I came across a Ducati SportClassic today and thought to myself – “what a sexy bike” – to only find out that the last ones were made 8 years ago. That made me think about old school/new school and how the cafe racer really never has gone out of style.
The cafe racer has been around since the 1960s when British kids stripped their bikes back to make it as light as possible and fast as possible as their light-powered bike could go. The look is minimalistic with low-mounted handlebars, a prominent and elongated tank and the urge to get a coffee (or a pint).
Old School vs New School
Any manufacturer worth their salt would be crazy not to jump at the opportunity to make an affordable bike that looks cool and is within reach of the average wallet. And voila! The modern – new school – cafe racer fills that space.
Most people who can or want to afford a bike can’t do what the kids in the 60s and 70s did and that is modify their own bikes. You either ride stock or if you have enough money, you get a custom bike. Several manufacturers have been smart enough to jump on that bandwagon with the likes of Triumph, Ducati, BMW and Harley-Davidson all producing cafe racers to varying degrees.
Lets have a look shall we?
Triumph Thruxton 1200/1200R
It’s not hard to believe that a brand like Triumph is in this line up, especially with a bike like the Thruxton. On the market since 2004 it is still a head turner not just for its looks, but most definitely from the sound of the parallel-twin 1200cc engine that produces 96bhp.
She’s a hefty one at 205kg (dry weight) and therefore we’d go for the 1200R version in Silver Ice colour with maybe a few modifications available from the Triumph accessory list. The 1200R has a drive away price of around $22k in Australia.
Find out more on the Thruxton here.
Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer
The Scrambler range from Ducati is quite extensive and there really is something for everyone. It looks incredible in its “Black Coffee” body colour, gold wheels and the brown seat is a nice touch.
However, at the end of the day its still a Scrambler and it looks a bit like the rest of the range, shares the same tank look and overall feel. That said, if you’re in the market for an entry level bike that looks the part and still sets you apart from the pack, this is the bike for you.
Definitely lighter than the Thruxton at 172kg, the Scrambler Cafe Racer also sports a smaller engine at 803cc producing 73hp via its L-Twin Ducati engine. The Scrambler Cafe Racer is yours for $18,730 drive away in Australia.
Find out more about the Scrambler Cafe Racer here.
BMW R NineT
I’m actually a bit disappointed I don’t see more BMW R NineT’s driving around in Australia. Such a great looking bike, especially with a few modifications/accessories, to make it your own. BMW introduced this beauty in 2014 and is a favourite among customisers. Which is a good thing, especially in the case of those awful standard rearview mirror that look completely out of tune with the rest of the bike. Drive away prices in Australia for the R NineT are around $25-$27k.
The understated cool fellas from Deus Ex Machina in Sydney created the absolutely stunning The Heinrich Maneuver with the R NineT as a base. It showcases what can be done with the right amount of budget and the inspiration this bike brings to the table.
Interested in a BMW R NineT? Check it out here.
Harley-Davidson Roadster (XL1200CX)
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a thing for Harley’s. There’s something about that engine sound that just gets me going. The Sportster series from the good people of H-D is another collection like the Ducati Scrambler that offers something for everyone. The Roadster is the cafe racer of the pack and does it quite convincingly.
Compact and looking muscular from pretty much any angle this bike delivers roughly 70hp from its 1200cc engine. Not sure how H-D Australia justifies the big price difference between US pricing where it costs US$11,299 compared to the Australian drive away price of $19,495.
Want one? Find out more here.
Triumph Street Cup
The Street Cup is the least expensive in this line up and probably the truest form of a cafe racer. An 800cc parallel twin engine producing 54bhp with a no nonsense styling that really attracts the eye in that racing yellow colour. Still, its almost just as heavy as the Thruxton at 200kg, so maybe Triumph needs to start putting their bikes on a diet.
Good thing about it all is its price of around $17.5k driver away in Australia. The guys at Triumph are ready for you if you are. Get one here.
Don’t have your rider licence yet, but want one? Check out our article on learning to ride one.
Now all you have to do is decide where you’re going to ride it to…..