10 vintage motorcycles we want to own

They're lightweight, lightly powered, and optimised for fun. Here's our pick of the best...

There is little else as romantic in the world of motoring than the cafe racer motorbike. The early 1960’s sprinting style of these bikes still endures to this day; so much so that some motorcycle manufacturers have produced new models that look back to the originals.

Honda CB750

What makes the evergreen CB750 such a good cafe racer is its flexibility. A CB750 can become what you want it to become, making it a brilliant place to start from for modification. This example is by Lossa Engineering, and represents the new-wave cafe racer style of its creator.

Triumph Thruxton R

The legendary British brand’s boldest modern day cafe racer is this Thruxton R. It comes with all the modern enhancements, like big front Brembo brakes, fully adjustable forks and shocks, and an LCD multi-functional display. But let’s focus on the classic stuff – those gorgeous looks and that sweet 1200cc 96bhp engine.

Norton Commando 961

A further take on the old style of bike from another famous name in British motorcycling history – Norton. The new Commando 961 Mk. II is a striking looking machine, especially in the company’s military-inspired ‘Steel Green’ paint job. This Norton is available with a host of options from new, including carbon fibre wheels. It is truly a cafe racer for the modern age.

The new Brough Superior SS100

The Brough Superior is back. Though the original incarnation of the brand was at its peak three to four decades before the rise of the cafe racers, the new SS100 has risen like a phoenix. It could, if you’re willing to make a case for it, be the oldest, newest, and most expensive 21st century 1920’s inspired cafe racer. A tricky case to make, perhaps – but just look at it. Oh, one more thing – it’s £45,000.

Julius Bott’s Benelli 750 Sei

Building a cafe racer for yourself is the dream for many, and that’s exactly what Julius Bott did with his much-admired Benelli 750 Sei. It is a real slice of motorcycling heaven, and we could just stare at it all day.

Gilera 500 ‘4-cilindri’

If you thought the new Brough Superior SS100 was expensive, this 1957 Gilera 500 ‘4-cilindri’, sold recently by RM Sotheby’s, puts it to shame. This model is the last of 15 racing 500 GPs built by Gilera, and it is really very rare for one to be offered up for sale. Perhaps that’s why it was estimated at between £380,000 and £450,000.

Egli-Vincent 1330 cafe racer by Godet

There is a question often asked of whether a machine can also be art. This 1968 Egli-Vincent by Godet makes a strong case for the ‘yes’ side of that argument. When it’s not stationary and showing off its fine details, it’s quite easy to imagine it flying by as a noisy silvery bronze blur.

Honda CB450 ‘Tribute to Japan’ by Krugger

Another incredible one-off cafe racer from the RM Sotheby’s auction pays tribute to the Land of the Rising Sun. It does so by flying the former Imperial army flag of Japan on its fuel tank.

Ducati Scrambler

Known more for its superbikes, Ducati’s Scrambler is a tribute to the cafe racers of years gone by, and is becoming one of the Italian brand’s most desirable models. Make sure you only order your coffee as an Espresso at the cafe stops for extra Italian authenticity.

Aprilia RSV cafe racer by Taimoshan

This café racer is built around an Aprilia RSV by Welsh company, Taimoshan Cycle Works. Propelled by a 1000cc V-twin engine, it doesn’t lack for power, and the heavy steampunk influences are easy to see in the design.

Further Reading