low-budget-cafe-racer

With this post I’ll try to inspire cafe racer enthusiast to start working on their own Low Budget Cafe Racer. Café racers come in a lot of different setups and prices, from bikes under $1000 and even up to $60,000 (like the CX500 Café Racer from Sacha Lakic). I think it’s not necessary to spend thousands of dollars, so we’ll hook you up to the bare essence of building a cafe racer.

Don’t forget to read my “Cafe Racer Building Plan“; this will give you an extensive overview of the (re)building process of your own cafe racer.

Low Budget Cafe Racer – Must Haves

So you’re building a cafe racer on a budget. Good news: that is totally do-able! So what are the must haves for a typical cafe racer? That’s difficult to say, because everybody has his own taste, but if we follow our unofficial description of a cafe racer, these modifications are an absolute must:

  • Cafe racer seat (solo seater)
  • Low handlebars (clip ons or “clubmans”)
  • Weight reduction (= remove all unnecessary parts)
  • Sport exhaust
Buying cafe racer parts online? Read here where you should get them.

budget-cafe-racer

Back in the 60’s and 70’s this would do the job just fine. So if you’re working on an absolute minimum budget, you can have yourself a cafe racer for a few hundred of dollars, depending on the price of the base bike. Two other important must haves are: the willingness to learn working on a motorcycle (if you have to) and time.

The Base Bike

Here’s an important tip:

If you decide to have minimal modifications, please make sure that you have a proper base bike which is in descent, (ride-able) condition.

Let me explain this: I’m sure you can pick up a cool base bike under $500, but in what shape? Follow this rule: “if you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys”. In other words: you will have a crappy, rusty and maybe even an unsafe bike. No matter what you ride: always make sure it’s safe.

A cheap base bike could mean a lot of extra work or parts you didn’t calculated.

  • Worn out brake pads (and/or disc(s))? Count $50 per set and $100 for a single disc.
  • Worn out brake lines? New (get steel ones!) will easily go over $100.
  • Old tires? A new set of tires will cost you around $200.
  • Dead battery? From $50 (or just leave it!).
  • Engine runs poor? Hopefully rejetting the carbs will help, otherwise: $$$

When it’s your first bike, try to find a Honda CB or BMW R-series. There are plenty produced in the early days and still many of them out there. Reliable and relatively simple machines. There are lots and lots of resources online and there is a huge market with parts.

Since the cafe racer scene boomed the last couple of years, prices of these machines increased rapidly. You really have to look out for a bargain. Also try to look for a machine that’s not in a 100% original state.

The Expensive Works

If you’re working on a low budget cafe racer, it’s good to know which works or parts are the most expensive. If you wan’t to keep yourself on the budget, please be cautious with:

  • Paint jobs and coatings
  • Laced wheels
  • Engine overhauling
  • Bodywork
  • Gas tank
  • High end parts like:
    • USD forks
    • Suspension in general
    • Custom made parts

But also don’t forget all those small parts together like the headlight, taillight, fenders, inicators, grips, suspension, rearsets, controls, battery, wiring, liquids etc. These will add up fast and will drain your budget! And maybe it’s a good idea to pack a small motorcycle tool kit!

Low Budget Cafe Racer Inspiration

Since the Honda CB seems to be a great machine for building a cafe racer on a budget, we’ve listed some pictures for inspiration. The bikes below are all built with a minimal budget.

CB750 Cafe racerlow budget cafe racer

Honda CB750 Café Racer 1

budget-cb750-cafecb750-cafehonda-cb-cafe

cb550-cafe-racer

By Published On: September 23, 2016Categories: Articles0 Comments on Low Budget Cafe Racer – Guide3.7 min readViews: 1743

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About the Author: Ron Betist

Ron Betist grew up with motorcycles with a father heading the Amsterdam motorcycle police force. He has been riding (legally) for over 40 years and motorcycles are his true passion. With a life-long career in marketing and sales he has a huge international network. He joined as a contributor at BikeBrewers in 2017 to spread his word about bikes with the rest of the world.

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low-budget-cafe-racer

With this post I’ll try to inspire cafe racer enthusiast to start working on their own Low Budget Cafe Racer. Café racers come in a lot of different setups and prices, from bikes under $1000 and even up to $60,000 (like the CX500 Café Racer from Sacha Lakic). I think it’s not necessary to spend thousands of dollars, so we’ll hook you up to the bare essence of building a cafe racer.

Don’t forget to read my “Cafe Racer Building Plan“; this will give you an extensive overview of the (re)building process of your own cafe racer.

Low Budget Cafe Racer – Must Haves

So you’re building a cafe racer on a budget. Good news: that is totally do-able! So what are the must haves for a typical cafe racer? That’s difficult to say, because everybody has his own taste, but if we follow our unofficial description of a cafe racer, these modifications are an absolute must:

  • Cafe racer seat (solo seater)
  • Low handlebars (clip ons or “clubmans”)
  • Weight reduction (= remove all unnecessary parts)
  • Sport exhaust
Buying cafe racer parts online? Read here where you should get them.

budget-cafe-racer

Back in the 60’s and 70’s this would do the job just fine. So if you’re working on an absolute minimum budget, you can have yourself a cafe racer for a few hundred of dollars, depending on the price of the base bike. Two other important must haves are: the willingness to learn working on a motorcycle (if you have to) and time.

The Base Bike

Here’s an important tip:

If you decide to have minimal modifications, please make sure that you have a proper base bike which is in descent, (ride-able) condition.

Let me explain this: I’m sure you can pick up a cool base bike under $500, but in what shape? Follow this rule: “if you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys”. In other words: you will have a crappy, rusty and maybe even an unsafe bike. No matter what you ride: always make sure it’s safe.

A cheap base bike could mean a lot of extra work or parts you didn’t calculated.

  • Worn out brake pads (and/or disc(s))? Count $50 per set and $100 for a single disc.
  • Worn out brake lines? New (get steel ones!) will easily go over $100.
  • Old tires? A new set of tires will cost you around $200.
  • Dead battery? From $50 (or just leave it!).
  • Engine runs poor? Hopefully rejetting the carbs will help, otherwise: $$$

When it’s your first bike, try to find a Honda CB or BMW R-series. There are plenty produced in the early days and still many of them out there. Reliable and relatively simple machines. There are lots and lots of resources online and there is a huge market with parts.

Since the cafe racer scene boomed the last couple of years, prices of these machines increased rapidly. You really have to look out for a bargain. Also try to look for a machine that’s not in a 100% original state.

The Expensive Works

If you’re working on a low budget cafe racer, it’s good to know which works or parts are the most expensive. If you wan’t to keep yourself on the budget, please be cautious with:

  • Paint jobs and coatings
  • Laced wheels
  • Engine overhauling
  • Bodywork
  • Gas tank
  • High end parts like:
    • USD forks
    • Suspension in general
    • Custom made parts

But also don’t forget all those small parts together like the headlight, taillight, fenders, inicators, grips, suspension, rearsets, controls, battery, wiring, liquids etc. These will add up fast and will drain your budget! And maybe it’s a good idea to pack a small motorcycle tool kit!

Low Budget Cafe Racer Inspiration

Since the Honda CB seems to be a great machine for building a cafe racer on a budget, we’ve listed some pictures for inspiration. The bikes below are all built with a minimal budget.

CB750 Cafe racerlow budget cafe racer

Honda CB750 Café Racer 1

budget-cb750-cafecb750-cafehonda-cb-cafe

cb550-cafe-racer

By Published On: September 23, 2016Categories: Articles0 Comments on Low Budget Cafe Racer – Guide3.7 min readViews: 1743

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

About the Author: Ron Betist

Ron Betist grew up with motorcycles with a father heading the Amsterdam motorcycle police force. He has been riding (legally) for over 40 years and motorcycles are his true passion. With a life-long career in marketing and sales he has a huge international network. He joined as a contributor at BikeBrewers in 2017 to spread his word about bikes with the rest of the world.

Leave A Comment

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Tags