How to be a Cafe Racer | Throttle Roll

How to be a Cafe Racer

You’ve seen How To Build A Café Racer, but what if you lack the tools, technical ability or funds to create a fully customised café racer? Well, never fear. There’s alternatives that will have you slipping into the Café Racer crowd seamlessly, and you’ll barely even have to touch your bike!

Café racers are hugely popular, amongst riders and none-riders alike. Behind the café racer aethsetic is the DIY garage work, chopping and grinding to make a stock machine something unique and custom. Achieving this look on a bike can be tough, be it lack of expertise, tools, space or money. You may even have a bike that you may not feel fits the bill for being café’d up. Well worry not, we’ve found an easy way to convert any bike into the café look easily and cheaply.

What most don’t know, café racers are only 50% about the actual bike, and even then a working one isn’t necessary. It’s about the attitude, the look, and most importantly, the look. You need to be able to walk the streets and have people think “Now there’s someone that knows how to use an angle grinder”. And all this can be accomplished with a simple modification of what you wear, how you act, and a few minor changes to your motorcycle of choice.

A cost effective and simple way to add some custom chic to your ride is simply add a bit of sticky tape to your motorcycle’s headlight. Sticky tape was introduced onto racing bike headlights back in the day to keep shards of the brittle glass from breaking off and being strewn about the track. This trademark ‘X’ on a motorcycle’s headlight sure enough became a look that authenticated part of the café racer style. We took the time to analyse and explain some of the different methods used in this simple, yet powerfully effective way to customise your bike.

The Traditional X – Tried and true, the single layer ‘X’ pattern is the most recognisable method for customising your bike. It proudly says “I race, I get my knee down, I’m the next Barry Sheene”

The Double X Cafe Converter – What’s better than having a badass X across your headlight? Having TWO badass X’s across your headlights, of course (you idiot). Twice the speed, twice the customisation, twice the brightness. Note: This can only be applied to motorcycles which have two headlights, if your bike only has one, you will need to attach a second on with special gaffer tape to complete this customisation.

Custom Dual-Layer Specialised Cafe Racer X – Much like the traditional X style, but more complex and specialised. This dual-layer X should be thick and hearty, much your the beard you should have attached to your face right now.

The Double-Hatch – Get into the spirit of easter and turn your Good Friday into a bloody Great Friday with this festive style of electrical tapery. Inspired by the hot cross bun (which can be found in cafés, probably) this method will not just get you brownie points with the custom bike community, but with the big man God himself.

How will people know you’re a free spirited, death-defying badass if they can’t see pictures of your steed?* It’s all about angle, both in relation to the elevation of your arm with your phone, and with the free-trade exotic coffee you just took out a second mortage for. Be sure to neither smile, or try to seem apathetic, do not let the defeated look of someone who has spent all their money show in your eyes.

*Steed: Colloquial term in the bike community for one’s motorcycle. Origin comes from poorer riders who could not afford motorcycles, and so would glue cardboard wheels and fairings to their horses. These imposters would be caught out by calling their “motorcycle” a steed, and thus the term latched on.

 

When In Doubt, Pinky Out – A throwback to the tea drinking times in old Mother England is a perfect way to solidfy your authenticism with the british café racer look. You don’t even need a cup of tea, or a Triumph or Norton. Simply fire out that pinky and you’ll have everyone believing you’re an Isle Of Man TT Champion in no time.

 

A few pieces from the archives