Archive for August, 2008|Monthly archive page

My bike… Finally!!!

Back in the day, when I first started tearing my bike apart, I ended up with a few mods (there’s more now, though). It is a 2005 Sportster 883. This pic is one of the few from that stage of the bike’s build. Right here it has 27″ drag bars and 15″ Progressive shocks as the only purchased add-ons. I also did a few home-brewed mods, including the following:

  • Cutting the balance tube/exhaust bracket so the rear axle would clear the exhaust with the swing arm being pushed down by the 15″ shocks. This also gave the exhaust a weird note as there was a third outlet for the spent gas.
  • Race-Tech straight rate springs from my old race bike. I think they are spec’d for an ’87 ZX600 as that is the front end I had on my EX500. This stopped the front end from bottoming during hard braking or cornering.
  • EBC HH rated pads. These actually stopped the bike versus the stock H-D pieces.
  • Single braided brake line in the front from the EX500 race bike. Mmmmm… 🙂

I will try to get a nicer picture of the bike (and maybe some detail shots, too), and post them with a list of updated mods. However, don’t expect it to be beautiful. It is a daily rider with lots of miles and is no show bike or trailer queen.

Thanks for reading the blog. I appreciate everyone’s great comments!

Sportster with stage 1 cafe racer mods

Sportster with stage 1 cafe racer mods

1972 Honda CB500 Cafe Racer

In my mind, there is a gray area when it comes to bike modification. Specifically when looking at what makes a bike a cafe racer. If one were to look at all of the potential descriptors that one could use to define the prototypical cafe racer, the list would be reasonably long: low bars (clip-on or clubman), rear-sets, custom tank, stylized rear seat, spoked wheels, and maybe modified suspension that keeps the hard parts off the ground during cornering.

So then I look at this particular bike, where it has been modified with a set of clubman bars, and I think to myself, “Is this a cafe racer? Or is it just a bike with clubman bars?” I’m not sure if I have the answer.

However, as my bike (a 2005 H-D Sportster 883) has received only a partial number of the modifications that would generally describe a cafe racer, is it even okay for me to say that it has been cafe’d? Hmmm. I think I need to post some pictures of it and get opinions from all of the readers of this blog.

Regardless, this CB500 is a good starting point for a cafe racer, although I am always happier with clip-ons than clubmans…

Honda CB500_1
Honda CB500_2

I went racing tonight!!!

Update: My shoulder, the one whose collar bone I broke at a Sears Point AHRMA race about 11 years back, is so sore today. The bump where the bone knit was apparently right under the shoulder strap of the 4-point harness. I had that thing cinched down so tight, and the beating from the curbs and flinging the car side to side seem to have bruised me a bit there.

Ahhh. I want to go back and do it again!
Yes, I did. But it was at Malibu Grand Prix.

I know, I know. You are all chuckling about it. But I haven’t been to the track in a couple of years, so this was fun. I was turning close to the fast time of the day, and was able to slide the car around a lot. Then the dude in charge gave me attitude about running over the curbs…

Let me say that sliding a car with the steering wheel turned to opposite lock is really fun! And a lot safer than doing it on a bike. Who knows, I may try to pick up a Formula Ford or Formula Vee one of these days.

Malibu Grand Prix 8_5_08

1972 BSA Rocket 3 Cafe Racer

This bike looks like a good starting point for a decent cafe racer build up. The owner has acknowledged the problems with the bike, and they seem reasonably easy to fix.

My wishes for this bike would be clip-ons. Wait. That’s only one wish. I like it and think it is close to perfect (minus fixing the broke bits).

BSA Rocket 3
BSA Rocket 3_2

Cafe Racer Seat for SOHC CB750 / CB550

Update: Sorry to those of you who might have been offended by the picture that included the image of the scantily clad Rats Hole model in the photo below. It was the best side shot of the seat/bike. My GF commented, and I had thought about whether or not to post the image, but it was the best shot of the bike…

Here’s a seat that looks fairly well made and reasonably priced (given the free shipping included). The examples of the seat on finished bikes looks pretty nice.

I have to admit that posts about seats are one of the most hit pages on the blog. That and tanks. It appears that these two items (seats and tanks) are the key to cafe racers. Maybe I will try a post on clip-ons and see what happens…

Seat Rear View
Raw Seat
Seat on Complete Bike


There is a big puddle of oil…

…underneath my bike. Arggghhh!!!

I think it is time for a strip-down of the whole thing. I guess this is a sign that the KTM has to be running. There must be some kind of leak from the oil tank. No other reason for oil to be leaking from the rear portion o fthe chassis of which I can think. Wish I had some more money or time. Oh wait! I have time! Now for the money… 😦

Benjie’s Cafe Racers – Check This Site Out…

I was checking out the google on the internet machines :D, and I found this site. I think these bikes are ultra cool. I really like the concept of all of his bikes having a one-off feel to them. I think I’ll need to talk to my friend Paul about converting one of his older Honda’s into a cafe racer with some of these parts. Click on the photo below to visit the Benjie’s Cafe Racer site…

1967 Suzuki X-6 Hustler Cafe Racer

Here is a mostly stock 1967 Suzuki X-6 Hustler. It appears that the only mod is the clubman bars. The owner seems to be honest about the condition, noting the fidgety transmission and the fact that the bike isn’t perfect.

I really like the Japanese bikes from this era. The shape of the tanks and the molded headlight nacelles (like the X-6 or the Honda Dream) mark this period and were consistent design cues within the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers in the 1960’s.

There’s only a few hours left on this auction (actually a Buy-It-Now or Best Offer), so hopefully this bike goes to a good home. If I still lived in Ohio, this would be within pick-up distance for me…

1967 Suzuki X-6 Hustler Cafe Racer

An update on me…

It’s my last week at work, and I am feeling pretty good. I admit that I pretty much took the weekend off from posting, but I need some R&R time to get my head on straight as I begin looking for a new job. I took my Sportster apart this weekend and didn’t find anything wrong, so I guess I’ll just live with the noise. It was good to go riding this weekend and not worry about the bike.

This week, I am going to install a new battery in my KTM, change the oil, put on the knobbies, and go riding! Now I just need a hitch and a trailer so my GF and I can go off-roading together…

Kawasaki KZ900 Cafe Racer

Here’s a really clean Kawasaki cafe racer based on the KZ900. The owner (an Australian and different from the seller) appears to have done a good job of replacing all the parts that would be marginal on a bike of this age, and it looks like a pretty clean build.

From a styling perspective, it is pretty standard Kawasaki cafe racer/street fighter until you get to the tailpiece. Wow. That it is different. Not sure how it would be under hard acceleration give the flatness and lack of any kind of rise or hump at the back. But it is certainly unique, and I like the tail lights.

Kawasaki KZ900 Cafe Racer