We all know the usual suspects for building a cafe racer, with the Honda CB-series and BMW R-series as the most popular platforms. Small displacement bikes are usually skipped, but in my opinion, a small bike can also be a great base for building a custom motorcycle. And if we’re talking about small displacement motorcycles, you roughly have two places on the world that pop-up: Asia or Brasil. On these places small bikes are a common way of cheap transportation. Luckily there are some people out there who are not afraid to turn these practical (and rather ugly) machines into something special, just like Fernando Casado, a product design student from Brasil. He took a 1980 Honda CG125 and turned it into a beautiful looking, classic cafe racer.
We’ve asked Fernando to give some more details about the project:
In the beginning of 2015 I started thinking about customizing a motorcycle. I always was thrilled by old things and after reading a book about late cafe racers, I decided to build my own. I bought a 1980 Honda CG125 because they’re pretty easy to find and easy to work on. Besides that, there’s already a cafe racer inside this bike, you only have to find it (that sounds like Michelangelo…). The aesthetics of the tank, frame and seat already have a solid basis for building a classic cafe racer, so in my opinion this was the best bike to start my very first project.
My idea was to make it look like as if it had be designed by Honda originally in 1980, so I opted for original paint, stripes, and lots of chrome. Because importing aftermarket parts can be a real hassle in Brasil, I had to create a lot of parts myself. Luckily as a student product design, I was able to do all the prototyping in the laboratory of the State University of Maringá. One of my requirements was to keep the original structure of the bike, frame and brackets, so I can reassemble the bike in its original state in a few hours.
The experience with this project was very enriching since I came to understand the way the design was applied in vintage motorcycles, and also to work with different types of materials and processes, such as fiberglass, welding, locksmithing, and also to work on the electrical and mechanical components of the motorcycle.
I would like to dedicate this project to all my family, to the teachers and friends that accompanied me during the two years of this project. Especially to my grandfather and my father, who lived in the era of these bikes and helped me a lot in the development of my very own cafe racer.