Tech Tip: First Time Café Builders Advice from Doc’s Chops

My most useful advice to anyone who wants to take an old bike and turn it into a café racer is to do what I do – invest in a shop manual specific to the bike you are working on. Before I ever start a bike I buy either a Chilton, Clymer, Haynes or, better yet, an old left over factory shop manual, and study the mechanics of the bike. Go over maintenance procedures like setting points, timing, cam-chain adjustment, valve adjustment and such.

Any more, it is hard to find a shop that will agree to work on these old bikes, and if they do the labor rates may be very high. If you educate yourself you should be able do things on your own. The best place to start is always with the basics, and with a manual by your side you have all the specs listed and can save a lot of headache.

No matter how good you can make a bike look, it does no good sitting along the side of the road broken down. Always start with the mechanics of the motor first. Then move to the ignition and make everything right there. Finally, move onto fuel and carburetion last. If you take your time and set everything right the first time you will save a lot of time banging your head against a wall.

– Greg “Doc’s Chops” Hageman

5 replies
  1. Jerry Fernandes
    Jerry Fernandes says:

    Greg, you are amazing. Your CX500 is one of the coolest cafe bikes I’ve ever seen. As soon as I finish what I,m working on (75 Honda CB400F) I want to do one of those too. I know you are a buisy guy so I wont bore you but I would like to know where you source things like your tripple clamps and the pipes. I work at a shop in Dallas, TX “High Five Cycles” and love old bikes as well.

    Thanks, Jerry

  2. Craig Bostic
    Craig Bostic says:

    Greg are those rims the same as the rims on the CM400c? I have an 81 CM that I am about to start and I would like to finish my rims the same as yours. I also would like to know where you got those pipes. Great bike I just wish the show was a little more about the wrench turning and less of the lifestyle.

  3. Mark
    Mark says:

    Hey I was wondering about taking a new bike like a Ducati or Yamaha and turning it into a cafe-racer. Is this possible or am I just crazy?


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