Chitown Rocks

Typically, we’re far too busy in the editorial offices or garage to attend many motorcycle rallies. Thanks to our talented contributors, we still manage to cover quite a few events on both sides of the Atlantic. However, there’s one annual two-wheeled get-together that’s a must-see for team CRM and that’s the upcoming Motoblot weekend in Chicago. Borne from the ashes of the Windy City’s Mods and Rockers celebration, Motoblot has evolved into the sort of funky, multifaceted street festival you just don’t see much of these days. In addition to some of the best custom bike show classes around, the three-day sioree is awash with amazing live bands like locals Three Blue Teardrops, cutting edge art displays, riding gear and used bike vendors, and enough god grub and beer to stretch your kidney belt by a few notches. The motorcycles both ridden to and entered in Motoblot’s custom shows are as eclectic as the crowd itself, drawing in streetfighters, blinged-out sportbikes, Harleys, bobbers, antiques, choppers and naturally, cafe racers of every size and description.

If that’s not enough of an encouragement to dust off your leathers and head to Motoblot this June 22-24 consider the weather- Chicago tends to be seasonably warm, windy and comfortable making both the ride there and the time spent groovin’ to the event as laid-back as a biking weekend gets. See you there!

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Haggle With Me

Though my wife believes motorcycle parts swap meets to be a product from the Third Ring of Hell, I’ve long dug them. Sure, perusing row after row of dusty, rusty milk crates filled with obscure bike parts isn’t to everyone’s liking, I’ve unearthed some of the best bits for restoring and customizing old bikes at swap meets. Unlike online auctions where most of those involved are expecting to get rich quick on their unused motorbike bits, swap meets are places where sanity and pragmatism still rule. Folks are still willing to haggle over prices and they’r eoften realistic about wanting to move parts on, especially to another enthusiast with big plans for those old forks, brake rotors or frames. With far, far more unused parts lying around the CRM garage than we every expected to have, we’re staging a swap meet of our own at this August’s Reader’s Ride-In Custom Bike Show in Sewickley, PA. The swap area will be located just left of the shelter where our CRM swag booth is located, and we’re cleaning out every nook, cranny and broom closet we’ve got. A quick inventory of what will be on offer includes:

A set of new, alloy cafe racer bodywork

Honda CB500 and 750 fork parts

Used leather jackets and pants

Original promo posters from the Velocity “Cafe racer” TV series

A Dime City Cycles reverse megaphone muffler

Cafe Racer seats and fairings from Airtech

Loads of cafe handlebars

1971 Triumph 650 Bonneville engine, un-assembled

Check out more details as the event draws nearer at

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Ride ‘Em Don’t Hide ‘Em

After over seven months of regular wrenching on our 1967 Norton Atlas project bike, the big, black beast fired to life on the second kick yesterday, promoting a n outbreak of grins around the CRM garage the likes of which haven’t been seen since the first keg of Fuller’s Extra Special Bitter was tapped last year. The project, if you’ve been following the regular magazine installments, started out a good 16 months back when Alex Puls, chief tech from Billy Joel’s 20th Century Cycles helped us retrieve the long-idle 750. The bike had been sitting in storage in a warehouse that’s home to a still-considerable collection of machines owned by Sonny DeFaeo, son of Pat DeFaeo who ran Long Island’s Ghost Motorcycles back in the day. The Atlas was surprisingly clean and complete for a bike that hadn’t turned a wheel ion nearly a half century and we were instantly struck by how easy (well, relatively) the restoration promised to be.

Thanks to the knowledge of local Norton guru Nick Coumos and some generous help from advertisers including California’s Raber’s Parts Mart, the Atlas is about to rule the streets again, just a few weeks shy of its original, 1968 sell date. Check out more details in the June/July issue.

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Ah, what a difference a year makes. It’s taken us nearly all seven months since our last Reader’s Ride-In Custom Bike Show to both recover from the 2017 event and to launch a plan for this year’s rally. Come Saturday, August 11, we’ll once again throw open the gates of Sewickley’s War Memorial Park for the cafe racer faithful, and this event should be the most fun of all. Since moving our annual custom show to our hometown a few years back, the enthusiasm and crowds have only grown for this, the nation’s only outdoor cafe racer judged event. The number of top-level entries has neared 100 bikes in each of the past two years and with even larger prize packages on offer, the 2018 event should bring the low-bars/high-performance crowd in from all corners of the country.

Among the highlights to look forward to are:

A walloping $500 cash prize for Best in Show winner

A display of new machines from sponsor Royal Enfield

A Riding Leather Giveaway from Joe Rocket

A Swap meet and Custom Bike Sales Corral

Over $30,000 in total prizes given away in the following judged classes:

Best British Cafe Racer

Best European/American Cafe Racer

Best Japanese Cafe Racer

Best Bobber

Wildest Engineering

Best in Show

People’s Choice

It all starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 11. Check out more details at

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Coolest Places on The Planet

One tends to do a lot of reflecting upon reaching ten years in business. Lately, I’ve been looking back at some of the more remarkable places and events Cafe Racer magazine has been to over the past decade and one London spot comes up time and again. On a quiet, shadowy side street, we found Lewis Leathers, the world’s coolest motorcycle riding gear emporium on the planet. Not only does Lewis offer high-quality riding kit with decades of development and history behind it, the place, run by our pal Derek Harris, is a veritable rocker culture and motorcycle leather museum. Inside visitors will find themselves entranced by the racks of thick, black leather jackets, pants and classically-styled boots that I dare anyone, regardless of how cheap you are, to resist buying. There’s a display case filled with rocker badges to decorate your new jacket with and above the racks are dozens of antique racing and street riding jackets representing more than a century of British motorcycling. I’m not much of a fashionista- though my wife would attest otherwise- but the simple act of donning a piece of hand-made riding kit from Lewis actually makes one feel more confident during a ride. If you’re in London and dig leathers, motorcycles or ton-up culture, you MUST take a side trip to 3-5 Whitfield Street and check out Lewis-your motorcycling experience is incomplete without it.

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Unlikely Hero

There’s a genuine thrill involved in opening new photo files from our staff photographers as we seldom know what to expect. Working primarily in his native UK, chief shooter Simon Everett somehow manages to unearth incredible custom bikes issue after issue. Some are traditional British specials comprised of air-cooled parallel twin engines and the sort of intense, detailed mechanical acumen that can keep a punter engrossed for hours. At other times, Simon captures hand-made bikes that defy category, history and tradition like the cover bike of our upcoming April/May issue. This time, the esteemed Mr. Everett snapped a rare and wholly unexpected Suzuki Savage cruiser that’s been reborn as a modern cafe special. The story details how firms in the U.S. have capitalized on the growing popularity of this ungainly Japanese single, transforming it into a modern successor to the vaunted Gold Stars and Manx Norton singles of the 1950s. Check it out and try not to become inspired to build your own low-buck, big-fun Suzuki Savage special.

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Calling All Amateur Builders

If you’re the type of person who enjoys fiddling with the looks and performance of your bike but does such things as a hobby rather than a vocation, dig this- Indian Motorcycle Company has launched a new contest called The Wrench: Scout Bobber Build-Off. This nationwide competition basically asks for a trio of amateur bike customizers to step up and create wild, unorthodox versions of Indian’s Scout Bobber.

Indian will be accepting submissions from March 15-30, the top submissions will be showcased online for fan voting. Those selected will receive a 2018 Scout Bobber and $10,000 build budget from Indian. The finished bikes will be unveiled in July, and again open for a fan vote to select the winner. The top vote-getter will be announced at this coming August’s Sturgis rally in South Dakota and while hanging out at the party, the lucky builder will receive a grand prize of $10,000.

If you’ve got a head full of custom bike ideas and some unrecognized skills, get thee to the website below and take your chances:

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New Sportsters A Real Drag

2018 Parts and Accessories Spring Supplement

Harley-Davidson has just released images of their new-for 2018 Iron1200 Sportster and it’s a real corker. We especially dig the moody, black-on-black finish extending from the burly, 74 cubic inch engine to the shrouded forks. Inspired by the many street customs you’ll see in places like Los Angeles, the Iron 1200 even rolls with a bikini fairing a la “Sons of Anarchy” and a set of optional drag bars for excellent low-speed control. The folks in Milwaukee are smart to borrow trends from the street custom scene and re-interpret them for their factory rides, as we expect this bike will be a hit not only here in the U.S. but globally. There’s some notable tech upgrades to this year’s XL line-up as well, from the adjustable emulsion shocks in the rear to new fork internals and anti-lock brakes as standard. Yes, we intend to ride one and will bring you a full riding evaluation later this spring.

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Spring Flings

Last Year’s Outlier’s Guild Show

Spring is nearly upon us- you can tell from the flood-like rains and stink bugs crawling out of the office woodwork- so here’s a few must-do events to get yer motor runnin’ for the new year.

What’s On: 5th Annual Moto Chop Shop Party
When: Saturday, March 10.
Where: 6859 Valjean Ave, Van Nuys, CA.
What To Expect: New School cafe racer and custom garage invites its deep following of gearheads to show off their rides in afternoon soiree in cool urban setting. Rolled up jeans and flannel a must.

What’s On: Daytona Bike Week
When: Friday, March 9 to Sunday, March 18.
Where: Daytona Beach, Florida
What To Expect: Big, loud custom V-twins by the tens of thousands and loads of exposed flesh, some of it even female. If allergic to un-muffled exhausts, steer clear, but hidden within the manufactured mayhem are some real gems including the wild and wacky customs on display during the Afro-American biker gathering near Mcleod-Bethune College, MotoAmerica roadracing at the Speedway and naked creamed corn wrestling. Honestly- this is a real thing.

What’s On: 2nd Outlier’s Guild Motorcycle Show
When: Saturday, March 31
Where: Downtown Los Angeles
What To Expect: Organizers and custom bike kings Roland Sands and Jay LaRossa staged the first O.G. installment last fall to unexpected success, prompting a second day of “hey, look what I’ve been wrenching on” reveals in Downtown LaLa Land. Bike-related art and photography exhibits will also be on offer.This is the unparalleled epicenter of the new custom scene and to miss it is to miss out.

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Must-Ride Bikes

The Hyde Harrier Bonneville- A Must-Ride special For Certain

This is a great time to be a motorcyclist. Or, more to the point, a motorcycle byer as sales are down across the board, making used machines a steal in most cases. With a bumper crop of new, retro-flavored streetbikes now filling showrooms, choosing the perfect mount can be a confusing process. To address the many, many selections facing you, the new or used streetbike buyer, Cafe Racer magazine has launched “25 Must Ride Bikes” a new series of features apearing in the next, well, 25 issues. Though our popular “used bike buyer’s guide “The Market” covers the best of current and historical wheels on offer, the new articles will serve up a more direct and passionate take on why some of the used buys out there are worth your saddle time. Over the years we’ve thrown our legs across some truly incredible wheels, motorbkes that provide a riding experience that sticks with you for miles and years on end. It’s these unforgettable rides that will fill the “Must Ride” pages every issue and we believe some of our choices will surprise as well as influence your decision on what bike to chose. As someone once said, they don’t really make crappy motorcycles anymore ad seldom in history have those words seemed more true. Catch the fist installment in Cafe Racer’s April/May issue and be sure to send us your thoughts on your personal faves.

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Not Dead, Just Yet

Our Humble Beginnings, Nearly Ten Years Old and Still Kicking

The death of print may be greatly exaggerated in these digitally-obsessed times, but my, what a strange era in which to publish a motorbike magazine. Case in a very large script point: the country’s largest circulation motorcycle magazine, Cycle World has just announced a switch to quarterly publishing, reducing from twelve to four the number of magazines it will print each year. For those keeping score, Cycle World was gobbled up by the European media conglomerate Bonnier Corporation a while back and the voracious firm’s appetite didn’t stop there. Shortly thereafter, Bonnier feasted upon most of the biggest motorcycle titles in existence, adding Street Chopper, Motorcycle Cruiser, Motorcyclist, Sport Rider and Dirt Rider to its impressive portfolio. Many of these titles have previously been owned by large, publicly-traded corporations, but bringing them all together under one umbrella – and forcing previously competing journalists to work side-by-side in one office -was about as unprecedented as a right-side kickstarter.

I have something of a inside line of all this business having once had an extensive telephone meeting with Bonnier’s Andrew Leisner, the bigwig running their motorcycle magazine division. He informed he that Bonnier considers print journalism so post mortem that they’d decided as early as 2015 to kill off all their paper magazines in a few short years, convinced that Internet content is the wave of the future. That struck me as odd as in today’s rapidly-changing media landscape, new platforms are introduced and disappear faster than you can say MySpace. Bonnier is so convinced that Americans are through thumbing magazine pages that they’ve decided to kill print editions of off-road bible “Dirt Rider” and “Sport Rider” while they’re also combing cruiser/V-Twin titles “Baggers” and “Hot Bike” into a single bi-monthly magazine.

Now, if you’re in our particular pair of boots, this is a bold- and some would say, foolhardy move. Mr. Leisner has not noticed the continued growth in both circulation and advertising sales of many print magazines from fashion titles to sports and special-interest publications. Sure, the population’s appetite for print has diminished, especially among Millinneals who are fairly addicted to smartphone and loath to look beyond their palms for much of anything. But we at Cafe Racer really dig the permanence and tactile feel of traditional magazines, which provide a source of factual information, gorgeous imagery and convenience that a three-inch cellphone screen can never match. WE still get giddy at the arrival of our favorite print titles in the mail which is far more than we can say about attempting to maneuver the clutter ad advertising scrum that is The future of all this is, like last night’s Super Bowl, hard to predict, but as long as folks are reading Cafe Racer, we’ll keep the paper coming.

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The Things We Did For Money

When young, ambitious and perennially penniless, we tend to accept all sorts of oddball offers to make a buck. Just last weekend, Blair Powell, a frequent CRM contributor and longtime riding buddy, sent me a You Tube clip of an old Iron City Beer commercial I appeared in some 25 years back. I’d forgotten all about the advertising spot, even though at Pittsburgh Pirates games I’m a frequent imbiber of Old Red Eye as we affectionately call it. Back then, when my writing career was still in its early stages, I’d take on all sorts of odd jobs, some of which were truly deserving of the term. How odd, you ask? Well, I once served as bouncer at a wedding staged between two warring Italian-American families afraid that a post-nuptial punch-up might occur (it didn’t, but I’ve never been propositioned by so many middle-aged women) and I once even “worked” as an extra for an ABC crime drama where I was cast as not one but three different outlaw bikers in one episode. Talk about your low budgets!
Still, the silly musical commercial, filmed at long-gone biker bar the 31St Street Pub – is a fun look back at the past. Kinda makes me want to pump an Iron as the ad says…

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Gavels Down

Though the CRM team is, unfortunately, stuck here in frigid Pittsburgh this weekend, if you’re anywhere near Las Vegas, you’ll want to make a beeline to the South Point casino. That’s where the Mecum Motorcycle Auction is going down. This is a veritable toy box of classic and not-so-classic motorbikes, all of which are for sale at some surprisingly reasonable prices. Of course, not everything that passes before the auctioneer’s gaze is a cheapie- the focus on Pre WWII Harleys, bevel-drive Ducati twins and anything bearing the HRD Vincent label will be commanding mortgage-like bucks. However, this year’s sale, which began yesterday, has a large number of affordable Japanese and British bikes going up for bidding and if you’re in the market for a budget custom build project or restoration Mecum is the place to be. In previous years, we’ve enjoyed covering the event as there are machines on display that we’d previously only seen in books or museums. It’s a fun, carnival-like atmosphere in the massive auction hall which is outfitted for the duration with gear vendors, food stands and yes, a bar. We plan to get busy with a few of our magazine’s cafe racer builds which will be up for sale when Mecum returns to Vegas come June- hope to see you all there.

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A Real Kick in the Starters

Leathers? Check. Cool helmet? Check. Kickstarter refusing to cooperate? Surely!

Aging, as they say, is surely the ultimate humbling experience. I just left my doctor’s office where I was unhappy to learn that, after nearly four decades of kickstarting motorcycles, my right foot is throwing in the towel on such activities. That means the sizable collection of classic British cafe racers in my garage will need to either be converted to a series of very expensive electric starters, or be sold off at auction. Naturally, the former seems the sensible course of action, though forking over the cash to install push-button starters on my old iron is a daunting proposition. Whenever I tell folks about the reason I’ve been limping around in an awkward-looking (and feeling) cast boot for the past couple months, they sigh and relate tales of others motorcyclists who’ve suffered similar fates. When perusing websites for information about electric start conversion parts, I was surprised to find forum after forums filled with testimonials from veteran British bike riders who, for one reason or another, could no longer utilize kick starter systems. A neighbor even stopped by, a Kiwi bloke named Roman who rides and builds antique British bikes, explaining how he’s perfected a kiskstarting procedure with his left foot because he’s suffered a similar injury to mine. We’ll be covering the various technical difficulties of eliminating the kickers on our 1973 Norton Commando and, hopefully, the T140 Triton recently rebuilt in the pages of Cafe Racer magazine over the next year. Even if both of your feet are still capable of thrusting through with a kicker pedal, this could be information worth checking out.

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The Home Stretch

OK, the first successful kick-start of a newly completed custom bike project is one of life’s great pleasures, but this photo illustrates another garage high of sorts. We’ve been working furiously on our 1967 Norton Atlas 750 project in recent weeks and we’ve made so much progress that the bike may well be on the road well before Winter’s over. Chalk up the rapid progress to CRM’s resident Norton Guru Nick Coumos who has shepherded the build along with a confidence and mastery that only comes from five decades riding and working on these brilliant British twins. This is my third Norton build in the past five years and the progress is starting to feel downright familiar in places though there’s still much to learn. The anticipation is reaching a fever pitch as, having spent a few hundred miles aboard the 1959 Dominator 600 Nick helped us construct, we’re all eager to see how the bigger, badder 750cc version compares. Testing this, the last of the featherbed Nortons against the 1973 Commando we’ve built should also prove a blast. Check out the progress come Cafe Racer magazine’s February/March issue, on sale Feb 4.

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Low Bars and High Performance

Perusing images from the past couple of tripe to London’s Ace Cafe, we noticed how many riders across the Pond were building cafe racers equipped with handlebars that, well, let’s just say will please the chiropractor community. It’s rather impressive to see custom speedbikes still being built in the tradition of the early Ton-Up spirit; that is, inspired by racing motorbikes and form and purpose. Back in the day, old timers will tell you that a visit to any short circuit for a race meet was enough to have the lads busily altering their machines in the shed, trying through ingenuity and a growing performance parts aftermarket, to replicate the svelte, no-nonsense machines they’d just witnessed on track. For a time during the 1960s, there seemed to be an unofficial competition among cafe racer builders to mount one’s clip-ons the closest to the front wheel spindle as possible. The winner was rewarded with the envy of his riding buddies and, due the relative youth involved, not much in the way of stiff necks or lower back pain. In today’s custom cafe world, extremely low clip-ons are a rare sighting indeed, though it’s – perhaps comforting isn’t the right word- at least inspiring to see the tradition of two-wheeled aerodynamics still alive.

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Hardasses Need Only Apply

Ah, ’twas but a few days before evidence of last week’s post critiquing a new generation of cafe racer builders who favor designing rides that are basically intended to wow in custom shows instead of zoom along the roads began to roll in from readers. This is a prime example of the movement getting dangerously close to a Jumping The Shark moment as British custom shop Death machines recently posted images of their newly-completed 2007 Triumph Thruxton 900 that’s been fitted, inexplicably, with a seat crafted from polished American Walnut. No notice of the twin’s performance, handling or roadworthiness could be found, though precious, dainty details abound from the matching wooden fuel tank panel to the original 1940s magneto culled from a WWII Spitfire fighter plane. ‘Tis enough to make one wonder when a genre of streetbike built by riders craving improved go, with just a tasty bit of show, started to become precisely the opposite. Maybe there’s a new line of matching Walnut riding jeans on the way for anyone gullible enough to try and ride something this…silly.

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Avoiding The Shark Tank

By now, the phrase jumping the shark has become common vernacular. It originated, folks say, in the wake of an old “Happy Days” TV episode where the series resident biker, Arthur Fonzarelli, jumped a Great White shark, a move so cheesy, many viewers and critics felt it forever sacrificed the integrity of the show. The current issue of Cafe Racer magazine features my regular editorial which covers how the current custom streetbike scene is in serious danger of following Fonzie’s lead. How? Well, in my humble opinion, by proffering a succession of customized cafe racers, trackers and other machines built not for speed or even rideability, but for the bragging rights of the individual builders. Sometimes called Instagram Bikes, these are the sorts of motorcycles on display at indoor custom shows where oil stains beneath the entries are rare, but ornate custom touches like wooden bodywork, brake-less front wheels and paint jobs that resemble the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are common. In the two weeks since the column was published, we’ve received quite a few missives from readers about the subject, most being passionate agreements that, once a streetbike ceases to be functional, can it still really be called a bike at all. Below you’ll find one of the more interesting e-mail’s we’ve received and if you have thoughts on the subject, please send ’em along to us at

Hi Guys. Just got done reading the new Open Mike and had to give a big thumbs up to Mike for his editorial about bikes being for riding. I can’t agree more. His reference to choppers coming and going was spot on, but not entirely correct. Honda did a fair job of making a functional chopper with the Fury, which to me was a slap in the face to all the “artists” that made big gaudy “works of art” with hard tails and fat tires, only to keep the local chiropractors in business with all of their back problems. I think you guys do a great job with the mag, and it is refreshing to know that rideability is king in you builds. I only wish my back would still allow me to ride café bikes. I was at Kissel Motorsports in State College recently and Josh tried his best to get me on an RnineT, but I couldn’t sit on it hunched over for more than a few seconds without back pain. Donnie at Westmoreland Moto Guzzi tried his best to sell me the V7 Verde Legnano he had in his front window a few years back, but I couldn’t take the riding position. I went for the Stornello when it came out because I could ride it comfortably. I have been riding, working on, and customizing bikes all of my life, and I tend to find the articles in Café Racer to be very enlightening and very informative. It is very comforting to know that all of the bikes featured are rideable I like the way you always describe how the bikes handle and ride in the articles. Very important to those of us that put on a lot of miles. Even though I can’t comfortable ride café bikes any more I still love the style and culture. You guys can make fun of me for riding a scrambler, but at least I’m in for the entire day! Keep up the good work.

Lou Casadei

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The Hardest Part

This bloke had to feel silly in this gear!

Likely the most common question leveled at us magazine makers is what’s the toughest part of our job. Well, keeping the damn enterprise solvent in this day and age of Internet-digital media is always a challenge. But the regular installments of our humor page, known to readers as the Stylin’ Section, seems to prove a tough job issue after issue. Humor, after all, is highly subjective and locating – and then striking- the collective funny bones of thousands of readers each and every issue is not a task for the faint-of-heart. Raised on a steady diet of irreverent humor from “National Lampoon” and “Mad” magazines and huge fans of stand-up comedy, our staff manages to share a few creative laughs in a magazine genre that’s not been renowned over the years for its sense of humor. To be honest, I’ve always dug the wacky, bad-boy British sporbike magazines like “Superbike” and “Performance Bike” monthlies where the contributors are damn sure to include the latest on-bike tech info with a wry sense of mischief that never fails to put a smile on my face. This issue- our December/January offering- tackles the, ahem, “history” of motorbike crash helmets with some gut-busting images and copy. Check it out and feel free to share you own humorous takes on biking with CRM via

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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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