The 24 Best Café Racers You Can Buy Off The Lot

Jul 30, 2020

Category: Rides

Over the last decade, the world has become increasingly infatuated with all things nostalgia, resulting in everything from watchmakers to shoe companies to shipbuilders producing vintage-inspired offerings and full-on rereleases of models from yesteryear. Unsurprisingly, this same phenomenon is no less prevalent in today’s motorcycle industry, where retro-themed production models have been, and continue to be introduced at an unprecedented rate. And while factory-made old-school bobbers and scramblers have also seen consistent growth in recent years, their influx in popularity doesn’t begin to compare to that of the modern café racer boom.

Spurred on by the simultaneous rise of the modern “new wave” custom motorcycle scene, the immense success of these stripped-back street-racers has given way to turn-key café racer models now being offered by more than 20 of today’s manufacturers. As a result, the café racer market has evolved into a hugely diverse array of bikes, encompassing everything from economical, small-displacement beginner-friendly bikes, to top-shelf, high-performance café’d superbikes — not to mention the steadily emerging fully-electric café racer segment. And though this allows for a buyer’s market that’s brimming with options, the sheer abundance of available production café racers can make it difficult to hone in on the model that’s best for you – let alone fully discover all the available options — so with this in mind, we’ve pieced together this definitive guide to the best café racers you can buy off the lot.

Photo: Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe

From Shed-Built To Mass Production

A Brief Look At The History Of The Café Racer

Café racers can be traced back to post-WW2 England. Many-a-young men were returning home from the global conflict with cash in their pockets, and as a consequence, the UK experienced an uptick in the popularity of motorcycles. However, riders weren’t just buying bikes, they were stripping them down, ridding them of any and all superfluous parts and making performance upgrades. Around this same time, the main social hubs for the UK’s youth were local cafés.

These cafés increasingly became de facto meet-up locations for riders looking to check out other bikes and rub leather-covered shoulders with like-minded bikers. And, while there are several other locations of significance, the two spots that became by far the most famous for their connection to motorcycles were The Ace Café in London, and the Busy Bee Café in Watford, on the capitol’s Northeastern outskirts. And it’s this connection to these establishments that ultimately resulted in the term: “café racer.”

By their very nature, café racers were modified and customized versions of production offerings, typically built in garages and backyard sheds. Because racing and track-only models weren’t available to nonprofessionals, most rider’s only real option (if they wanted a racier bike) was to build one themselves. In a bid to unlock a motorcycle’s maximum potential, early café racers enthusiasts were known to combine different elements from different models, with the most famous example being the use of Norton’s legendary Featherbed frame being used to build Triumph-powered “Tritons” or Vincent-powered “Norvils.” Today, café racer’s connection to one-off machines remains just as strong as it was back in the sub-genre’s infancy.

The post-war era also saw the United Kingdom experience the beginning of a golden era in Grand Prix racing, with a slew of Brits such as Fergus Anderson, Freddie Frith, Bob Foster, Geoff Duke, John Surtees, Phil Read, and Mike “The Bike” Hailwood dominating top-level racing in the 1950s and ‘60s. This undoubtedly played a pivotal role in influencing café culture, with enthusiasts borrowing and adapting race parts for use on their road-going bikes. This is also why cafe racers bare such a striking resemblance to the competition machines of half-a-century-ago, as well as why these race-derived bikes traditionally sport a headlight.

It’s difficult, if not impossible to pin down which bike was the first true production café racer, as the genre slowly evolved into being over time. Complicating the matter even more is the fact that production café models are by no means a new phenomenon, with every decade since the 1950s offering turn-key models that we would today classify as café racers. In the late ‘50s and ‘60s, AJS had their 7R “Boy Racers” while Norton famously produced its Manx model. The 1970s saw even more café’d bikes, including an increase in models from Italy such as Moto Guzzi’s Le Mans and Laverda’s Jota and SFC. In the 1980s Honda released its GB500 TT, which today we’d view as something of an archetypal café racer.

The modern café racer craze that persists today arguably began at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show when Ducati pulled the cover off its revolutionary Sport Classic: a modern L-Twin dressed up in unmistakably vintage aesthetics. A few years later, and not only had Ducati released its Pierre Terblanche-penned modern-retro, but Triumph also followed suit with its Thruxton model. With the success of the Thruxton, it didn’t take long for other major manufacturers to catch onto what was happening and toss their hats into the proverbial café ring. Fast-forward to today and café racers have gone from a niche style to a widely-recognized production model genre.

The tremendous growth in the production café segment (and the global custom motorcycle scene) has also resulted in a growing number of factories in China — which have made marked bounds in build quality and reliability in recent years — designing and producing budget-friendly models that legitimately resemble one-off café builds and are typically powered by crate motors. Almost always of the small-displacement variety, these bikes are generally rebadged and sold under the banner of small motorcycle marques (which is the reason you’ll find what are essentially identical models sometimes offered by more than one of these fledgling companies).

Photo: Kawasaki W800 Cafe

Retro Road Racers

The Properties That Define A Café Racer

Taking influence from Grand Prix racing bikes of the time, café racers are primarily modified to be more aggressive, performance-focused bikes, and are typically outfitted with numerous moto upgrades. As such, the standard handlebars and foot-pegs are almost always replaced with a set of low-mounted clip-ons (or flipped Clubman bars) and a pair of rear-sets that ultimately afford the rider a markedly more hunched-forward and aggressive riding position. Headlights are often lowered to compensate for the lowered cockpit, as well.

The stock bench seats that come on most standard bikes are also usually swapped out for “Monoposto” (single-seat) tail sections capped off with a humped café seat or a hard tail cowl, giving the machine a sportier look while also slightly bolstering aerodynamics. Partial fairings and windscreens are occasionally used on café racers for the same reason. Factory gas tanks were also frequently jettisoned in favor of lighter cells, often longer, lower-profile items with knee-dents for more spirited riding. Swept-back headers and cone (or reverse-cone) mufflers are another ingredient that’s seldom left out of the café racer recipe.

Photo: FB Mondial HPS 125

Neo-Classic Qualities

The Factors To Consider When Shopping

Price: The truth is some models offer substantially more bang for your buck than others. You should be thoroughly considering what features and performance aspects you need, and which you can live without, as this should help you determine a price point. It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re a new rider, you’re going to want to factor in/set money aside from other necessary expenses like riding gear, luggage, parts. etc.

Running Costs: Once you’ve purchased a motorcycle, you’re still going to have regular expenses associated with keeping the thing up and running. There are taxes and registration fees, (plus dealership, shipping, and crate fees), the cost of insurance, maintenance, tires, brake pads, and chain lube, to name a few. Obviously, a new $25,000 Italian bike is going to cost substantially more to insure and operate than a budget-friendly Chinese-made single. In short: just remember to calculate the total cost of ownership. There are even online tools to help calculate these numbers.

Engine Size: Though there are other elements involved, displacement, number of cylinders, and engine configuration essentially determine an engine’s horsepower and torque. It’s extremely important to select a bike with an appropriate engine size, as learning to ride on an incredibly potent motorcycle is an incredibly bad idea. You wouldn’t want to learn to drive behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, and motorcycles are no different, aside from the fact they lack seatbelts, crumples zones, and airbags. As a rule of thumb, new riders shouldn’t be starting on anything north of a half-liter (500cc’s).

Running Gear: A motorcycle’s frame and engine are plenty important, though there are other aspects that determine a bike’s performance (and thus overall quality), and one of the biggest ones is running gear (or hardware, or componentry). This includes the type of brakes, the wheels, and the type of suspension (dual versus mono-shock, conventional versus USD fork, and so on).

Riding Position: While café racers typically sport the clip-ons and rear-sets that allow for a tight, hunched-forward rider’s triangle, the truth is that, while this setup looks cool and allows for more spirit riding, it just isn’t very practical for commuting or day-to-day riding (assuming you don’t spend 90% of your saddle time in the canyons). Consider your intended use, and whether a bike’s riding position is conducive to that. It’s also worth noting you can always swap out any model’s handlebars or foot-controls with relative ease.

Style: With the modern café racer segment having existed for some time now, the sector has grown from exclusively being comprised of retro-themed models, to now including an increasingly diverse array of contemporary takes on the genre, such as Husqvarna’s Vitpilen 401 and 701 and FB Mondial’s HPS 125. There’s more than one kind of café racer out there, and it’s well worth exploring all the different aesthetic options before pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Availability: This isn’t really an issue when buying most models from major manufacturers, however one downside to buying from small brands is the relatively limited access to replacement parts. It can also be harder to find shops to service certain types of bikes (though this obviously doesn’t apply to Chinese-made air-cooled singles). Special and limited-edition models also tend to have much more limited availability in terms of parts and replacements.

Passenger-Friendly: Because they’re roughly-modeled after race bikes, café racers tend to be one-seat machines that don’t allow for taking a passenger along for the ride. There are however café models that are pillion compatible, as well as models that have removable tail cowls that hide a passenger seat. If you plan on doing a lot of two-up riding., then you may also want to opt for a more powerful bike, especially if you intend on covering freeway miles. New riders should still stick to smaller, less powerful machines either way.

CSC San Gabriel 250

As the company’s moniker suggests, the California Scooter Company (or CSC) is a West Coast outfit that got its start selling rebadged Chinese scooters, though since its inception the small firm’s lineup has grown to include adventure models, electric motorcycles, and the little retro-themed San Gabriel 250 (or SG250). Available in a variety of liveries, the SG250 is powered by a quarter-liter thumper allows for speeds of nearly 70mphs. And, despite its bargain-basement MSRP, the SG250 packs a number of not-so-budget features like a gear-position indicator, aluminum rims, inverted fork, and LED lighting throughout.

Engine: 229.5cc Air-Cooled OHV Single
Power:  16.1hp / 13.5ft-lbs
Weight:  273lbs
Origin: America (Chinese Made)

Purchase: $2,295

Bullit Spirit 125

Bullit’s Spirit 125 is an entry-level model that ticks all the essential café boxes. It’s got a low-profile tank and matching tail cowl, monoposto seat, clip-ons, sporty suspension, spoked wheels, and a gorgeous megaphone pipe. Backed by a two-year manufacturer’s warranty, the Spirit 125 is a nimble and flickable little machine, though its relatively diminutive displacement — which comes from a fuel-injected Chinese-made clone of the lump in Suzuki’s GN125 — means it’s not sufficient for too much beyond short-distance, in-town riding. The Belgium-based company also offers the Spirit in several color options, including the limited-edition Gulf version (seen above).

Engine: 125cc Air-Cooled SOHC Single
Power:  11.6hp / 7.4ft-lbs
Weight:  260lbs
Origin: Belgium (Chinese Made)

Purchase: $2,950

Cleveland Cycle Werks Misfit 2

While most of today’s rebadged café racers of Chinese origin tend to emulate the appearance of the bikes of half-a-century ago, boutique American marque, Cleveland CycleWerks’ Misfit II is more modeled after the custom, garage-built café racers of the modern new wave customs scene. Furthering separating the Misfit from other sub-quarter-liter models is its surprisingly top-notch fit and finish, as well as its top speed of over 85mph. Other details you may not expect on a bike at this price point include a gold-anodized, upside-down front end, an electric starter, and subtle yet beautifully-detailed liveries decorated in professional pinstriping.

Engine: 229cc Air-Cooled OHV Single
Power:  15.4 / 11.8ft-lbs
Weight:  340lbs (Wet)
Origin: America (Chinese Made)

Purchase: $3,200+

AJS Cadwell Clubman 125

AJS is a historically significant British marque founded back in 1909. In addition to having produced numerous iconic models over its more-than-century-long existence — such as the aforementioned 7R — the Wolverhampton firm also currently makes modern iterations of classic vintage-inspired models. For the motorcycle seen here, the company has taken its standard Clubman model and bestowed it with a variety of quintessential café bits and pieces of modern componentry including clip-on bars, reservoir alloy rear shocks, an inverted front-end, side number boards, and a traditional humped café seat with a ribbed saddle and white piping. This little 125 can also reach speeds of up to 60mph.

Engine: 124cc Air-Cooled OHC Single
Power:  10hp / 7ft-lbs
Weight:  249lbs
Origin: England (Chinese Made)

Purchase: $3,325

Mash Motors TT40 400cc

A bonafide café racer with a bit more of a Grand Prix bike-influence, Mash Motors’ TT40 is a competent small-displacement model with a bit of extra oomph on account of its 400cc engine — which also happens to feature DELPHI electronic fuel-injection, unlike most budget models that tend to be carbureted. The TT40 also gets a dual-disc brake setup with a four-pot caliper out front and disconnectable ABS front and aft. And while these aforementioned elements help sweeten the deal, this model’s main selling point is its gorgeous aesthetic design, which includes a half-fairing, knee-dented tank, side covers, and a cowl-covered humped café tail.

Engine: 397cc Air-Cooled SOHC
Power:  27.6hp / 22ft-lbs
Weight:  333lbs
Origin: France (Chinese Made)

Purchase: $3,370

FB Mondial HPS 125

FB Mondial is a legendary Italian manufacturer with a winning competition history, and though the company closed down many years ago, it’s more recently been revived in order to produce new models like the HPS 125 (or “Hipster 125”). Easily one of the most unique takes on the segment — as well as one of the most unique releases in the last decade, period –  this eighth-liter runner packs an enormous amount of surprisingly top-shelf elements such as liquid-cooling and fuel-injection, LED lighting, and modern adjustable suspension and brakes. Also sold in a larger 300cc version, what really makes this bike special is its striking dual-pipe exhaust and remarkably sleek bodywork which is made up of a Mojave-style tank, a streamlined take on a café tail, and a modern-looking belly-pan.

Engine: 124cc Liquid-Cooled DOHC Single
Power:  13.4hp / 7.75ft-lbs
Weight:  293lbs (Wet)
Origin: Italy (Chinese Made)

Purchase: $4,060

Honda CB300R

The smallest member of Honda’s recently-released “Neo-Sports Café” range, the CB300R is Honda’s take on a modern café racer. Powered by the same bulletproof counter-balanced mill that’s also utilized in Big Red’s CBR300R entry-level superbike model, the CB300R attempts to deliver the looks of its larger-displacement siblings in an entry-level-friendly package. Equipped with ABS as standard, the little CB’s stopping power comes from radial-mount Nissin calipers chomping down on big 296mm floating discs, while bumps are soaked up via a mono-shock and a 41mm USD fork. The Honda also packs a variety of quality little additions such as its suite of LED lighting, deep glossy finish, and array of blacked-out hardware throughout.

Engine: 286cc Liquid-Cooled DOHC Single
Power:  30.7hp / 20.2ft-lbs
Weight:  317lbs (Wet)
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $4,949

Royal Enfield Continental GT 650

Taking ample inspiration from (the then-British-owned) marque’s Continental GT 250 model from the ‘50s and ‘60s, Royal Enfield’s contemporary GT 650 perfectly epitomizes the classic café racer. Pretty much every quality that we associate with café racers today can be seen on this very bike. Dripping in classic café looks, the Continental GT 650 is a reasonably-priced model that’s good for everything from urban commuting to long-distance touring. Long story short: if you want a supremely original and authentic café racer that won’t break the bank, this very well may be the bike for you.

Engine: 648cc Air & Oil-Cooled SOHC Parallel-Twin
Power:  47hp / 38.35lbs
Weight:  557lbs (Wet)
Origin: India

Purchase: $5,999

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401

Based on the same chassis and power plant found in KTM’s 390 Duke (and RC390), Husqvarna’s Vitpilen 401 was one of the most highly-anticipated models in recent history, largely due to its incredibly unique appearance and its futuristic take on the café racer genre. But this urban-focused bike has got more than just looks going for it, with the model boasting a grip of genuinely premium features like top-shelf WP suspenders, Bosche ABS-linked quad-piston ByBre brakes, a robot-welded and hydro-formed chromium molybdenum steel frame, gold-anodized rims, and a PASC slipper clutch with a bidirectional quick-shifter.

Engine: 373cc Liquid-Cooled DOHC Single
Power:  44hp / 27.3ft-lbs
Weight:  348.5lbs
Origin: Sweden (Indian Made)

Purchase: $6,299

Yamaha XSR700

Largely based on the Tuning Fork Company’s XS650 model from half-a-century ago, Yamaha’s XSR700 is a heritage-themed offering that is built around the Japanese moto manufacturer’s existing naked FZ-07 platform. This basically allows for a “best of both worlds” situation, with a bike that affords old-school looks and modern performance (and safety, reliability, fuel economy, etc). And, like BMW’s R nineT, the XSR was specifically designed to lend itself to easy customization — an area that’s been furthered by the existence of bolt-on bodywork kits for the twin-cylinder modern retro. Yamaha also sells the visually-similar, but more powerful 900cc inline-three-powered XSR900, should you be looking for a little more muscle.

Engine: 689cc Liquid-Cooled DOHC Parallel-Twin
Power:  73.8hp / 50.2ft-lbs
Weight:  410lbs (Wet)
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $8,499

Triumph Street Twin

Priced at under the $10,000 mark, Triumph’s Street Twin is the Hinckley firm’s most accessibly-priced model from its Bonneville lineup. Though it’s missing a few key café traits, the model is only a few tweaks shy of objectively becoming a true café racer. And, while the bike does admittedly have a pretty barebones nature to it, Triumph offers more than 140 parts and accessories to help make the thing your own. Furthermore, the Street Twin makes for a fantastic basis for a full-on custom project, boasting classic Bonnie style backed by modern technology, running gear, and mechanics.

Engine: 900cc Liquid-Cooled SOHC Parallel-Twin
Power:  65hp / 59ft-lbs
Weight:  436.5lbs
Origin: England

Purchase: $9,300

Husqvarna Vitpilen 701

Though this can be viewed as just a larger version of Husky’s Vit 401, we’d argue that the additional 320cc’s allows for a completely different beast of a machine. While 75hp might not sound like a crazy amount, when coupled with this model’s sub-350lb (dry) weight, the Vitpilen 701 makes for one of the most grin-inducing (and possibly license-jeopardizing) hooligan machines currently on the market, proving a motorcycle’s top speed doesn’t necessarily speak to a bike’s performance or fun-factor. Of course, its exhilarating performance – which is helped along by the 701’s top-of-the-line componentry — is just one of this bike’s strengths, with its other strong suit obviously being its amazingly sleek and futuristic appearance. A solid counter-balancing system also allows this large single-cylinder engine to be devoid of the intense vibrations typically associated with big thumpers.

Engine: 692.7cc Liquid-Cooled OHC Single
Power:  75hp / 53.1ft-lbs
Weight:  366lbs
Origin: Austria

Purchase: $9,499

Kawasaki W800 Cafe

Kawasaki’s W800 (and W650) are modern clones of classic British parallel twins like that of the Triumph Bonneville and BSA A7. This model has super classic looks that hide modern reliability, fuel efficiency, and service intervals. The Café-spec of the W800 gains a windscreen and a humped saddle that lends the impression of a monoposto unit, while the black section of the saddle is actually a padded leather pillion. Kawasaki also made sure to include numerous thoroughly authentic vintage elements such as the pea-shooter pipes, rubber tank pads, fork boots, and the bike’s tires which are a set of faux-vintage Dunlops with a retro tread pattern and a modern compound.

Engine: 773cc Air-Cooled SOHC Parallel-Twin
Power:  47hp / 46.4ft-lbs
Weight:  489.5lbs (Wet)
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $9,799

Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer LE

Though café racers have distinctly British roots, it didn’t take long for the popularity of the stripped-back genre to make its way abroad, and one region that took the style and made it their own was Italy. So, rather than emulating old-school Brit bikes, Moto Guzzi’s V7 III Racer pays homage to vintage Italian café racers with the endurance-style tank, Magni-style blacked-out pipes, and tail cowl-integrated number boards. The fact this limited-edition Guzzi is shaft-driven and powered by a traverse-mounted V-Twin also adds to its distinctive appearance

Engine: 744cc Liquid-Cooled OHC Transverse V-Twin
Power:  52hp / 44.2ft-lbs
Weight:  470lbs
Origin: Italy

Purchase: $9,990

Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe

Upon their release, Kawasaki’s original Z’s were classic models that represented a dramatic step forward in terms of performance and power, and though the frame and running gear had yet to catch up with the highly-advanced engine, Z bikes became instant classics. As a modern tribute to the original Z’s, Kawasaki opted to redress its aggressive Z900 streetfighter up as a vintage Z, leading to the visual amalgamation of old and new you see before you. Alongside the regular Z900RS, Kawasaki also released this café-spec, which adds a few additional elements (such as the windscreen) to help push the model more squarely café’d territory.

Engine: 948cc Liquid-Cooled DOHC inline-Four
Power:  111hp / 72.3ft-lbs
Weight:  474.1lbs (Wet)
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $11,799

Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer

Though it admittedly sports a fairly oxymoronic monicker, Ducati’s Scrambler Cafe Racer is one of the finest executions of a modern take on a café racer. For the latest iteration of this model, its unmistakably café’d bodywork is now adorned in a silver and multi-tone blue livery that was inspired by Ducati’s 125 GP Desmo of the 1950s. The bike’s hard tail-cowl, can also be removed to open up space for a pillion. And, on top of Ducati’s usual top-notch industrial designs, the Scrambler Cafe Racer also gets a host of standard safety gear including Bosch cornering ABS.

Engine: 803cc Air & Oil-Cooled Desmodromic L-Twin
Power:  73hp / 49ft-lbs
Weight:  396.8lbs
Origin: Italy

Purchase: $11,995

Honda CB1000R

As the main member of Honda’s NSC lineup, the CB1000R was built to compete with other liter-sized flagship models, including high-end European bikes. As a result, the Japanese moto marque has loaded up the CB1KR with a generous helping of thoroughly top-shelf parts including a slipper clutch, single-sided swing-arm, multiple fuel maps and ride-by-wire throttle, ABS-linked dual radial-mount four-piston, Showa Separate Function Front Fork Big Piston unit (SFF-BP) front end, and powerful LED lighting front and back. The model’s visual elements are no less impressive, with the big CB sporting burnished-aluminum radiator shrouds, airbox cover, engine cases, cylinder head, and sprocket hub.

Engine: 998cc Liquid-Cooled DOHC Inline-Four
Power:  143.5hp / 76.7ft-lbs
Weight:  467lbs
Origin: Japan

Purchase: $12,999

BMW R nineT Racer

Penned by Swedish designer Ola Stenegärd, the R nineT Racer is another gorgeous take on a modernized cafe’d model, with a single-sided swing-arm and a perfectly-shaped half-fairing. Unlike many production café racers, the German brand’s take on the genre boasts a legitimately-aggressive riding position that’s great in the canyons but can get old in the city pretty fast. Unfortunately, it is worth noting that the R9T Racer is based on the lesser-expensive Pure-spec of the R nineT, and as a result gets the same underwhelming conventional fork and the more-budget forged rims.

Engine:1,170cc Air & Oil-Cooled DOHC Boxer Twin
Power:  110hp / 85.5ft-lbs
Weight:  485lbs (Wet)
Origin: Germany

Purchase: $14,150+

CCM Foggy Edition Spitfire

Clews Competition Machines’ Spitfire range consists of limited edition, artisan handmade motorcycles produced in batches of 300. Powered by BMW-developed 600cc, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, singles, the bikes all feature top-of-the-line componentry and an overall aesthetic that’s heavily influenced by the modern custom motorcycle scene. This particular version of the Spitfire was designed in collaboration with four-time World Superbike champion, Carl “Foggy” Fogarty, and features a special headlight cowl, belly-pan, red-stitched saddle, black 19” machined alloy wheels, flat-track bars, a tracker-meets-café tail that packs an under-seat exhaust, a Rosso Corsa livery, and numerous carbon fiber pieces scattered throughout. CCM also sells an even more top-shelf S-spec Foggy Edition Spitfire, as well.

Engine: 600cc Liquid-Cooled DOHC Single
Power:  62hp / 48.7ft-lbs
Weight:  313lbs
Origin: England

Purchase: $14,760+

Triumph Thruxton RS

Like Royal Enfield’s Continental GT 650, the Triumph Thruxton is another archetypal café racer model that possesses all of the hallmarks of the genre. What distinguishes the Thruxton however, is its decidedly premium nature, getting Ohlins shocks, inverted Showa forks, and Brembo stoppers. And though the Thruxton is offered in several different specs, the most top-shelf variant (not including the ultra-limited TFC edition) is the Thruxton RS, which gains new higher-compression pistons, tweaked ports and cam profiles, and a slew of other lightened internals that enable the RS to gain an extra eight horsepower over the base model.

Engine: 1,200cc Liquid-Cooled SOHC Parallel-Twin
Power:  104hp / 83ft-lbs
Weight:  434lbs
Origin: England

Purchase: $16,200

Energica EVA EsseEsse9

Located in the motorsport mecca that is Modena, Energica is a high-end Italian electric motorcycle marque that was founded in 2010. The company originally introduced its flagship EGO electric superbike along with the naked version, the EVA. More recently Energica launched the café-inspired EVA-based EsseEsse9. Good for speeds of up to 125mph, the standard EsseEsse9 generates a whopping 133-ft-lbs of torque while the even more elite EsseEsse9+ puts down an even more insane 148ft-lbs. Offering 250-miles of autonomy on a single charge and fast-charge compatible, the EsseEsse9 is outfitted with the usual host of high-end componentry that appears on elite Euro models.

Engine: Electric Oil-Cooled Three-Phase PMAC Motor
Power:  109hp / 133ft-lbs
Weight:  584lbs
Origin: Italy

Purchase: $22,400+

MV Agusta Superveloce 800

Fully-faired motorcycles tend to fall in the category of sportbike rather than café racer, though in the case of MV Agusta’s Superveloce 800, there’s no denying the model’s café classification. To design the bike, MV’s crack team of designers drew inspiration from the race machines of the Italian marque’s golden era of Grand Prix competition (in which MV claimed a record 17 consecutive world titles) albeit while delivering a futuristic version of the brand’s full bodywork-adorned racers. Underneath its fairing, the Superveloce is very much a contemporary bike, sharing the same frame and extremely potent three-cylinder platform as MV’s F3 800 and Brutale 800.

Engine: 798cc Liquid-Cooled DOHC Inline-Three
Power:  148hp / 72.1ft-lbs
Weight:  381lbs
Origin: Italy

Purchase: $23,400+

Tarform Luna Racer

The Luna is a newly-released all-electric café racer model adorned in biodegradable bodywork that’s made of a flax seed weave-reinforced composite combined with a recycled aluminum material. Performance-wise, the bike is good for sub-four-second 0-60mph times, a top speed of 95mph, and a 120-mile range from its 10kWh Lithium-ion battery – which can take an 80% recharge in as little as 50 minutes. The Luna is also equipped with a bevy of modern tech, including a keyless proximity ignition, 3.4” smart display, automatic blindspot detection with haptic feedback, and 180° rearview cameras.

Engine: Electric PMAC Motor
Power:  55hp / NA
Weight:  440lbs
Origin: America

Purchase: $24,000+

Norton Dominator

As you’ve probably gathered by now, the Norton name is synonymous with the origin of café racers, so it’s fitting that the final bike on our list be from this elite British brand. Norton’s Dominator is a modern reimagining of an existing vintage model — with some blatant inspiration from the modern custom motorcycle movement — that combines the classic SOHC parallel-twin with some of the finest running gear that money can buy. Like the Foggy Edition Spitfire, this is a genuine hand-built machine that boasts quality that you can visually see. And, while its appearance is decidedly retro, the Dominator’s performance is 21st century through and through. The company recently did go under (again), though models can still be found at dealerships.

Engine: 961cc Air & Oil-Cooled SOHC Parallel-Twin
Power:  79hp / 66.4ft-lbs
Weight:  415lbs
Origin: England

Purchase: $28,995

The 13 Best Scrambler Motorcycles You Can Buy

Still haven’t gotten your fill of old-school-inspired modern production models? Then be sure to check out our guide to the best scrambler motorcycles you can buy for a look at more than a dozen of today’s latest and greatest retro-themed on/off-road runners.

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BMW & Kith Are Releasing A Shadowy Limited-Edition M4 Competition Coupe

A limited-to-150 release available in Frozen Black, Frozen Brilliant White, or Dark Silver.

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Oct 26, 2020

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Honda’s HRC Factory Race Division Debuts A Track-Ready Grom Racing Moto

A heavily-upgraded, closed-circuit version of the popular 125cc runner.

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Oct 26, 2020

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This AC Shelby Cobra Coupé Was Driven In The Brand’s First-Ever Le Mans Race

An elite piece of automotive history with ties to numerous race legends.

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Oct 26, 2020

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Brabus Boosts Mercedes-AMG’s GT 63 To 888HP With The ‘Rocket 900’

Boasting a bespoke ECU tune, forced induction system, and carbon components.

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Oct 26, 2020