Return of the Cafe Racers | Cafe Racer, custom and classic motorcycles
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The Japanese aesthetic philosophy of Wabi Sabi can be loosely translated as the acceptance of imperfection and transience. Applying this philosophy to a custom motorcycle build is a difficult concept for anyone who lives in a western culture where we constantly strive for perfection. But for Marcin Janusz of Poland's Rollin Bikes Wabi Sabi is something he and his team strive to embrace with each bike they build.
It's not often I get to feature custom motorcycle builds from my hometown of Perth, Western Australia. Perth often gets labeled as a sleepy town where not a lot happens, but since I left there 7 years ago a lot has definitely happened. The city is now a hub for internationally acclaimed cultural events and more importantly, it's developed a thriving café racer community. In today's feature, we hear from a workshop that is helping to invigorate Perth's custom motorcycle scene, JM Customs.
"This project kicked off with a stock 1982 R45 that had laid dormant in our client's garage for almost a decade," says workshop owner James Moir. "We set out to redesign and reinvigorate this tired old workhorse, tearing the bike down to its bare essentials. Our concept was to transform it into a sleek, classically styled JM Customs one off Café Racer."
For years now I've been harping on about the Ducati Monster becoming the poster child for the café racer scene. Style wise the Monster offers a great platform for the cafe treatment with its stripped back naked styling and a solid platform for performance upgrades. There's also a glut of them available in the secondhand motorcycle market and they can be acquired for very reasonable sums of cash. Despite this, my prediction is yet to come true.
Welcome to our new "Workshop Series". In this new series, we will be revisiting our roots and returning to the workshop where this site began. Back then it was all about building my first café racer and this series looks to reintroduce 'how to' and advice features into our regular content stream. As part of the series, we will also take a look at gear, such as workwear and tools that have proven themselves valuable to us. If there's anything you'd like to see us cover feel free to contact us or to post a comment at the end of this feature.
The Hardin Overall is constructed from Earnest's tightly woven 100% cotton 12-ounce duck canvas and it’s as good as it sounds. With triple reinforced seam work, double layer reinforced panels in high wear areas and even a padded breast pocket for your phone it sounds like the perfect pair of overalls (or “coveralls” as our photographer is quick to point out) that have been updated to satisfy the demands of 21st Century customers.
The fear associated with crashing a motorcycle is two-fold. From an outsiders view it is the rider who they fear for the most, for the rider it’s his beloved motorcycle. It defies logic but as you pick yourself up off the road before you’ve even assessed the damage to your own body you’re already fearing the worst for your bike. This was undoubtedly the feeling that Sydney rider Mixy experienced when he laid his 2014 Bonneville down. Thankfully his body wasn't too badly battered, unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his beloved bike.
If you're anything like me and have a strange obsession with motorcycle helmets you would have noticed the green and gold item that appeared alongside our custom Bonneville T120, the 'Mongrel'. The helmet, which looks as though it was made to go with the bike, is actually a standard colour scheme in Nexx Helmets new X.G100 R range. After the shoot, I managed to slip away with the helmet under my arm so after riding with it for a few weeks here's my review of Nexx's latest lid.
In motorsport, race teams are always looking for new ways to improve lap times. Back in the fifties when motorcycles were almost all naked teams began experimenting with aerodynamics. Inspired by the nose cones of aircraft they built fairings that cocooned almost two-thirds of the motorcycle and its rider. These outlandish fairings were referred to as dustbins and they proved to be very effective. A dustbin fairing could make a significant difference to a motorcycles straight line speed, but due to some of their pitfalls, they were banned from mainstream racing by the International Motorcycling Federation in 1958.
As a follow up to our recent ride review of Kawasaki's new retro sports bike I thought we should take a look at one of the very first custom builds to be based on the Z900RS. This post-apocalyptic custom creation was built by none other than Australias own Deus Ex Machina at their home base in Sydney, Australia. Created to accompany the unveiling of the Z900RS at the 2017 Australian motorbike expo the aptly named Goose was inspired by an icon of Australian automotive pop culture, Mad Max.
With the release of the Vitpilen 401 and 701 motorcycles in 2018, Husqvarna will re-enter the street bike market. To mark the occasion they’re offering just the right road going helmet to wear with the new additions to their range. Like the Vitpilen, the helmet is smooth and uncluttered, with a powerful, neo-futuristic presence. The split, two-toned styling creates the look of a forward mask, complemented by an embossed Husqvarna logo on the chin bar.
As much as I can’t get enough of the modern classic trend sweeping the world of motorcycle manufacturing right now, many of new bikes miss their mark. Technologically they’re amazing, however, no matter how classically inspired they are many fall short of being truly classic looking machines. Instead, we end up with neo-retro styled motorcycles that are a mix of modern components beneath classically styled bodywork. This is almost certainly a product of cost limitations and something that can’t really be criticised. In the world of limited production, bespoke motorcycle manufacturing things play out a little differently. Case in point the Magni Motorcycles Filo Rosso Black Edition.
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