Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cafe Racers

If you've found this Blog it is because you love Ducati motorcycles like I do. Many years ago I picked up this little book by Rich Taylor called, "Cafe Racers." It was published in 1976 by Golden Press, the makers of Little Golden Books that you may remember from your childhood. Cafe Racers looks a little like a children's book. At least on the cover. Inside is a well written text by Rich Taylor; an author who knows his motorbikes. The book is only 46 pages long and covers 30 motorcycles ranging from Yamaha RD350's with road race fairings to a Seeley Matchless 500. It is written as an introduction to what makes a cafe bike. I remember spotting it as I was walking by a bargain table at a book store. It was probably laying between the books, "Loving Your Pomeranian" and, "Cooking with Tofu." It's cover sported the picture of some guy in full leathers wearing a Bell full faced helmet all hunched over and tearing down the road on a Laverda 750 SFC. Stopped me dead in my tracks. One look through it's pages and I developed an instant love for rearsets and clip-ons.


Now I love pretty much any kind of motorcycle. But what makes a person develop a passion for one make over another is anyone's guess. I've own Japanese, Spanish, and British bikes, but it's the red bikes that get my blood to boil; anything Italian. I always say, "You know your in love when you fall in love with a person's (motorcycle's) faults as much as their virtues. If you can look at a Ducati wiring loom and say, "those nutty Italians have all the wires the same color" with a grin on your face, your a goner.

As I looked through Rich's book I came to a page with a certain motorcycle on it. The 1974 Ducati 750 Super Sport. No one had to tell me that it was the holy grail of Ducati motorcycles. I figured that one out all on my own. I used to dream of how to make my CB750 look look kind of like that bike but I knew it was pointless. It just wasn't going to happen, and even if I did the Honda just wasn't ever going to be a Ducati.

Recently I came across a Craigslist ad that said someone out there was interested in trading a clean high mileage 2001 Ducati 748s for a classic Japanese motorcycle. Yep, that's what I thought too. This is a scam. I had a 1975 Kawasaki Z1 900 which was indeed a classic Japanese motorcycle. It was a little long in tooth, but I had it running pretty well. I figured, the worst the guy can say is no, right. So I gave him a call, and it turned out that he really was interested in my Kawasaki. I dragged my feet on meeting him still thinking it was trouble. Finally the guy brought his bike over for me to look at. Turned out he was a really nice guy that had a lot of bikes including this sweet little 748s. He didn't like riding fast on the street and was really into Z1's. Well it took my Z1, a nice Bultaco Alpina, and a 94 Honda CRE260 to seal the deal. I was suddenly the owner of a classic Ducati. It honestly took about a month before it really sank in. But I am head-over-heals now. Yep, I find myself saying stuff like, "man, my hands go to sleep after like 15 minutes of riding this thing" with a big grin on my face.

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