Cafe Racer Final Project – Redesign

I posted earlier how I was going to make a dynamic dart board but was still looking for a bike to build a cafe racer. Well… somehow at the last minute I was able to pick up a good running bike within my budget and now have the perfect platform to begin a dream project of mine. So here is an updated design review that elaborates a little more into details that I didn’t go over in my previous design.

What will it say?

This bike will be a representation of my style. I enjoy simple yet clean looking cars and bikes. Cafe racers are sleek with sharp lines and simple bodies consisting of no accessories except for the things that make it go, turn, and stop. My bike will make people’s heads turn when I drive by and take a second look asking themselves “What type of bike is that?” I plan on making it a brat styled cafe racer. The difference is brat bikes traditionally have thicker tires, flat leather seats and flat or low rise handle bars as opposed to drop down bars or clip on’s typically seen on cafe racers.

What will it do?

Well this bike will roar like a lion and move like cheetah, zipping down empty roads and gripping the insides of windy mountains curves. It will turn simplicity into a thing of beauty from frame work to colors. I currently have a stock cb750 that’s got lots of horsepower for it’s size, easily getting me to over 100mph and running 10-15 second 1/4 miles depending on dialing in engine performance. I eventually plan on buying modern carbs and pod filters along with updating the exhaust but that is outside of the aesthetics part of this project.


I have always been interested in cafe racers and motorcycles. As an engineer I want to know how things move and work. So what better way to combine these interests by building my own bike and turning an old 1980 cb750 ugly duckling into a sharp, yet simple road racer.

Below is the original bike I will be starting from


And these are some of the builds that will help steer my final design







The thing I love most about these bikes are the tan leather seat, flat with a low kick up at the end. I also like the plain tank with a simple logo or Honda emblem. The other big “win factor” is the fact that they both use the stock clutch and throttle assembly on new handle bars with updated grips saving me time and lots of hassle exchanging the brake fluid lines and clutch and throttle cables. I also really like the cross strip on the above bike. I plan to incorporate this design into my bike. I will focus on plain yet classy colors (black, white, silver metal for the part, with accent leather tan for grips and seat).

Hardest part?

The hardest part will be the time constraint. I know I will not finish the entire build by the end of the school yer so for this class I want to focus on the seat and the handle bars since these are the biggest eye catchers for a cafe racer. I have already stripped the bike and will upload photos on progress once we get closer to the end. The thing that will take the longest will be the electrical system. I will most likely get to this after school during summer break when I have plenty of time to deal with the electrical system (a big pain in the butt). Everything else I think I can get done before the school year ends.


I can’t really prototype this project but view my inspiration bikes at my prototype. I know it’s possible to get the ugly bike to look that way I want, but it’s going to take some creativity on my part to get there and some money to purchase necessary part.

Cost estimate

The cost isn’t too important since I plan on buying a bike anyways. But as of now here is what my budget is looking like

bike – $1200

Extra parts or items – $500-$1000 (depending on if I decide to get performance upgrades like carbs too)


3/7 Purchase Bike

3/13 Strip bike down to frame/cut back of frame

3/19 Seat made, Handle bars purchased

3/27 Start assembling handle bars

4/3 Attach seat

4/10 Clean up “triangle (new battery most likely)

4/18 Final pres, add any extra parts or mods

Future: update wiring harness for a hidden wire look

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • David Holliman
    May 4, 2016 1:14 pm

    I was not familiar with the term Cafe Racer, however now that you mention it I believe I have seen some before. I agree that the modest or antique bike frame paired with a leather seat and other aesthetic choices would look awesome. I wonder what other aesthetic spaces can be explored to make this more than just a Cafe Racer? Seems like there could be some potential to further the intent of such a design. Cool idea!

  • Gardner Nichols
    March 8, 2016 9:50 pm

    Chad, this is a great idea. I’ve always loved the Cafe Racer aesthetic and would love to build my own bike some day. I’ve been interested in sewing leather before and I believe the Idea Forge has heavy duty sewing machines. I also like the fuel tank on the last picture you had, good to hear that you’ll be taking some aspects from that design.


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