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cafe racer on a budget

Do you love that cafe racer style but don’t have the cash to buy one? Well all is not lost, because it is quite possible to knock ‘em all dead with your very own self-built cafe racer on a budget.

This blog offers tips and guidance on how to transform a wreck into a head-turning cafe racer without breaking the bank.

1. Pick the right bike

If you’re on a tight budget, pick a cafe racer project bike that is already running, unless you’re a brilliant mechanic able to breathe new life into any old hunk of metal.

The choice of project bikes is very wide but, generally speaking, Japanese motorcycles from the late 60s to late 80s are a good starting point. They were usually reliable, easy to maintain and parts are still easy to get hold of.

Read our blog to find out in more detail the best bikes for cafe racer rebuilds.

2. Plan the rebuild thoroughly

Before you embark on your cafe racer build, make a plan of what work needs doing, what parts you are likely to need, what they will cost you – adding a little extra for surprise problems – how long the work is likely to take, and what work you can do and what work you may need to get professional help with.

When you have a plan, you will be able to work out if you will be within budget or whether you will need to make compromises on parts and accessories.

The parts you are looking for will vary depending on which bike you purchase for the project, but you will probably need:

  • A seat
  • Headlight, indicators and tail light
  • An air filter
  • Instrument gauge cluster
  • Dropped handlebars
  • An exhaust pipe
  • New wheels and tyres
  • New shocks
  • Upgraded brakes
  • Any parts that need replacement for the bike’s general running and maintenance

3. Visit your local scrapyard for replacement parts

At the scrapyard, you can take your time to salvage parts from non-running motorcycles. They will cost a fraction of the price compared to buying parts from a motorcycle dealership and chances are they will work just as well.

Removing parts from a non-running motorcycle in the scrapyard will also give the opportunity to find out how they are fitted on the scrap bike so you will know how they fit onto your rebuild project. 

cafe racer on a bidget

4. Pre-loved parts work just as well

If you can’t find exactly what you need at the scrapyard, check the classifieds in your local newspaper, online marketplaces and trade and specialist magazines to see if anyone is trying to sell them.

5. Sell any old parts you don’t need

The minimalist look of the cafe racer is one of the genre’s trademark characteristics. It follows that you will be removing many parts that look perfectly good and work perfectly well but are now surplus to requirements. 

As the saying goes, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Advertise the unwanted spares online and hold on to the bits and pieces you don’t sell in case you need them in the future. 

6. Respray the bike yourself

If you’re looking for that matt black cafe racer finish, you don’t need to take it to the spray shop to get the job done. You can do the respray yourself and save a fortune. You’ll probably want to spray the tank and the frame – simply mask off any areas that you don’t want painted and spray away to your heart’s content!

7. Chopping the fenders

If you’re looking for that matt black cafe racer finish, you don’t need to take it to the spray shop to get the job done. You can do the respray yourself and save a fortune. You’ll probably want to spray the tank and the frame – simply mask off any areas that you don’t want painted and spray away to your heart’s content! 

You’ll be looking for minimalist smart shortened fenders for your cafe racer rebuild but you don’t have to splash out on expensive new ones to get the look. You can cut back your existing fenders with a good quality angle grind. 

You might want to have a practice go on a scrapyard non runner before letting loose on your rebuild’s bike fenders though.

cafe racer on a budget

Insurance for your cafe racer on a budget

Turning that previously unloved motorcycle into your dreamed-for cafe racer will be no overnight project. It will likely take you months of hard work, which is why you will want to make sure any self build cafe racer on a budget is fully protected once it is back on the road.

Bikesure offers a complete low-cost, high quality modified and custom bike insurance service ranging from minor modifications right through to one-off cafe racer custom builds. For an insurance quote that won’t break your budget, call the Bikesure experts on 0808 503 5081.

Retro Motorbikes