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If I ever run into Punxsutawney Phil, I’m going to punch that lying rodent right in his giant front teeth. It’s still winter. I keep checking the 10-day extended weather forecasts looking for some ray of warm hope. Nothing yet. So we’re having to get inventive about ways to scratch our motorcycle itches as winter soldiers on.
One strategy is to attend the annual Progressive International Motorcycle Show (“the IMS”). It’s a great opportunity to get out of the shop, hang with our fellow motorcycle and scooter nerds, see and sit on a bunch of new bikes, and see what’s up in the mainstream aftermarket. For BlueCat Motors we didn’t do a booth this year, but we were invited to participate in a Q&A about Cafe Racers. Or at least it was supposed to be a Q&A.
The session was part of Allstate’s The D.I.Y. Garage, which tours with the IMS as it makes its way across the country. Our own Ryan Scott got up to talk Cafe bikes and even brought along Jeff’s gorgeous Yamaha XS650 Cafe as an example. While we were very happy to be there as the local experts in building Cafe bikes, the session itself was a little weird. First of all, 70% of the session was literally a Powerpoint presentation of Wikipedia-caliber Cafe Racer history. Sure, there are lots of people (especially in the states) who aren’t familiar with the style, but this just didn’t make sense to us. If you’re hosting a Q&A about Cafe Racers, isn’t it pretty safe to assume that the people showing up probably already know what a Cafe is? There was something sadly elementary about the whole thing. “Okay children, who can tell me what ‘the ton’ is? Raise your hands. Billy?”
Don’t get me wrong, overview is a good thing. Unfortunately, the host’s overview was 20 minutes of the 30 minute session. Ryan was able to chime in here and there, but it was really their show in the end. Ryan’s contributions were valuable though. Once the host’s presentation transitioned away from history, he started talking about some of the basic ingredients that go into a typical Cafe Racer project. He (the host) highlighted a couple of kits and unfortunately made the whole prospect sound like anybody with a wrench could build a Cafe Racer out of a CB350 they found in a barn. Sure, anyone can do that. Anyone with the skills and the cash. Ryan was quick to point out that even the bolt-on kits don’t include paint or engine tuning. You can’t just bolt those velocity stacks on the motor and expect it to run right. That new gas tank isn’t going to paint itself.
So that was a disappointment, but it underscored the need for what we actually do at BCM. Beyond just keeping it on the road, if you’ve got an old Japanese or European bike and you want to Cafe it, come see us. If you started a project and got stuck, give us a call. We can help. It’s what we do. Because beyond the bump stop seats and the clip-on handlebars, a Cafe Racer isn’t just a certain kind of motorcycle. It’s a certain kind of motorcyclist. It’s a community of petrol heads hell bent on making their bike go faster, handle better and look original. That’s our outlook anyway. So if you have any questions about Cafe Racers, we’d love to answer them for you. There will be no Powerpoint involved. We promise.
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