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Poll – Cafe Racers And Track Days. Yes or No?

Posted on January 17, 2012 by Andrew in Other, Uncategorized. 59 comments

The image above shows the everbold Mark Hawwa, supreme ruler of our good mates at Sydney Cafe Racers, doing something that kinda blew my mind. Extraordinarily, he took his beautificient SR to Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway for a track day. A cafe racer. On a race track. Crazy. But it got my mind wheels a turnin’. Do cafes really belong on a track? Aren’t they specifically a public road beastie? Sure, they were inspired by racing bikes but they were never intended to actually race on a track, were they? Or is it more a long-lost son returning to his true home? Oh, how my motorcycling mind spins! So what do you guys think? Do cafes belong on-track?


  • Keeees

    Who cares about whether it "belongs", really. It's a bike. On a track. Good for him. 🙂

    I'd take my knobbly-tyred R100GS to a track day if I felt like one.

    It's not like he's trying it on a Road King…

  • Alvis

    Nice bike, seems like a cafe tracker mix. I’m all for safety gear but the modern styled kit on a classic bike is a bit odd. I wear a full helmet and padded jacket but not with the sliders, at least not on a cafe.

    • It’s a track day – they won’t let you ride with anything less than full leathers, boots, and helmet.

  • Mark Hawwa

    Hahaha cant remember giving you permission to use my $70 dollar photo AJ?

  • Markyp

    See that pipe? He got it down far enough to scrape it.
    That’s all I’m saying.

    • Mark Hawwa

      and your the one that pointed it out! I had no clue I thought the noise was from my boots scraping haha! You should bring yours out April 10!

  • Forgemetal2

    If its good on the track it will be awsome on the street, especially when your creating coustom bikes. Its nice to know how its going to react without the danger of traffic! 

  • GuitarSlinger

    Considering the fact that 90% of the M/C’s that show up for ‘ Track Days ‘ are built for the street ( at least here in the US ) why not let the Cafe crowd give their bikes a goo wringing out ?

  • Mark Hawwa

    Alvis – At the track you have to gear up to their standards. On the street I ride with just an elephant G string on – the elephants trunk is all the protection I need. 

  • Ugh

    Motorcyclists debating what should and shouldn’t be? What’s the world coming to?

    • Ugh

      Okay, I’ve thought about it seriously. There is something that bothers me about this scene.

      It’s the speed holes. You must have saved a hundred grams by drilling those, which must translate to a fraction of a fraction of a second on a lap.

      With all due respect – If you were *that* serious about reducing weight to improve time you’d be better served by hitting an exercise bike dropping your body fat instead.

      So that’s my problem with cafe racers – or, precisely, this one – at track days.

      • Mark isn’t fat. That’s hs buddy Jordan stuffed into his leathers.

      • Mark Hawwa

        Speed holes? haha you watch ‘weigh’ too much of the Simpsons.

      • Mark Hawwa

        Hows your 250 going? 

  • Chrissimpson696

    I take my cafe that was featured on pipeburn to track days, but I’m sure I’d regret it if I binned it! 🙁

  • Jesús Learte

    Let’s look at the guy in the picture. Does he look disgusted? 

  • ccc40821

    Cafe Racers are mainly (though not exclusively) about style, but if you want to go on the track, take a whatever you ride and have some fun. Even if it’s a Vespa or a Goldwing; It’s not what you ride, it’s how you ride it.

  • Paul G

    What is this?  A fashion show?  Gear is for protection when your bouncing down the asphalt, not a costume for some period film.  Sheeshh…

  • Stephen Bacon

    Well, track days are not racing so no problem, as long as they conform to the requirments (belly pans to catch oil, safety wired oil filter, taped over / no glass lenses). Just put them in their own class so you’re not mixing 50HP bikes with 150HP bikes. High differences in closing speeds can lead to big problems.

  • skibum

    I don’t care what the other riders are on.  As long as they ride predictable race lines, I’ll get around them.  And if they’re faster than I, they’ll have no trouble getting around me.  It is all about having fun and riding as fast as you’re comfortable, with no worries of police, unpredictable road conditions, or on-coming traffic.

  • The track is the safest possible place to ride a cafe racer the way it was intended, and it’s the safest way to use one to its fullest potential.  The cafe racers in England may not have done it with their bikes, but I bet if there were such things as track days, and they had the extra cash in post-war Britain, I’m sure they would have.

  • Street racing is difficult nowaday, so why not racing on tracks instead ?

  • Davidabl2

    In some parts of the world “motards” can be raced on go-cart tracks for a lot less money than track days
    at regular  racetracks. Seems like a natural habitat for cafe bikes as well.

    As per Stephen Bacon’s comment mixing 50hp and 150hp bikes at the same track at the same time
    doesn’t make a lot of sense. Unless they’re Ninja 250’s–which hold their own in the corners.

  • JD

    I’d certainly give it a good lashing. If you built the bike right, it shouldn’t break! As long as you had set it up right, it should be a lot of fun!

  • revdub

    Honestly, I do not have an opinion on this one way or the other. BUT… I do have an opinion on Mark’s bike: So envious. I really dig that bike.  

  • redrumracer

    why the hell not have a go? sure a modern bike will chew up most oldies but there’s something about the feedback from old bikes which makes them appealing to take to the track

    i like that Mark has chosen to fit his endurance capacity tank for the event too. how many tanks per lap did you manage with the monkey on there? ; ]

    • Mark Hawwa

       Hahaha 1 gallon tank. Refilled every session. I didnt get that badly chewed up either. On the straight i would go around half throttle and play catch ups with the sports bikes. Had no problem catching up with them. Was a fun first time. Back out there April 10!

  • guest

    I’m surprised with the insane coverage of Cafe Racers these days that everyone is so surprised the bikes get tracked. almost every build featured on Cafe Racer has the Bostram brothers either track it or take it through a canyon run. Bikes now have the ability to be ran harder and tested safely due to all modern technology. In my opinion it all depends on the type of build. It’s no different than a hotrod you build something and you want to prove it, drag strips and tracks are the best and safest way to do so.

  • CopyDat

    I’m all for riding ten-tenths of your ability and in this case the limits of your machine. Just don’t spill oil, stay rubber side down and have fun.

    Looks like you might be a smart one who got some decent shoes for that thing also??

  • Michaelyak

    Absolutley.  I take my Cafe’d Bonnie to track days anytime I can.

  • James McBride

    I think all cafe racers should be raced competitively, if for no reason other than it’ll keep the bikes being built with function ahead of styling. 

  • Larry Pearson

    My friends are always kidding me about my “Princess bikes” pretty that they couldn’t possibly be ridden hard.  No, no..I put the whip to em all.  I took the cafe’d Honda CB550F that I had featured here on Pipeburn out on a track day and had a blast on it.  People there thought I was crazy, but it’s built really well, and actually was intended to be a vintage road racer.  Cafe’s on a track..?  Absoultely. 

  • You know, he kinda IS a little chubby now that you mention it…

  • IDEA: a professional cafe racer bike series. Triumph could supply the engines. Genius.

  • matt lynch

    race what you’ve got. they have vintage classes and stuff, the cafe’s can race, or just do a track day for the fun of it, right?
    hell, some people love racing scooters.

  • Gary Thomson

    We know Cafe Racers were inspired by race bikes and were developed in order to get maximum speed and handling possible from a production bike.  IMHO Cafe Racers went back to their long lost roots 20 years ago in the early nineties and were/are known as Superbikes.
    I think it’s only right that the latest retro street racer movement does just that.

    I did a couple of track days back in 2007/2008 with my open piped Thruxton and really enjoyed myself! (I also managed to amaze some other wannabee’s and probably dented more than a couple, or three, 600cc & 1000cc ego’s too)

  • shaun

    that is the gheyest question ive seen on here. The problem is people consider cafe racers as a fashion symbol. A bike should be called a cafe racer if it has been modified in a way that makes it perform better.
    Rearsets give you more lean angle, bump seats keep you from sliding back because your motor is more powerful than stock, clip ons allow you to assume the position.
    Big long tanks allow you to hold more fuel for endurance races.
    Cafe racers always had elements of a race bike from the same time period because every mod was done to go faster.
    So yeah, they should feel comfortable and perform well on the track and belong there just as much as the street.

    • dave

      I agree with shaun this subject just doesnt make sense. If you cant race your cafe RACER then why use the term racer, just call it a cafe comuter

  • Leon

    Track day? How about actually racing a “Cafe Racer”? That you rode to the track.

    Damn fun!


  • Cafe racers were originally based on what was being raced by the factory in it’s day, so why would you want to exclude them from the track today? Today’s superbikes are definitely better than the machines of yore but they have no soul. They are cookie cutters, all the same. Now take a Norton, BSA, or Vincent from 40 to 70 years ago and see what you have. Each one KICK started a little different than the other. (Open the petcock, tickle the Amal’s, close the choke, kick through once or twice, turn on ignition, kiss the gas tank and say, “you’re turned on baby”, go for the gusto and pray.) 
    It shakes and shudders. Your mirrors are useless with vibration. They thunder along, lifters clattering, chain singing…….isn’t that part of the thrill of racing? And if it isn’t, then why is the battle of the twins so popular today? Yes, Cafe Racers were built for the street by the owners, but they emulated the best the factory could offer.

  • Wolf Built

    Well said, Norman. Well said.

  • I’m not a goodie 2-shoes but the only place to truly race is on a track, every licensed rider should know and appreciate that.

  • Krylov

    Racing a cafe racer – why not?

    Part of the general aesthetics of cafe racers lies in the fact that
    general purpose motorcycles are focussed towards going faster
    by getting rid of superfluous parts (fenders, pillion foot rests, etc.),
    adding special parts (exhaust, clip on grips,…) and generally
    cleaning and reducing the machine both in terms of weight and
    general appearance. Most of the time this kind of “no frills” focus
    also works out in terms of improved aesthetics.
    I would even go so far as to say that many cafe’d machines I have
    seen by now would even further benefit both in terms of aesthetics
    and function, if it respective owner/creator had the requirements and the
    technical consequences of its possible use on a race track in mind.
    (E.g.we might even see less machines with dangerously non grippy
    car-tires-on-bike-rims around while there are perfectly sticky street sports
    tires for sale out there…)
    Commenting on the picture above, the motorcycle seems perfectly at
    home on the track to me. Don’t know about the barrel drum brakes on the
    front wheel, though…

  • AlwaysOnTwo

    @Pipeburn_Andrew:disqus  here’s one to “blew your mind”…do ‘Busa’s, VMax’s, Trident’s, ZX14’s, CBR1000RR’s, Ducati’s in general or any of the other megahorsepower beasts…belong on the street??

    Or another way, where should any motorcycle be ridden??  Any damn place the engine will run! .

    • If you’re asking me to poo-poo horsepower, you’re barking up the wrong tree my friend…

      • AlwaysOnTwo

        Nope, referring (with a lot of laughter) to your original premise and presumption that any style of bike should only be seen and not thrashed when desired any place so desired.  Hell, I once took a fully dressed XLH with bags and windshield out on a moto circuit just for the fun of it(spent the next week straightening it out).  Had my VMax stuffed in a mudbog this past summer.  If it runs, run it.

        Otherwise, after you build it just scrawl Poser on the tank and permanently park it in front of a webcam with fake scenery flowing by. Under that helmet, whether it’s Mark or Darth Vader, bet there’s a grin.

  • Steve Danaher

    I have done eight Track Days at Barbs in Perth and am booked in for two more in April (its closed until then) with my 2010 SE Thruxton. Am I scared of binning it, you bet and if I could have a Track Bike I would, in the meantime my daily ride is my fun Trackie as well.

    • See you there on my big bored W650

  • Gerald

    It’s your motorcycle. Ride it. That’s what it’s for. Wherever you think you want to. Tour with a cafe bike? why not? Ride it across a field even if it ‘s not a” dirt” bike? Don’t think twice. It’s not a ornament, it’s transportation.

    • Gary Thomson

      Hehehe, yeah but not if your a Harley riding dentist!

  • Bit of a daft question? If the bike rides well, then what better to do with it? considering the variety of machines you get on this site, seems a bit of a dead end in terms of discussion. 

  • Sproggy

    The roads around here are too crowded to make full use of a bike’s potential anyway. If you’ve gone to the trouble of making a bike lighter, faster, better handling and with more ground clearance where better to use it to its full potential than a track?

  • Bluemitch

    It is all about riding, where ever and when ever you get the chance to ride – take it. And if you can ride with other people that understand this, all the better

  • PGearbox

    Next time there is a forgotten era race day or Barry Sheene festival etc get down there and check out how many cafe racers are there. This is nothing new.

  • Buck Harness

    I think it’d be nice if we had cafe racer track days so we could weed out all those crappy bikes that look the game but can’t play it. You know the bikes with old tires, clubman’s and no front fender or fork brace.

  • Codysorells

    idk man i personally would want to see how my bike would perform on a closed track .. and to push myself to see how far i could go into some of those chicanes. id say i would love to put mine of the track 

  • Info

    My cafe racer is on the track regularly… Do it.

  • Jay F

    In my mind the track is for anyone who wants to test & improve their skills in a safe environment. Anything can be taken to the track, it’s just a place to ride without having to worry about road debris, animals, cagers and the like. A very common track bikes is the Suzuki SV-650. Which is a street bikes, but they are fun, light, and easy to maintain so why not?