Monday, March 2, 2015

The Best T300 Cafe Racer Conversion I've Seen Yet

I took a trip to the Bristol Classic Motorcycle Show in February. It was at the Bath and West Showground, about 20 miles from my home town. Amidst all the old junk, dodgy tools and cheap clothing, I was pleased to see something I was told to expect at the same location six months earlier: a cafe racer kit for T300s. And it looked great. 
The First CRK900
The kit is from a small business called Cafe Racer Kits, based in the Isle of Wight. I took some photos with my phone but they are pretty blurry. So the pic above is from the CRK900 webpage (my blurry ones are elsewhere in this post).

I'd loved seeing what the proprietor (I think his name is Ian) of this fledgling business has been up to with previous projects. I came across him and his bikes at a show a couple of years ago. He has been working some magic on the now-unloved but popular-in-their day Honda CX500 and CB250N. I appreciate his eye for design as well as his interest in reviving old machines by reducing weight, a modular approach to changes and the overall attitude of his creations.

He has now turned his attention to the first T300 triples (750s and 900s in Trident, Sprint, Trophy and Daytona guises). In each case, he designs and constructs a set of components which can be added to a base machine in stages, or all at once. When I say he designs these things, I really mean it. He is a professional draughtsman and all his stuff is drawn up and turned into Computer Aided Design files. That means they are 100% specified so an engineering firm with CAM facilities can produce the components for him in a way that should ensure consistency and good fit.

Most, but not all, of the components (or 'modules' as he calls them) can be swapped back should an owner wish. However, the main structural change is irreversible: the rear subframe must be cut off to allow his tubular steel replacement to take its place. On this kit, Ian has designed it as a bolt-in component. For the CX and CB kits, the subframes had to be welded in place.

The tank you see is in fact a fibreglass cover over an aluminium construction with a recess for a coolant expansion bottle. The clocks are in custom binicles, the seat unit tailored to fit the subframe beautifully. The full cost of all components is 1850 pounds at the time of writing. Not cheap, you might say, but what the pictures can't really show is the quality. It is really very good.

Rather stupidly, I did not ask if the kit would also fit the four-cylinder T300s. However, I think the sides of the tank cover and fuel tap would foul the carburettors. Then again, maybe he would add an extra inch or two to the width of the CAD diagrams for tank and cover before getting them made up. That would probably do the trick.