How To Build Your Own Motorcycle?

There are many different reasons why motorcycle drivers are interested in building their own bike. Maybe they like enjoying their achievement. Maybe they want to learn skills so that if their bike gets damaged, they will know how to fix it. No matter what the reason is, building a new motorcycle or customizing an old one is not an easy job. It requires lots of skills and experience.

This post was created to help you just that. It focuses on how to build a café racer step by step. We discussed many steps and tried to explain as detailed as we can. Note: This guide is worthy to read since it’s not only complete but also widely applied. In particular, you can apply our instructions on how to build a bobber on a budget or how to build a custom motorcycle. Ok! It’s enough for an introduction.

Let’s get started!


How To Build A Café Racer Step By Step

Step 1: Finding a Bike

There is a variety of motorcycle models out there on the Internet. However, not all of them can suit your café racer building project. So, it’s crucial to pick up a model which is easy to modify and customize to transfer it into a café racer.

I would like to suggest some café racer models from famous motorcycle brands for you to refer. They are:

  • Honda: They have the CB series, including 350, 360, 500, 550 and 750.
  • Yamaha: They have the XS series, including 360, 400, and 650.
  • Suzuki: GS750/1000s

Step 2: Design your Desirous Bike

Before purchasing any part, you need to make a detailed picture of what your frame will look like. At that point, design is essential. All the components should be taken into account. For examples, what style of the tank, how high the seat should locate, what color for each part, etc. 

If you know Photoshop or any CAD tool, use it. If you don’t, there are hundreds of pre-made models on the Internet. You pick the one you like and then customize it as the way you want. Also, there is an interesting and useful web-based app that I found on the Internet, allowing you to design your bike with zero designing skill. Check it at here. For another reference, check this video:

Step 3: Set Up your Workshop

Your workshop is where you will spend all day to work with in order to create whatever you want. It provides you with both the environment and tools required for manufacturing and repairing. As a result, while setting up your workshop, make sure it has enough space for working and storage. 

Then, prepare essential tools and equipment that you will need to carry out your project. For the ones available in your house, move them to the workshop. For the ones you don’t possess, buy them from stores or via online shops. For more particular, you can search and buy: How to Set Up Your Motorcycle Workshop: Tips and Tricks. It’s simply the best guide in its field!

Step 4: Disassemble your Motorcycle

The main job of building a café racer is, in fact, removing as much as clutter from your old bike. In particular, what you will do is to cut the weight, eliminate unnecessary clutter, upgrade the handling, and free up the potential horsepower. Before starting the disassembling phase, I want to take some important notes.

  • Grab your camera or smartphone and take a collection of photos while disassembling. These pictures provide you a meticulous guide, in which, the order and position of components are clearly showed. You will find it easy to reassemble later. Don’t forget to label all the pictures.
  • Classify different spot to place different kinds of parts. Since your motorcycle is made from a variety of parts, this task will help you find them quicker and easier. ­
  • For delicate components, such as the radiator, gauge cluster, and plastic fairings, locate them at a special spot. ­
  • For components that you want to replace or repair, locate them at another spot. Etc.

Consider this storage bins if you want an organized and neat keep everything in place.

Step 5: Frame Cutting

Think and plan carefully before cutting. Tools you need to have include an angle grinder and a metal blade. Also, note that there is no standard for building a motorcycle, and frame cutting also has no standard. Each bike is a unique masterpiece. For a good reference about frame cutting in a café racer, check this video.

It’s essential to make careful calculations while cutting the frame by answering these questions. What is the easiest position to start cutting? How long the seat should be? What’s about the cowl? Etc.

Should you build your own café racer frame?

Well! The answer depends on your skill and experience. The biggest of creating a frame from scratch is the flexibility. You control everything from the design to the material. On the other hand, customizing a pre-made frame is limited because you’re not able to go far away from the original design. Therefore, if you have lots of skill working with metal (cutting, bending, welding), I recommend you to create your own frame. But if not, reprocessing an available one or even buy a new one is advisable.

Step 6: Customize your Bike

Depending on your taste, the following parts could be modified or replaced:

Handlebars

Two common choices for a café racer handle bar is clubman and clip-ons. Personally, I prefer the clip-ons handlebars. It’s best to have a minimalist look of the bars in order to receive a lower profile to the front of your bike.

Some requirements that you should meet after changing the handle bars:

  • Make sure there is a small space of free play on the levers (brake and clutch).
  • Make sure the throttle cable is not being pulled as the bars are being rotated.

Fuel Tank

There are various designs of a fuel tank. Two most common styles of a fuel tank are wasp and peanut. They tend to be more retro than the tear drop.

In most case, people only need to repaint their original tank to suit their preferences. Before repainting anything, it’s integral that you have to remove its own cover. For how to build a motorcycle fuel tank, check this video.

Seat

In general, the seat of a café racer is solo (carry one passenger only) and has a built-in cowl. However, if you want to extend your seat so that it can fit up to 2, you have two choices. First, you buy a new seat. Second, you create your own seat.

The easiest way to build a seat is shaping the seat with foam, then fiber glassing it, and finishing it with padding and a cover. Another option that could be more difficult for most people is sheet metal. This way helps you eliminate the mess of fiberglass and glue.

Front Fender

In general, the front fender of a café racer is short and light. To keep it short, you have two selection. Using a chrome fender or cutting the original one.

Wheels

When it comes to a wheel of a café racer, the rim and tire are two most important factors. For the rim, consider a steel or aluminum one with a large diameter and a spacious steering head angle. They help to boost the gyroscopic effect. For the tire, its donuts should be about 18’’ to offer a great grip and smooth transition from vertical to leaned-over. Also, take a look at the style of your wheels. Whether you want spoke wheels or alloy wheels.

Brakes

Any motorbike needs an easy handling and steering. Your café racer is, of course, not an exception. You can go with either braided stainless brake lines or new pads. For the discs, choose a large one. For the steering head angle and triple clamp offset, make sure they feed to the “trail” part.

Rear-View Mirrors

Since the mirrors don’t make a big difference for your café racer, it’s advisable to reuse the old ones from your old bike. However, if you want your café racer fits its classic style, you can go with a couple of bar-end mirrors. Many café racer drivers select this kind.

Headlights

The headlight is not a factor that distinguishes a café racer from a bobber or chopper. So, whatever you choose, it doesn’t matter. Only one note is that your lights must keep the track clear all the way. This is the minimal safety caution, so be wise! Besides, instead of purchasing headlights with H3 bulbs, which is quite dim, choose headlights with H4 bulbs to get more light.

Suspension System

Any bike need a good suspension system to make sure the safe and comfort of driving, especially on bumpy or rocky roads. So, how to build a great suspension system? First, make sure the dampening and spring rates fit the total weight of your bike and you. Second, as you’re lighting the rear shocks, don’t forget to get more cornering clearance.

Rebuilding the Engine?

The best answer depends on how good your old engine. If it still operates well, you don’t need to rebuild it. Just cleaning and repainting are enough. However, if you’re forced to rebuild the engine since it’s getting poor, you need to take extreme care as dealing with the key elements. If you go wrong, your engine could stop working.

In addition to the engine, the carburetor is also a delicate part, and like the engine, anything going wrong with the carburetor can ruin your bike. In the case of replacing, it’s essential to select quality filters, jets, and needles.

Step 7: Clean and Repaint

Since you will deal with an old bike, it’s obvious that you will face dirt, rust, and stain. The only way for handling this trouble is to wash it. For detailed parts, such as the engine and carburetor, use a compressed air cleaner to access to small gaps and holes.

For the larger one, such as the fuel tank, seat or handlebars, water and cloth are enough. For rusty parts, sandpapers or a primer should be taken into account. If you want to change the colors of some parts such as the fuel tank or frame, you need to take a further step; that’s is painting.

Step 8: Reassemble

Now, everything is set. It’s time to bring all the parts back to where they belong. In this stage, open all the photos that you already took and use them as a major guide to reassemble your bike as quick and accurate as possible. You’ll find them extremely useful!

I recommend you set everything in place first before dealing with the seat. This part should be completed at the end.


Conclusion

This guide is detailed and general as the same time. Thus, you can apply it to other projects, such as how to build a triumph bobber or how to build an electric motorcycle. Some steps, like preparing a workshop, designing the bike, disassembling or reassembling, are similar in most aspects. For other steps, the choices depend on the characteristics of the bike.

Hope you enjoy it! Thank you for reading!

About the Author Leroy Simmons

My name is Leroy L.Simmons. I create this blog as the way to find out my excitement and also a way to remember my father. I always love writing, I embarked on this adventure of the blog, to tell you all that I want to share about my hobby, my dream of auto, truck and journey. At MRVEHICLE.NET, I hope to tell you great stories and especially to answer some questions you might ask. And there are also many interesting and up-to-date stories of drivers on their journey everywhere in the world.

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