The Guy Next Door – Kerkus Cycles Suzuki GS550

When was the last time you talked to the guy next door? In Kuala Lumpur neighbours Azahar and Azree Zo discovered one another’s passion for cafe racers during a friendly neighbourly chat. That discovery quickly developed into a strong friendship, which lead to the formation of their own custom motorcycle brand in 2012. Four years on their backyard hobby has grown to become a working business located in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur that goes by the name of Kerkus Cycles.

Oldscool Mechanics – Triumph Trident cafe racer

“There are many other beautiful café racers that already exist, but this one was built to put those in its shadow.”

When I first read the email from Belgium workshop ‘Oldscool Mechanics’ that brash statement left me feeling a little apprehensive. As I read on however I started to understand where the confidence behind that statement came from. This was no ordinary build. Rather than following the classic cafe racer recipe these guys had started out with something a bit left of field, instantly making it unique. They’d also used their experience in racing to fabricate parts that you won’t find on any other bike, parts that were put together for the express purpose of making the bike better. Finally, and most importantly they’re proud of what they’ve done, and while it’s easy to start naming other bikes to compare this one to I have to admire a man (or men) who is proud of his own work.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

What might have been – Banfugliera Moto Guzzi 1000SP

I have to admit I have a soft spot for classic race bikes. Purposeful performance and minimal aesthetics are certainly contributing factors to this, but above all else it’s their styling. The shape of their bodywork and their retro livery remind us of a time when being bold and brash was par for the course. Without doubt it was during the sixties and seventies when the best looking motorcycles navigated racetracks around the world and Italian classic spare parts supplier and custom builders Officine 08 couldn’t agree more. As regular exhibitors at the EICMA show in Milan they know that it takes something special to make an impression at the show and in 2015 that’s exactly what they set out to do.

Force Fed – Magnum Opus Turbo KZ650

In 1978 former Kawasaki Marketing Director Alan Masek knew that the mighty Z1’s dominance of the street was coming to an end. Honda’s new CBX and Suzuki’s GS1000 were set to leave the Z1 in their dust, but rather than sit back quietly and watch that happen, Alan devised the Zed’s ultimate swansong. In what can only be described as a ludicrous business agreement, Alan, who was at the time CEO of Turbo Cycle Corporation, acquired 250 of Kawasaki’s powder blue Z1000s. These bikes were then rebadged as the Z1R-TC and fitted with bolt on turbo kits. The Z1R-TC ran the same engine internals, same suspension and same brakes as the standard Z, but thanks to the turbo kit packed an additional 40 brake horsepower. Insanely the bikes were then sold through Kawasaki dealerships, without warranties, to power hungry riders. Unfortunately many of the bikes met their demise by melting pistons, tearing cranks in half or at the hands of riders who simply couldn’t control the beasts.

Today the idea of building such a bike for the street sounds rather ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done…

DIY Delight – Moto8ight cafe racer kit

Let’s face it. We’re not all experienced mechanics, welders, fabricators or industrial designers. We don’t know how to model in CAD or have access to the latest CNC machinery. We’ve never mixed resin with a catalyst, don’t know anything about clay modelling and couldn’t explain the difference between mig, tig and stick welding if our lives depended on it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all lead very different lives and for many of us learning these skills has never been necessary. However, if you’ve been here before or frequented the pages of other similar websites you’ve probably be toying with the notion of giving this bike building business a go.

Well you’ll be glad to know that your current skills, or lack thereof, is all you need. You can soon build a bike as radical as this one at home using basic tools and knowledge, and it’s all thanks to one man who goes by the name of Jack Chin and his company Moto8ight.