Damien’s 1982 Honda CX500

Starting out as a light hearted project, Damien had saved this Honda CX500 from a previous owner who had tried – and failed – at doing a café build. Luckily for this bike a firm idea and plenty of inspiration was on hand, and she would be riding once more with a killer new look.


In High School, Damien had met some new lads that had a bunch of trail bikes. “They’d told me that trailies were heaps better than riding pushies so that’s where it all started for me. I couldn’t afford a dirt bike straight up, so the next best thing would be to get a Honda CT90. It was so much faster than my pushy, but still couldn’t keep up with my newfound friends. After saving all my paper run money, I got myself a Yamaha YZ80. Power bad – woooohoo! I then got my licence and went through a handful of road trail bikes, but it wasn’t until my mid 30’s that I got started with road bikes.”

Despite having a busy schedule with lots of things on the go, Damien was after a project. It would be down the coast in another city that he’d found a 1982 Honda CX500. “I bought the bike off a young bloke who tried to café it up, but did a shit job. It had an ugly looking brown homemade seat, the battery box was poorly welded to the frame and the auto electrics were disastrous. But it was enough of a starting point for the build I was after.”


Inspiration for Damien came mainly through his mate Brad, who also had a CX500 project. “I drew a lot of inspiration from him as I was very time poor and he would show me shit he found on the net, tagging me in shit on face book. We both had the intention of having good looking bikes that would one day get to show in mags or on the net.” And so his hopes were answered (you’re welcome).


With the electrics in a state of complete uselessness, the bike was taken to Liam at Butler’s Customs. An auto electrician by trade, Liam would be the perfect man for the job. Everything from mounting the battery under the seat, to making a new wiring loom and installing all the instruments and lighting – Liam had it sorted. “He then cut the rear end back, made a new seat pan and organised a new custom seat for it which looks great and is also super comfy to ride.”


The tank was then painted black using the same paint used on the older hummers. “Since the spray, I’ve managed to take some of the paint off where the bars hit the side of the tank however. Changing to clip-ons will hopefully prevent this.” We’ll call it patina. “The only bump in the road so far on this build I’d have to say was when I ordered a 16” rear rim from the States to suit the new firestones, it wasn’t till I took the bike, rims and tyres to get fitted that I realised I’d been sent an 18” instead. This got sorted out after a few emails and I got to keep the 18”.”


“I love the reliability of Hondas. With this bike, the seat and the big tyres are favourites of mine. It makes for a stocky and aggressive profile. I’m still working on the bike, rebuilding the motor and perhaps painting it black. Some new mikuni carbs will be added along with some clip-ons most likely. I can’t wait to keep working on this bike and see where it goes.”



The Reverend – Josh’s Harley-Davidson Sportster

A big, heavy, American V-Twin isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when Café Racers are mentioned, but that’s exactly what pushed Josh to create The Reverend. This is a dark horse of a machine – a cruiser with café racer influence.


Inspiration for Josh’s recent build came in the form of a combination of two of his favourite bikes. The first being a Honda CB550 Brat build he had seen, and the second a Café Racer styled Harley-Davidson Sportster build by Deus Ex Machina. These two builds would plant the seed of possibility, and sure enough a 2008 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL883 would soon be sitting in Josh’s garage, waiting to be chopped up. “I decided to tone down the original concept a little to reign in the costs, but I wanted to turn a big fat sportster that began all white & chrome (the donor bike’s original scheme) into a blacked out brat/café bike that turned heads and upset Harley purists.”


Josh’s love for classic styled motorcycles stemmed some way back, but it would not be fully acted upon until a change of pace and a move into the big smoke. “Seeing classic bikes in movies and on the street certainly always copped plenty of staring from me, but I hadn’t really ever thought about owning one until more recently. I’d moved to Sydney from growing up in the country and the traffic was literally driving me insane! I watched motorbikes roll past me in traffic and it was then that I was convinced; I needed to get on a bike. I told myself it was pragmatic, for functionality only and that I wouldn’t enjoy it and get addicted. As soon as I bought my first bike and rode it for 10 minutes I was completely hooked. It was just a completely different experience to driving a car, and I loved it. I was never into newer cars or newer anything really – I was always drawn to older style things, so naturally café racer bikes became my weapon of choice.”


The following weeks would be filled with daydreaming of what and how to achieve this new project, with dozens of images being collected from builds around the world and inspiration being put to good use. “I was trying to mesh together a lot of different bikes I had seen. I’d create Photoshop mock-ups, and then decided to jump right into it and get to work with the angle grinder. Harley’s aren’t the best shape for café racers so that meant cutting pretty aggressively into the frame to build a whole new rear end. I then chucked on some new suspension to change the geometry of the bike even further. Once the way it sat was right, it needed some custom fabrication on the rear for the seat, which my mate Chris expertly took care of. It was then time for me to begin tearing every piece of chrome off and begin painting everything black.”


Despite not having much experience in the way of motorcycle customisation, Josh made the most with what he had, and stuck to his project. “There weren’t too many hiccups with the build, other than my lack of experience with electrics and fabrication. It took lots of frustrating hours playing around to make things work. Not having the right tools for most of the jobs was tricky as well. This meant doing it very slowly – the way you’re not meant to do it. For instance, painting the engine and wheels whilst they were still on the bike.”


It’s tough to say what my favourite thing about the machine is, but maybe the tank lettering. The name for this bike was picked out long before I had even purchased it. I knew I wanted to build an aggressive looking bike and call it the Reverend. It’s a name that’s a half tongue in cheek joke about this bike being the thing that will bury me, and half a bit of a joke on usually being the only token Christian around the motorcycle scene. But other than the tank I think just the way the bike makes me smile when I twist the throttle. It’s just really fun to ride. It feels so different to ride it now than when I began cutting it up, and it’s a seriously fun bike to ride now with the new geometry and controls the way it’s set up. I think perhaps most though I like that I did what people tell you not to do with a Harley-Davidson. I see why you’re not supposed to do this to a Harley, but it was fun and a challenge.”



Kel’s Suzuki GR650 Tempter

It was only a matter of time for Kel to get his wheels, what with having so many riders in his family. This would prove to be an important decision in his life as it brought him closer to family, while also learning more about motorcycle customisation.

Both Kel’s uncle and father had always been into bikes for as long as he could remember, but it wasn’t until a chance exposure to Post-Modern Motorcycles that Kel would finally be inspired to pick up some wheels for himself and get chopping. “That style of bike seemed pretty easy to do, so I sussed out how to buy a Postie which I ended up grabbing from pickles auctions, and a few weeks later my brother and I were the proud new owners of what we hoped would become a sweet new custom ride! This was quite a few years ago now, and I’d only got as far as changing the rear cog on the bike, adding clubman bars, new indicators and some stickers.”

From here Kel found his way into Sydney Café Racers in the hopes of helping his custom bike work. “I had the Postie for a few years and attended a few SCR rides. I rode on the first Throttle Roll event as well, and got to lead the pack back from the ride into the Vic On The Park, which was really cool. It wasn’t long thought before I grew out of the limited power of the CT110, so I started my search for a new bike.”

The search for a new bike would inevitably lead Kel to a 1983 Suzuki GR650 which he had found sitting outside a mate’s girlfriend’s place. “I’d been looking at the bike for a while, and the guy who owned this bike had moved to Melbourne so I offered him $500 as the bike had been sitting there not running for almost a year. My mate knew I wanted the bike and ended up buying it before me, he then got to work on the bike and sold it to me with a blue slip a few days later.”

From here the work on the bike would be slow, as Kel himself admits he lacked the skills, tools and money to dive in headfirst. “I was getting more involved with the crew from SCR attending more rides and gaining advice along the way. Pretty much the first thing I did was strip the tank back to bare metal and added some new handlebars. I rode it like that for a while before I got sick of the look, so I painted the tank. I was going for a well-used patina look, and I’m pretty happy with the out come!”

After losing his licence for 9 months a few weeks after enjoying his GR650, Kel decided to make use of this time off the road and have a proper go at working on this machine. “I still lacked the tools and skills, but this time I had some money! I booked the bike in with Kyle at Rene9ade. The bike sat there for 2 months as I was away for work, but when I got back to Sydney I went straight over to chat with Kyle and show him what I had in mind for the bike. He was already booked up with other bikes so I asked if he minded me helping out, so from then on I was there most afternoons and weekends. It was perfect, as I had storage for the bike, and all the tools at my disposal. I also had the expertise from Kyle and also Paul Stanner from Drifter Bikes on had to help me out.”

Getting into motorcycles wasn’t just about grinding, customising and riding, as it ended up providing Kel with a much richer experience. “Motorbikes have given me something more to share with my family, I’m constantly on the phone to my old man asking him what to do here and there, and a lot of the time he’d just call uncle Chris! My Dad knows his stuff, but Chris just knows a little bit more. It’s been awesome getting to see my Dad, Chris and Auntie Karen and be involved in something they love, as well as meeting so many new people that I call my friends today. I’m really grateful as well for the time spent with Chris and Karen, to be honest if it wasn’t for motorbikes I probably would not of seen Karen as much as I did; sadly she passed away a few years back so that time spent together was something extra special for me.”