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Classic, Vintage & Veteran For Coventry and Meriden Models. Anything pre-Hinckley goes.

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Old 12-30-2009, 08:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How to ID Real Cafe Racer

There's an ad in my area for a mid 60's Norton Cafe Racer. Says it's all original and very rare. Is there any way to tell if the bike was originally produced as a cafe racer, as opposed to a bike made to look like a cafe racer? And were these limited production factory racers, also for road use? Just don't know much about them.

Does the VIN give you any info, or possibly factory fame mods?

Thanks,
Ron
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Old 12-31-2009, 03:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TxTiger View Post
There's an ad in my area for a mid 60's Norton Cafe Racer. Says it's all original and very rare. Is there any way to tell if the bike was originally produced as a cafe racer, as opposed to a bike made to look like a cafe racer? And were these limited production factory racers, also for road use? Just don't know much about them.

Does the VIN give you any info, or possibly factory fame mods?

Thanks,
Ron
??? I thought a cafe racer was a factory production bike made to go/look faster originally styled on racing bikes of the late 50,s and early 60,s?

If it was factory made it wouldn't be really a cafe racer!


A cafe racer is as raced up as the owner wants it to be with performance changes they could afford if any!

A set of ACE bars and you are in business!

I suppose it would be rare if all the mods were done in the 60,s and its never been changed back to factory specs?


Den


PS All the "Mods" were done! and big time by the "Rockers!" when I was a kid in London in the 60,s, so not rare at all! lol
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Old 12-31-2009, 04:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Cafe Racers were bikes modified by their owners to appear more "Sporting" and incorporated such things as lowered bars (usually "clip ons") and rear sets. Typical things a factory would do for "Production Racing". Endurance races for production machines which was big in UK in the 60's. Best known was the Thruxton 500. A 500 mile race with 2 riders around the Thruxton circuit near Andover, Hants.
It is possible that this could be an ex-works Norton production racer but very unlikely as few (perhaps only 2 or 3) would be produced by the factory a year (if any). Usually the factory sent out "special" bikes to favoured dealers who modified to Production Racing spec and entered under their own banner.
Genuine factory or factory supported bikes, with know history, sell for very high prices via specialist auctions.
If you have any further details such as Model No., year of manufacture or even engine size, I might be able help further.
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Old 12-31-2009, 04:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by epynt1050 View Post
Cafe Racers were bikes modified by their owners to appear more "Sporting" and incorporated such things as lowered bars (usually "clip ons") and rear sets. Typical things a factory would do for "Production Racing". Endurance races for production machines which was big in UK in the 60's. Best known was the Thruxton 500. A 500 mile race with 2 riders around the Thruxton circuit near Andover, Hants.
It is possible that this could be an ex-works Norton production racer but very unlikely as few (perhaps only 2 or 3) would be produced by the factory a year (if any). Usually the factory sent out "special" bikes to favoured dealers who modified to Production Racing spec and entered under their own banner.
Genuine factory or factory supported bikes, with know history, sell for very high prices via specialist auctions.
If you have any further details such as Model No., year of manufacture or even engine size, I might be able help further.

You can see why people like the OP are confused! google cafe racer and you are likely to be directed to a site full of new Thruxtons with overpriced handlebars and pipes for sale!

Most of the cafed up bikes I see as a kid in the 60s didnt even have rearsets!

People just didnt have the money in those days so did the best they could with what they had.

Den
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Old 12-31-2009, 11:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks guys. As mentioned, I just don't know much about them although you hear the term all the time. I didn't know if the modifications were owner done or factory produced.

Appreciate the info.
Ron
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Old 01-01-2010, 10:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I would venture to say that if the seller is describing it as a 60's Cafe Racer, and if it has low handlebars, he's being just as truthful as he needs to be, not to be called a rip-off / liar.

"All original" CANNOT mean that it is a cafe racer. PERIOD. norton did not produce an original cafe racer AT ANY TIME.

"Very rare" is very subjective. Any bike can truthfully be described as "very rare" if it is the only one of it's kind!

IF it is a FACTORY PRODUCTION RACER, or a GENUINE Dunstall (will be titled as such), then it is very rare indeed.
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Old 01-01-2010, 11:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I was just looking at wikipedia on the Triumph Bonneville, and it had this link to cafe racers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caf%C3%A9_racer
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Old 01-01-2010, 12:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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norton did not produce an original cafe racer AT ANY TIME.
Sorry to correct you GPZ but the Norton did produce a few "cafe racer" type bikes but literally only a handful of which the famous "Domiracer" was probably the best known, all were intended for racing but would have likely been sold off to the general public at the end of the season.
The bikes produced were for riders in the various "Production Races" such as the Thruxton 500 and were based on the std Dominator of the time. The Norton race machine of the time, the Manx, being ineligible.
A team entered by Syd Lawton, a dealer from Southampton and ex-factory rider won Thruxton on several occasions using Norton Dominators, although I believe the Lawton bikes were std bikes fitted with factory "goodies". Something most factories did at the time for favoured riders entrants. I doubt if any reached the US unless as collectors machine in recent years
I am sure you are aware that Triumph did the same at the time with a batch of "Thruxton Bonnevilles", 11 bikes only, I believe. Also Velocette with the Thruxton Venom, a hotted up, cafe racer style 500cc Venom single.
Dunstall was one of a number who made such parts for the general public, Dow was another.
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Old 01-01-2010, 08:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by TxTiger View Post
There's an ad in my area for a mid 60's Norton Cafe Racer. Says it's all original and very rare. Is there any way to tell if the bike was originally produced as a cafe racer, as opposed to a bike made to look like a cafe racer? And were these limited production factory racers, also for road use? Just don't know much about them.

Does the VIN give you any info, or possibly factory fame mods?

Thanks,
Ron

Did you have a look at it yet? any pics?


Den
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Old 01-01-2010, 08:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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<but the Norton did produce a few "cafe racer" type bikes>
I think it's really just terminology here.

I don't remember Norton, Triumph or Velocette ever calling their bikes cafe racers though. The reason being of course is that a cafe racer is a sham bike.

When I were a lad a cafe racer was something built by the average Joe to look like a racing bike as much as possible but with obvious limitations ie lights, number plates and the cost. It was shown off at the local cafe (not used on the race track.)
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