The Custom Cafe Racer: Variations On A Theme

Triumph Rocket III

Within every genre of Custom Biking you will find slight variations to the original theme. Add a set of angled Z- bars and a short bench seat, and a Bobber becomes a Brat-style Bobber. Throw in some knobbly tires and renthal type bars and it’s a Brat Tracker. The variations are endless as long as people can make up names for them.

Café Racers are no different and when you get past the basic principle of clip-ons and a bum stopper seat, and into the realms of one-off frames, trick suspension and billet parts, you’ve arrived at the Custom Café Racer. So, without further ado, here are some of the nicest examples out there.


This Custom Café Racer is the work of head spanner man Zbynek Turecek of Czech bike builders Wildstyle, and features so many custom elements it’s hard to know where to begin. The 126-cubic inch Ultima engine and 6-speed box are surrounded by a large bore one-off frame and a trick swinging arm connected to parallel mounted Showa shocks.

The petrol tank and seat unit (which doubles as an oil tank) are also Wildstyle originals and the unbelievably talented Mr. Turecek not only fabricated the one-off exhaust, but also painted the bike and chrome-plated it! And we at BackyardRider aren’t the only ones who think this bike rocks, in 2013 it took 6th place at the AMD World Championships.

Fred Krugger CB450

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last decade, you will be familiar with the name Fred Krugger. The Belgian born bike builder has turned out some outstanding work and whether you’re a fan or not, his design and execution are stunning.

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This particular bike was commissioned by Honda for their stand at the Brussels Auto Show and started out life as a CB450 Black Bomber before it got Krugger-ised. Front to back, the engineering work is a joy to look at, but the two stand-out features for me are the exhaust and cylinder head.

The reversed head engine isn’t new, Triumph riders have been doing it for decades, but I’ve never seen it done to a Japanese engine before (feel free to leave a comment if you have). The end result looks so simple but the engineering skill required to carry it off is seriously impressive. Krugger also took advantage of the rear-facing exhaust pipes and ran them under the seat, exiting either side of the seat hump.

Triumph Rocket III

Having owned one of these Killer Whales on steroids, the sight of this Australian built Triumph Rocket III, having been given the Custom Café Racer treatment by Wenley Andrews, made me weak at the knees. The bathtub-sized fuel tank has been replaced with a much slimmer handmade item, and the removal of the bulbous side panels have altered the Trump’s looks dramatically.

A one-off exhaust and subframe, custom clocks, seat, headlight, shocks, radiator and foot controls, to name but a few, are all smaller or slimmer than the originals, which further accentuate the monster engine making it one Rocket III that actually looks as fast as goes.

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