Originally built in 1988 and supplied to her majesty’s police force to aid the capture of crims and chase down ‘bad guys’ it couldn’t be further from the bike that stands in front of me today
Purchased in 2017 by Steve & Teena where it was virtually still stock, they started with the basics and gave the bike a full service and good once over to check that the original 798cc engine was still strong and healthy and that the bike was in tip top condition, once happy they then started the build to create their perfect café racer
But for those not in the know, what is a café racer? Well, dating back to those lovely hip-happening times of the swinging sixties in London. Café racers were used to nip from hang out joint to hang joint across the city and their riders were young thrill seekers who rebelled against the system and opted out of the class war for some adrenaline fuelled point to point racing instead
They stuck to a strict style of lightweight, powerful bikes with a very minimal design look and a strong emphasis of speed over comfort! Usually fitted with low mounting handlebars, a snug thin saddle that ended with a kick as it headed over the rear wheel and an exposed fuel tank. Sometimes seen with pads on the fuel tank as the rider would often grip the side of the tank with his knees whilst hurtling through the traffic, sounds fun! Could you think of a better starting point for anti-social rebellion street bike that of an ex-service-police pursuit vehicle? What a brilliant idea!
The build started by removing the huge bulky wrap around fairings that engulfed the whole front end of the bike and did nothing for the ‘style’ they wanted to go for, they then set upon the rear sub frame and changed that out for a more period race option. The seat was then added along with shorter exhaust pipes to give the engine a real deep thundery note change, the mirrors were replaced by smaller round one’s and mounted lower to help streamline the whole front end. They also added some cool modern touches too for the bike that shouldn’t work yet look perfect at the same time inc a rear LED brake light that sits neatly underneath the saddle and a single digital speedometer mounted mid of the handlebars. The tank was sprayed a lovely deep gloss grey that ties the brown leather and grips together perfectly.
Finished off with black rims to give the whole bike a real edgy feel, I’m not a bike guy but this is definitely changing my mind on the whole thing!
You can often see this bike nipping through rush hour traffic in London where Steve & Teena’s son uses it to get around without being hindered by the endless streams of tailbacks that the city is famous for, as for the future of the bike? They plan on entering it into an historic café racer race series being held at Lydden Hill, Dover so keep an eye on their calendar of events and you might be able to see this bike being chucked into devils elbow, I for one would love to see that!
Thanks to Steve & Teena for meeting us and being a part of the feature
Words and photos by Nick Simmo Photographer