QUIKSPIN: Project Café Racer - Irrational Behaviour

08 October 2013
 
When is a motorcycle more than the sum of its parts? When it stirs something deep inside you which makes you love it unconditionally, even irrationally, despite its imperfections. 
This one-off café racer built by Aussie Triumph distributor PS Importers is one bike that certainly stirs the emotions… and yet it’s far from perfect. 
 
The very thing that makes this bike so appealing is also its Achilles heel; that Arrow pipe emits a vicious bark, both on and off the throttle, but it also has a nasty bite. It pokes out high and wide on the right of the engine and burns your calf. 
 
At idle, the standard 865cc parallel twin with 270° crank is barely audible, but feed it some fuel and the howl of the engine has you pining for more. This isn’t a bike on which to practice the fine art of throttle control; instead it begs you to crack the throttle wide open and then slam it shut again, just so you can immerse yourself in its glorious sound. It’ll have you searching for tunnels, just to amplify the cacophony. 
 
The café racer uses a standard Scrambler as its base. As well as that Arrow pipe, the boys at PS Importers sifted through their workshop and accessories catalogue and loaded up the bike with all sorts of goodies that transform it into a very unique machine. The clip-ons, top triple clamp, rearsets and linkages, along with the seat, are sourced from a Triumph Thruxton. The wheels have been re-laced and wider rims accept modern-size Dunlop Sportmax GP rubber, and the suspension has been tweaked with progressive-rate springs in the fork and Icon rear shocks. 
 
The new riding position, added grip and enhanced suspension endow the café racer with better roadholding abilities and improved handling over the standard Bonneville. It turns into corners readily and holds a line well. 
 
While performance isn’t as scintillating as the engine’s note might suggest, the parallel twin has decent mumbo throughout the rev range. Tall gearing takes the edge off acceleration but generally keeps you in the meat of the torque range – low to mid revs – when hustling along on the open road. And if you want more, Triumph reckons you can easily get 90hp (67kW) out of the Scrambler twin with a little head work and new cams. 
 
The riding position isn’t so extreme that it’s uncomfortable, but my right leg did start to cramp up after a few hours. This is because I had to poke it out in the breeze to stop my calf from melting on the pipe. The big, flat seat offers plenty of space to move around and if you remove the rear cowl you’ll be able to throw a pillion on the back. But again, they’ll also find the pipe gets in the way. 
 
Finishing off the café racer is a trick silver paint job that gives the tank and rear cowl an alloy look, and there are a host of stylish accessories such as barend mirrors, bullet indicators and a sweet-looking tail light; all items that complement the standard Scrambler’s period fork-leg dust covers, tank pads and carby-styled injectors. 
 
The café racer not only proves a Scrambler (or even a Bonneville, for that matter) is a great base for a custom bike, but also that there’s a hell of a lot of character lurking within the standard machine. While far from perfect, this is a bike you could very easily fall for. 
 
ENGINE
Configuration Parallel twin
Cylinder head DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Capacity 865cc
Bore/stroke 90 x 68mm
Compression ratio 9.2:1
Cooling Liquid
Fueling EFI, 4 x Marelli throttle bodies
Power 43kW @ 7500rpm (claimed)
Torque 68Nm @ 5800rpm (claimed)
 
TRANSMISSION
Type Five-speed
Clutch Wet, multiplate
Final drive Chain
 
CHASSIS
Frame material Tubular steel
Frame layout Cradle
Rake 27.8?
Trail 105mm
 
SUSPENSION
Front: 41mm fork, non-adjustable,
120mm travel
Rear: Twin shocks, preload adjustment,
106mm travel
 
WHEELS/TYRES
Wheels Stainless spoke, aluminum
Front: 17 x 3.5 Rear: 17 x 5.5
Tyres Dunlop Sportmax GP
Front: 120/70ZR17
Rear: 180/55ZR17
 
BRAKES
Front: Single 310mm disc, two-piston caliper
Rear: Single 255mm disc, two-piston caliper
 
DIMENSIONS
Weight 230kg (wet, claimed)
Seat height 825mm
Max width 860mm
Max height 1202mm
Wheelbase 1500mm
Fuel capacity 16L
 
PERFORMANCE
Fuel consumption 5.5L/100km (tested)
Top speed 180km/h (est)

 

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