Friday, March 8, 2019

Ingenious Royal Enfield cafe racer backs up its looks

Side view of Royal Enfield Bullet cafe racer.
You know it's special when you see it but have to look closely to know why.
A sweet-looking 2001 Royal Enfield Bullet custom cafe racer for sale recently on eBay in South Carolina is the result of more creativeness and workmanship than I can begin to describe in a blog item.

Its seller and builder admits he can't even remember all the modifications he made. His ad, though, proudly says this cafe racer was "Built To Be Ridden Aggressively On Twisty Roads." And there's a YouTube video to prove it.

The motorcycle is impressive enough standing still.

The shortened (but not too short) rear fender, tapered seat, cafe bars and polished motor meet the eye first. But then you notice that the nacelle contains a tachometer, and the rear-set foot controls operate on what used to be a U.S.-spec left-shift gearbox.

Front view of Royal Enfield Bullet cafe racer.
Slim, sleek and clean.
The guy kept the toolboxes, but relocated them about an inch-and-a-half tighter to the frame. The electric-start bulge is gone, making this a classic, kick-only Bullet. And the front brake hub is drilled for ventilation.

What you don't know from just looking is that the motor has been modified to add performance — the YouTube video is convincing — and the four-speed gearbox converted to close-ratio gears.

Side view of Royal Enfield Bullet cafe racer.
Cleaned up rear fender, shapely exhaust, rearsets.
The list goes on and on. Lorin, the builder, detailed some of it in his eBay ad, and in posts on the Classic Motorworks Forum, under his user name Cafeman. His explanation of how he reversed the brake crossover shaft so the splines are on the right side and connected the rearset gearshift is on the Forum at this link. Charmingly, he suggests this was nothing special:

"Right side shift rearsets for about $250 and a little bit of work — and no opening of the gearbox. Just one man's way of winging it, certainly not the only way, or the best, but it's here for anyone who wonders what it might take to do something similar."

My favorite part: he used the metal handle of an Exacto knife, drilled and tapped, to connect the rearset shift lever to the resulting linkage. That's the thing: his whole build seems to have been around using brains and workmanship first, expensive off-the-shelf stuff only where he wanted it.

View of motorcycle instrument panel.
Tachometer fits neatly in nacelle.
Coincidence: he found the Bullet for sale on this blog.

"I actually saw this bike in its original solo seat standard setup on your Enfield's for sale listing late 2012," Lorin wrote in an email answering my questions about the bike.

"It Was a CraigsList purchase from Denver, Colo. I had the seller build a crate and had it shipped to me in South Carolina. It was electric start, but when I had the engine apart I removed all the starter and inner case parts, converting to kick only.

View of seat on Royal Enfield Bullet cafe racer.
Shapely seat, tucked-in toolbox..
"The rearsets actuate the left-shift gearbox; the brake shaft crossover is now the shift shaft crossover, along with heim joints and creative improvisation to make the linkage work. It shifts great, but to get into neutral requires absolute use of the neutral finder at a stop, or quick snicking  of the shifter when rolling to a stop.

"Standard single points, I'm not a believer in overly complex overkill ignition systems etc. on something this antiquated, and the clutch is the same, just meticulously set up with good clutches, springs, and everything works perfect."

He wrote this in his eBay ad: "This bike was an obsession for me. I have done all the modifications, engine and gearbox rebuild, frame mods, rims replaced, etc., all work performed myself (aside from valve guides, seats, valve job, bore and hone).

Decal says "Made in England."
No it's not, but it looks it.
"Look closely at the pictures. There has been much attention to detail. Yet, this bike is a true rider that can be ridden aggressively for long periods of time, leaving others you may ride with impressed with the bike's ability (and perhaps yours)... as well as looking like a show bike or display piece at the same time."


  1. If someone GAVE you the bike and didn't charge you to do all that work, you'd spend more than $4500 just for the cool parts. Whatta lovely, classy motorcycle! Bravo, Lorin!

  2. Anonymous12/03/2022

    Wow! A lot done to this one for sure. Very tasteful, everything looks right.


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