The Honda CB is a perfect base bike for a Cafe Racer build. Maybe even the best choice you can make. Why? Keep reading and I will go in more deebly.
If you have always dreamed about building a café racer, but never really knew where to start – or were afraid that you be immediately over your head working with different kinds of project/base bikes – you probably landed on the Honda CB series to get started with.
A lot of people brand-new to the café racer world start working on Honda CB bikes, and a lot of people never even moved beyond these legendary motorcycles.
But are they really the perfect option for conversion to a café racer that people claim?
Or is it just that they are so accessible (and so affordable) that people put up with the bumps in the road working on them involves just because there are so many of them?
Let’s find out below!
Is the Honda CB a Good Base for a Café Racer?
Right out of the gate, I have to tell you that there may not be a better base platform for a café racer on the planet today than a Honda CB series motorcycle.
When I looked for a donar bike, even though I went with the BMW, it was a tight race between the BMW and Honda. In the end I bouhgt the Bmw R100 just because I liked the boxer engines. But I had to dig deeper into my pockets. There are some great deals on old Hondas out there!
The very first Honda CB X1000 was released all the way back in 1978, releasing with six cylinders and 105 base horsepower – and absolute monster on the road at the time.
Unfortunately, for one reason or another, this legendary motorcycle was only produced for just four short years.
Luckily, Honda recognized what a gemstone they had on their hands a few years later and decided to reintroduce the CB series back onto the road.
The Honda CB 900F and the “regular old” CB 900 both became incredibly popular with motorcyclists as stock bikes, but were absolutely beloved by café racer converters looking for something easy to work on that still had a lot of “juice” right out of the box.
Today, Honda CB bikes from the 70s in the 80s are some of the most popular base bikes to begin with when you are looking to create a new café racer.
The mechanics of these bikes are pretty simple and straightforward, the clean lines are lean heavily to a retro direction (perfect for café racers), and the electrical system is effortless to work on as well.
They also take well to modern suspensions, tail units, and total electrical overhauls without super complicated wiring – again making them really attractive project bikes.
Below three of the main reasons that people love to use Honda CB series motorcycles as the base for their café racer conversion.
Honda CB > Super Easy to Work On
The number one reason that people choose these Honda bikes to act as the baseline for their café racer conversion project has to do the fact that these motorcycles are downright effortless to work on.
Nowhere near as complex or as convoluted as some of the other café racer project bases out there, anyone – and we mean ANYONE – can get comfortable and familiar with all that a Honda CB has to offer even if they’ve never worked on a bike before.
Combine that with the fact that you won’t need special tools, special gear, or any special technology to strip this bike down to the basics and then rebuild it in your ultimate café racer vision and it’s a bit of a no-brainer to start with this kind of bike first.
Ton of Aftermarket Parts for the Honda CB
Because of their popularity, and especially because of their affordability, Honda CB series bikes have a mountain of aftermarket and accessory parts available to pick and choose from.
With so many people using these bikes as the jumping off point for their project aftermarket manufacturers have flooded the space to accommodate demand – and that means that you’re going to get more parts for these bikes than most other options out there.
You’ll be able to find the perfect taillights, the perfect gas tanks, the perfect seats, the perfect handlebars, finely tuned suspension systems, and more mechanical components to make your 70s or 80s Honda CB safer and more efficient than ever before – all while giving it that clean, café racer kind of luck.
You definitely won’t find yourself hunting around for parts like you might have with a different manufacturer. Like I did for my BMW. There are so many Plug&Play seats out there. During my build I pretty much checked out Honda CB seats and thought about adjusting the mounts and make it fit. Read more in my two seat guide. If you are unsure which seat could fit your bike then you might wanna check out my best 5 seat ideas.
No, getting the café racer build the way you want it to be built with a Honda CB is downright effortless.
Tips & tricks > Great Community Support
Finally, the community support you’ll get when you are rocking and rolling with a Honda CB is absolutely top-tier.
Because so many people have worked on these kinds of bikes in the past there is a deep knowledge base share freely through the community, with people more than happy to reach out to you and help you with any issues you might have.
There are literally dozens of forums all over the web dedicated to transforming the Honda CB series into a top-quality café racer. Add to that hundreds – maybe even thousands – of videos on YouTube and other platforms and you’re never going to have a tough time finding tips, tricks, and troubleshooting help to get your café racer build rocking and rolling.
Sure, there are other great bikes out there that have plenty of support from the café racer world as well.
But the Honda CB series is just next level when it comes to the sheer number of people out there that have already worked on these bikes willing to share their hard-won wisdom and shortcuts with you.
Combine all of that with the legendary reliability of Honda motorcycles, the great look of the CB series, and the affordability of these motorcycles – you can pick them up for next to nothing in any condition imaginable, rebuilding them really quickly to your dream bike without spending a fortune – and it’s not hard to see why so many start their café racer journey here.
The fact that you can start off with a pretty basic bike and modify it as your knowledge, tools, and budget allow is another big bonus. This might be the perfect café racer starter bike, but it doesn’t have to stay a starter bike at all!