(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.
Chris Graziano is a police officer from Wisconsin. He sent us his story about his latest build. He’s built three café racers over the years. His boss, the chief of Police saw his 1976 cb750 and loved it. What better way to get favor with the boss than to build a Cafe Racer for him.
The boss said he had an old bike – the first one he bought. He had given it to a family member and guess where it ended up, of course – in a barn. Chris and his boss began pulling pictures and talking about what he liked.
Chris stripped the 1978 GS750 down to the frame and rebuilt or replaced almost every part from the forks to the wheel bearings. “I rebuilt the top end of the bike and we added several add ons to the bike. I love working on old bikes and bringing them back from the dead. This bike was fun and is pretty quick. The most difficult challenge was getting the carbs tuned right with the 4 to 1 pipes and the air pods on the carbs it took several times rejetting the carbs to get them right. I hope to build another bike for myself soon”, Chris told us.
Good luck and we hope to see it when you do, Chris. Send us your bike photos and bike stories and like us on Facebook.
Kevin Stanley, who runs his own chop shop in L.A. sent us these before and after shots.
The Honda Brat:
What did he change? “Custom frame hoop, new dime city cycles brat style seat, clubman handlebars, new lighting, new lowered shocks, new tires.”
This week’s #tonuptuesday entrant is named “Cathy” and she comes from the gorgeous lake city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Chad Daly picked up this 1981 Yamaha XS650 Special from the original owner for only $400! It was his first project and he spent five months working on it in his garage when he wasn’t traveling the Northwest for his day job, which is building cell phone towers.
Here is the straight story, right from Chad:
“I personally crafted every portion of this bike, except for paint, powdercoat and upholstery,” he said. It’s a one owner, low mile classic! To cut or not to cut? She spent her first year being ‘old reliable’ spending most of her time running to the parts house, or the occasional lap around the lake!
“Then winter came;
“Time to cut, I mean it’s an ‘81, the most produced XS650 ever, hack it! Right? I hacked the back half of her off, and with the help of my good buddies at Villalobos Choppers, bent up a new subframe for her. I put her up on the jig and aligned everything to the moon, and mig’d her into place.
“I HATE fiberglass, so I knew my tins would have to be well, tin! I don’t own sheet metal tools, and this was my first real go at it. I had to 2 piece the rear cowl section to get it just right! It fits perfect, and is easily removable. I built the seat pan with the electronics box stashed inside of it, and then had the aged leather stitched up by Todd Van Houton out of Spokane, WA. I wanted underseat pipes, so after lots of beers, figured it out and made up a set, that are also easily removable.
“I fabricated a mount for the steering stabilizer, added the revalved RFS shocks, and added the Racetech internals to the stock front forks. I also built the fork brace, and under-swingarm battery box. The dual disc setup was almost factory bolt on, and I refaced and drilled the rotors out myself with a hand drawn pattern.
“The motor is bone stock with the addition of the Mikuni VM34s, Pamco ignition and a deep sump oil pan. This winter she’s back on the bench getting a 700cc upgrade. I love this bike. She handles awesome and has a ton of power.
“Now, as for the name… Have yourself a couple of pints and repeat the word Cafe’.. eventually as the night progresses, it will slur into Cathy. Trust me, I’m living proof!
Find Chad on Instagram at: @idaho_chad
1976 Honda CJ360T a first-time build by Mark Pardoski. “It took me two winters of my spare time to complete the build,” he said. Mark rescued the bike from the shed of a friend, whose uncle (pictured) bought it new in ’76. The bike had sat for 15 years.
Find Mark on Instagram at bulletproofwelding
Sam Evans of Essex, England sent us photos of his 1978 Honda CB400 Superdream. It’s the first bike he ever built. “After completing the bike I wanted to build more, so I started up Inglorious Motorcycles,” he said. Inglorious has been in business since only earlier this year.
“The bike was a pile of bits that I bought off of an old guy down the road from my house. I put most of it back together then started designing the rear end, as well as buying a new tank (CB750). “The tank that came with it was from a CB350, and was covered in dents! The rest of the modifications were all done by myself.
Custom subframe with LED brake light
Custom clip on bars with polished hand controls and leather bar tape
Custom twin stainless exhaust with pipe wrap
Firestone Deluxe champion tires
3″ lowered forks
From Travis Christopher, the owner of Bedlam Werks in Athens, GA:
“Three years ago I started my company, Bedlam Werks,” Christopher said. “We are a custom motorcycle parts manufacturer that operates out of Athens, Georgia. Our primary medium for construction is aluminum. My passion for custom design began as a young kid. I grew up working on old cars and motorcycles with my grandfather, who worked his entire life as a machinist. Eventually my affinity for working with my hands developed into my pursuit of a BFA in sculpture at the University of Georgia where I worked extensively with metals. This is also where I met the rest of the talented team of artists and bikers that now make up the Bedlam Werks crew. Our main goal as a business is to help others in their artistic pursuits and we enjoy seeing how our parts are applied to their projects. We came together on the belief that motorcycle culture and art are intertwined in a way that is rooted in craft, tradition, and the human experience. Plus, we all really like fast, cool looking bikes.
Christopher and his crew built “Rocket” a 1976 Honda CB550. This bike is actually on its third life as it was rebuilt once before and then stolen from Bedlam’s storage.
“It was a huge loss,” Christopher said. “Lucky for us, our one-of-a-kind custom motorcycle with its conspicuous Richard Petty red and blue color scheme was discovered at a flea market and returned, although it had suffered some body and electrical damage. We debated restoring it to its original condition, but eventually we decided to re-rebuild it as a new project. This time we wanted to expand on our design and implement a retro-futuristic style. I took inspiration from the “new” technology of the 1950s and 60s. The sleek curves and polished finish lend well to aluminum and I like the idea of modern day cafe racers as being a preview for the future of innovation in motorcycle design. Thus, Rocket was born. We built a new tank and seat which we left unpainted to give it a sci-fi kinda vibe. All other modifications were made with the purpose of making it a lighter, faster bike with a clean, minimalistic aesthetic.”
ROCKET SPECS: The rear section of the frame was removed and rebuilt with 1/8″ steel tubing for added strength. The airbox, handle bar controls, and indicators were all removed. The new tank and seat pan are both Custom built by Bedlam Werks out of .090″ 3003 aluminum, with a satin finish and a high polish to the raised center stripe. The upholstery is charcoal gray vinyl to accent the raw metal surface of the bike.
- Lightened brake disc and drum
- Custom 4 into 1 exhaust with thermal exhaust wrap
- Custom aluminium fuel tank
- Custom aluminum seat pan
- Custom upholstery
- Rebuilt CB550 engine with forged Wiseco pistons which increases the displacement from 544cc to 553.5cc
- New front sprocket for increased low end torque
- Gazi Sport Lite rear suspension
- Front forks rebuilt with RaceTech performance springs and Gold Valve Cartridge Emulators
- Loaded Gun Rear sets with custom mounting plate
- Custom dash and controls
- Shorai lithium iron battery
- Dynatech Dyna S ignition and 3ohm Dyna ignition coils
- Halogen Headlight
- X-Arc LED signals and brake lights
- Modern rectifier/regulator combo
- New wiring harness
- Motogadget electronic control box M Unit
Earl Johnson of Minnesota sent us a real gem this week; a 1974 Rickman Trident CR that he used in competition in the Central Roadracing Association in the late 70s. He picked it up at a salvage yard near home.
The motor was originally a Bonneville but when that blew he replaced it with a 1971 Trident that he said had better performance potential and less vibration. We’ll let Earl take over from here:
“That started a whole host of modifications, including modifying the frame and Trident motor to fit and align properly in the frame. I rebuilt the motor maintaining the 750 displacement but installed full race cams.
“Because the race cams didn’t come with a tach drive gear, I installed a Krober electronic tach. No speedometer is fitted. Cornering clearance had been an issue with the original motor in it and since the Trident motor was wider and I was using a factory 3-1 racing exhaust system(which had to be modified to fit the Rickman frame) , I raised the bike up by installing longer fork tubes (from a Rickman Metisse dirt bike) in new, custom made, wider billet triple trees and building a box section swing arm to get the axle adjusters back to the “normal” position and installing longer rear shocks. The wider forks now required a wider front fender so I split the stock fiberglass one and added in the appropriate amount of material.
“Rickman CRs came stock with a single Lockheed rotor and caliper in front so I modified the other fork leg to add the second caliper and re-laced the front rim to a special dual disc Rickman hub. Since the Bonneville motor grenaded so spectacularly, and because Rickman’s carried their oil in the frame, I was never going to get all the bits and pieces out of the frame, so I built a custom aluminum 6.5 quart oil tank that fit in place of the original airbox. This also offered some additional cooling benefits with the extra oil.
“Production Tridents always ran an oil cooler and I didn’t like hanging mine under the steering neck like the stock bikes, so I built the appropriate bracketry to mount it inside the fairing under and slightly behind the headlight. I then slotted the front of the fairing with 3 slots on either side of the headlight for proper airflow to the cooler. All brake, oil, fuel and breather lines were replaced with custom stainless braided lines and AN fittings. After retiring the bike from competition, I tore the whole bike down and redid everything for the custom cosmetics. The frame was re-polished and re-nickled and all the aluminum bits were polished. The rack of Amal’s were ditched in favor of 3 round slide Mikunis.
Andres Contreras from Bogota, Colombia spent two years’ worth of Saturdays with his father to restore this 1974 Yamaha GT50. He received the bike 16 years ago and he and his friends raced to see who was fastest around the parking lot. After sitting for 14 years, Contreras pulled it out after he discovered the cafe racer culture online. On September 6 he took the bike to the Meeting of Old and Classic motorbikes in Bogota. “I realized that it is a rare motorbike for this size, received a lot of looks and they took enough photos, he said.”
“It was a father and son project where I designed and ran most of the time and my dad was the one who welded or painted. I learned a lot and found out that it is more satisfying to have a motorbike that you made yourself.”