Bike of The Week for Week 6 of Cafe Racer TV Season 1

Michael LaFountain’s 1971 Honda CB350

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Hi Cafe Racer Team,

My motorcycle building days started when I was eighteen and saw a 1965 S-90 for the first time in my friend’s garage. I wanted one so bad I would spend hours at the local magazine store searching through every Walnecks and Cycle trader possible (no craigslist back then,) but after about five months of no luck, I stumbled upon a motorcycle tire sticking out of a small dried up creek bed. I dug it out only to find that under it was a headlight, then a frame, and finally a tank. It was a 1965 Honda S-90 identical to my friend’s. I felt like Ralphie finding that Red Rider Christmas morning. I spent my entire summer vacation excavating and rebuilding. We fired up both our 90cc of fury in the same week. They may have only gone 55mph off a cliff, but to us at the time it felt like a Bonneville land-speed record. 15 years and dozens of bikes later, the primary goal has been the same- faster, lighter, and louder. The true essence of the cafe racer.

Ok enough, Nicolas Sparks, Here is my most recent build; it’s a 1971 Honda CB350. I’ve always loved mid 60’s British and Italian race bikes, so a lot of that inspiration went into this build. The Matchless G-50 and the Norton Manx played a large roll in the over all design of the bike. Here are a few alterations made: Bbattery relocation, handmade seat, alternate tank, and clip-ons to start. I handmade the rearsets and spent a healthy amount of time reshaping the cases to really set it apart from other 350’s I’ve seen. With a good amount of weight removed, the larger pistons and steeper cam this little two cylinder really pulls! I really focused on creating lines for this bike that originally did not exsist. To me the lines are everything and it and I am pretty satisfied with the result on this one. The Mike Taggart Guy Webster Vintage Motorcycle Museum in Ojai California is the final resting place of this CB350 if anyone would like to see it in person.

Thank you for choosing my bike as the bike of the week, I hope you guys like it.

Michael LaFountain

Bike of The Week for Week 7 of Cafe Racer TV Season 1

Shane Schaap’s 1974 Ducati 750 GT

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Thank you for taking an interest in my Ducati and for providing such a great venue for cafe racer enthusiasts to showcase their bikes and share their passion. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share my story.

Aaahhh, Ducati!  A two wheeled example of Italian styling and engineering. I have always loved “cafe racer” style bikes and the creativity and ingenuity of the people that built them. My imagination was stired by Ducatis 750 GT, nicknamed “Pompone” (The Big Pump) for its large displacement motor. It was the first of Ducati’s famous bevel twins and the grandfather of their modern world super bikes.

I like the naked, minimalist look of a cafe racer, and the 750 round case (as they are known by the design of their motors) always topped my list of bikes that I would like to restore and customize.  In no small way was I influenced by my good friend, Dave Van Stelle, who, along with his father and two brothers, had been restoring and racing Ducatis for more than twenty years.  Through Dave’s father, I was able to find a suitable rolling basket-case, a 1974 750 GT. The GT had a great combination of power and styling that I was looking to find for my next cafe racer project.  It was a beat-up, uncared for bike, but seeing that beautiful L-twin motor intact made my creative juices start flowing.

After stripping down the bike, cleaning up what I could use and trashing what I couldn’t, it was time to transform the bike into what I envisioned it to be.  The paint combination I chose is a racier version of the colors Ducati used on their 1971 750 pre-production models. Underneath the flashy paint, some other modifications I made to the bike include installing high compression pistons, a Dyna electronic ignition, a single “Duc tail” seat, a set of magnificent sounding Conti silencers, which was a major upgrade from the less capable La Franconi exhaust first used on the GT, incorporating a more capable alternator taken from a 1998 Ducati ST2, and replacing the old handle bars for sport clip-ons.

As many know, it is greatly satisfying to take an idea, put your mind and your hands to work, and see that idea come to life. It can almost be addicting. And seeing and riding my 750 keeps me inspired for what possibilities there are for my next cafe racer project.

Cheers!

Shane Schaap

Bike of The Week for Week 8 of Cafe Racer TV Season 1

Michiel de Molenaar

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G’day Cafe Racer TV,

I feel really honoured to have my bike selected as bike of the week!

I got addicted to bike building after I bought a CX500 together with a friend  to turn into a chopper. That project turned out much better than we both expected and I got hooked to building bikes. Choppers are nice to build, but I like to ride my bikes hard. So when it was time to buy a bike for myself the only logical thing for me was to build a caferacer. So I bought a wrecked 1988 BMW R80 with a 1000cc engine and turned it into the bike in the photo’s.

Building a bike was a big challenge for me, on one side because I’m not very technical and didn’t have any mechanical background at all before the CX500 and this was my first solo build. On the other side I have to do things LOW budget. I’m a Dutch student (geosciences) with a demanding study so I hardly have any time to earn money. This meant I had to be a little creative. For example: I made the seat out of a bicycle rack I found in somebody else’s trash, the  exhaust is made out of a stainless steel coffee thermos I bought for a couple of euro’s and I used one of my leather belts that usually keep my jeans up to strap down the tank. The only part I did spend some money on is the tacho unit. In my eyes a caferacer has to be minimalistic and functional, this tacho has a speedo, a rev counter and all the idiot lights I want.

The result is not a clean and polished caferacer as you often see on the internet and at meetings, but a bike that is a little rough around the edges and so much fun to ride! The added frame stiffness because of the home made frame braces and the low centre of gravity  make the handling razor sharp while the velocity stacks, the 1000cc engine and the exhaust provide plenty of go and all the right noises.

Greetings from a caferacer addict (there are more bikes on the way!)

Michiel

*For those of you interested in following Michiels bike builds stop by his fantastic BLOG located at http://bmwcafe.blogspot.com/ here’s a great little video he shot as well!

Bike of The Week for Week 9 of Cafe Racer TV Season 1

Ry Seidel’s CB360

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Hey Café Racer Team!

Thanks for featuring my bike for this week’s bike of the week!  The build started as a upgrade bike for my wife , over the years I have had many CB Hondas and in my youth, was in love with the early cafe racer  bikes.   This bike happen to be there at the right time and having been thinking about how I wanted one to look, I started stripping away and adding the elements I felt belonged.   I built the bike over three years ago and have been having a blast to riding it around ever since.  As for my wife…well, I’ll get her something else eventually!

All the work was carried out by me in my garage.  The hand laid one of a kind fiberglass gas tank and seat pan were formed over a carved foam block.  The seat pan and upholstery is based on a early 70’s Italian racer, think Ducati Moto Giro.  After making the clip on handle bars the gauges stuck up too high for my taste so I designed and machined a new upper triple clamp to cradle the single gauge and indicators.  The front fender is my first attempt on carbon fiber formed on a hand hewn wooden mold.

From a performance perspective the exhaust is unique in that it routes from the head all the way to the center stand mounts and Y’s into a muffler can and then Y’s back out up front . Help keep your toes warm in the cold winters! The rear sets were custom built to mount in the position of the passenger pegs.  I even took on the challenge of anodizing them in my own custom setup.  The rear shocks are just some old Koni’s that I modified to fit the Honda brackets and all the electronics are moved into the seat with the electric start remaining intact.

I wanted to retain the ready for the track look so I chose to hide the lighting in the form of small LED tail lights mounted into the tail section and a small set of lamps in the front mounted just below the triple on the frame.  All the paint work it mine as well; I was going for a WW2 navy aircraft feel.  All in all, I couldn’t be happier with her.  That’s what I love about Café bikes, they’re built on simple platforms and anyone can exercise their creativity with little knowledge and tools.

– Ry

Bike of The Week for Week 11 of Cafe Racer TV Season 1

Phil Hitchock’s 1968 Ducati 250SS

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Cafe Racer TV Team,

I’ve always been in to roadrace – cafe style bikes.  Race production bikes like the TZ250/350 YAMS from late 60s to early 80s are some of my favorites. Right now, I am racing a 350 Ducati single in the Australian classic racing circuit.  I currently own around 20 italian bikes – mainley singles and mostly Ducatis + a couple of Benellis and an MV175CSS Squalo.

I’ve wanted to build a mini SS for ages using a lot of parts I had laying around.  I had seen some done overseas but they used the SS tank and sidecovers and in my eyes, the lines of the parts did not match the frames as as they looked out of proportion. With some true Australia flair I reckon’d I did a better matching everything up!  I hope you agree!

All the fiberglass parts are from Roadandrace.com.au.  The NCR tank, mini SS fairing & seat + rear guard and side covers were made by cutting and shutting SS type gills into 1972 silver shotgun covers. The front forks are 35mm Yamaha RZ350 in Marzocchi triple clamps, front guard RZ with the wing made to normally divert air into the nicely fited Yamaha radiator working to send it to the Ducati  head/exhaust port. The rims are Tagasako Suzuki 18″ dirt bike with spoke holes re-angled to suit the original Ducati rear hub and Honda front fitted with disc from CBR250RR.  I was originally going to use twin discs like the SS but they made the front wheel way to heavy.  Instead, I opted for a single Brembo caliper that does the job well.

The dash is hand beaten alloy which was then powdercoated in hammertone finish to mimic the SS plastic dash. Guages are from a belt SS recalibrated to suit a single.  The rearsets are from 1972/74 Ducati singles with clipons 35mm in size, pantah type as well as m/cylinder and clutch lever.  I fitted a nice set of Marzocchi rear shocks and to keep things in contact with the ground a set of Pirelli City Demons.  The name sounded right.  The engine is a basically a standard  1968  250 bored and stroked to 350cc with ported big valve head and Dellorto 32mm PHF carb.  It’s pumped up a bit more with a Road Andrace hot street grind cam and conti exhaust.

I hope you like it!  I sure enjoyed building it!

– Phil

Bike of The Week for Week 12 of Cafe Racer TV Season 1

Stefan Seibert’s 1968 BSA

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Cafe Racer TV Team,

Thanks for taking interest in my Beezer!  Here’s a little bit about him…

Born in 68, brought to USA in the spring of 68 he didn’t sell, so got his way back to UK where I found him!  I fitted him with 69 goodies like the new fork and other 69 gimmicks. Went back to the states and was sold somewhere in Arizona. In 1994 a German from Bavaria imported the bike from USA to Germany, restored it and drove it for almost ten years.  He sold the bike to a collector of bikes (having more than 100 motorcycles.) He kept the bike until 2009 and then swapped the hundred bikes for one old-timer car, don’t know which one but it must have been impressive!

Making it’s way full circle and around the globe, I purchased it back again in 2009 from a classic car dealer in Belgium.  I couldn’t have been happier!  I made a rolling restoration of the finish, the engine works fine. Nearly changed every bolt and nut, restored the fork, the brakes, the carburetor, clutch and ignition, bought some peashooters and other nice gimmicks. It rides fantastic despite 3rd in the gearbox, still have to work that out.

All in all it’s a very reliable bike with a great deal of history. I drive it fast, only taking care that the oil is really in good condition.  That’s really all an old Beeza needs! What I like about café racing is the authentic way of biking and getting a bike of former times going like a beast (in relation) without just giving it to the dealer, spending thousands of bucks for a lots more of plastic.

Thanks and take care guys!  Love the show!

Stefan

Bike of The Week for Week 1 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2

Aaron Ruses 1976 CL360

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Cafe Racer TV Team,

Thanks for featuring my honda CL360 as bike of the week. Its a huge honor as this not only my first cafe project but is literally the first time i have ever done body work, cut steel, welded, fiberglassed, or painted. I got interested in classic motorcycles last year when i visited my uncle’s shop. He and his buddies have created their own cafe culture in rural Indiana. I quickly got my license and bought a stock CL360 in good condition to ride. I picked up a second CL360 for parts a few months later. This was intended to be a donor when things went bad on the other bike and was in terrible shape from setting outside for almost 15 years. I did a once over on this bike and for better or worse, the dumb thing started. I knew that I couldn’t just part it out at that point. it had to become a cafe racer.

Knowing the motor was good, I worked through the winter in my unheated 2 car garage with a few basic hand tools and some rattle can spray paint. Used my buddies welder and cut off wheel for the frame mods. One of the highlights of the project is custom fiberglass seat. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I made a foam plug and sanded it to the basic shape, covered it with tape to protect it from the resin and laid up several layers of glass over the plug. I sanded between each layer to cut down on the irregularities. This allowed finishing with minimal body filler. The seat pad is glued to a fiberglass pan and bolted to the frame through the seat/tail piece. The seat cover is hand sewn from pieces of and old discarded couch. I managed to squeeze a very small battery and starter solenoid in the tail. Other electrics fit under the CB350F tank.

This tank was found in a junk yard for $10. It was rusted and dented but didn’t leak. I gave the dents some symmetry with a framing hammer and some 2×2 stock and smoothed my pounding out with body filler. This took lots of patience to get both sides to match.  Most aluminum was taken off the bike and polished with a 1940’s hobart buffing wheel I found on Craigslist. This is by far my favorite of the few tools I own. Paint is automotive rattle can from the auto parts store. I painted in the dead of winter so to allow proper drying, I would shoot parts in the garage then bring them inside to the kitchen to dry. Small parts were cured in our toaster oven while the frame, seat, and tank were hung from door frames and cabinet doors (I have a very patient wife). Reassembly took place in the kitchen as well.

Exhaust consists of the stock headers with the rotten mufflers removed and a shortened stock head shield painted black. I left the pipes unfinished and they started to tarnish. I think it adds a bit of character. Exhaust tips are actually just some copper fittings from the hardware store. This added a little back pressure and eliminated some of the open pope loud thump. I am still looking for a good way to quiet the bike down as it is embarrassing to start up in the early morning and ride through the neighborhood.  Loaded Gun Rearsets, shocks, tail light and blinkers, along with some other bits were purchased through the good folks at Dime City Cycles however I did try to reused as much from the original bike as i could. Keeping cost down was paramount for this project. I have been riding it for several months this summer and each time I take it out I still get excited. I hope this encourages other first time builders to go after it.

Hope you like it!

Aaron

Bike of The Week for Week 2 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2

Tim Sampson’s 1975 CL350

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Cafe Racer TV Guys,

Thanks for the interest in my CL this is cool to hear! I picked this 1973 CL350 up 2 winters ago for $300 in non running condition with a lot of extra parts. I figured that this bike would be a perfect bike for a cheap and easy build, as well as being a fun ride, bar hopper, shop bike while I looked for the next build. So I  got the bike to my shop and with a clean fuel filter and some fresh gas and plugs it started right up. After that I started to go thru the bike and extra parts and sold off what I didn’t want for a profit which went into the build fund.

Then it was time to start working… I started the tear down and cleaning while looking for the parts I needed and could not make on my own. The big parts that saved me alot of cash that I made my self were the seat and the rear sets (its nice to have a guy in our building that has his own water jet). Next step was to get the parts I still needed, so with some trading and buy some parts from friends and the fellas on the DoTheTon.com forum and the guys atDime City Cycles and few other web sites, it was time to build!

I pulled the starter and am running the smallest battery I was comfortable with. Running stock pipes with some mini slip-ons (it sounds great) For a speedo just using one that was given to me off a mountain bike. Some exhaust wrap, a few rattle cans and a number of six packs latter her she is. This bike is fun to ride and is open to anyone in our shop to take it and go. Still looking for the next project bike to build on (will not be a sub 500 build though) but until then I’ve got the little CL to bomb around on and have  fun with in true Café spirit!

Keep on rockin!

Tim

Bike of The Week for Week 3 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2

Chris Wiesnet’s 1976 1000cc R75/6

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Thank you very much for your E-Mail with congrats for my Beamer to be the Bike of the Week. It was a big surprise after watching all these great Bikes on cafe racer TV`s website…

Here is a short description of my Bike:

It’s a BMW R75/6 from 1976 with a 1000cc BigBore engine with a hot cam, porting, etc. It has a Rare “Heinrich”Gas Tank, aftermarket stainless steel Norton pipes, Raask rear sets, 38 Dell`Orto carbs with velocity stacks, self made instrument housing and tail light, rare “Magura” clip ons, a self made alloy seat with bum stop made with real leather, a modified frame, double brake disc and lots of polished Parts…

I bought this Bike 3 Years ago as a bad-restored Motorcycle with big problems i.e.: the engine was not running, etc. After the engine was running I decided to ride to the Ace Cafe in London, which is about 1200 miles from my hometown Munich/Germany. That was a great Adventure and you can believe, ironically, of course, after I got home the Bike was disassembled and after 1 year it rolled out of my garage as what you see before you. I did it with my own hands and no shop was involved!

I am 48 years old and a Beamer like this was my first motorcycle when I was 18 so you can imagine how pleased I am with the result. Back to the Roots! So the best wishes to the staff of the Cafe Racer TV, you`re doing an great job!

Chris from Germany

Bike of The Week for Week 4 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2

Eric Kerkhoff’s 1981 Harley Davidson Ironhead “Harton”

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Great to have my bike chosen as Cafe Racer TV Bike of the Week! Here’s a little more about me and the Harton. I´m addicted to motorcycles as a result of my early years as my father always ride, restored and collect vintage motorcycles. Beside my weakness for vintage jap street bikes from the sixties I used to compete in classic racing with a Suzuki t500. Racing at these events you just can´t get around the incredible Norton Manx(s) on the track. Of course, I wanted one…

As I can not afford a Manx Norton I decided to build myself a cafe racer that should have the look and feel of a Norton Manx look. I already had a ´54 featherbed wideline street frame, in which my initial intention was to use a Yamaha XS650 engine, but I found the 650 twin looking small in the featherbed frame. Fast forward a while… For a few years I had and rode a ´81 XL1000 Sportster and I really liked the old Ironhead Sportys, that brought me to idea to use a Ironhead engine instead of the XS650 and to fulfill another wish at the same time.

Getting to the build and performance of the “Harton” and it’s Ironhead engine, it should have a separate carburetors for each cylinder. This is done by reversing the rear head so I could mount the second carb on the left side and the exhaust on both sides to give it that traditional English look. As I already was machining the heads I dual plugged them for better running as well. In my opinion, another thing the bike needed was a open belt drive, this took me a lot of time, but finally got it to work properly. And it looks/sounds smashing!

The engine was fully rebuilt with KB pistons, Crane HI-4 single fire ignition and Kibblewhite BD valves all breathing via Dellorto carbs. After completing the engine and moving to the actual bike the goal was to use so many as possible vintage parts. The original Manx tank would not fit my bike as i needed to have a lot more space underneath it so I built one myself, also the oil tank, exhaust headers, seat and many other small parts are home made, this took me a lot of time but at the end it makes the bike just as I envisioned it which could not have been done with off the shelf parts. I was lucky to find a very rare CMA 8-leading shoe front brake for my project, a Triumph/BSA conical hub was used at the rear, both fitted in Borrani rims using stainless spokes. Other parts used are original short roadholder forks at the front, Megaton silencers and Tomaselli levers, Smiths conical racing Rev-counter and chronometric speedo.

Building this one took me a lot longer than I was planning, but I will never regret it, it ended just what I had in mind when I started the project.

Thanks for the interest and Greets to all,

Eric Kerkhoff   –  Netherlands