Cafe Racer Motorcycles reviews

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2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café

2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café

Edgy, Agile, and Eager In The Corners

Honda revamped its naked CB1000R for the 2018 model year, but rather than dressing it up, the Red Riders actually dressed it down even further with a retro cafe’-racer kick. The CB1000R replaced the CB600F Hornet back in ’08 and its naked streetfighter presentation and performance envelope was an instant hit all across Europe. Fast forward to ’18 and we find it still going strong with the same 998 cc mill and a brand new handle as the Neo-Sports Café’. Subtle refinements give the NSC a new look that takes inspiration from the past without becoming enslaved to it, and the result is fresh, modern and appropriately aggressive. Today I’m going to take a look at this decade old model to see what else Honda has done to keep it relevant and competitive in today’s market.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda CB1000R.

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2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod

2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Harley’s Hot Little Urban Commuter

Traffic-carving performance isn’t the first thing I think of when hearing the name Harley-Davidson, but the MoCo is going about changing that perception with the new-from-2017 Street Rod 750. While it is, in fact, based on the current Street 750, multiple changes in the setup and equipment turn it into another animal entirely. Shorter steering geometry, a more aggressive rider triangle and a more powerful engine come together in H-D’s most decisive push so far into the sport-standard market. A bold move to be sure, and as Harley enters territory traditionally dominated by the Asian and European manufacturers, it won’t enjoy the same name power that it does in the cruising and touring sector. With all that in mind I want to take a look at this ambitious ride today to see what’s new and how well it stacks up to its entrenched competition. I think it’s safe to take it as a given that the MoCo has its work cut out for it, to say the very least, so let’s get started.

Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Street Rod.

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2014 - 2018 Royal Enfield Continental GT

2014 - 2018 Royal Enfield Continental GT

Styling Straight Out Of The Sixties

India-based Royal Enfield has been busy expanding its footprint as of late. The newly-minted U.S. dealerships will be scampering for a piece of the action with a bike that is sure to appeal to the increasingly-important Millennial buyers— the cafe’-tastic Continental GT. Built with an unmistakeable retro flavor and powered by a 535 cc, 29.1-horsepower engine, the GT brings a relatively authentic cafe’ experience to the table. Maybe even a little too authentic in some ways, perhaps? We’ll find out. The factory established a foothold on U.S. soil just a few years ago and it has introduced its very first engine to be designed in-house, but the GT is more of a reflection of the company’s deep roots than a product of its more progressive agenda.

Continue reading for my review of the Royal Enfield Continental GT.

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2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R

2016 - 2018 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R

For The Classic Cafe’ Racer, Thruxton Is Hard To Beat

Triumph has been busy as of late, expending vast energies and resources reinvigorating the venerable Bonneville range. The Thruxton family got some lovin’ in 2016 and the new incarnation certainly had big shoes to fill considering the fame and glory associated with the Thruxton name from back in the ’60s and ’70s, a fact not lost on the designers. A brand-new engine drives the range, and a whole host of modern, race-tastic features brings the old-school cafe’ racer look to the table with contemporary performance and features that make it less like just a tribute piece, and more of a modern machine with real-world relevance.

Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Thruxton 1200 and Thruxton 1200 R.

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2016 - 2018 BMW R nineT Scrambler

2016 - 2018 BMW R nineT Scrambler

The On-Road Bike With Off-Road Attitude

It is a well-known phenomenon that as people get to a certain stage in life, they crave things from their youth. Frequently, this coincides with a certain amount of disposable income to indulge in such nostalgia. Over time, entire industries have sprung from this demand, and even designers among established businesses capitalize on this market. The new-from-2016, R nineT Scrambler from the Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW Motorrad) seems to fall into just this sort of category. Based on a general design popular from the ’50s all the way through the ’70s, the Scrambler embodies the form of the original scramblers, while borrowing from the 1951 Beemer R 68. The result is a ride that invokes nostalgia in those old enough to remember the originals and subsequent variants, but also appeals to a younger crowd who appreciates classic looks coupled with updated performance and more reliable technology than its antique predecessors. I say that with confidence since I fall into the latter group, and I am really digging this new-old ride, so join me for a dissection of this scrambler descendant as I try to determine how closely this apple fell to the tree.

Continue reading for my review of the BMW R nineT Scrambler.

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2017 - 2018 Triumph Street Cup

2017 - 2018 Triumph Street Cup

Everything You’d Expect From A Contemporary Cafe’ Racer

Triumph expanded its Bonneville Street Twin family a bit to include the new-in-2017 Street Cup. The SC brings the cafe’-tastic vibe of the Thruxton to a smaller engine bracket with a 900 cc mill, thus opening up the club-racing world to entry-level riders and offering experienced riders the option of downsizing for convenience without giving up too much in the way of fun. Sporty and quick, this ride seems to be everything one would expect from a contemporary cafe’ racer.

Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Street Cup.

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2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Cafe / S SE

2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Cafe / S SE

Ninja-Derived Power In A Mid-Displacement Cruiser

As the lightest bike in the Kawasaki cruiser lineup, the Vulcan S appeals to a variety of riders with adjustable footpegs and options for seat height and handlebar position. New from 2016, Kawasaki introduced the Vulcan S Café and the Vulcan S SE to round out its cruiser stable. Carrying the same low and lean profile of the bigger Vulcan cruisers, the S and its siblings combine Ninja-derived power and handling with the comfort and personalization capabilities of Kawasaki’s Ergo-Fit components

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Vulcan S, Vulcan S Café and Vulcan S SE.

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2017 - 2018 Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer

2017 - 2018 Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer

A Retro Cafe’ Racer That Hits All The Important Points

Moto Guzzi marks the 50th anniversary of its V7 model family and its racing roots with the race-tastic, limited-run V7 III “Racer.” This third-generation model brings a distinct cafe’ racer vibe to the table along with modern comfort and performance for what the factory hopes is a bike that is “more pleasure to own and ride.” Did they succeed? Well, the jury is still out on that, but the 52-horsepower engine, fully-adjustable rear shocks and pillion pad hidden under the tail fairing certainly bode well for the Racer. ’Guzzi boosted the power this year, and it also updated the visuals and slimmed the bodywork down for more appeal. Traction control provides some contact-patch protection, but that seems to be the fanciest gadget the Racer has to offer. Join me while I dive in to ’Guzzi’s new tribute piece to see what makes it tick.

Continue reading for my review of the Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer.

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2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec

2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec

The Performance Bobber With An Attitude

The Bolt from Yamaha’s Star cruiser line is a cool little bobber-style bike with its high tank, short wheelbase and solo seat. It’s a nice around town bike — lightweight and agile — and naked with real-steel sheet metal, it just begs you to customize it. What could be better? Enter the Bolt’s siblings, the dressier Bolt R-Spec and the café racer Bolt C-Spec. The Spec duo are every bit as snappy and fun to ride as the Bolt, but with some upgrades, both hardware and cosmetic. Powered by the air-cooled 942 cc V-twin engine, the Specs are in the same size slot as the Bolt: not too small that you’ll outgrow it right away and not so big to be overwhelming for new riders. At just a few bills more than the Bolt, they’re worth a look.

Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha Bolt R-Spec and Bolt C-Spec.

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2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750

2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750

A No-Nonsense Approach To A Bar-Hopping Café Racer

If you remember back in the 1990s, Harley-Davidson offered the "49-95" Sportster. It was a no-frills entry-level bike priced affordably at $4,995 — hence the clever in-house nickname — and it let a lot of folks stick a toe in the water, as it were, into the motorcycle scene. The Street 500 and Street 750 are the new generation of that concept. The cost is little more than $4,995, though in today’s market, $6,899 is still considered affordably priced. The Streets have that same no-frills, no-nonsense approach to an entry-level bar-hopping café racer. Powered by a Revolution V-twin engine, the bikes are premium Harley. Just because the price is low doesn’t mean they skimped on quality. The Street siblings come with a steel teardrop tank and fenders covered in the deep, rich color and flawless finish that long ago made Harley-Davidson the benchmark for premium paint on a motorcycle. The cherry on top is the chrome tank badge — not a decal, as you might expect in a budget-minded bike, but a three-dimensional tank medallion — as Harley’s pledge to you that you are riding a premium quality machine.

Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Street 500 and Street 750.

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2017 SSR Motorsports Buccaneer

2017 SSR Motorsports Buccaneer

A Small Displacement V-Twin In A Classic-Style Bike

SSR Motorsports brings some classic Italian style to the small-displacement U.S. market with its Buccaneer Classic and Cafe’ Racer models. Powered by 250 cc air-cooled V-twins — yes, I said V-twin — in a range usually dominated by thumpers, the Buccaneer siblings bring a little European flair to the table to show that small displacement doesn’t have to be boring and having a bike with a small carbon-footprint doesn’t have to come without style.

Continue reading for my review of the SSR Motorsports Buccaneer Classic and the Buccaneer Cafe.

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2017 Moto guzzi V7 III

2017 Moto guzzi V7 III

A tribute to 50 years of passion and craftsmanship.

Celebrating 95 years for a company is a big thing, and to have survived against all the odds was a mountainous task for Moto Guzzi. Even after having such a rich racing history of winning almost 3000 races and a couple dozen world championships, the name Moto Guzzi had eerily vanished from the motorcycle scene, until now. The calm before the storm.

Paying tribute to their past, MG headed to a major revival plan and launched the new range of V9 platform that angles towards the cruiser style rather than the V7’s roadster theme. And now, the brand is getting the third iteration of their most celebrated model, the V7 which is also the first model created by MG. Celebrating the 50th year of the first, the brand is launching the V7 III which will have four editions to it: Stone, Special, Racer and a celebratory entrant Anniversario.

Manufacturers and now foraying into the current wave of enthusiasts wanting custom and classic motorbikes. And for Moto Guzzi, it has its own deep roots to draw upon for inspiration from which the ‘V7s have been prepped up for the consciousness of the new generation of motorcycling. The V7 models will be the same breed of bikes that differ slightly to imprint different characters carrying the same soul.

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Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

An Italian production butch cafe-racer. A match made in heaven.

When the best of two worlds meet, something spectacular is always bound to happen. And this is what the Yamaha XSR900 Abarth all about. The child of the Japanese Blue team and the Italian powerhouse has surfaced, and it looks absolutely stunning.

Abarth, an Italian tuning brand that turns normal family Fiat cars into their sporty mad-runner nemesis has for the first time tried their hand on motorbikes, thanks to the firm’s association with Yamaha’s MotoGP team. They have collaborated with Yamaha to produce for 2017 a limited-edition "Sport Heritage café racer special" based on Yamaha’s XSR900 847 cc inline-triple neo-retro motorcycle.

It is a lightweight, high-performance retro special whose authentic café racer design reflects the true spirit of the motorcycles in the 60’s era. But make no mistake, it is very much futuristic. This is the perfect blend of ultra-cool retro style with the grunt of a sports racer. And only a limited number of 695 will hit the streets.

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2017 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer & Desert Sled

2017 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer & Desert Sled

Ducati’s Scrambler line grows yet again in the ’17 model year with the addition of the Café Racer and Desert Sled. The Scrambler range has proven to be a veritable mine of possibilities as Ducati mixes and matches equipment to fit specific purposes. For instance; the features on the Desert Sled make it arguably the most off-road capable model in the entire range, and the Café Racer, well, it comes set up to look cool in an urban environment. Both rides get the same 803 cc mill that powers the rest of the Scrambler variants along with much the same chassis, but the differences, however minor, make all the difference in the world. I’ve been eager to take a look at these bikes, and I look at this as a chance to gauge what all Ducati has learned from a few years of customer feedback and factory testing, so let’s check it out.

Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer & Desert Sled.

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