albeit a fake one) they look incredible. Most importantly, when on the tuning bench at Dynomite Moto they opened this torquey Triumph motor nicely.”

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
Tom gave the Triumph to his friend Jake for a shakedown run, minus the chair, on the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. “While he was out testing the bike, I was in the shop tinkering away on the sidecar.”

Tom pushed the sidecar opening back 400mm to achieve a bullet shape, and braced and hinged the body. This allowed room for a custom-built cooler to serve the bottles of cold brew.

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
He also trimmed down the fender and installed new mounts, so the fender now moves with the wheel and hugs it tightly for a cleaner look. Extra lighting went in: a PBM 4.5“ LED headlight and a twin stack of prototype PBM Orbit Mini LED brake lights at the back.

New brass rods shaped onto the sidecar body match the highlights on the bike, and there’s new upholstery inside—coffee brown leather and stitching.

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
The final piece of the puzzle was the intricate sidecar alignment. “Having read through a few manuals on geometry and functionality, I figured I needed some advice from those who had done it before me,” Tom admits.

“The answer was to set up some straight edges and calculate three key running factors—the toe-in, lean-out and axle lead. It took me a few rounds of fine-tuning.”

Triumph sidecar by Purpose Built Moto of Surfers Paradise
Tom reckons that riding the Triumph without the sidecar is an equally pleasurable experience, thanks to the suspension mods, dyno tuning and bellowing 2-1 exhaust.

“Due to the quite weighty sidecar mounts, the bike alone isn’t the nimblest performer—but you can have the time of your life leaning into some nice mountain corners, with power on tap at a slight twist of the wrist.”

Sounds like the best of both worlds to us. We’ll drink to that.

Purpose Built Moto | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Nathan Duff | Video by Electric Bubble

BikeExif Blacktrack Motors cafe racer Custom Motorcycles Harley cafe racer Harley Softail Other Motorcycle Blogs

Spirit of the XCLR: A Fat Bob custom from Blacktrack

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom by Blacktrack Motors
Blacktrack Motors have got cafe racer design down to a fine art. Their first build was one of the sharpest Honda CX500 cafes we’ve ever featured, and they followed it up with a pixel perfect custom Thruxton.

Now they’ve tackled their most ambitious project yet, the BT-03—a cafe racer based on the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 FXFBS.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom by Blacktrack Motors
The Fat Bob 114 is one of the most fun bikes in Harley’s range. Its 114 ci power plant generates 155 Nm of torque, and handling from the new generation Softail frame is actually pretty respectable. But its power cruiser stance is a far cry from that quintessential cafe racer fly line.

Despite this, it was exactly what Blacktrack founder and designer, Sacha Lakic, was looking for. And that was partly because of the bike he was looking to for inspiration.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom by Blacktrack Motors
“The inception of the BT-03 style study came from a bike that marked my childhood,” he explains. “The Harley-Davidson XLCR.”

“Produced between 1977 and 1979, it was the only cafe racer in the history of Harley-Davidson, with only 3,133 units made. I was spellbound every time I saw one on the streets of Paris.”

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom by Blacktrack Motors
Blacktrack didn’t set out to replicate the XLCR bolt for bolt, but rather to create a contemporary interpretation of it. Their mission was also to shave off weight, improve performance, and make the Fat Bob as nimble as possible.

To do so, they only really kept the Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight motor, transmission and frame. Everything else was either upgraded, or replaced by purpose-built Blacktrack components.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom by Blacktrack Motors
There’s a new composite nose fairing, fuel tank and tail section, all hinting at the original XLCR’s elongated and squared-off bodywork. Blacktrack also included a small front fender, and a cover plate for the rear shock.

But the real magic’s happening under the seat. To get the BT-03’s lines just right without altering the OEM frame, Blacktrack designed a three piece aluminum subframe that bolts to existing mounting points. Bordering on mechanical art, it gets the job done without detracting from the overall design.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom by Blacktrack Motors
Other custom aluminum bits include a new set of triple trees, and rear set foot controls. Blacktrack designed all the parts in-house, then had them CNC-machined by their technical partner.

To tweak the Harley’s stance—and improve handling—Blacktrack installed Öhlins suspension at both ends. The wheels are 17” Dymag aluminum units, wrapped in grippy Michelin Power RS rubber. And the brakes have been upgraded to a full Beringer setup.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom by Blacktrack Motors
The control area features ABM clip-ons, Rizoma grips and Beringer controls, and the lights at both ends are from Highsider. Blacktrack kept the stock Fat Bob speedo—but relocated it from on top of the fuel tank, to behind the fairing.

Like most modern bikes, the Fat Bob won’t run without the OEM speedo, but Sacha had intended to use it from the word go anyway, since he liked the design. The BT-03’s simplified layout meant that a fair amount of electronic components had to be tucked away.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom by Blacktrack Motors
Blacktrack gave the motor a slight performance hop too. There’s a Screamin’ Eagle air filter, and a pair of Jekill & Hyde mufflers mounted on custom stainless steel headers. Along with a new fuel map, they’re good for 105 hp and 163 Nm.

Not only does the BT-03 now run and handle better, but it’s a whole lot lighter too. The parts that went on are forty percent lighter than the parts that came off, bringing the overall weight down by sixteen percent, to 248 kg dry. And the lean angle’s been improved too.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom by Blacktrack Motors
Black and silver liveries with a hint of red are Blacktrack’s signature, but the BT-03 kicks things up a notch. The grey here is based on Audi’s ‘Nardo Grey,’ but altered with a drop of blue in the mix. It’s capped off with a classy leather seat cover.

Blacktrack Motors doesn’t just build one-offs; their bikes are offered up in limited production runs. And the BT-03’s run is going to be extremely limited, with only four slots open. And each order takes a year to fulfill.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom by Blacktrack Motors
Blacktrack Motors’ boldness has paid off. The BT-03 has the look of a purpose-built cafe racer and just enough of the XLCR’s DNA.

If your pocketbook was big enough, would you?

Blacktrack Motors | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Sebastien Nunes
Sacha Lakic and his Harley-Davidson Fat Bob custom

Blacktrack Motors would like to thank Sacha Lakic Design, Acor, Allio Group, Beringer, Dymag, Gilles Tooling, HEL Performance, Jekill & Hyde, Michelin, Öhlins and SQP Motors.

BikeExif cafe racer Custom Motorcycles Ducati Ducati cafe racer Ducati Scrambler Other Motorcycle Blogs

Jigsaw pieces together a Scrambler Ducati custom

Scrambler Ducati custom by the Greek workshop Jigsaw
We reckon the Scrambler Ducati is one of the best-looking factory bikes around. And the healthy sales figures bear that out.

That makes it slightly tricky to modify. But the Greek shop Jigsaw Customs has just done a sterling job with a major bodywork swap and a select few smart mechanical mods.

Scrambler Ducati custom by the Greek workshop Jigsaw
Jigsaw is a family-run business just outside Athens, and part of a Yamaha dealership. But in the cooler winter months, they focus on restoring and customizing motorcycles.

This commission came from the folks at the local Ducati distributor, who were impressed by the XSR700 tracker that Jigsaw created a couple of years ago for the Yamaha Yard Built program. Randy Mamola took it for a ride, and it headlined the Yamaha stand at EICMA.

Scrambler Ducati custom by the Greek workshop Jigsaw
“Ducati asked for a project based on the Scrambler 800,” says shop boss Petros Chatzirodelis. “They left it up to us to decide what we wanted to build.”

Jigsaw bikes are deceptively simple: easy on the eye, and with flowing shapes. “Working on an Italian motorcycle is always difficult, though,” says Petros.

Scrambler Ducati custom by the Greek workshop Jigsaw
“Italians have design and style in their blood. And the Scrambler is already a naked motorcycle, with everything hidden under the fuel tank.”

Jigsaw’s signature is smooth monocoque bodywork. So they started by stripping all the factory plastics off the Scrambler—and the wheels too. Using a 3D design program, they created the curves for a sleek one-piece fiberglass body. A foam buck was cut using a CNC machine for testing and refinement.

Scrambler Ducati custom by the Greek workshop Jigsaw
Once Petros was certain it looked and fitted correctly, he cut a wooden mold and used that to lay down the fiberglass. The clever LED taillights are bent Plexiglas tubes inside silicone tubes, and look as good as a factory design.

Jigsaw have also dropped the front wheel down a size to 17 inches, to match the rear hoop. They’ve used a D.I.D. rim, and also installed a custom-made upper triple clamp, plus clip-on bars from the German specialist ABM.

Scrambler Ducati custom by the Greek workshop Jigsaw
ABM also supplied the mounts for a KOSO headlight and the brake levers, but Motogadget supplied the front turn front signals, grips and bar-end mirrors.

The Scrambler’s ECU is unusually difficult to interface with new controls, so Jigsaw have fitted the stock switches to the clip-ons. They have, however, hidden the ignition key switch on the frame.

Scrambler Ducati custom by the Greek workshop Jigsaw
Petros and his crew have also fabricated a new exhaust system, with simpler lines than the factory system, and terminated it with an HP Corse slip-on muffler—much smaller than the large stock unit.

It’s attached via a custom mount, and the footpegs and foot controls are custom too.

Scrambler Ducati custom by the Greek workshop Jigsaw
The whole effect is cool and understated, paring down the Scrambler’s already simple aesthetics to the barest minimum.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, that’s snow in Greece. The Mediterranean country was hit with record low temperatures last month, blanketing even the Acropolis with snow. The perfect backdrop for an ice-cool Ducati.

Jigsaw Customs | Facebook | Instagram | Photos by Xristos Kapnisis

Scrambler Ducati custom by the Greek workshop Jigsaw

cafe racer Gear Reviews Honda Honda GB Motorcycle News neo classic Other Motorcycle Blogs Web Bike World

Will Honda Build a Modern Cafe Racer, Too?

Sticking With the Trends

We just reported on the fact that Suzuki filed a patent for a cafe racer, and now it seems that Honda could be working on a similar motorcycle. According to the Japanese publication Young Machine, Honda will consider bringing back the GB series of bikes in the form of a modern cafe racer. 

As RideApart notes, the GB bikes were Japan’s attempt at they’re own British bikes. GB basically equals Great Britan, get it? Well, we got a few of those bikes here in North America, but they didn’t last. Now it seems Honda may bring them back thanks to the interest in cafe racer style motorcycles.

The rumor is that it would be a 1,000cc motorcycle and fit into the Neo Classic lineup Honda has going on right now. I think it would be a nice addition.

Seeing as how Young Machine speculates on several other models, it’s unclear if this rumor has any serious validity to it. However, it would make sense. Modern cafe racers are a hot commodity in the motorcycle industry right now and Honda might as well ride that wave. Plus, who wouldn’t want a retro-styled 1,000cc cafe racer from Honda?

It’s would be a move that kind of goes along with Honda’s most recent retro-styled bikes like the Super Cub and the Monkey. The only difference is that this would be a legit motorcycle instead of a small displacement machine. Would it be perfect? Likely not, but neither are any cafe racers if you’ve ever ridden one, new or old. 

The post Will Honda Build a Modern Cafe Racer, Too? appeared first on Web Bike World.

cafe racer Gear Reviews Motorcycle News Other Motorcycle Blogs patent suzuki Suzuki Suzuki patent Web Bike World

Is a Retro Suzuki Cafe Racer Coming?

Patent Suggests Maybe

Suzuki recently filed a patent application for a new cafe racer bike that would be a nice addition to its lineup. The bike, if built, would likely fit in with some of the other retro-styled motorcycles, including the VanVan 200 and the TU250X. Although, it appears that this bike would have higher displacement than either of those bikes.

This new cafe racer would be a welcomed addition to the Suzuki Cycles lineup. The two bikes mentioned above are excellent but a little on the small side. The SV650X is a fine motorcycle, but we’re ready for something different. This cafe racer could be it. 

Suzuki Cafe Racer Patent
Image from Free Patents Online

As RideApart points out, the patent applications are no indication that this will be built, so its a bit of a guessing game as to what exactly Suzuki will use here. There’s a unique trellis frame, though Suzuki is no stranger to the design. There’s a long gas tank with cut-outs for your knees that give the bike a very cafe racer style, and then there’s the shorty seat that’s popular for that style bike right now. 

In the second drawing, the rear suspension and engine appear in a close-up. The bike gets a single shock in the rear around a hydraulic snubber. That suspension is way up close to the engine packaged tightly with the base subframe. The swingarm has a triangular shape to it. 

Overall, there appears to be a lot new here. Whether or not it will come together in the fashion it’s currently shown has yet to be determined, but it’s exciting nonetheless. I’m ready for Suzuki to join the modern cafe racer craze. 

The post Is a Retro Suzuki Cafe Racer Coming? appeared first on Web Bike World.

BikeExif Bobber Motorcycles cafe racer Motorcycle Videos Other Motorcycle Blogs

Finally: The definitive movie about the custom moto scene

Oil In The Blood: the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene
We’re surprised it’s taken so long. The ‘alt moto’ movement has been on fire for at least a decade, but it’s never made the jump onto the big screen.

Oil In The Blood is the first film to catalog the builders, riders and artists who are driving the scene forward. It’s directed by Gareth Maxwell Roberts, a founding member of the Bike Shed club in London and the possessor of an unfeasibly large Rolodex.

Oil In The Blood: the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene
Gareth knows everybody in the business—and the cast list feels like a Who’s Who of the 21st century custom world.

The film includes many of the world’s top builders, such as Ian Barry of Falcon, Max Hazan, Craig Rodsmith, Walt Siegl, Shinya Kimura, and Winston Yeh of Rough Crafts. Plus designers like Ola Stenegärd of Indian and Kurt Walter of Icon Motosports, and commentators like Paul ‘The Vintagent’ d’Orléans and yours truly.

On a personal note: I’ve been following the progress of Oil In The Blood for three years now. While I was on a trip to England for the Triumph Bonneville launch, Gareth coerced me into an interview lasting several hours.

It was in the cozy, atmospheric Super Brick workshop, in a courtyard just off Brick Lane in East London. And last year, during yet another trip to the mother country, we covered even more ground in a second interview.

Gareth Maxwell Roberts, direct of Oil In The Blood—the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle scene
So now it’s time to flip the tables and fire some questions back at Gareth Roberts himself (above). We grabbed him few hours after the film premiered at The One Moto Show in Portland.

Bike EXIF How did you get the idea for Oil In The Blood?

Gareth Roberts I started planning in late 2014. I was involved in the early years when the new wave custom scene was small and niche, and I witnessed it grow into a global phenomenon.

I saw it expand and gestate, fuelled by a strange and intoxicating mixture—nostalgic analog values, and contemporary digital communications. I felt we were living through a seismic shift in motorcycle culture, and that it needed to be documented.

I wanted it to be an all-encompassing examination and a celebration; a story told by the very people at the heart of it.

Oil In The Blood: the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene
How many interviews did you conduct, in how many countries? Nearly three hundred interviews, in fourteen countries.

Aside from you, who were the people who made this film happen? Producer Lucy Selwood, production manager Sophie Haines, cinematographers Josh Allen, Matt Broad and Andrew David Watson, and sound recordist Nick Walker.

Oil In The Blood: the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene
Who was your favorite interviewee? Hugh Mackie of Sixth Street Specials. He’s been building bikes since the early eighties and racing flat track since the early nineties. Indian Larry, Paul Cox, Keino Sasaki have all worked for him. He’s seen it all, and speaks with a beguiling mix of humorous cynicism and eternal optimism. He epitomizes the soul of building motorcycles.

What were the high points during the filming? Being in the Sahara with El Solitario. On a frozen Wisconsin river filming Ryan Stephen of Freestyle Supermoto and his crew ice racing. Filming at Mama Tried, riding bikes with Gerald Harrison, and generally just hanging out with ‘Majik Mike’ Rabidau.

Oil In The Blood: the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene
And the low points? Running out of finance, and having to accept the fact that filming certain builders and events were beyond of our resources.

Which builders do you admire the most? David Borras of El Solitario, Max Hazan, Ian Barry of Falcon, Cristian Sosa of Sosa Metalworks. Kenny Cummings of NYC Norton, and Calum Pryce-Tidd of deBolex Engineering.

Oil In The Blood: the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene
What’s your view on the future of custom bike building? The culture has matured. It’s no longer a ’new genre.’ The mainstream motorcycle industry staked a claim, and there’s been a split between those who embrace it and those who reject it.

There’s certainly been a bedding-in process; most of those who have a stake in it have really burrowed into their own niches, both in work practice and style. With new technologies—electric and hydrogen fuel cells—there are new stimuli and challenges for those who embrace it.

Those who don’t will delve deeper into vintage.

Jon Befeky, EV Business Planning Manager at Harley-Davidson
What is your personal motorcycling background? I’ve been fascinated by bikes for as long as I can remember. The first bike I can recall was a Norton Commando from when I was around six or seven years old.

I started riding bikes when I was 14, on bikes borrowed from older friends and older brothers. When I was 16, having saved up from part time jobs, I bought a 1972 Vespa 50 Special. I was a Mod and loved old scooters.

I subsequently had a string of pretty and very unreliable vintage scoots, culminating in the earliest bike I’ve ever owned, a 1957 Lambretta LD150. I then switched to two-stroke hooligan machines: a Yamaha RD250LC and a Suzuki PE250.

Oil In The Blood: the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene
The nineties saw me on superbikes, the climax being a Ducati 916SP. I became something of a track day warrior, and in 1999 I took the plunge and started racing two-stroke 125 GPs, which are single purpose race bikes, on a Honda RS125 at club and national level.

After couple of seasons on the most fun bike I’ve ridden, I went up a class to a RS250, the most frightening bike I’ve ridden. After a thoroughly unremarkable and hugely enjoyable three seasons of going very fast but not fast enough, and crashing more times than my bank balance allowed, I hung up my leathers.

Oil In The Blood: the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene
The transition from sports/race bikes, to custom bikes, was really a desire to slow down a bit: I felt I had ridden my luck on very fast bikes, and got away with it.

After I finished racing, I didn’t have a bike for eighteen months, realized that wasn’t going to work, so I got a Husqvarna SM610 to ride about on. Not exactly a sedate commuter bike, it was certainly slower top end!

Ducati MH900e cafe racer by Stradafab and Red Max Speed Shop
I became interested in custom bikes when I saw a vintage Honda race bike on a trailer in a service station, and started looking online for one to convert to a road legal bike. Then I came across the very early Spirit of The Seventies website, and it took hold from there.

What bikes are in your garage at the moment? A 1973 Norton Commando 850 Special, a 1979 Triumph T140 chop, a 2015 Yamaha XJR1300 custom by deBolex, the 2010 Ducati MH900 Superlite (above), a 1976 Bultaco Astro and a 1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport.

Where can people see Oil In The Blood once it’s finished the rounds of the shows? We will have a commercial release later this year, on streaming and download-to-keep platforms, and possibly a limited theatrical release.

Chris Hunter of Bike EXIF, interviewed for Oil In The Blood—the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene
The response to Oil In The Blood after the showing at The One Moto Show has been phenomenal. If you’re in the US, catch it next at Mama Tried, then at Chicago’s Logan Theatre on February 21.

On April 5 it’ll be shown at the Petersen Museum in LA (in conjunction with The Vintagent), with more dates to be announced soon. If you’re heading to a moto show or festival in spring or summer, keep your eyes peeled for a showing.

We think you’ll like it.

Oil In The Blood: the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene

Oil In The Blood: the definitive movie about the custom motorcycle and cafe racer scene

BikeExif cafe racer Custom Motorcycles Kawasaki motorcycles Other Motorcycle Blogs

The Nineties are calling: November’s Kawasaki Zephyr 750

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
The Kawasaki Zephyr 750 is one of those under-the-radar bikes that deserves a higher profile. It played a big part in kickstarting the retro boom in Europe in the 90s, but mysteriously fell flat in the USA—despite outclassing the Honda CB750 Nighthawk on almost every front.

“The stable, no-surprises Zephyr works like a standard is supposed to,” said Cycle World at the time. “We can’t imagine why this bike isn’t selling.”

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
The Zephyr 750 has plenty of fans amongst riders in the UK, and two of those fans are Linda and Paul of November Customs. They’re based in a small town in the northeast of England, and run the business out of a tiny wooden shed in their back yard. It’s slightly smaller than a shipping container.

“We’ve got a Bridgeport miller in there, a hydraulic bike bench, a small lathe, MIG and TIG welders, and tools for sheet metal work,” says Paul. “The bed of the miller also acts as a work bench for pipe benders, sheet rollers and such like!”

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
Despite the cramped surroundings, business is thriving. Linda runs the company, while Paul chips in after-hours. This 1991 Zephyr cafe racer is Linda’s personal ride—designed and built to suit her excellent taste.

Like most November builds, the Kawasaki arrived as a partly finished project bike with low mileage. And the first change, surprisingly, was to a tubular Honda CB900 swingarm, to suit the frame better. The shocks are YSS: “We went for the ones without the piggy back reservoir, for a more simple look,” says Paul.

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
Then a complete Ducati 848 front end was grafted on, using a Ducati yokes, along with clip-ons from a Ducati 748. But the original Zephyr wheels then looked wrong at this point, so November tracked down a set of nearly new Triumph Thruxton 1200 rims.

New Brembo discs were fitted—the front discs being from a Triumph 675, which bolted straight on. Aprilia calipers were used as they had the same bolt spacing as the Ducati forks.

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
“Using the Ducati forks, Triumph wheel and Aprilia calipers, nothing lined up,” Paul reports. “We worked out that if we machined 4.5mm from each side of the front hub, the discs would line up with the calipers. Problem sorted!”

And those linkages behind the forks? It’s a mechanical anti-dive system. “This isn’t the first one we’ve done, and even though it was never the best idea first time round, we love the mechanical side of it,” says Paul.

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
“We also get people asking why only one side? When it was first done, manufacturers used single- or dual-piston calipers. But we’re using Brembo four-pots so having anti dive on both sides would just lock the front end completely. And hitting a bump would have the bike pogoing all over the place. I’ve no doubt we’ll get haters talking about it, but we like it—and it does actually work.”

The rear wheel went straight in, with the front and rear sprockets lining up perfectly. A Brembo twin-piston caliper was then hung on a one-off hanger made to suit. (“It’s a very snug fit but works brilliantly.)”

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
Brembo RCS radial master cylinders were used, keeping the Brembo theme going for the brake set up.

Then Linda and Paul stripped the air-cooled DOHC four, rebuilt it, and powder coated the cases black. The clutch has been converted to a hydraulic setup and the stock Keihin 32mm carbs were swapped out for FCR35 flatsides and a quick action throttle. (“Had to import them from Japan though, but worth every penny.”)

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
The identity of the exhaust headers is lost in the mists of time, but the intermediary pipe and muffler have been lifted from a BMW S1000R and made to fit with a little jiggery-pokery.

Next came the bodywork. “We’ve always wanted to do a monocoque setup with an endurance-type fuel cap,” Paul explains. “So we cut off the original subframe and made a new one to suit. This also houses the electrics in a tray under the seat.”

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
The tank is the original—but heavily cut and modified, and with the seam now extending into the seat unit. Then November welded a temporary frame to the headstock and used that to help shape and build the fairing.

“This took a couple of days of cutting and hammering on a leather bag, but we got there eventually,” says Paul. “When it came to cutting off that temporary frame, we had fingers, arms, legs and toes crossed that nothing moved or dropped off!”

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
The screen was lying around the shop, but turned out to be a good fit after a session with the angle grinder. It’s attached using endurance-style quick release pins.

The tailpiece houses a small lithium ion battery, and like the rest of the bodywork, is steel. “We get people tapping on it all the time to see if it’s steel. We don’t mind though, as people then go, ‘Oh my, yes it’s steel!’”

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
“Taking the bodywork off isn’t a five-minute job,” Paul warns. “So I’ve put the fuse box between the top frame rails under the rear of the tank, where it’s accessible with the bodywork on. It means getting down on your knees to check the fuses, but that’s a small price to pay.”

To finish the Zephyr 750 off, Linda and Paul rewired it, installed LED lights in custom billet surrounds, and drilled and lock-wired many of the bolts. The delicious Kawasaki green paint was laid on and the bike dyno’d to get the flatslides into optimum tune.

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs
It just goes to show that you don’t need a workshop the size of an aircraft hangar to build a great bike.

And if you’re in the US, you can still get a mint Zephyr for under $3,000. Anyone starting to get some ideas..?

November Customs | Instagram | Images by Tony Jacobs

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 cafe racer by November Customs

2 stroke motorcycles BikeExif cafe racer Custom Motorcycles Other Motorcycle Blogs

Café Express: Freeride’s Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
If you’ve ridden a two-stroke, you’ll know how addictive the power rush (and sound) can be. So we have a soft spot for anything that smells pungent and goes braaap—especially if it’s got a bit of history and a side order of style.

Montesa bikes tick all the boxes: the Spanish manufacturer was hugely successful in motocross and road racing from the sixties to the mid-eighties. Its Cota 247 model was also popular with trials riders—but who’d have thought a trials bike would make a great little café racer?

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
Proof comes from the small village of Graulhet in southwest France, which is home to Pierre Dhers and his company Freeride Motos Racing.

Pierre specializes in the repair and maintenance of classic bikes, and prepping machines for vintage racing series. But he’s also very good at creating sharp-looking, quirky customs—like the Honda CX650 scrambler we featured a few months ago.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
“Although this Montesa was a trials bike originally,” Pierre tells, “our client wanted it transformed into a sport model. He was inspired by racing history, when Montesas skimmed around the circuits of Spain and the world in the 70s.”

It’s one hell of a transformation. At just 192 pounds (87 kilos) dry, the original Cota 247 is a nimble handler so weight reduction was not a priority.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
At the core of this build is the engine, a punchy little 247 cc number that puts out 20 frisky horses in stock form.

Pierre has given it a full reconditioning, with new bearings and seals, and even a new crankshaft. He’s also tweaked the stock exhaust system and intake, and fitted a big bore piston kit from Italkit.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
The original Amal carb has been upgraded to a Mikuni VM26 with a free-flowing BMC filter, and there’s now a Powerdynamo electronic ignition to keep the timing nice and regular.

After many ours of fettling and polishing, the motor looks as good the day it left the Barcelona factory in 1972.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
Right above is the fuel tank from a Malaguti Olympic, a 50cc moped from the 1970s. It’s an inspired choice: in this context, the chiseled lines look amazingly contemporary and completely change the vibe of the Cota.

Pierre has added a custom fiberglass rear cowl to match, plus discreet aluminum fenders. Midwest Aero Design shot the intense red paint, and a fresh coat of satin black epoxy helps the frame fade into the background.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
Pierre has modified the frame to suit the new lines, and also given it a thorough overhaul. “I cleaned up the welds with new TIG welds—for strength, because the originals are poor quality.”

The new rear cowl is covered in a racy black suede that extends over the seat pan, applied by Kabuki 
Sellerie. We haven’t heard of that French shop before, but they obviously know what they’re doing.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
Since this Cota tips the scales at less than 200 pounds, full Öhlins superbike suspension would be overkill.

So Pierre has overhauled and cut down the original Betor forks. Now fitted with shorter springs, they’re hooked up to 18-inch period-correct Akront wheels using a hub from a 1960s Montesa Impala street bike. There’s a matching Akront out back, cushioned by new YSS shocks.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
Converting a trials bike to a café racer involves a multitude of smaller details too. Pierre has created dozens of small parts—including new mounts for the tank, seat and repositioned footpegs—and adapted Tarozzi aluminum linkages for the foot controls.

He’s built new clip-ons too, adapting them to the stock Cota 247 top yoke, and installed a Domino throttle and Amal brake and clutch levers.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
The little Montesa is now ready to hit the streets. And we don’t know whether to applaud the new owner for his unusual choice of steed, or feel slightly jealous.

This pocket-sized café racer is unlikely to break any lap records at Paul Ricard, but it’ll rule the roost at the traffic light Grand Prix. More of this braaaple sauce, please!

Freeride Motos Racing | Facebook | Instagram

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing

BikeExif cafe racer CB750 cafe racer Custom Motorcycles Honda cafe racer Honda CB750 Honda motorcycles Other Motorcycle Blogs

This CB750 cafe racer roams the capital of Pakistan

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer
There are around 2.5 million motorcycles on the road in Pakistan. Which sounds impressive until you learn that the population is over 210 million—and most of those bikes are tiny Chinese- and Japanese-made commuters.

The custom scene is virtually non-existent, because the import duty on motorcycles is a whopping 50%, and there are sales taxes on top. Which also explains why there are only about a dozen Honda CB750s in the whole country.

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer
This is one of those CB750s: a 1977 Super Sport owned by reader Haris Aziz of Islamabad. And it’s the first bike we’ve featured from the world’s sixth most populous country.

“I had no plans to make a cafe racer: I just loved the model as it is,” Haris tells us. “This Super Sport was a runner, but in poor condition. Most of the fittings were either broken or covered in surface rust.”

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer
Haris rode the CB750 for a year and resisted the temptation to mess with it. “I absolutely adore the cafe racer look, but with imports banned, the remaining CB750s are the last of the breed.”

But when he couldn’t delay the repairs any longer, Haris found out that a stock restoration would cost too much—due to the poor rupee-dollar exchange rate. He decided to have it custom built.

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer
“I chose Zeeshan Motorsports in Karachi to do the job,” he says. “They have exquisite attention to detail and experience with big Japanese bikes.” Karachi, by the way, is a 20-hour, 900-mile drive from Haris’ home city.

Haris designed the bodywork (“using my horrible Photoshop skills”) and ZMS beat it out to the exact same proportions. Interestingly, the guys used the Golden Ratio to achieve the perfect balance of tank, seat and cowl.

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer
“A Bike EXIF how-to-article also inspired me: I made sure the angles were all perfect, such as the angle of the headers to the frame, the muffler to the seat, and so on.”

The subframe is actually unmodified, and retains the original seat hoop— although it’s been detabbed to give it that smooth and sleek look.

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer
While the new bodywork was being hammered out, ZMS also carried out a complete engine overhaul and fitted a Barnett racing clutch.

The ‘sidewinder’ exhaust was custom-made in Pakistan with a stainless steel muffler. “Tuning the carburetors was a challenge,” Haris reveals. “So we built a custom airbox, mounted a single pod filter, and switched to a Suzuki GS1000 CDI ignition to make starting and riding more reliable.”

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer
There’s a new headlight—which at 4400 lumens is a huge improvement on the original—and an aftermarket taillight and blinker set.

There’s also new wiring throughout, and an interesting starting mechanism: an aircraft-style toggle for the kill switch, and a starter button right on top of the triple tree. (“It makes starting her a joy every time!”)

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer
“The Honda was built on a budget, so unfortunately we couldn’t fit high-end gear such as the Motogadget m.unit,” says Haris. “But that doesn’t rule out future upgrades!”

There were no corners cut on the paint scheme, though. It accentuates the flat, free-flowing bodywork, with coach lines hand painted by an expert local craftsman. The frame and (original) wheels were painted black, and the deep blue tank and cowl make the raw metal of the engine pop.

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer
“We’re all extremely proud of the way she turned out,” says Haris. “Especially given the limited knowledge and budget we had.”

“The cafe racer culture is just starting here in Pakistan, but most bikes are single cylinders and no one is venturing into the complicated world of big four-cylinders.”

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer
We reckon it’s an amazing result. And proof that sometimes, constraints can force you to be more creative.

Images by Saad Zia Photography.

1977 Honda CB750 Super Sport cafe racer