We are flooded with emails every day of people asking how to build your own cafe racer.
Theres thousands of blogs talking about the importance of design and the distinct mechanical parts, yet not very many workshops or mechanics talk about the most crucial and difficult choice of building a custom cafe racer; picking your cafe racer base.
At Cafe Racer Dreams, after years of experience, trial end error, and many technical developments and technological advancements, we can confirm that the efficiency of our motorcycles does not only depend on our extensive work both on and off the workshop but on its core, the donor bike.
You can’t risk it with old motorcycles, the state of the bike is not only a must but it will define your bike at length.
Back at the workshop we have a few donor bikes all lined up and ready for clients to walk in and pick their next build. We want to be as transparent as possible with them.
What you see is what you get, there’s no shortcuts. Amongst our donors, sits an R90 that looks and rides like new.
Theres an R100 RS that had been refreshed and restored by its previous owner for his daily use, and a Daytona that we have decided not to custom as it looks too good to be true (if you love old school motorcycles, you’ll understand)
If you go for a modern motorcycle, you won’t have much space for customization. Modern customs are all about removing unnecessary parts, painting, and adding a whole bunch of other good looking parts.
With old school motorcycles, the room for mechanical improvement and aesthetics is limitless.
Especially with the BMW R-series where you can practically dismantle the bike on its entirety and put it back together, keeping just the engine (after you restore and refresh it).
These bikes are the most popular cafe racer base for a number of reasons. The BMW brand is one of the most sold around the world, and the R-series are the most reliable donor bikes.
Moreover, these motorcycles have a shaft drive, reducing costs and lowering maintenance and cleanliness. And…did we mention its incredible sound?
Most 70s and 80s BMWs in great state are expensive and hard to find yet we have a saying in Spain “what’s cheap will then be more expensive” meaning you are better off making the investment first hand than later having to deal with servicing the bike.
If you choose to buy the donor bike yourself, we suggest you make knowledge-based choices. Theres a lot of sellers and re-sellers claiming that their bikes are “exactly what you’ve been looking for”, hence try to avoid disappointment by involving a mechanic to test it out first.
If you want to turn your cafe racer base into a CRD, our mechanic will be happy to check it out before you purchase it.
You may already have your own motorcycle and plan on customizing your piece of history. If this is the case, you are committing to its limitations as well (if there is any at all – we dont want to sound pessimistic either!). We love it when clients bring a bike they are passionate about.
The before/after effect and everything in between feels that much special when its a base that means something to you. Your emotional involvement in the project grows.
Everything matters, so dont get ahead of yourself. Sometimes our ambition surpasses our wilingness to learn. We think the whole process is beautiful, even if finding the right build takes longer than you planned.
As mentioned before, your ability to pick the right motorcycle will define your project on its entirety.