Super Cafe Racer

Shades of the 60’s are everywhere in our motorcycle industry. And logically, Cafe Racer nostalgia is extremely strong in the UK, the land of the original Rockers in black leather and white scarf racing their bikes between trucker cafes. A subculture revival extremely positive for our custom motorcycle industry, of course no more based on rebellion but only on the pure desire to draw from the past (concept and parts) to build highly performant street bikes. The appeal of this Super Cafe Racer is what helped builder John Pellew transition from a part time builder job to a full service shop called based in Cardiff, Wales, UK.

Relatively easy to draw a bike project, always difficult to produce it, especially this one because it required to fit a modern V-twin water cooled motor into an open tube featherbed frame reminiscent of Norvins, and also because John had the grand idea of fitting the cafe Racer with a pro link hybrid suspension that some experts qualified as something that will never work…Of course the motor was the starting point for the build and after hesitating during a couple of months and comparing aesthetics, technology and performance, John’s choice went to the RSV Aprilia made by Rotox, a good looking , technology rich and well respected motor with an almost cult following. The next task was to find one with low miles at the right price and it took John a couple more months to get it with the original wiring loom and all the sensors.

After designing the frame to house it with the trick suspension he had planned, John Pelley turned to featherbed frame replica experts JW Motorcycles in West Wales who lended him one of their frames for measurements accuracy around the Aprilia engine and a radical mono shock unit pro link suspension. Good friend and engineering guru Steve McFarlan was enlisted to help conceive the swingarm. Demonstration was made that John’s suspension would work, so the next step was body fabrication with a new big challenge, to hide the high pressure fuel pump and electronics. Everyone started to comment on the chosen radiator position, stating that placed near the seat it will never get enough cooling. But John resolved the issue by frost calculating the stock cooling area and then adding 50% more by changing the radiator shape and reworking the coolant flow pattern to remove as many flow restrictions as possible to keep temperature as low as possible.

Custom Exhaust was made at the shop from a stack of stainless pre bent tubes. Pipes are routed such a way that both pipes are of identical length ending at the same level from the ground, giving the symmetry that John was looking for, Originally exhaust was extremely loud but since then it was tweaked to produce 97 db, just under the UK 99 dbs legal limit. Seat was upholstered with an Harlequin pattern by Saxon Seats.

John Pelley’s next projects include 2 Carbon Fiber Triumph Bonneville prototypes (the first will be the Classic Triumph Bonneville “Oil in Frame” mono shock frame and the second a Bonneville Carbon Fiber Bobber frame) to be completed this Summer. Customers will be able to have the same frames configured for the BSA Oil in frame A65. He is also working on a  Vincent racer projectm the basis of which  is being built around an original 1955 Vincent Rapide series C and a high performance 1356cc new build Vincent race motor.. (photography copyright Tony Shadrach of )

17 Responses to “Super Cafe Racer”

  1. 1 Englishman Jan 24th, 2011 at 8:50 am

    It may be bandwagon jumping, but I like it.

  2. 2 A 1 CYCLES Jan 24th, 2011 at 9:38 am


  3. 3 GRIP ACE - DIGITAL SWITCHES Jan 24th, 2011 at 10:53 am

    The future we are seeing. Nice build. Going retro with modern day equipment.

  4. 4 highrpm Jan 24th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    i ‘d like to see this with a front fairing. (can’t get rsd’s mission 200 out of my mind when i think cafe racers.)

  5. 5 J Jan 24th, 2011 at 11:41 am

    That Rotax is a good-looking engine, especially for a liquid-cooled plant….

  6. 6 Dave Blevins Jan 24th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I’ll bet that is a fun bike to ride!

  7. 7 X Jan 24th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    highrpm – RSD’s 200 mph Victory is a road-going dragbike style, not anywhere near a Cafe style.

    The above bike is intense. Great job.

  8. 8 NutCracker Jan 24th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Sweet looking machine! Nicely sorted –

  9. 9 schrec Jan 24th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    wouldn’t you get a hot ass riding this bike? the radiator is tucked up under the seat.

  10. 10 Gas Man Jan 24th, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Simply great great looking bike. Would love to rock that any day.

  11. 11 Punishment Jan 25th, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I’m not usually into cafe racer styled bikes but they did an awesome job with this one I like it

  12. 12 Rob Jan 25th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Looks like the featherbed we worked on with Santiago choppers a few years back? Rob @ SYMMETRY

  13. 13 chopperfreak29 Jan 25th, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Other than the Aprilia junk it looks cool. I’d rather see a somewhat reliable engine

  14. 14 Iron Horse Jan 25th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Good looking scooter. I agree with A-1 that they should have cleaned up the loose ends like the fan wiring, but overall, nicely executed.

  15. 15 alan Jan 30th, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    i love it bravo

  16. 16 jatinder pal Jan 31st, 2011 at 5:23 am

    This is a really cool bike man….love the pipes.

  17. 17 Motorcycles in Cardiff Dec 14th, 2011 at 11:58 am

    We’re a group of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with valuable info to paintings on. You have done an impressive task and our entire group will probably be thankful to you.

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