Dino Maltoni of Mendoza, Argentina sent us this build of a Kawasaki Zephyr 550. Below he tells us in his own words about the build.
Basically it had to cut and to manufacture a subchasis to measure since originally it brings a base of chassis type delta, to be able to give a more retro aspect and at the same time to obtain lines more according to a racer cafe. Glass of artisan way conservando a.aspecto similar to the one that brings of factory but of minor dimensions. To the same one was introduced to him a double light back light. In the front we adapted a copulino somewhat modified, was placed semimanillares, the whole painting was painted with powder paint as it came from the factory. Was made tailor made escapes and stainless steel. The pinto with a combination of green trikes and a kawasaki engine was given a glossy black color. The upholstery is also handmade which combines different textures and threads.
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Our friends from down under sent us this build. Andrew Cathcart sent us this. Check out the video below, the photo, and the info.
The spec sheet for the bike is as follows:
Chassis – Genuine 1981 900 MHR frame heavily modified with narrowed steering head angle, repositioned engine mounts, shortened seat hoop and all surplus brackets removed. Relocated lithium ion battery now sits alongside dual twin-fire coils under tank.
Engine – Vee Two Ritorno Twin in 992cc (94 x 71.5mm) form featuring bathtub combustion chamber, 45mm inlet/40mm exhaust valves, ported and polished cylinder heads, forged billet slipper pistons, lightened and balanced crankshaft, pressure fed close ratio 5 speed gearbox, and dichromate plated magnesium covers, fueled by Keihin FCR41m flatslide racing carburettors.
Bodywork – Vee Two Imola short circuit race tank (100mm shorter than original in length) with modified Imola replica fairing and one-off seat fabricated from three separate items.
Paint – Genuine “Greenframe” green colour-matched to genuine ’74 750SS. Modified Mercedes silver. All custom decals supplied by Underground Designs.
Wheels and Tyres – front: 17 x 3.5”, rear: 17 x 5.5”. Wheels are alloy rims fitted to original bevel hubs via stainless steel spokes – all made by Spoked Wheel Services. Tyres are Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp – 120/70 front, 180/55 rear.
Suspension and Brakes – Front: Öhlins FG511 43mm forks originally supplied on the Ducati 1098S, with Brembo M4 forged radial callipers operated by Brembo RCS 19 master cylinder. Rear: Öhlins 36PL twin piggyback shocks and axially mounted P34 twin piston caliper.
Electronics – Powered by Motogadget m-unit microprocessor controller replacing all fuses, relays and massively reducing amount of wiring. The m-unit controls the Motogadget Chronoclassic multi-function display speedometer/tachometer, JW Speaker twin project-blaze disc LED bar-end indicators. The ignition on the engine is controlled by an Elektronik Sachse digital contactless system originally developed with Brook Henry.
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Marc Roissette sent us a time lapse video of the entire build. Below is a story behind the build, in his own words.
I bought this GSX 750 last year as the other owner had some issues with it not running well and also a fuel float / leak flooding the cylinders. I was able to negotiate a fairly good deal on the bike and this is where the project started. After picking up the bike and getting it home, I decided the first step was to sort out the carbies and get the bike running to have a sense of things I needed to change before going into the modification side. After a strip down and re-build of the carbs I found the last person to build͟d had left some parts out causing 1 of the two issues.
Watch his time lapse video to see the entire process.
The second problem to solve before getting it running right was tank pet cock not closing when shut off causing constant fuel drain into the engine. I installed an inline fuel tap to solve this issue in the short term. Taking it down to a track day in stock form and cutting a few laps I decided the whole front end needed replacing as the front suspension was like a trampoline and the brakes were wooden and just did not stop in the way I wanted, the rear sets were rubber and had no feel and the exhaust did not have the note or look I wanted, it was also time to re-jet the carbs and get some nice K&N filters. The bike went home and was stripped back to just the frame, engine out, carbs off and front end off to the shelf. The frame was then taken to with a grinder to remove all the old and un-used tabs to clean up the look of the bike, a new rear hoop welded onto improve rigidity and sent off to be powder coated. After searching around for a GSXR front end locally I was unable to get the parts required which would have made for a nice easy front end bearing conversion. I was though lucky enough to get a Ducati 996 front end off a good friend at Vendetta Racing which then needed some more work to the frame to get it attached due to the 35mm head stem.
Whilst all this work was going on a tail piece was ordered from Norway and I manufactured seat pan and tail plate to store all the wiring, battery etc and have a seat pad made up. Once completed the tank and tail piece were sent off for paint in a scheme I had designed in photoshop.More parts were ordered for the bike such as new chain, sprockets, rears sets, levers, gauge cluster, filters, short throttle and others to get the look and feel I wanted for the bike.
The wiring harness was stripped back to bare and re-run causing some minor headaches as finding a workshop manual for a GSXF 750 was near impossible! Once the freshly powder coated frame was back the install of parts could start once again. First the engine was re-installed after a good degrease and clean then the wiring harness fed through the bike before the rear swing arm was re-attached. Getting the new front end on the bike was difficult without the required hoist to lift the bike up but I was able to use a step ladder and some bike tie downs to get the job done. With front end on the bike was stable and rest of the work for re-assembly could be completed. Once the wiring harness was all re-connected to controls it was time to balance the carbs. Now this is tricky, being my first time working with in line carbs I was a little clueless as to how to go about the task, after much time spent looking through a manual for a Bandit 600 and youtube videos I got the basics sorted out and balancing tool on the carbs to complete the job. After about 3 hours of work on and off the balance and pilots were adjusted a level that worked and the rest of the parts could be installed!
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Spencer Ashburn wrote to us about a project that he and his dad started together. The two watched all our Cafe Racer TV videos and from that experience they were inspired to start building café racers.
“We loved the idea of taking everything off the bike and making it go as fast as it could for starters, but then to add to the style of the bike to make it our own design. To go along with that we made the bike with whatever we had laying around the shop. We embodied this idea about two years ago,” said Spencer.
What started out as a father and son bike build turned into a father and son bike collection.
“We both found that we enjoyed working on bikes and creating our own design but we also loved working together and adding to each others ideas and visions. We loved it so much that we ended up having Friday bike nights, where we would spend the remainder of Friday evenings working on the bikes and grilling out. My dad, Troy, started as a mechanic and is now a painter. So we do have some tools to work with, but we don’t have this big elaborate shop with all the tools in the world.
We made this bike with a couple of hammers, a torch, a welder, and some hair brained idea that we could make a bike of our own. Although this bike isn’t completely finished. It still needs to be pulled apart and properly cleaned and painted,” said Spencer.
That didn’t stop the two from showing it off at the Slimmey Crud Run in Wisconsin, where it drew a lot of attention. Net, they took it to Rockerbox in Wisconsin and put it in the show, and successfully cameg away with a win.
“This bike may not be the simple café racer that you may very well know, but the café racer isn’t just about the bike itself, it’s the history behind the bike in how you made it your own. It’s how you took the bike and made it faster and better then the next guy. And if you were to ask me, I think this bike embodies that to the fullest”, Spencer told us.
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This build comes to us from Loen Montefusco from Stockholm. Below is his story of the build in his own words.
I bought it (Suzuki GS 550) stock. It was sitting collecting dust at a friends garage. So I took the challenge. It takes a lot of effort to make ugly stock bikes into a better looking bikes.
I kept the stock tank and just did the dents on it. I shortened the rear end of the frame to add the loop and gave it an angle. I removed the engine and changed some gaskets on it, then washed it of course. The top clamp was a major league job but was very fun to do. I removed the risers and drilled a big hole for the stock fuel gauge and it wasn’t easy.
The springs on the fork are cut down to lower the whole bike. The rear shocks and harley as well as the pipes. The stock pipes of the Suzuki are just out of proportion, way too big for the Cafe Racer. I bought the seat but modified it a lot to get the shape I wanted, short and low but still comfortable. The front fender is stock but shortened and modified to get the brackets close to the tire. The back fender is from an old Swedish Husqvarna Rödmyra from 42′. The speedos are the smallest possible for the cafe. The headlight is stock. It’s just upside down to get it as close as possible to the frame. Avon tires are the biggest possible for the rims.
The whole build took three months.
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This build comes to us from Bernie Blackwell in Melbourne, Australia. He tells you about it in his own words.
This 1973 Honda 750.4 cylinder completed its early life in the early 1980’s racing at weekends as a Hillclimber in country Victoria. Rumour has its name as the Bucking Bronco! Discovered in a Leongatha farmshed in early 2011,she was resurrected over 3 1/2 years. The battered original was stripped of 11kg of extraneous parts and fittings….with an industrial angle grinder!
The desired build was to achieve a Manx Nortonlike look(circa 1960)…. organic, brutal, muscular and yet elegant….with a minimal bare hungry look.
The handmade fuel tank,oil tank and tailpiece were fabricated by Bernie Willett of Eltham. Every nut, bolt, washer and bracket has been replaced or fabricated by hand.and its all been mastered by Greg Cook of Leongatha.
Some 40 years after its appearance at the World Exhibition in Tokyo (note the Souvenir coin on the tailpiece) this once mass produced modern classic has been given a full stripped down makeover.
It looks like a new generation of Cafe Racers, and we love it! Frank Marcus, a sports teacher in the Netherlands, led this project. He wanted get students interested in learning to build. They just presented bike at the Interclassic Show in Maastricht. This school project not only got these 16 and 17 year olds interested in the technical part but they fell in love with the nostalgia (and loved all the attention) they got showing off this Cafe Racer. They had 7 offers on the bike. But, since it wasn’t built with money in mind, they turned down the offers and preferred to enjoy it. “In short, we achieved more goals then we had in mind,” said Frank.
Below is an excerpt in Frank’s words about why they wanted to do this and why he led the project. There are so many great builders and bikes but it all starts in a shack or garage ones. I find the whole Caféracer and Scramblerscene to be very sympathetic. Here it’s not about the money but about making cool bikes, as it should be… We can not compete with a professional builder but with the funding we had (max 2000 euro all-in) we were able to make a cool bike that is worth wile showing.
I selected 5 students who were motivated to be in this project. For the built we used the knowledge of Marcel Schepers, who is owner of Schepers Motor Design. He is known for building very nice bikes and currently has some Kawasaki w800’s in his shop that he rebuild into
cool scramblers. His latest project is a flat tracker that he is building for the Glemseck meating in 2016 in Germany. For the saddle and bag we could rely on Jowi Paulissen. He is a local magician with leather, makes saddles, baggs and all kinds of upholstery. For the paint job we can thank local garage Beckers who painted our tank for free.
This project is meant to show kids that working in the technical sector can be fun. We are losing a lot of interest from our youth in thisstudy and line of work and with this project we try to show that it can be a great education and that there are a lot of jobs to be found. The two students that worked on the bike André and Floyd, have been busy grinding, measuring, bending, making brackets, painting (exhaust), brake revision and more. Fenders, metal plates on the side, saddle plate and several brackets have been hand made by these guys.
The engine itself we left untouched, we found this 34 year old XJ650 with only 8000 miles on the counter. If its reliable we don’t temper with it. Thanks Frank, keep up the good work!
This story comes to us from our friends at Atlanta Motorcycle Works. The team recently completed a build for a loyal customer who lost his father in the middle of a restoration project. This is the story in their own words.
Jared Morris ins’t your average “motorcycle guy.” Jared gets extremely passionate and involved in what he’s riding, this is especially the case with his father’s Yamaha RD400. The project with his father became a “ride as you work” type project. We could often hear Jared tearing down the street of his nearby neighborhood. While working on the project Jared’s dad fell ill, leaving him unable to assist Jared with the project. As life became more hectic for Jared, the bike became hard to make time for. Jared had been a long time friend and customer of Atlanta Motorcycle Works. We had helped Jared with small stuff all over his bike, but this time he had a different request. Jared wanted a completely custom motorcycle to honor his father who recently passed. From that point on we gave this bike everything we had in order to deliver something amazing to our friend.
Jared and his family were blown away with the end result. There’s a long list of things that set this bike apart from a stock RD400, but the most notable things would be the RD400 Daytona fork swap as well RZ350 swing arm swap and wheels. There’s a custom bracket allowing for an RZ Brembo front caliper. The Carbs have been vapor honed and re-jetted to work with the new DG exhaust and pod filters. The motor has been vapor honed, and the case covers have been powder coated. A new halo headlight has been fitted with new brackets. Updated hand controls were added with a pair of blast from the past rear sets to match. The front fender is an item off an XS750 that has been modified to fit this bike. The paint work was done with what Jared’s dad had planned for the bike. Jared’s Dad, Bob, was a flat track racer in his younger days. The bike has his old racing numbers as well as his nick name “Bullet Bob.”
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Max Langwieder says he’s a huge fan of Cafe Racer TV. In fact Max tells us he was inspired to build his first Cafe Racer after watching the show. Here are a few photos from his shop, Maxmade Machines in Munich, Germany.
(Sent to us from Jorge Damico and published without edits)
Stylish and original ideas always excite me. When I was introduced to the Cafe Racer style of motorcycles I was immediately hooked up by the concept and history behind of it as well its unique look. There is something in this style that lights up a desire for emotion and adrenaline. From that very moment I knew that I had to build and ride one.
After a long and extensive research analyzing all the possible donor bikes, years and types, I came across with the 2015 Yamaha SR400. It is the very same motorcycle being built since 1978 by Yamaha with a few modern improvements like fuel injection and front disk brake. The idea of using a brand new bike as a base of my project had its pros and cons. Yet a few strong arguments made me to decide in favor of using a 2015 motorcycle instead of an old beat up one. Not having to worry about potential and expensive issues on the engine, transmission, electrical parts and brake system were some of them, leaving me with room to invest time, energy and effort on the other aspects of the machine; allowing me to add my own flavor and ideas to the project.
In order to achieve a more compact profile look the shorter front and rear fenders played a major role. The horizontal line of the bike had to be lowered; a Triumph clubman type handle bar, thinner seat, repositioned meters and head light made the job, promoting a better alignment with the gas tank imaginary line. A new set of blinkers, mirrors and shorter muffler gave the final touches showcasing my re-interpretation of a classic and reliable motorcycle on a vintage look.
The end result was a leaner, cleaner and louder motorcycle that turns heads wherever we go. People get so enthusiastic with the bike that they stop by, ask questions and spend time admiring each detail; from teenagers to old dudes, man and women. However, more rewarding than all of this, is to have the sensation that I was able to spark in them curiosity and astonishment for Cafe Racers and vintage motorcycles.
By the end of the day, the conclusion of the project wasn’t what gave me the feeling of “mission completed”. The emotion of being able to motivate and encourage others to do similar things was the ultimate prize of this project.
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