The Minka – Yamaha XS650 Cafe Racer

Around 5 or 6 years ago the Yamaha XS650 was the go to bike for many custom builders. At the time you could get your hands on a decent condition, running XS for a relatively low price and there seemed to be a never ending supply of them. Yamaha did a great job of reengineering the British parallel twin so much so that the XS was well known for it’s bulletproof reliability. The only bad thing about the XS, shall we say their achilles heel, was the points style electrics that eventually gave way as the bikes got older. The incredible popularity of the XS also meant that there was no shortage of bolt on accessories or kits to transform them into cafe racer, street tracker or bobber styled builds; and some people, much smarter than me, even devised an easy-to-install electrical ignition system to do away with the troublesome points.

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Norton Seeley Commando – Worth Motorcycle Company

Norton Seeley Commando – Worth Motorcycle Company

Written by Martin Hodgson.

If you could place a value on a motorcycle there may not be another bike on the planet worth as much as this Seeley Norton Commando. Not just because it’s a Seeley Commando, the frame made on an original Colin Seeley jig in the traditional way with all the very best parts and materials used throughout the bike. But because the proceeds of the sale of this motorcycle go to supporting

A Better Boxer – James’ BMW R80 Cafe Racer

I can’t resist the beauty of a BMW boxer engine. Nothing compares or looks quite like it. Regardless of whether it’s in stock condition or heavily customised, these are beautiful machines. Their unorthodox horizontal head configuration and final shaft drive has always intrigued me, while at the same time frightening me. With all the bulk of those cylinders you wouldn’t think it would be suitable for a café racer build, but when I look at James’ 1980 BMW R80, I know I am mistaken. This is the bike that originally got James hooked on building and riding old motorcycles, and it shows what can be done with a modest amount of effort, a lot of inspiration and a beefy BMW boxer.

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‘004’ Honda CB450 – KickMoto

‘004’ Honda CB450 – KickMoto

Written by Martin Hodgson.

When it comes time to give credit to which Japanese bikes began the rise and reign of the machines from the Land of the Rising Sun the countries first superbikes, the Honda CB750 and the Kawasaki Z1, often receive the praise. But before they arrived on the scene the first strike in the four-stroke wars was delivered by a motorcycle known simply as the Black Bomber. Released in 1965 the Honda CB450 came packed with technology that defied its very classic chrome and black aesthetic. The first full production bike to feature dual overhead cams, it produced more than 100hp/litre, enjoyed reliable electrics and was described at the time as “engineered with passion and styled with restraint, an embodiment of all the qualities a motorcycle should posses”.

South Garage – Kimera Sportster Cafe Racer

It’s been some time since I featured a custom build from Italy’s South Garage. That doesn’t mean that Enzo and the boys have been sitting around twiddling their thumbs though. Their website currently showcases over 30 original South Garage custom builds that are enough to make any motorcycle lover weak in the knees. Although European and British made motorcycles tend to be their preferred subject matter, South Garage have ventured into relatively new waters with their latest Harley Davidson based build.

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Oil In Our Veins – Sameiro’s Bol D’Or Tomahawk

With a lineage of auto enthusiasts that includes one of Portugal’s first F1 drivers, brothers Manolo and João Sameiro were predestined to become engine lovers. In 2013 they opened the doors to their ‘Sameiro’s Motors’ workshop in Viana do Castelo, determined to influence the cafe racer and tracker scene with their own approach to motorcycle customisation. Three years on the brothers have amassed an impressive portfolio of custom motorcycles and have begun to develop a distinct style of their own. Their latest creation, which started out as a decrepit ’79 Honda Bol D’Or, is the perfect representation of their highly functional approach to bike building. Blending modern tech with old school grunt and finished with minimal fuss this is their S3 Tomahawk.
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1984 Moto Guzzi SPII

1984 Moto Guzzi SPII

Written by Martin Hodgson.

Growing up in the ’80s with a two-wheeled obsessed neighbour I’d often sit on his living room floor flipping through a giant book, the Encyclopaedia of Motorcycles. He’d encourage me to read up on BMW, ignore the “Jap Crap” and when I got to the Moto Guzzi section he’d wax lyrical as if talking about the most amazing thing on the planet. It’s easy to understand why, up until that point Guzzi had been the big daddy of the Italian Motorcycle world with production peaking in 1973 at some 50,000 units. But by the ’90s it was as low as 3,000, the mystique had been lost and most had never even heard of the marque.

Paula Dean – Honda CB550 Cafe Racer

“I have zero history with motorcycles. My husband Tanner used to race dirt bikes and has owned several road bikes. We were high school sweethearts, but because we went to different colleges I didn’t spend a lot of time on his bikes with him. One night over dinner, my husband and our good friend Tyson started talking about how I needed to learn to ride. At first I wasn’t all that interested, but after a few months of lessons, I started riding a scooter with the boys. It wasn’t long before I was learning to ride a motorcycle and after getting my license Tanner gave my first bike for Valentine’s Day. It was a stock Honda CL350 in great original condition that was just too cool to cut up. Being my first motorcycle ever, I was rather partial to keeping it how it was. However, two of my close buddies owned custom café racers and I loved the look of their bikes. Tyson had already custom built his own CB750 cafe racer with help from Tanner. He was itching to build another and I had my heart set on owning one, so after finding a complete piece of junk CB550 donor our personal project began.
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