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How to Build your First Cafe Racer

18 Apr 2018
by B. Schaap

If you want to build a custom bike, you might want to read this blog!

What to look for if you start your first project?
 
First things first, thank you for reading this blog and I thank you even more for hopefully putting another custom bike on this planet. We cannot have enough custom stuff that separates people from the masses. Every day when I am out, I love to see new stuff that I haven't seen before. So please try and make your custom unique! 
 
The good news is, there are plenty of secondhand bikes to pick from! If you start your first build please pick out a bike that has a working engine. Otherwise, you will spend tons of money on rebuilding an engine. Bearings, piston rings and seals can be very expensive. It is better to spend a little bit more on your project bike because it will save you money in the end. 
 
What I recommend is a bike with a round tubular frame made out of metal. Easy to grind, weld and personalize. 
Make a good test drive and then start taking it apart. Take away all the fairings you don’t want to use, take away all the lights, seats, pegs, etc. 
 
In the words of Bruce Lee:
 

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”

 

You can’t make the total design beforehand. It will take away the creativity and fun. Please have a general idea of what you want before working on the bike. Let the ideas and plans flow naturally during the process of building. Keep close to your ideas and do not make concessions about them. Also, allow yourself to be flexible enough to alter plans during the build because you will need to change certain things.
 
There will be problems though! And sometimes new ideas will come up and they will look better than the old ones. If you understand this, keep this balance in your mind… and make the design choice you want. 
 
Now you can start cutting and chopping. The best part is the creative part!! Now pick out your favourite tool of choice. Personally, mine is the grinder. Start cutting bits away! If you have doubts leave them on because it is easy to take stuff off. Faster then putting them on again. If you take this too far and get carried away with the cutting you will end up with something you cannot use anymore.
 
So take it easy BUT don’t be too scared either.
 
After you have taken everything away, start fabricating new frame parts or choose from out webshop your desired frame parts. Weld them yourself or ask for some help. Be careful because it is your frame and the strength of the bike depends on it. 
 
Try to build the complete bike in raw first. I mean just welded, bare metal and completely the way you want it before painting anything. This is very important. If you start painting after welding and grinding, then you start assembling you will notice things that have to change. Then you have to alter your design and you need new paint. 
 
So, build the complete bike without all the electronics. Then if it looks the way you want it to be, you take it all apart and you can paint everything or send it out to the painter. If it returns you assemble the complete bike. 
 
Please be very patient during the electronic part, if you try to go too fast, you will have big problems in the end. Use waterproof connectors, always make solid connections and use shrink foil. What you want is something beautiful but also reliable.
 
If you keep these things in mind you can save time, money and have more fun!!! 
 
You don’t have to make all the mistakes people before you have made. Have a lot of fun during your bike building time. Please share this experience with friends, beers and definitely good music. 
 
Do not be ashamed to give yourself an occasional tap on the shoulder. Remind yourself that not everyone does this and you are very cool for doing it.
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