Café racers are lightweight and powerful motorcycles designed for speed. Their sleek, minimalistic bodies make them wanted by many people, from the seasoned motorist to the beginner motorist.
So, you’re wondering if these stylish bikes are as suitable for beginners as they are for the pros. Café racers can be ideal for certain beginners and faulty for others. It mostly depends on the rider’s size and what they intend to use the bike for.
Before deciding if a café racer is the best motorcycle for you as a beginner, let’s look at some of the most important factors you need to consider.
Finding What Fits You
Motorcycles aren’t as adjustable as cars. It’s unlikely for you to find one that has flexible features like an adjustable steering wheel or a modifiable seat. This can be the reason why some people prefer to build their own café racers.
But if you’re deciding to forgo building a café racer, you’ll need to make sure you choose one that fits you as perfectly as possible. It’s also important to consider that just like shoes, your motorcycle might not feel the same in the showroom as it does after a 10 mile trip around the city.
Café racers tend to be a great fit for beginners since the rider sits in an upright position. You won’t have to lean and reach too far. However, the comfortability of this position might wear off. We’ll discuss this a bit later.
Consider the Seat Height
The typical seat height for sport bikes is a little higher than other types of motorcycles. This may pose a challenge for the rider who is on the shorter side.
The seat heights range from about 30 inches to 33 inches.
Considering the seat height is one of the most important things you need to do when purchasing your first motorcycle. You need to be able to plant both feet flat on the ground.
This helps you feel more stabilized and also prevents you from dropping your bike.
Not only does the seat height matter, but so does the saddle shape.
Does the Saddle Shape Matter?
You’re sure to have the specs of seat heights thrown in your face by almost every motorcycle manufacturer. Some manufacturers even flaunt their lowest seat heights on the front page of their websites.
This is just a marketing technique. They know that they’ll have more potential buyers with seats that have a lower height.
However, the height can be almost irrelevant depending on the shape of the saddle. Café racers tend to have wider saddles due to the rider sitting over the multi-cylinder engine.
This means the rider’s legs have to stretch more around the saddle, making it harder for their legs to reach the ground.
Suddenly that 33 inches may feel like 333,000 inches.
Is a café racer good for shorter riders?
So, can a shorter person invest in a café rider?
Café racers tend to have wider seats and are higher than average, so without modifications, they aren’t great for shorter riders. There are some ways you can bypass this, though, if you are only a few inches too short.
You’ll notice that your choice of shoes can affect the ability to touch the pavement. Boots, for example, tend to have much thicker soles.
This can help you make more contact with the ground.
Another trick you can try is to steer your bike toward the opposite side you’d put your leg down. This allows the motorcycle to tilt slightly and will enable you to, in essence, form a tripod. You’ll feel more stable in this position.
Lastly, you can consider changing the saddle or getting some sort of saddle accessory that helps lower your altitude.
Consider the Bike Weight
Taking into account bike weight as a beginner is extremely important. Newbies will often choose bikes based on what’s popular or what kind of style they find most attractive.
As a beginner, however, you want a motorcycle that is more lightweight. It tends to be more comfortable for you to manage and prevents you from dropping it. And they also tend to travel at faster speeds, so you get to have more fun when riding it.
Lucky for you, café racers tend to be on the lower side of the weight spectrum. While the average weight of a motorcycle is 600 pounds (275 kilograms), a café racer weighs about 450 pounds (200 kilograms).
It’s no wonder that café racers are often sought after by newbies. The light weight of these bikes makes them a lot less intimidating and a lot easier to handle than other styles of motorcycles.
Are Café Racers Good for Long Rides and Commutes?
If you’re planning to use your bike to commute to and from work, you need to know how comfortable it is for long distances. Remember that a 5-mile drive around the city will feel completely different than a 50-mile drive, even with rest stops.
The café racer got its name in the early 1960s in London, when the “Rocker Boys,” a popular youth subculture, used these bikes to travel short distances from café to café.
Café racers are great for short trips indeed. However, longer trips may pose an issue. Since riders sit leaning forward with their feet directly below them, this puts you in a “full race position.”
Riding in this position for 30 minutes may be fine, but if your commute is an hour or longer, you can end up being extremely uncomfortable.
Apparently, there is one tip that some café racer riders use to help them have a comfortable ride for longer. That is, distributing their weight as proportionally as possible through the arms, backside, and legs.
The point of this is to avoid putting too much pressure on any one area of the body. Check out our full review about long rides.
Café racers can be suitable for beginners who aren’t too short and who don’t need to drive long distances. Their lightweight, sleek design makes them great for quick, short trips and ideal for the average-sized rider who only wants to ride for short periods of time.