Top Ten Cafe Racers

Cafe Racers couldn't be more on trend right now. True, they pretty much all start out as other models with a few mods to "cafe racerise" them, but increasingly the inevitable racer version is being designed in from the start and some of the latest models to hit the dealers go as well as they look.

Best Cafe Racers

What Is A Cafe Racer? 

Cafe Racers tend to take a standard retro styled naked bike then add a seat hump where the pillion would sit, low clip-on handlebars and a small screen/fairing around the single headlight up front. Lowering the handlebars creates a more aggressive low riding position to keep wind drag down to a minimum but it does mean they aren't the most comfortable of bikes for long distances. Racers were originally about lightweight speed and handling but these days it's more of a styling exercise to cash in on the demand for modern retro bikes.

The Best Cafe Racers You Can Buy Right Now

1. Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe (2018 On)

Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe

  • RRP: £10,350
  • Engine: 948 cc
  • Power: 110 bhp
  • Seat Height: 820 mm
  • Wet Weight: 216 kg
  • Range: 190 miles

Kawasaki's Z900RS Cafe is based on the equally new Z900RS retro version of the angry modern naked Z900 and that's a great start! The Z900RS versions have a de-tuned engine, a fancy "retro style" modern dash, LED lighting, cast wheels designed to look a bit like wire spokes and modern niceties like traction control and a slip/assist clutch. The Cafe version is essentially the same as the excellent Z900RS but with a cafe screen added to a slightly lowered headlight, a new seat with a hump, lower mirrors and lower handlebars. The end result is pretty striking.

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2. Triumph Street Cup (2017 On)

Triumph Street Cup

  • RRP: £8,800
  • Engine: 900 cc
  • Power: 54 bhp
  • Seat Height: 780 mm
  • Dry Weight: 200 kg
  • Range: 170 miles

Triumph's Street Cup is essentially a Street Twin with lower clip-on bars, a mini fly screen, pillion seat hump, brushed exhaust, no fork gators and a tasty yellow and silver paint job. Again it's a great model to base it on, with plenty of low down torque and hundreds of accessories available from the Triumph catalogue. It's also A2 licence compliant with a restrictor however not the lightest bike out there, although that might not matter if you just want to look the part.

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3. Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer (2017 On)

Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer

  • RRP: £9,395
  • Engine: 803 cc
  • Power: 75 bhp
  • Seat Height: 805 mm
  • Wet Weight: 188 kg
  • Range: 130 miles

Ducati's Scrambler Cafe Racer is one of the better looking of the many Scrambler models, it's really light, has bar end mirrors and comes with the Termignoni muffler however it's very bling, has limited tank range and no fuel gauge. If you really want attention it should do the job though.

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4. BMW R nineT Racer (2017 On)

BMW R nineT Racer

  • RRP: £10,900
  • Engine: 1,170 cc
  • Power: 110 bhp
  • Seat Height: 805 mm
  • Wet Weight: 220 kg
  • Range: 170 miles

BMW's R nineT Racer is, unsurprisingly, based on their R nineT models. Not the range topping R nineT though, it has more in common with the lower down R nineT Pure and R nineT Scrambler. Still it really looks the part and it's only really missing the premium suspension and wire spoked wheels of the top model.

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5. Yamaha XSR900 Abarth (2017 On)

Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

  • RRP: £10,000
  • Engine: 847 cc
  • Power: 113 bhp
  • Seat Height: 830 mm
  • Wet Weight: 195 kg
  • Range: 140 miles

Yamaha's XSR900 is the retro version of their super successful MT-09 angry naked model and the Abarth 695 limited edition turns it into a proper cafe racer with Carbon fairing, seat hump, low bars and Akrapovic Titanium exhaust. There aren't many around though and the styling is slightly more modern than some of the others on this list. You could of course buy a standard XSR900 and slowly turn it into a cafe racer yourself.

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6. Triumph Thruxton 1200 R (2016 On)

Triumph Thruxton R

  • RRP: £12,200
  • Engine: 1,200 cc
  • Power: 97 bhp
  • Seat Height: 810 mm
  • Dry Weight: 203 kg
  • Range: 140 miles

Triumph's Thruxton R is based on the Bonneville T120 but features the High Power version of their 1200cc engine, so it's geared more towards top speed than every day low down torque like many of the others listed here. It has the seat hump and low clip on bars you would expect from a cafe racer but no mini fly screen as standard, although there is no doubt one in the epic Triumph accessories catalogue. It is quite pricey and heavy though.

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7. Suzuki SV650X (2018 On)

Suzuki SV650X

  • RRP: £6,000
  • Engine: 645 cc
  • Power: 75 bhp
  • Seat Height: 790 mm
  • Wet Weight: 198 kg
  • Range: 190 miles

Suzuki's SV650X isn't pretending to be anything more than the venerable SV650 with a cafe fairing around the headlight, low bars and a cafe racer style seat. That isn't a bad thing though because the SV650 has quite a following, this iteration looks especially good with the optional dual LED fog lights and it's a lot of bike for the money.

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8. Yamaha XJR1300 Racer (2015-2017)

Yamaha XJR1300 Racer

  • RRP: £9,600
  • Engine: 1,251 cc
  • Power: 96 bhp
  • Seat Height: 829 mm
  • Wet Weight: 240 kg
  • Range: 130 miles

Yamaha's XJR1300 Racer follows the same pattern as the Suzuki SV650X. Take the well established XJR1300, add a headlight fairing, low bars, Carbon fender/pillion seat cowl and call it a racer. Although dropped from the range in 2017 due to Euro 4 compliance it still looks good and there are plenty around however the tech is pretty old now and it is heavy.

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9. Yamaha XV950 Racer (2015 On)

Yamaha XV950 Racer

  • RRP: £8,100
  • Engine: 942 cc
  • Power: 51 bhp
  • Seat Height: 765 mm
  • Wet Weight: 251 kg
  • Range: 130 miles

Much like the XJR1300 Racer, Yamaha's XV950 Racer adapts the XV950R with a few bolt on bits. In this case lower bars, a headlight cowl, pillion seat cowl, more of a cafe style seat to replace the cruiser style seat and fork gators. It's surprisingly heavy for the capacity and power though.

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10. Moto Guzzi V7 (2017 On)

Moto Guzzi V7

  • RRP: £8,800
  • Engine: 744 cc
  • Power: 51 bhp
  • Seat Height: 770 mm
  • Wet Weight: 209 kg
  • Range: 230 miles

The Moto Guzzi V7 isn't strictly speaking a racer but it has bags of character, is A2 licence friendly and could easily be made into one with a few additions. This particular one is the new Carbon edition and it looks particularly good.

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