Over the past decade, the custom motorcycle scene has shifted gears. The days of the OCC choppers have come to an end, with Cafe Racers and Scrambler taking front stage. We have seen professional builders and DIY garage builders producing some of the most beautiful bikes around. Who needs to spend $80k plus on a custom bike. Builders around the word are resurrecting vintage barn finds for next to nothing and creating show quality ride-able bikes. Not only have motorcycle riders taken notice, but the big manufacturers have also. Companies such as Triumph, Norton, Royal Enfield, BMW and more have starting making production motorcycles with that vintage styling. For the riders who don’t want to build a custom cafe racer or scrambler, but go to the dealership and ride away on one, you are in luck. We have compiled a list of what we think are the Top 5 modern cafe racers on the market.
#1 – Triumph Thruxton (Starting at $9,800)
Over the past 15 or so years, Triumph has reinvented themselves and has become one of the top brands in the industry. they have listened to the demands of the market, producing several new models including the Triumph Thruxton. This is one of our favorite production cafe racer motorcycles. The engine and over all design are reminiscent of the earlier Triumphs but with lots of modern upgrades. The classic parallel twin which is 865cc, produces 69hp which is more then enough to make this thing get up an move.
One of the reasons this is our top pick is because of the aftermarket products available. Although this is a true cafe racer right off the showroom floor, we all know as riders nothing can stay stock. The popularity of this bike has sparked dozens of part manufacturers to develop aftermarket parts. You can pretty much buy and bolt on 100’s of parts, customizing the bike to your likes.
#2 – BMW R Nine T (Starting at $15,095)
Another manufacturer who has given riders what they want, is BMW. When we first saw the Roland Sands Concept 90 motorcycle that he did in collaboration with BMW, we could not wait to see what become of it. Low and behold, the BMW R Nine T was unveiled. The R Nine T is another production motorcycle that has classic styling, but with all the modern technology that BMW is known for. The engine is an 1170cc power plant putting out a claimed 110hp. The suspension if fully adjustable USD forks and rear shocks. The brakes are Brembo (ABS) radial calipers up front and standard 1 piston in the rear. This is another bike that the rider can fully customize with bolts on parts to their liking. One of the biggest aftermarket parts supplier for the R Nine T is Roland Sands. We just love the styling and performance of this bike right off the showroom floor.
#3 – Norton Commando 961 (Starting at 22,000)
The Norton Commando 961 is your quintessential classic cafe racer. The history of these cafe racers goes back to the original Commandos. The Norton has a 961cc engine, putting out approximately 90hp and is paired with Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension. These are one of the most beautiful production cafe racers but have a down fall. The high price tag and exclusivity. Norton is not as widely popular as the triumph or BMW and with a price tag north of $20k, you don’t see many around. If money is not an option, then the Norton Commando 961 is a must have for any motorcycle enthusiast.
#4 – Ducati Sport 1000 (Used Starting at $8,000)
The Ducati Sport 1000, like the Norton Commando, draws its inspiration from an earlier model. The classic Ducati 750 was one of the original Ducati cafe racers. With its clip on handlebars, single round headlight and single seat, the Ducati Sport 1000 is a true cafe racer right from the factory. The 992cc twin engine puts out a respectable 92 hp which with some upgrades can be bumped up over 100hp. The brakes are Brembo front to back and features fully adjustable USD forks. The Ducati is still one of our favorites just because as a kid, whenever I saw a cafe racer, it usually involved a Ducati. If you want to get your hands on one of these you will have to find a used one, as production was stopped in late 2009.
# 5 – Royal Enfield Continental GT (Starting at $5,999)
Last but not least is the Royal Enfield Continental GT. This little bike with it’s single cylinder 531cc engine is a true cafe racer. Royal Enfield over the last few years, has made a big push to gaining back market share. With its introduction of several new models and a US division, I hope we see more and more of these on the road. The history of the company goes back decades and the Continental GT is a tribute to that. Its classic cafe racer styling with the single seat, clip ons and moderate price, is a great entry level bike for any rider.
You can go check out all these bikes on the manufacturer’s websites. Watch out though, you might be driving to the dealership afterwards.