Royal Enfield Twins for 2018

The Interceptor

Continental GT 650

Regular readers of Cafe Racer magazine will know how fond we are of Royal Enfield’s single-cylinder Continental GT. The spritley, 535cc thumper has long held a place in our garage fleet, serving us well as a backroads scratcher par excellence and a sturdy, everyday commuter ride. The Harris Bros. designed chassis and top-notch Italian Paoli suspension makes the GT a true factory cafe racer, while the 1960s styling brings smiles to the mugs of bike enthusiasts and everyday Joes. We’ve been hearing rumors of a new series of parallel twin Enfields for years now, as the company is eager to delve into the rich history it created back in the ton-up era with their quick, handsome Interceptor 750. Well, feast your peepers on the newly released Continental GT 650 and the classically-styled Interceptor, both due in dealerships for 2018. The bikes are based on the earlier GT’s Harris chassis and suspenders though they’re now fitted with six-speed gearboxes, anti-lock brakes and what’s said to be a 47 horsepower output at a smooth, untroubled 7,000RPM. The Interceptor’s lines are evocative of the original bike’s classic British design, but 21st Century updates include a hex-stitched brat-style flat saddle and orange, red or silver paint. The more racy GT looks very similar to the single of the same name, but boasts a true ton-plus top speed as opposed to the single’s 80-ish MPH max. We’re eager to throw a leg over both and RE has just informed us there’s a U.S. launch scheduled for early spring, so stay tuned.

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Hell Bent for Honda Issue

Coming up in our December/January issue, we explore the always fascinating world of customized vintage Honda motorcycles.There are many theories concerning why Big red has become the default cafe bike for the 21st Century, from those who say it’s the sheer volume of machines imported by the firms during the 1970s, to the inherent build quality and resilience of Hondas that keeps them running strong seemingly forever. We take a global view of the current Honda customizing craze with a wicked-fast Rickman-framed special from Germany (see above,)a sweet Chicago CB750 from youthful builders Federal Moto and the much-anticipated feature on the Sallings family’s inspiring work on a quartet of early Honda air-cooled twins. We’ll take a look at which classic Hondas may become tomorrow’s custom creations with a price-guide on a few models you may not have considered for your next project bike while our resident Tech Editor Matt Wiley begins disassembling the factory carburetors on our own CB500 Four project bike to reveal some common problems with these early ’70s flyers. If you’re not a fan of Hondas now, check out the next issue which should surely change your tune. One sale Dec. 4.

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Get Yourself Heard on Driverless Cars

Like most transportation policy in this nation, decisions are made by elected officials and lobbyists without a single nod towards the concerns of us two-wheelers. Case in point- transportation providers like Uber are busy working to produce technology that would make driverless cars commonplace on our roads, but as they and several automakers do their bidding to rush legislation through Washington, D.C. no one has considered whether these vehicles will be safe to operate around motorcycles. We even spent several weeks tracking down Craig Ewer, a spokesperson for the famously interview shy Uber who admitted that no one from the motorcycling lobby- not the AMA, not the Motorcycle Industry Council- has been consulted on the matter, which is not surprising. Lucky for us, the AMA has issued the following press release aimed at getting riders active in making sure we don’t get steamrolled- literally and figuratively- in the rush to make autonomous vehicles a reality.

Federal regulator requests comment on updated automated vehicle policy Voice your concerns today! On Sept. 15, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requested comments on its updated federal automated vehicle policy – Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety. The deadline to submit comments is Nov. 14. Take Action This issue is of vital importance to motorcyclists nationwide, as carmakers and technology companies deploy ever-more-sophisticated vehicles on our roadways. The American Motorcyclist Association needs your help to ensure that this new technology and infrastructure recognizes motorcyclists and reacts appropriately to your presence. Help us keep you and our fellow riders safe by responding to this message.According to the NHTSA notice, “as automated vehicle technologies advance, they have the potential to dramatically reduce the loss of life each day in roadway crashes.” Reducing traffic crashes involving motorcycles and decreasing the number of motorcycle operators and passengers injured or killed each year is a top priority of the AMA. Through a comprehensive approach of promoting rider education, the use of personal protective equipment, increased motorist awareness and discouraging impaired motorcycle operation, the AMA seeks to enhance motorcycle safety in transportation and recreational activities.While the AMA is heartened to see that motorcyclists are mentioned in the Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety document in which they encourage entities to consider “external actors with whom the ADS may have interactions, including other vehicles (both traditional and those with ADSs), motorcyclists.” We feel more should be done to ensure automated driving systems can properly interact with motorcyclists on the road.To protect the safety of our nation’s more than 8.5 million motorcyclists, the AMA is urging NHTSA to work with manufacturers, software developers and other entities to create testing procedures that can verify the ability of this technology to safely interact with motorcyclists on the road.Additionally, the AMA is concerned that vehicle operators will become increasingly dependent on these automated systems and complacent with regard to their proficiency in operating their vehicles, subscribing to the mindset that “technology will rescue me from any bad decisions I make.”Therefore, the federal automated vehicle policy should include a comprehensive consumer awareness campaign to educate the public on these new technologies and their limits.Advanced crash-avoidance warning systems technologies used in motor vehicles must not supplant an operator’s responsibility to operate the vehicle in a safe and responsible manner. While technology can, and should, enhance the actions of the operator in maintaining control of the vehicle, safe operation of a motor vehicle should remain the operator’s highest priority.With the safety of motorcyclists the utmost priority of the AMA, we urge you to voice your opinion before Nov. 14.

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Three Fast, Talented Females

We really dig breaking new and unusual stories at CRM mainly due to the fact that interesting custom bike stories are so much fun to uncover. Next issue, we’re presenting a generous spread on three young women from Arkansas who have waded deep into the DIY custom bike building game and, as you can see, come up winners. Each chose a vintage Honda as their donor bike and, under the skilled guidance of veteran builder Jan Sallings (the only bloke in the photo) they’ve tackled everything from engine rebuilds to welding and everything in between. These aren’t just polish-and-peek showbikes they’ve built, but a trio of hard-ridden road-burners, stripped down for extra performance and everyday reliable. It’s a true inspiration to see youngsters of any gender embracing the hard work and time=consuming arts of designing home-brewed special, so be sure to check out CRM’s December/January issue for the full story. Keep on wrenchin’, ladies.

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A Hero, Still Inventing

I’ve been aware of the meticulous work and innovative designs of Swiss cafe racer engineer Fritz Egli ever since seeing one of his ultra-rare Vincent-powered specials at a London bike meet some 20 years ago. At the time, I was so blown away by actually seeing a Vincent Black Shadow cafe custom that I didn’t know exactly how special this particular machine was. After much research, it turns out that Egli, now 80 and still involved in the operations of his shop near Zurich, was the bloke who revolutionized Vincents for roadracing in the late 1960s but redeveloping their rickety, dated chassis design into something rigid, stable and more modern. Egli wh had been a part of the burgeoning Swiss cafe racer scene before taking up racing, went on to work similar magic on big, often ill-handling Kawasaki and Honda fours during the 1970s and 80s, and we’re proud to announce a rare interview with the man hisself in our upcoming 2017 Annual Edition. The feature focuses on Egli plus two additional cafe racer legends who are still creating custom bikes that we’re lucky enough to be able to purchase today. Look for it come Nov. 1. Ride on!

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Shoulda Been Contenders

Moto PGH. built this groovy Yamaha 650 That Shoulda Coulda Been a Winner

‘Tis a strange and wonderful problem to have, but each yeear during our annual custom bike show, we’re so busy with the organizing end of things that there’s amazing custom bikes that miss our eye. Oftentimes- and this past August’s even was no exception- we’ll be strolling through the crowded park, running one errand (or twenty) when we come across an attendee’s motorcycle that’s clearly as fine and well-built as any entered in the official show. It’s a mystery why so many crowd-gathering machines don’t end up in contention for prizes; some owners confess that they simply can’t stick around long enough for the ate afternoon trophy ceremony while others just aren’t that interested in seeking approval for their work. Our popular People’s Choice Award which allows the crowd to select one of the show’s top winners (who rode away with over $2,000 in swag, by the way) often finds folks asking us why their favorite custom bikes aren’t wearing entry numbers, a question we just don’t have an answer for.
Either way, we’ve compiled a Top Five list of this year’s Bike That Could Have Won Trophies in the current, October/November issue which is worth taking a look at. Who knows- maybe next year, everybody’s machine will be automatically entered in the prize competition when they ride in…

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You Meet The Most Interesting Folks On Cafe Racers

Since launching this publication – in an Isle of Man hotel pub, of all places_ nearly 10 years ago, we’ve encountered some truly amazing and interesting people who also dig fast, sleek classic bikes. Among the first to phone in was singer and lifelong biker Billy Joel who called our offices so casually, we figured it was one of the staffers playing a prank on us. Years later, the Piano Man has proven endlessly helpful as his shop boss Alex Puls has helped wit tech knowledge and parts for our custom bike builds and allowed us to ride bikes from their 20th Century Cycles collection whenever we stop by. Comedian Alonzo Bodden is another high-profile bloke who shares a genuine passion for rapid two-wheeler and his friendship- not to mention his serious talents on a motorbike- have been a boon to us for years. Coming up in our 2017 Annual Issue that goes on sale at month’s end is action film star Jean Claude Van Damme who, with his son Kris, recently constructed a groovy Triumph Thruxton custom that CRM is proud to feature on teh cover. The bike is a tribute to JCVD’s longtime canine companion and the story of how two generations of this biking family came together to create it is moving in more ways than one. Check it out come Oct. 31- it’s a real, ahem, kick!

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Not As Hard As It Looks

Though I’ve been riding and tinkering with motorcycles for nearly 40 years, the actual, hands-on building of engines has been a skill I’ve never accrued. Being busy both working a demanding journalism career (or three) and simultaneously struggling to maintain a family life and an annual riding season of around 10,000 miles has left little time for serious wrenching. Nevertheless, I’ve learned how to tear down and make general repairs all sorts of bikes from four-valve Ducati superbikes to antique Tritons and Nortons and Hondas, picking up the necessary knowledge by plenty of trials and more than y fair share of errors. It wasn’t until meeting CRM’s resident Norton guru, Nick Coumos, that the opportunity to wade wrenches-first into the intracacies of engine repair came my way and in the two years since, the knowledge Nick has shared continues to amaze and impress. Having ridden and repaired Norton twins for over 50 years, Nick’s tutoring has made understanding the inner workings of these staid old Britbikes a fairly straightforward affair. I’m always shocked when he has me to his workshop for a regular tech lesson where I inevitably find that the task that I’m so apprehensive about tackling (and possibly getting wrong) generally proves far easier than, say, learning a new word processing software program on the computer. Now, with a 1967 Norton Atlas engine nearly complete with Nick’s guidance, I’m confident that the classic British bikes in my garage will remain roadworthy well into the future. Hats off to Nick.

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A Legendary Winner

With dozens and dozens of entries pouring in during our August 12 Custom Bike Show to name the giveaway British Motorcycle Gear leather jacket, company honcho Paul Brooks has announced that he’s chosen a winner. Turns out local dude Bob Mathe chose The Legend Jacket, which is a very fitting name. Bob will receive his own Legend jacket, complete with protective armor from B Read More

Your Chance To Own Our Mean, Green Machine

It was during the very first season of Velocity’s “Cafe Racer” TV series that one of the producers happened upon the idea of a low-buck build-off challenge episode. Me and my then co-host, rockabilly singer Ben Frideman, were taken to the AMA’s Vintage Motorcycle Days weekend at Mid-Ohio and each given $1,000 cash. Our mission? To build a running cafe racer in just 24 hours, using whatever tools we could find in the paddock and our wits. On my team was the skillful New York team from XPO Streetfighters, A.J. Fulgado and Frank Ford, both of whom pitched in with imagination, sweat equity and loads of patience to build, a well, a not-too-groovy-looking motorcycle seen above. Once the show ended, Fulgado asked to take the 1978 Suzuki GS750E back home to further customize it, but some two hyears later, he still hadn’t found time to complete the job. CRM’s editor at large Blake Kelly and I retrieved the Suzook and returned it to our HQ where, over a series of issues, rebuilt her into the stunning, roadworthy custom you see here. Unfortunately, limited garage space means the GS has to be sold off and she’s awaiting your bids on Ebay as this is being written. Check out the details on ebay, profiling a laundry list of upgrades from the Gazi rear shocks to the Dyna 2000 electronic ignition, Roland Sands lighting equipment and custom subframe and fiberglass bodywork. There’s even a set of Keihin CR carbs dyno tuned for perfection. Own a piece of cafe racer history with this quick, beautiful piece of metal that you can simply gas up and ride everyday.

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Steel City Mods Vs Rockers

The summer’s soon to be winding down, but the good dudes at the Steel City Rockers are staging their annual custom speedbike and scooter get-together come Saturday, September 2. The Rocker club has taken the helm of this established event, adding new sponsors and reborn energy to the show, which is located on Grant Avenue in Pittsburgh’s historic Millvale neighborhood, right off of Route 28 on the North Side. Drop by anytime between Noon and 7 p.m. for a pin-up girl contest, a custom bike and scooter show, a DJ spinning vintage rock and Northern Soul tunes and a good time whether you dig Fred Perry Shirts and parkas or studded black leather. www.steelcitymodsvsrockers has more info. Make sure to stop by the CRM booth and say howdy and check out some of our recent custom build bikes from the magazine. And oh yes- show us your custom cafe bike and it may end up in a future issue. See you there!

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Missed The Show? Well, Dig This!

Naturally, weather, logistics and professional commitments kept lots of folks who wanted to from attending last weekend’s Custom Bike Show. Well, thanks to the good guys at Virginia’s Cognito Moto, there’s some very well-shot, high definition video of Saturday’s events that just about sums up the fun, excitement and amazing machines on display. We especially dig the looks of surprise and sheer happiness on the faces of the ten individual bike show class winners, and the swag bags they took home were enough to give Ms. Oprah pause. Sit back, enjoy and make sure not to miss next year’s affair, slated again for the second weekend in August.

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Our Greatest Show Yet

With the skies pissing down on our Friday night Rebel yell Pre-Party, we were encouraged to find a hearty hundred souls in attendance. The screening of the Mods and Rockers classic “Quadrophania” at Sewickley’s Tull Theater proved a hit and as we exited late nite, the skies were clearing, leaving us encouraged about Saturday’s possibilities. And encouraged we should have been as the warm, clear weather all day Saturday brought out custom cafe racers in numbers we’ve never before seen. They roared in from North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio and even Canada, showcasing a broad range of styles and an even broader interpretation of what quick, classic, custom streetbikes can be. By mid-afternoon, the crowds were surging, the vendor row was poppin’ and the two parking lots at full capacity. The 61 entries into this, our Tenth Annual Reader’s Ride-In Custom Show was a new record, proving the build-your-own passions show no signs of abating. Seeing builders in their early twenties and veteran shop-masters well into retirement all showcasing their hand-built machines was a truly groovy moment. These were, for the overwhelming majority, ridden, functional machines, focusing on real-world performance and style, not abstract trailer-queens. Check out a few of the choice entries and look for complete coverage come our October/November issue. Much love to our sponsors: Royal Enfield North America, Rebel Yell Bourbon, British Motorcycle Gear, Cognito Moto, Rick’s Motorcycle Electrics, Workshop Hero, Coker Tire, Joe Rocket, Langlitz Leathers, Avon Tires, Motul, Mike’s XS, Randakk’s Cycle Shakk, Z-1 Enterprises and all the staffers who worked their buns off to make it happen.

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Time To Re-Tire

If you’ve riding classic iron this summer and still running old school bias-ply ribbed tires, let us hip you to a serious piece of information. several tire manufacturers are currently rolling our modern, sticky radial rubber for vintage motorcycle rim sizes and after fitting a set to our 1978 Suzuki GS750 custom, the bike is totally re-born. The new hoops are constructed of the same sort of compounds that make sportbike tires to adhesive to the roads and easy to corner fast on; we replaced an aging set of ribbed Avons on the Suzuki with a pair of Avon’s Roadrider Radials and within the first few tight corners, the difference in handling was as clear as a cop’s lights in the rearview mirrors. The ability to countersteer into turns and feel the front tire’s feedback though the handlebars was a new sensation for this nearly 40 year-old custom bike and at higher speeds, the stability and conficence are downright, well, modern. incredible results for a few hundred bucks investment, and most tire makers, from Metzeler to Dunlop to Pirelli have entered the vintage radials game, so now’s the time to seriously upgrade your classic bike experience. See you in the twisties!

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Swap Meet at Show

After nearly a decade in business, spare custom parts have tended to accumulate at the CRM HQ in numbers that could surprise the most dedicated pack rat. Our Tech Section has chronicled the construction of nearly a dozen motorbikes over the years and during the individual builds, bits and bobs that either didn’t fit or somehow got cast aside have filled every spare section of shelving. During our August 12 Reader’s ride-In Custom Bike Show, we’ll be staging a swap meet area where attendees can buy, barter and haggle for some of these very pieces. Our faithful staff have been busy cataloging and labeling the parts so expect a windfall of everything from tank bags, riding gear (men’s and women’s, new and used) to bike locks, engine oil (new, of course) and even a complete, disassembled and totally fresh Triumph 650 Bonneville engine for just $750. Get there early for the best bargains and bring a carry-all!

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Who’s Watching the Road?

Just recently a morning traffic tie-up on my street caused several rush-hour commuters to, well, wait in line for a few moments. This being the age when waiting for most anything means instantly grasping for a smartphone, the panicked motorists all grabbed their electronic security blankets in unison. Granted, it being the morning rush and with most of these folks, I can assume, driving to work, sending a quick message to the workplace about impending tardiness seems smart. But after a few minutes, as these photos reveal, most of them continued pecking away at their text buttons, keeping one foot on the gas, both eyes on their phones and not an iota of concentration on their fellow motorists. After more than 35 years of riding streetbikes, it’s safe to say (no pun intended) that this era is the single most dangerous I’ve yet ridden in, all due to the addictive qualities of hand-held devices. Somebody do something…

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Best of the Midwest

We were happy to set up shop at Chicago’s annual Motoblot street festival a couple of weeks back where we’d promised to have our cameras ready to capture the custom bikes in attendance. More than 12,000 punters visited the show created by Larry Fletcher of Chicago Ton-Up, and though V-Twin cruisers were everywhere, CRM managed to snag pics and tech details on some truly tasty cafe racer customs. A half dozen of the best of these stripped-down road rockers are slated to appear in our upcoming August/September issue, which, by the way, is dedicated to the purchase, personalization and running of low-buck custom bikes. In a world where a running classic car will set you back at least $30,000, it’s a true pleasure to cover reader’s rides built to a fairly high spec for less than $4,000. For example, rest your peepers on this crazy, metalflake Suzuki two-stroke special, built by Chicago’s Motorcycle Mania. This baby rolled away with the Best Japanese Custom award at Motoblot and full tech spec awaits you come August.

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Cool Off, Chill Out, Catch a Classic Ton-Up Flick

It’s been seriously, tropical island hot around these parts for the past couple of weeks. It’s the time of year when wise riders will choose to hot the streets in either early morning before the heat and summer humidity rise, or wait until near sundown, when evening breezes cool the atmosphere. We’re anticipating similar weather come our August 12 Reader’s Ride-In Custom Bike Show, so in the interest of keeping things comfortable for our attendees, we’ve added a cool-off room just adjacent to the bike show area at Sewickley’s War Memorial Park. The room is actually the Sewickley YMCA’s events center and come Saturday, August 12, it will be your location to kick back, drink something cold and catch one of the classic rocker movies we’ve scheduled to play continuously all day. The first flick, 1964’s The Leatherboys” starts running when doors open at 10 a.m, followed by the coming-of-age rocker drama “Some People” at noon, followed by “An Ace Day” a rollicking 1994 documentary chronicling the unlikely resurgence of England’s most visited transport cafe at 2. So even if Ma Nature decides to do her Heat Miser impersonation, this year’s event as your (sweaty) back covered.

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Name This Jacket and It’s Yours

Among the many attractions and cool things to do at this year’s August 12 Reader’s Ride-In Custom Bike Show is a chance to win a completely new leather riding jacket from British Motorcycle Gear. BMG’s Paul Brooks knows a thing or two about quality motorcycle kit, having proffered top UK brands for years. This time, we’s served up this most excellent new full leather, padded riding jacket to any CRM reader who can invent a suitable name for the garment. Take a good, long look and then send your submissions to us at The winner will be announced at the close of festivities after the trophy and prize presentation at the show, with BMG providing a jacket in the winner’s size soon thereafter. Put on those thinking caps (or should we say thinking helmets) and good luck!

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Triple Threat

With their odd, whirring rumble of an exhaust note and their sturdy engineering, Triumph’s first-generation triples are amazing pieces of machinery. We’ve been running a cool black 1996 Speed Triple since buying it new and, at 40,000 reliable miles, it continues to prove itself a capable, well-rounded mount, as comfortable at quick, backroads scratching as it is touring or commuting. We were quite surprised to find several customized Hinckely Triumph triples at last year’s Ace Cafe Reunion and were further stupefied when spotting this sleek, silver bullet, made from an ordinary 1995 Trident 900 on the Web. We’ve been busy formulating a customized Triumph 900 in the CRM garage with plenty of help from Britain’s Cafe Racer Kits ( who have concocted a well-engineered kit that covers much of what we’ll need. Gathering parts from far and wide, the kit utilizes the stock frame, suspension and wheels, while a new subframe, bodywork and ancillaries are courtesy of CR Kits. Though heavy by today’s standards and bereft of all the latest electronic gadgetry, the 900 triple makes a fine-hndling, sharp-looking cafe custom as evidenced here. We’re doing a mock-up of what ours will look like come the August/September issue so stay tuned.

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Tools, Road-Ready

If you ride a vintage motorcycle, experience will soon teach you that having a set of tools handy on the road is not only a necessity, but one of the only things standing between completing a planned ride and spending time at the roadside, admiring the (static) scenery. Our good friends at Portland, Oregon’s Langlitz Leathers have created a finely-crafted tool roll seen above and they’ve even helped out by donating a cool half-dozen of these babies as prizes for August 12th’s Reader’s Ride-In Custom Bike Show. Featuring brass hardware and made from 3.5oz cowhide just like Langlitz’ top flight riding jackets, the rolls have room for just about any hardware needed to keep your wheels turning. is the place to gear up and see you at the show!

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Era of Domination

It’s been nearly a couple of years since we started restoration work on a weatherbeaten, timeworn 1959 Norton Dominator and we’re proud to announce that she’s ready for the road. The job couldn’t have been possible without the remarkable skills and acumen of CRM staffer Nick Coumos who has been riding and building Norton twins since the late 1960s. Nick painstakingly rebuilt the 600cc motor, welding on broken cooling fins, rebuilding the battered top-end and basically making the Dommie roadworthy for the first time in decades. The bike came to us for a measly $600 at the Vintage Motorcycle Days Swap Meet a few years back when some impatient youth, unaware of what treasures he had, unloaded it in hopes of making a down payment on a new sportbike. There are very few of the original, 1950s Norton twins on the road in North America, as New Jersey’s Berliner Brothers didn’t import them in large numbers. With their lovely, understated monochrome finish and mid century design, the Dominator is, on our humble opinion, the best Norton twin ever made. Final build details are available in the current issue with a road test coming in August/September. Roar on!

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Factory Cafe Road Tests

It’s a truly magnificent time to be into retro streetbikes. The current issue of Cafe Racer focuses several road tests on the current crop of factory cafe customs, a breed of streetbike barely known a decade ago. One of our faves is Ducati’s new Scrambler cafe Racer. The 800cc L-Twin combines the lightweight handling the very popular Scrambler line is revered for with more beefy suspension, an altered chassis and tasteful, gold and black styling inspired by Ducatis of the 1970s. We were lucky enough to attend the recent launch in Bologna, Italy where Ducati had us put the new machine through its paces along the incredibly twisty, scenic mountain roads of the Apennie Mountains, a place where Julie Andrews belting out “Sound of Music” wouldn’t have seemed impossible. The pace was intense and the SCR more than held its own. Read all about it in CRM issue #51, out now.

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Two Months ‘Til Showtime

The days are quickly counting down until the launch of our Tenth Annual reader’s Ride-In Custom Bike Show. We’ve been receiving all sorts of amazing images of bikes that our readers are creating for entry and the competition promises to be stiff. We’ve a whole weekend of events planned- more details are just a click away on our shows page- including a Friday night cocktail party at Sewickley’s Slippery mermaid sponsored by Rebel Yell bourbon. The restaurant is adjacent to CRM’s headquarters, so we’re leaving the doors to our secret skunk works open so folks can check out some of our current custom cafe builds in progress. After the party, join us for a bucket of popcorn and a screening of “Quadrophenia” at the nearby Tull Family Theater at 9:30. Hope to see you and your machines there!

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Pandemonium Police Bike

Dig this the bloody most! This sweet, green metalflake green Kawasaki Z-1 was built by Pandemonium Cycles and is featured in our June/July issue, on sale Tuesday. The former Police Special was already plenty fast, but the shop transformed it with upgraded wheels, brakes and front suspension, lending the big four a purposeful, racebike appearance. We’d begun featuring our own staff build of a vintage Z-1 a while back, but builder and staff test rider Keith Reed had to bail on the project die to unforseen circumstances. As a result, bikes like this one are fueling thoughts of diving into our own 1970s Kawasaki 1,000 build sometime in the not too distant future. Stay tuned and keep on tuning!

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Middleweight Mash-Up Completed

Just a couple of weeks until our 100-page June/July issue hits the stands and we’re quite proud to be concluding yet another of Cafe Racer’s custom build features. Over the last couple of years (yes, it’s been that long) we’ve chronicle\d every nut, bolt and mishap of the complete rebuild of our 1972 Honda CB500 Four, and the howling little Honda is finally roadworthy. Editor at Large Blake Kelly does the honors of racking up the first shakedown miles aboard the red and white Honda and his comments are, well, for the books to to speak. Like all custom motorcycles, the CB500 is far from finished with the latest ride revealing much that still needs to be done. However, just hearing the engine growl and seeing the wheels turn in anger for the first time in years is well worth the wait.

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Mouth-Watering Pork

We just had to offer a serving of this tasty piece of Milwaukee pork, rendered to perfection by Barnes Performance Cycles of Endwell, New York. Reader Abdrew Barnes did the do on what was a stock 883 Sportster, after watching episodes of Velocity’s “Cafe racer TV,” he says.

“I took interest in cafe racers a couple years ago and decided to build my own. My Cafe Racer started with a basic 2002 Harley Davidson XL883 Sportster. This one had been sitting outside most of its life before finding it on Craigslist. With having less than 6000 miles, but a lot of cosmetic damage, I knew it was the perfect bike for my project. Everything you see was created in my head,” said Andrew who included as few bolt-on bits as possible.
Upgrades include a 1,200cc big bore conversion, along with high-lift cams, a new carburetor and ignition unit. Along with a new wiring, the Sporty was rebuilt from the powdercoated frame up with a new, cafe tail section and fuel tank, both bearing eye-popping custom paint. Rumble on, Andrew!

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Two Wheels on Two Reels Movie Night

Mods and Rockers On the Big Screen

The weekend of August 11-12 is the date for our Tenth Annual Reader’s Ride-In Custom Bike Show and we’re proud to announce a few fun events before the actual custom concourse at Sewickley War Memorial Park. In conjunction with Sewickley’s Tull Family Theater (418 Walnut St.)Cafe Racer magazine has arranged a special screening of the 1979 motorcycle classic “Quadrophenia.” The flick, with a groovin’ soundtrack by The Who, is the first to chronicle the crazy world of British mods and rockers during 1963 and brings the period vividly to life. Best of all, the screening takes place Friday evening before Saturday’s bike show, and will begin at the conclusion of a special motorcycle-themed evening at the nearby Slippery Mermaid bar and restaurant, sponsored by Rebel Yell bourbon. Check out the theater’s website – – as advance tickets will be on sale shortly and seating, just like on a cafe racer, is limited!

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Swingin’ Single

There are few types of streetbies that float our collective boats like single cylinder thumpers. The mechanical simplicity, the mad, raucous exhaust note and their ability to create thrust from so little make singles some of favorites. Case in point is reader Matthew Blaylock’s Royal Enfield Continental GT. The Indian-made 535cc marvel is a massive seller overseas clocking somewhere near 400,000 units annually. The classic cafe racer looks and salty performance were enough to see Matthew who took the wrenches to his GT and came up with a spritely middleweight custom.

“The first thing I did was ditch the dinosaur-thigh stock pipe and replaced with a light, wicked-sounding open pipe with reverse cone silencer from D&D Performance. There’s a Stage 1 breather kit with K&N oil case filter a Hitchcocks’s
venturi to help air flow, a Dynojet Power Commander mapped for the stage 1 kit and the free-flowing exhaust.” He also bolted on a CNC alloy fork top and bottom yoke also from England’s R.E. specialists Hitchcocks, along with alloy bar-end mirrors, foam grips (to lessen vibration)and a tasty, 1960s-style fairing. The fairing required that the clip-on bars be dropped three inches,but the riding position remains civil thanks to custom CNC machined rearsets. Sweet!

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Calling All Custom Bike O.G.’s

After spending the majority of this month on the road attending more new retro streetbike launches than you can shake a datalogger at, it’s a shame I won’t be able to attend this new shindig happening on the West Coast. I’m talking about the first-ever Outlier’s Guild Motorcycle Show slated for May 8th. The event has all the promise of a top-notch day of handmade iron and takes place at the Container Yard in smoggy Downtown Los Angeles. Besides seeing show entries from some of So Cal’s brightest amateur motorcyce fabricators, there’sll bemachines on display from some legendary names as wel including An all-star roster of builders will be participating including: Michael “Woolie” Woolaway, Shinya Kimura, Mitsuhiro “Kiyo” Kiyonaga, Don Kott, Aaron Guardado, Michel Valle, Roland Sands, and Len Higa. The day’s festivities are free and open to the public with things kicking off at noon through 9 PM at The Container Yard located at 800 E. 4th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

For more information visit,

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Meet us at Motoblot

Bring your handbuilt iron to Handbuilt and appear in Cafe Racer magazine

The warming weather brings our team back to the open roads where we’ll be checking out the latest home-brewed custom motorbikes from one end of the country to the other. Two of our photographers will be attending the annual Handbuilt Show in Austin, Texas come April 22 so if you spot anyone wearing CRM shirts and bearing a fancy camera, stop by and feel free to show ’em your ride. Likewise, when June rolls around, you can meet up with us at the Motoblot show in Chicago where we’ll have a booth filled with nifty CRM gear plus a couple of our own latest custom builds. Bring your machine by as we;ll have a backdrop set-up where we hope to shoot feature bikes for upcoming issues of the magazine. Feel free to send us a pic ahead of time at

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New Bikes Galore


Tis spring and besides the budding greenery and start of riding season, the release of new motorcycles from the major manufacturers is at hand. 2017 promises to be a banner year for retro-flavored streetbikes with nearly all the OEM’s busting out with cafe-inspired models, new naked performance roadsters and machines that will fill the pages of upcoming issues of Cafe Racer. Just last weekend, we were in Los Angeles throwing a leg over the saddles of several new-for-2017 machines including Honda’s groovy Rebel 500, Triumph’s wicked-fast Bobber 1200 Bonneville (pictured above being ridden by comedian ace bike tester Alonzo Bodden) ) showing off it’s amazing handling and mind-blowing torque and the surprise find, Kawasaki’s Z650 . The parallel twin Z proved nimble, fun and far more powerful than expected, tearing through the So Cal canyons like a panther with an energy drink jag. Stay tuned for full road tests and exciting action images by the brilliantly talented Kevin Wing starting June 2.

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Beautiful Beemer


It’s not everyday that an independent magazine gets a scoop that beats the big guys to the punch, but this time, the stars aligned in our favor. CRM contributor Paul Rudolf makes his daily green at European Motorcycles of Pittsburgh, a local shop that just happens to have an early-release model of BMW’s wicked-cool R Nine T Racer. We’ve been lusting after a ride on the new Boxer retro cafe since hearing of its imminent release some months back, and Paul, with the help of the shop’s new owner set up a test ride just for CRM. The official launch of the sleek, white beauty isn’t scheduled for another three weeks or so (which we’ll bring you coverage of) so our April/May issue’s sneak preview is a definite coup. On sale April 6, we’ll reveal just what’s so special about this much-anticipated Bavarian beauty.

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Bike of The Week


Jurgan Hillenbrand’s BMW

Hailing from Braunschwag, Germany, Jurgan rode his hand-built BMW Boxer custom all the way to London for the most recent Ace Cafe Reunion, pressing all the way back to the European continent even though his hand-made five-gallon fuel tank suffered a vibration fracture in the process. In fact, we were alerted to the bike’s presence by a face in the crowd due its small petrol leak and Jurgan, once alerted, calmly replied, “Ja, it’s a problem I’ve noticed.” Many handmade componets make the Beemer a standout while Jurgan topped off his creation with plenty of top-shelf modern bits including the Acewell digital gauge, fully adjustable Wilbers forks and YSS racing shocks. Das rocks in any language!

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Bike Show Is A Go!


Get those polishing rags and wrenches humming as we’re announcing the date of our 2017 Cafe Racer Reader’s Ride-In Bike Show. This, our tenth annual meeting of the custom builder tribe, will take place on Saturday, August 12 at War Memorial Park in Sewickley, PA. As you can see from the image below, the event has drawn an impressive and diverse collection of hand-made iron from across the country with the level of craftsmanship continuing to wow us again and again. There will be trophies awarded and prize packages for the following classes: Best British Cafe Racer, Best American/European Cafe Racer, Best Japanese Cafe Racer, Best Bobber/Street Tracker, Best In Show, Wildest Engineering and People’s Choice. As with the 2016 event, there will be Second Place awards as well, plus a day filled with food and accessory vendors, live demonstrations on installing the latest custom motorcycle parts and accessories, a small swap meet area and a damn good time. No pre-registration is necessary for bikes- just turn up at 10 a.m. and join the fun.

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Lost In Translation


The funniest moments in life, we’ve come to learn, are seldom scripted. Come next issue (on sale April 4) we’ll reveal why this is true with the latest installment of our regular Stylin’ humor column. Many of us on CRM’s staff are avid collectors of misspelled, poorly-interpreted translations of the English language and seldom does the distance between tongues reveal itself more fully than in motorcycle product literature. With the profusion of foreign-made parts and accessories on the Internet, its one of life’s goofiest pleasures to open a box covered in some foreign script or another and laugh our way through instruction manuals that appear to have been written by participants in a 1960s LSD test. The item below, culled from an early Honda motorcycles rider’s manual is typically side-splitting. Wot- no Google Translate?


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Rockers, Texas Style


One of the most inspiring and downright fun events we’re ever attended is the annual Rockers VS Mods rally in Dallas, Texas. The crowds the event drew were impressive to say the least, with equal numbers of restored, vintage scooters and way-happenin’ cafe racers on display. This is a true rider’s rally, with around 4,000 assorted two-wheelers arriving from throughout the region, and we met some committed riders who had traveled hundreds of miles- low bars and all- to make the scene. Among our faves was the crew of local Mods who each dressed as a character from the Who rock-opera “Quadrophenia” right down to the bags of mock bennies hanging from their handlebars. This year marks the 6th staging of the weekend-long party, which kicks off on Friday,  March 30. There’s custom motorbike and scooter shows and live bands plus plenty of massed ride-outs at venues including the Belmont Hotel, Bryan Street Tavern, Vespa Dallas, Randy’s Scooter Museum, RPM Cycles, SMOKE and The Dub. Slap on that parka or pudding basin and see what all the fuss is about and click on for more.

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Web Upgrades and New Content


A few of you faithful readers may have noticed a few bumps and glitches on this website as of late. For a couple of days during the past week or so, the site you’re now reading may have proven inaccessible, but thanks to our skillful and hard-working tech crew, we’ve been resurrected with all the upgrades due a newly restored classic motorbike. Though on the surface may look largely the same, in the weeks to come, we’ll be adding new components such as weekly video feeds of us testing and building our project bikes, in-depth reviews of new products that represent the latest must-have kit for you and your custom ride, plus expanded photo features of our new Bike of The Week contest. We’re also just days away from announcing the mush-anticipated date for our 2017 Reader’s Ride-I Bike Show which roars to life come August in Sewickley’s War Memorial Park. Thanks for your patience. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of our upcoming April/May issue which marks our 50th printed magazine, something of a milestone in today’s fractured print media market. The saucy Triton pictured above is just one of four fine feature bikes to look for come the first week of April. Now, with temperatures reaching the high ’60s for the second day in a row, we’re off to play on the salt-covered Pittsburgh backroads!

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Bad Boy BMW


Father and Son Custom

Showing an impressive 28,000 road miles on the clocks, CRM reader Ben Gurerro is understandably proud of what his son Afriano has done with this 1978 Beemer. The R100 Boxer twin was purchased last summer and the previous owner had begun an unsuccessful attempt at turning it into a cafe racer. “With questionable results,” Ben says. Several months later,   Adriano turned the neglected German steed into this subtly cool, stealthed-out machine which he rides on the streets of West Hollywood.

Afriano performed all the work himself, following a few words of advice from his old man, mainly to stay classic and clean.  We especially dig the matt black finish on the bodyswork matching the engine and the cool brown leather solo saddle and matching grips. Adriano, who works as  a valet in Beverly Hills is just 21 and has a bright future turning wrenches, from our perspective. “I have to admit he did a good job on his first build having just turned 21,” his Dad says.  Sweet job, guys and look for a Cafe Racer magazine prize package coming your way this week.



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Popcorn, Movies and Cafe Racers


Host of the long-running motorcycle radio program “Two Wheel Tuesday” Larry Ward has caught the low bars, high-performance bug, big-time. He’s spent the past few weeks building his own custom road-burner, a 1979 Honda CB650, which he’ll reveal on Tuesday, February 28 at the iHeart Medias Complex , 7461 South Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio. The evening includes a screening of our own documentary on the ton-p phenomenon, “Cafe Society” as well as a look at a couple of new, 2017 Triumph factory cafe customs. There will be a Q&A session before the flick with staff from Triumph of nearby Warren, Ohio, with doors opening at 6:45 p.m. And get there early as free food and drink will be provided for the first 50 folks in attendance.



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Viva Vegas Auction



Just back from the Mecum auction in Las Vegas, the annual celebration of classic and vintage motorbikes and collectibles.  This is our third year at this event and the emerging trends are always fascinating to watch. The must-have machine for the past couple of years has been anything bearing the vaunted Vincent label, with prices last year nearing or topping the six-figure mark. This year, that alarming trend seems to be dissipating a bit, as was predicted in our special report, “The Vanishing Vincents” in CRM issue #42 (Dec./Jan., 2016) At the time, the nation’s leading Vincent expert Sommer Hooker told us that, like Model T Fords a few years back, the relatively small market for these British-made singles and V-twins would eventually dry up as most of the folks lusting after them were already in possession of their dream bikes. Most restored Vincents ended up not being enjoyed on the roads where they excel, but stored in private collections, which is a real shame in our opinion. This has left few for would-be collectors., until, that is, those collector’s bikes slowly began to re-emerge into circulation. That appears to be the case at Mecum last weekend as a nice, 1,000cc Rapide sold for just $36,000– and that’s a good 50% less than such a bike would have sold for a year ago. Some other 1950s and ‘60s classics continue to draw top-dollars, such as BSA’s Gold Star singles  ($30,00) and a 1978 Harley-Davidson XLCR cafe Racer topping $23,000. It’s odd to see such prices for what, back in my high school days, was an unpopular bike that sat unsold on showroom floors for years. This may be the time to invest in a 1970s BSA twin as these machines have blossomed from $3,000-$4,000 sellers to bikes worth twice that these days. Custom cafe racers were thin on the ground for whatever reason, with a very nice Ducati ST3 sport-tourer that had been re-born into a sweet cafe custom, failing to garner the owner’s $10,000 or so reserve price (see image above.) If you’ve never attended one of these rolling showcases of vintage two-wheelers, they’re quite worth checking out with the next Mecum event slated for June 1-3 at the South Point Casino. Bring your checkbook- you will be tempted.

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Bike of the Week






Overwhelmed- but in a good way. That’s how we’re feeling around the CRM offices after the flood of entries rolled in for our Bike of the Month contest. We’re seen so many choice custom speedsters, in fact, that we’re now serving up a new one this and every Monday for you, our throttle-happy readers.  This, the first of our weekly winners of a Cafe Racer Magazine prize pack come thanks to Huntingdon Beach, California’s Larry Horn, owner of not one, but two beautiful Norvin specials. The Norvin was and still is considered the ultimate British high-performance custom, combining the torquey, 55-horsepower Vincent V-twin engine in one of Norton’s sublimely capable featherbed frames.

Larry’s red Norvin is a Norton Manx Wideline frame with a 1950 Series C 1000cc Vincent engine. He’s owned and built this bike since 1968 and, being British and vintage, Larry  has rebuilt it many times. It’s no trailer queen, Larry ensures us, with the Norvin still clocking the road miles every year. The green Norvin is a reproduction Norton feather bed wide line frame from England and a 1948 series B 1000cc Vincent engine. Dig on the massive, four leading shoe front brakes which are reproduction Yamaha TZ with disc-like stopping power.

Both bike are heavily modified with modern fuel and electrics and both Vincent engines have modern components inside including upgraded cams and valve trains says Larry who also owns a 1957 Ariel Square Four and a 1955 Velocette MSS. Nice way to amass a cool $250,000 in custom metal, Larry!

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Beer, Bikes and More Beer

Garage Brewed 2017


Come Saturday, January 28, Cincinnati, Ohio’s custom streetbike scene will host one of the biggest indoor shows in the region. The annual Garage Brewed Show is a unique day-long celebration of custom bikes and even more highly customized beers. The whole thing goes down (sorry- unintentional beer drinking reference) at the Rheingeist Brewery (located at 1910 Elm Street- from noon until Midnight. Last year, CRM covered the show and we’re glad to have arrived early- with the crowd eventually soaring to a walloping 7,000 attendees, there was barely room to photograph the assembled bobbers, street trackers and many excellent cafe racers. Garage Brewed is organized by Tim Burke of the Cincinnati Cafe Racer Club and offers entrants some cool prizes as well as awards called “Grophies” which are draft beer growler bottles embossed for the winners. Sound like fun? Get there early and look at for more. Hic, burp…

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One for The Lady Riders

If You happen to be in the Los Angeles area  this coming weekend and you’re a female motorcyclist it’s a good bet to make your way to the Lucky Wheels Garage where the Second Annual Women’s Motorcycle Show is set to open. Hosted by Alicia Elfving of the Moto Lady Internet site, the event is a day-long celebration of today’s female bikers. On hand will be custom rides built by and for women riders, raffles of riding gear and music provided by DJs.  The fun kicks off at 6 p.m., but those planning to attend should RSVP at the Moto Lady website beforehand.  This is a great, growing event with over 200 showing up last year so make your way there this Saturday.



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Cold, But Not Forever




Days like these, when the temperature struggles to breach 22 degrees can test the patience of many a motorcyclist. Here at CRM, our idle minds drift back to warmer days when the only worry is whether rain may interrupt a nice, day-long ride or which bike needs maintenance before being kicked to life. As you can tell from the image above, even the local critters outside our office window would rather be indoors. We’d hoped to break the winter tedium by attending the Progressive IMS event in Washington, D.C. this weekend, but staff illness scuppered that plan- our apologies for anyone who stopped by looking for our missing booth! Nevertheless, we’ve decided to double down and giveaway both the prize packages we promised to award one lucky punter with in D.C. this weekend at the upcoming Cleveland IX Center event come month’s end. Just stop by our booth and fill out a form and we’ll contact the two winners via e-mail at the end of both Saturday, Jan. 28 and Sunday the 29th. In the meantime, those of us living in the snow belt can count on at least a couple of warm(ish) days before the spring thaw come April. Brr and all that…

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One Cool SR 400

wilder sr400Few modern motorbikes can boast of the lineage and authenticity of Yamaha’s SR400. The venerable air-cooled single has been in continuous production since 1978, changing only a little in the nearly four decades hence. Yes, the 2016 models offer electronic fuel injection and maintenance-free batteries, but the kickstart-only thumper remains gloriously unchanged. As a result of its longevity, the SR has spawned a customization cult like few, if any other Japanese motorcycles. There’s enough parts available to make an SR resemble anything from a Manx Norton to Matchless or, in this case, something truly unique. This images comes our way from Richard Wilder of aftermarket parts supplier Wilder Factory. His work transforming this ordinary SR into a quick, eye-catching custom is impressive to say te least. Many of the bits installed on the SR are one-offs fabircated by Wilder and full details will appear in the April/May issue of Cafe Racer magazine, so keep an eye our singles fans.

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Our Favorite Bikes #2

pakistan suzuki savage




We hear from some faraway riders customizing their bikes into cafe racers all over the globe, but our latest winner is perhaps the most unexpected of all.  22 year-old Hamza Azeem Butt hails from bustling Karachi, Pakistan,  a city with a burgeoning custom retro motorcycle scene. Hamza is well-connected, having helped organize last September’s Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride in Karachi, and as you can see from the pics, it was well-attended with all sorts of machines. Hamza’s ride of choice is a mildly cafe’d Suzuki GS 150 cc which is being locally manufactured in Pakistan. “No more bike above 150 cc is being manufactured here locally. So this is the max I could get for my custom project,” he tells CRM. Working with a budget of just $2,100 and the help of local shops and friends from the area’s only custom bike club Throttle Shrottle, he created a sleek, unique custom, the details of the build available on Hamza’s blog

The Suzuki was outfitted with new clip-on handlebars, a wider, 4.00×18″ rear tire, retro-fitted fuel tank and a new seat cowl, plus bold, burgundy metalflake paint and a new, brown leather saddle.


Way to go, and a Cafe Racer magazine prize package is on its way to this cool, inspired Suzuki single rider!

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Prizes Galore at Cafe Racer IMS Gveaway


dec 2016 059


More than a few readers have contacted us asking what’s on tap if they sign up for our prize giveaway at the Cafe Racer magazine booth at the upcoming Washington, D.C, and Cleveland IMS events so here’s a sneak peek. Some of our advertisers have chimed in with some boffo prizes that one lucky winner will receive – by mail – just for stopping by and signing up. The list of goodies includes;

Workshop Hero rust remover kit

Design Engineering exhaust pipe heat wrap and hose covering kit

A Big Kahuna back issues package of magazines

DVDs of all five seasons of Velocity’s Cafe Racer TV

Stomp Grip gas tank traction pads

A Scottoiler automatic chain lubrication system

Cafe Racer magazine T-shirt

One Liter of Motul 20/50 motorcycle engine oil

All this plus we’ll throw in a few stickers and maybe even a free beer if time allows. Just sign in with your name, T-shirt size, mailing address and e-mail (which is how we’ll contact the lucky winners) and we’ll do the rest.








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Roll Up, Custom Motorbikes!


OK, at first we promised to run a Bike of The Month in our regular blog, but in the weeks since our initial announcement, things have changed. The overwhelming response to the online competition has brought in so many amazing responses, that we’re now planning to run a different reader’s bike every two weeks. Just hit us up with some high res color jpegs of your custom or vintage (or both) cafe racer along with a few graphs of tech info, your home address and T-shirt size and our team of editors will select a winner every 14 days. The lucky winners will find their mail boxes bursting with a prize package including a Big Kahuna back issues box, a Cafe Racer T-shirt, a DVD and some other swag. Be on your A game as the images we’re receiving are top-shelf. Look here in one week for winner number 2.

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Showtime Washington, D.C

issue 44 004

It’s always a buzz to catch up with our readers and reveal the latest custom builds from deep within the skunk-works that is S.H.A.M.E. (Sewickley Home for Aged Motorcycle Engines, by the way.) We’ll be doing just that when the Progressive International Motorcycle Show rolls into the Walter Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. come January 6, 7 and 8. Our stalwart staffers will be on hand to answer your questions, queries and yes, talk turkey about nuts, bolts and all things shiny, two-wheeled and fast  for all three days. Plus, you’ll get first glimpse of our nearly-completed Middleweight Mash-Up Honda CB500F custom straight from the pages of CRM. Our long-term Yamaha SR400, fresh back from its record, 100.3 MPH top-speed run will also be on display, proving small displacement and high velocity needn’t be strangers. There’s new T-shirts including one for the girls plus a chance to sign up to win a free year’s subscription along with a new set of Stomp Grip tank pads and a roll of Design Engineering exhaust heat wrap, just for stopping by.

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