Honda goldwing cafe racer build

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Top 10 Honda Cafe Racer Builds

As the world’s largest producer of motorcycles, it comes as no surprise that Honda cafe racer builds are commonplace here on Return of the Cafe Racers. If you’ve got your heart set on using a Honda as the donor when you’re building a cafe racer project you’re spoilt for options. There’s a long list of “go to” models that are have become icons of the cafe racer scene like the CB750, or pretty much any model in the long-running CB range, the CX500 and in more recent years the CB1000R Neo Sports Cafe. So today I thought we’d take a look back at 10 of the best Honda Cafe Racer builds that have graced these pages.

CBX1000 Honda cafe racer


I’m starting our top 10 Honda cafe racer list with a model that doesn’t often pop up in the custom scene. The Honda CBX1000 was the companies flagship model when it was released in 1978. With a whopping 6 cylinders and 105 bhp, it was a beast of a bike. Sadly production lasted only 4 short years and although it never met Honda’s expectations today the CBX1000 is well on its way to becoming a highly sought after collectable. This stunning CBX1000 Honda cafe racer is the work of Michael Kopec. At 6’4″ Michael needed a big bike and the CBX fit the bill. He’s owned plenty of them during his life on 2 wheels and as a result, couldn’t bring himself to chop up a pristine example. So for this project, he built the bike up from parts he sourced online and at local swap meets. It all started with an ’82 frame followed by a 79 front end and so on. Michael then filled in the gaps by utilising his skills as a CNC programmer to fabricate what was needed. Everything from the engine work to the bikes stunning 6-into-6 exhaust was carefully planned and executed and the results speak for themselves.


Honda CB900 cafe racer


Sylvain Carignan knocked it out of the ballpark with his duo of CB900F Honda cafe racers. What began as a search for a single donor resulted in a chance bulk purchase of two 1980s Honda CB900F Super Sports. With 2 bikes parked in his workshop, he decided the only rational thing to do was convert them both into cafe racers which he proceeded to do over a 10 month period. The finished bikes are identical aside from a few cosmetic differences. Sylvain took inspiration from the classic lines of Honda’s CB900 Bol d’Or for the styling. He used his in racing catamaran manufacturing to create the bikes new tail units and installed modern suspension systems to improve handling. The electrics were overhauled using Motogadget components and the wheels converted to spokes for timeless cafe racer styling.


Honda CB550 CR750


When we think about which bike put the Japanese manufacturer on the map it has to be the legendary Honda CR750. It was a specially developed race model based on the CB750. Piloted by legendary racer Dick Mann the CR750 took out first place at the 1970 Daytona 200. The win cemented Honda’s place in the US market and the rest is history. This road going CR750 inspired bike was built by South African Justin Steyn, but there’s something a bit different about this replica. Justin chose to build his replica on a CB550 Four platform rather than the traditional CB750. The original goal was to create a streetable RC181 replica, but upon seeing a CR750 replica at a track meet all that changed. The project was another ground up build using a Frankenstein mix of parts to form a whole machine. Just worked tirelessly revising the reproduction bodywork to suit the CB550s proportions. Rather than going full period correct he opted to modernise the suspension for better handling on the track and had the engine overhauled by a performance pro. Sure the purists may grimace, but to me, Justin’s Honda CR550 is a two-wheeled work of art.


Honda CX500 cafe racer by Garth


It’s no secret I’m not a fan of the CX500 despite its popularity as a Honda cafe racer platform. Despite this when I nominated my Top 10 Cafe Racers of 2018 this CX500 took out first place and I doubt I need to explain why. Built by Aussie bike enthusiast Garth Allison this bike represents countless hours of hard work and an impeccable eye for detail. I’ve worked on CX500s and can tell you they present many challenges for this kind of build. Despite all that Garth’s created a perfectly proportioned cafe racer with an engine so clean you could eat off it. Be sure to read the full story behind this beauty as it enough to inspire anyone to give building their own cafe racer a go.


CB900 Honda Cafe Racer


Although it isn’t a hot favourite for a Honda cafe racer conversion the CB900F offers a decent starting point. Honda pitched the CB900F as “a thundering Super-Sports bike with devastating performance and an unwavering stamina” and it didn’t disappoint. They sold very well and as a result, there are countless secondhand examples available on classified websites at surprisingly low prices. Canadian builder Rob Chappell runs the workshop Origin8or and he’s no stranger to the CB900F platform. After selling his pride and joy to a buyer with deep pockets Rob decided to stick to the platform he knew best. His ’81 Honda CB900F features a myriad of modifications all executed with performance improvement in mind. If ever there was a bike worthy of being coined a modern cafe racer Rob’s CB900F is the perfect candidate.


Honda CB750 K2 cafe racer


Anyone who has dropped a motorcycle will tell you how sick it makes you feel. Unlike most drops when Andy’s CB750 project took a spill the damage wasn’t limited to a couple of scratches here and there. He’d already been working on the bike for almost a year when it toppled off his bike stand falling almost double its own height. The damage was extensive and nearly put an end to the entire project. Thankfully Andy pushed on because the result of all the additional hard work has really paid off. Honda CB750 cafe racers are a dime a dozen these days, but there’s something special about this one. If simplicity is the key to a great Honda cafe racer then that key belongs in the ignition of Andy’s CB750.


CB400 Honda cafe racer


Before I met Jake I hadn’t had much exposure to rapid prototyping or CAD modelling. My mind was blown when I witnessed him 3D scanning his entire Honda and then modelling parts directly onto it in 3D. He then 3D printed test parts and had final components laser cut to millimetre perfect proportions. Jake’s project was no walk in the park though. Despite all the tech he had at his disposal the CB400 threw up a slew of problems that drew the build timeline out well beyond his estimations. Jake’s determination and strive for perfection was inspirational and seeing the bike finished was better than any TV show reveal I’ve ever seen. If you’re considering using a modern bike for a custom project this is a good example of what you can expect to come up against…and how rewarding the finished result can be.



CBX1000 honda cafe racer


Ok, so it seems a bit contradictory to say the Honda CBX1000 isn’t a common Honda cafe racer platform and then have 2 of them in this list. But trust me they are rare as hen’s teeth! This beast is the work of Vaughan Ryan who is one of the head hammer swingers at Sydney’s Motor Retro workshop. At Motor Retro Vaughan and his business partner, Georgio teach enthusiasts how to shape steel for automotive applications. They also build their own custom creations. This bike was completed before they opened the Motor Retro workshop. Although it’s been years since it appeared here on the site it remains a favourite of mine for several reasons. The main one is how unique the hand-beaten bodywork on this cafe racer is. Like the Kawasaki Z900RS, it isn’t until you see the bike in the flesh that you realise just how big the fuel tank is. Unlike the Kawasaki though, this one looks right at home slouched over the 6 cylinder wide engine block beneath.


Blacktrack CX500 cafe racer


When Garth Allison built his incredible CX500 cafe racer he was inspired by a bike built more than 16,000km away. It was the work of Sacha Lakic, a furniture and interior designer from Luxembourg with a soft spot for motorcycles. Sacha’s Honda CX500 GTS is everything a good cafe racer should be. Lightweight, performance focused and incredibly good looking. It was the bike that laid the groundwork for his Blacktrack Motors business and was eventually reproduced in limited numbers. After it’s release the poor old Honda CX500 became known as the plastic maggot. Sacha’s work with the CX has made sure that nobody would ever look at them that way again.


goldwing honda cafe racer


Last and anything but least is this unlikely Honda cafe racer project from Adam’s Custom Shop in Sweden. If you were to ask me which Honda I would consider least suitable for a cafe racer project I’d say without hesitation a Goldwing tourer. It seems that Adam isn’t the kind of guy to listen to what anyone else has to say, and that’s a good thing. His Goldwing may not be the most nimble or lightweight cafe racer out there, but it certainly makes a bold statement. And let’s face it. A big part of building and riding a cafe racer is all about making a statement.


goldwing honda cafe racer


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Magazine featured kit to transform your Fazer 600 into a neo-classic Cafe Racer with retro styling and modern LED tech.


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Kits for the T300 triples and fours, T400 Tiger, 955i Sprint. Truly classic CRKs to transform your riding experience!



Kits for the Honda CX500 and CBn 250 & 400, these are pure classic Cafe Racer bikes available for you to build and enjoy.



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Want to know more? Get in touch using the form below and we’ll get back to you!


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Goldwing Standard – Dragon’s Motorcycles GL1000

Spain’s Dragon’s Motorcycles created a massive stir with just one build. Their debut creation, a glorious six-cylinder BMW KL1100LT trimmed into a cafe racer, turned heads and raised pulses when it was unveiled. And now, one year later, Pablo Pérez González and the Dragon’s team released a follow up to their Beemer. And it’s another enormous belter — a show-stopping 1977 Honda Goldwing cafe racer.

Goldwing cafe racer

Dragons Motorcycles Honda Goldwing

Like the K1100LT the Goldwing isn’t a typical starting point for a cafe racer build. At around the same size and weight as an aircraft carrier, it’s designed to ferry similarly overweight bikers down endless miles of flat interstate in diabetic comfort. It’s big. It’s reliable. It’s comfortable. But it’s not supposed to be a cafe racer. It’s the antithesis of one.

Goldwing cafe racer

But Pablo González thought otherwise. He saw something in the lines of the big ol’ ‘77 Goldie he owned. And after careful consideration, he went to work. He pulled the original flat-four engine from the bike, set it aside and took to the frame with vigour. The tabs were removed. A rear loop was installed. Laser-cut bracing was fitted and then the real magic happened — a whopping 1520cc six-cylinder engine from a Honda Valkyrie was installed, resplendent with polished ‘50th-anniversary’ valve covers.

The fit wasn’t exact, so parts of the frame and swingarm were also removed to free up enough real estate to fit the two extra cylinders. With some modified mounting points and not too much effort the new engine was sitting square and looking damn good. Everything was going to plan for Dragon’s. And then the worst thing possible happened to Pablo and the team. Spain happened.

Dragons Motorcycles Honda Goldwing

Goldwing cafe racer

Stereotypes are cruel, but sometimes they exist for a reason. Australians are drunks. Germans are German. And the Spanish… well, they can be a little laissez-faire about things like deadlines. And Pablo, who works on a strict day-to-day timeline, found the process infuriating. He’d planned to outsource many parts of the build but was let down time after time by local shops that didn’t share the same work ethic as him. So Pablo decided to complete his Goldwing cafe racer himself. And the build is better for it.

He pulled the original fuel system on the Goldwing and installed two banks of carburettors from a 1968 Porsche 911. Though it was even more work than he’d expected, Pablo insists it was worth it and the huge assemblies form the centrepiece of the build. The massive units were mated to machined bellmouths and a slimline 6-6 exhaust system all made by Dragon’s Motorcycles.

Then Pablo turned to the body. His initial plans involved a restoration of the standard fuel tank, a clever design that actually contained much of the electronics. Instead, Pablo removed the tank and replaced it with one from a Honda 750, mated it to a seat unit and installed a series of struts and supports. That means that unibody design can be raised electronically using a remote control, allowing access to the new electronic wizardry inside. Which is now an excellent full Motogadget setup, with a new speedometer and M-Lock Start all being fed into a Bluetooth-managed M-Unit. Final touches to this Goldwing cafe racer come via the way of Senen Leatherworks, who crafted the seat and side straps while the paint was being laid down by Dimitri Tolin from Motor Paint.

Goldwing cafe racer

Goldwing cafe racer

There’s a whole heap more going on here. The suspension come via Öhlins. It has heavily modified front wheel and brake assemblies. A new swingarm and rear wheel that’s wider than your mum. It’s truly a no-expense-spared build with barely a standard component left unchanged.

At Return of the Cafe Racers, we’re firm believers that there is a replacement for displacement. Lightweight, lithe, nimble bikes with punchy engines are some of our favourites. But there’s something incredible about a honking great bike cut down into a beautiful, lightweight machine. And we’re not the only ones who love the bike — just hours after Pablo’s Honda Goldwing cafe racer was finished it was wheeled into the Madrid Bike Show and was bestowed with the ‘Best in Show’ title. Can’t argue with that.


Story by Marlon Slack

Dragons Motorcycles Honda Goldwing

Budget GOLDWING CAFE' RACER Build. Next episode...

And now something less common in the Cafe Racer scene. A quite unlikely base for a concept of a “racer”. But this is exactly what makes it so special.

Honda GL1000 Goldwing…

2 years ago – I would say: “I’ve never seen a nice build based on GoldWing – it cannot be done and even if… it doesn’t make any sense”. But I’m glad that I have been wrong on this one. Especially that the winner on this list is from my country 🙂

About the base… It’s a classic. Bold Honda move to jump-start a totally new segment of big touring motorcycles. And they did it with a big bang… The Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan includes a Honda Gold Wing GL1000 manufactured in 1974 as one of their 240 Landmarks of Japanese Automotive Technology. Through 2012, Honda GL models have appeared eighteen times in the Cycle World list of Ten Best bikes.

The motorcycle is big and long, the engine is unique (4 cylinder boxer engine), the fuel tank and air-box, that generally switched places… gives it a great potential to approach the build unconventionally. And that’s what the builders listed below did (especially number 2).

5. War Bird

I like the “bobberish” look of the build. Only the necessary things are left on the bike. I would definitely change the rear section with the brake fluid reservoir. Especially that the builder put a lot of effort to modify the rear suspension. And maybe used some bigger and less round tank…

Source: “War Bird” Gold Wing | Inazuma café racer


Classic approach. Characteristic tank, attempt to create a straight line of the tank and seat and a Cafe racer fairing. Attention to details and eye-catching wheels.

Source: Honda GL1000 by Adam’s Custom Shop


Second featured build by the team from Sur Les Chapeaux De Roues. The paint job is awesome. The red / dark feel, huge tank, and tires make it a complete package.

Source: Honda GL1000 Gold Wing – Sur Les Chapeaux De Roues


And that is the concept build to reward. This airbox…. (and fuel tank) present in the same place as the original but so different 🙂 That is what I would do to keep to the motorcycle special features with “custom” touch. Everything fits my taste here – silver/metal/black color choice. Air-box and tank approach. Exhaust pipes… The only thing I would consider changing – is the rear part of the frame and the fender. But regardless – it’s a complete and tasteful build.
But… I think that the meeting of the rider with the fuel cap during sudden breaking… would be very painful 🙂

Source: Honda GoldWing – hgarage


And the winner from my backyard. GL1000 by Cardsharper Customs. I like all of their builds. But this one – considering how big challenge it was to create this classic cafe racer line. Retro wheels.

The only thing I don’t quite get is the “secondary” brown color. But definitely – click the link below and see more pictures and details of this one!





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Cafe Racer Honda cb650 \

When you think about cafe-builds, Honda likely comes to mind, however the name: Goldwing, probably not so much. Nonetheless this unusual cafe example boasts the classic 999cc GL1000 Goldwing powerplant from 1976. This old school Honda-tourer has undergone a complete rebuild from the ground up with all the metal being blasted and repainted before piecing together this odd two-wheeler. As you can see, a good deal of custom fabrication was required to bring this creation to life, though even with the substantial amount of weight shaved off from its stock-form, this “nimble” cafe racer still clocks in at just over 600lbs…dry.

This 76′ Honda also received its fair share of mechanical work over the course of its rebuild. Because the engine has just under 50,000 original-miles on it, it was overhauled given new gaskets for the cylinder and timing-belt covers. Though I’m not familiar with the 76′ GL1000’s stock engine figures, the seller claims this Goldwing’s 4-stroke (SOHC, Liquid cooled, 2 valve per cylinder) powerplant makes 78hp @ 7000rpm with 61.2 lb/ft @5500 rpm and now has a top speed of 110mph (178kph).

The massive exposed engine on this bike gives off a much more muscular appearance than your typical CB, and the use of the same stock yellow on the tank and calipers found on the original Goldwing is an awesome touch. The seat and lighting on this beast are obviously custom, as is the black ceramic-coated single-pipe. I think it’s cool that the stock side plate was able to be utilized without looking out of place. According to the seller this build was done professionally (in only three months) and based on the quality of the work, I don’t doubt it for a second.

You can find this genuinely unique cafe-tourer example for sale in Bucharest, Romania here on with a price of $9,900.



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