For a city that prides itself on many firsts, Dubai can now add another on the list – the first Café Racer project in the region! ‘Café Racer Worx’ is a nostalgic homage to a bygone British era , an effort to bring to life bikes with the handsome looks of yesteryears’ café racers through specialized customization. CarbonOctane speaks to the brains behind the project, Jittu Thomas or ‘JJ’ as he’s known in the motoring circle.
Arnab : Thomas, we all knew you as a perfectionist when it came to automotive detailing. Since then you have tested the water in different automotive genres.
Thomas : If I could have I would have keep doing all of them at the same time, however limitations mean that I have to concentrate on what I do now!
Arnab : What has inspired you to take up project : café racer?
Thomas : My romance with motorcycles started a long long time ago. I started riding when I was 12, and before that I was pedalling cycles to go as fast as a bike would! Speed was essential! So when opportunity knocked in the form of my uncle getting me to clean his Yezdi 250, after the wash drying it was speeding down the road!! From there it was scooters, mopeds, cycles with motors and eventually the king of Indian roads – the Yamaha RD 350. To date I would classify it as the best ownership experience, a motorcycle that could do it all. That chapter has stayed fresh in my mind.
Arnab : Could you elaborate on the history behind the café racer and what inspired you to bring on this project?
Thomas : After coming to Dubai, the CBR 900RR put me on the roads. It was a great experience, but always had my mind oscillate back to 350 days. What was it, I kept asking myself? The answer was in classic looks, the joy of enjoying your ride. On the sportbike it was always about getting to a place as fast as possible, which obviously opens a completely different chapter in your focus area in a ride. After nearly 2 years of doing the Kalba roads, once on a car trip I happened to stop after the second tunnel up and realized that you could see the ocean from there! Wow, it hit me then that I would rather breathe easy and soak in the scenery around than have tunnel vision!! Café racers have that unique quality. In the 50′s, this was the answer to either street racing or cruising around on a bike that characterized the owner. The cafe’s were the meeting point of bikers and more than often they would race each other to other cafe’s. In a bid to win, the first principle of racing was applied – lighten your bike. Add clip-ons or race bars and you are ready in your attempt to “do the ton”. Loud exhausts were the icing on the cake. In a way if this culture hadn’t started perhaps the large manufacturers would not have focused on building faster bikes. It would be true to say that this sub-culture has contributed and played a major part in the history of sport motorcycles.
Arnab : Have you faced any hurdles? With any such project there are many ideas I am sure which you wanted to incorporate – were there any technical obstacles that you had to overcome and if yes then please let us know some of them?
Thomas : Unlike buying specific parts for your off-the-shelf motorcycle, on a café it is about building the ideas you have, keeping a strong focus on the end result. Perhaps it might be a first, so then visualising it and knowing what it takes to build the specific part is key. In most cases it would require further modifications. Working on this project has taught me a lot and also shown me that if the end result is required you would have to be hands-on. It’s your bike, you have a vision for it and the chap putting the jigsaw pieces together is just doing his job!
Arnab : Please tell us more about the bike. What did it start out as and how did you zero in on the base bike? What were the potentials you were looking for when you decided on the base bike?
Thomas : The FALCON is built from a CB 750 Nighthawk. The Nighthawk was the quickest of the CB750 series. The CB’s are an amazing range of motorcycles with the reliability of a Honda and possessing a frame that opens up so many possibilities for customization. What was decided was in a way bringing the bike out from the past but keeping a sure foot in the cafe racer turf.
Arnab : How has the biking culture being developed here in the UAE and where do you see cafe racers?
Thomas : Motorcycles have been catching the imagination of far more people today than it did 5 years back. Motorcycles world over seem to have made a full circle, as in most manufacturers have a naked or upright model in their lineup. The culture here also is moving in that direction. Of late you find a lot more classic bikes being restored. People wanting to express individualism are creating their wheels and café racers will surely find their place on the roads of U.A.E.
Arnab : What are your plans with this bike, would it be a show bike or is it up for sale?
Thomas : The FALCON has in a way shown what can be done with a basic motorcycle. It is a one off, a riot to ride and is for sale!
Arnab : What other projects are you currently thinking of regarding other café racers and could you give us a few hints?
Thomas : I do have a couple of motorcycles with many ideas set to roll out and currently I’m working on building a classic racer. Taking a newer bike and sending it perhaps a little further back in time!
Arnab : Who would buy such bikes and are the modifications and coachwork going to be a hurdle for the buyers when it comes for service, or have you kept it in such a way that any bike garage would be able to service it?
Thomas : It would have to be a key part of your plan, the access and serviceability and the FALCON has been built around that.
Arnab : This has been a labor of love, we have been following this project on Facebook as well, how do you think you can improve on your next project?
Thomas : The learning curve never ends. Every project makes the next one easier and helps incorporate more ideas going forward.
Arnab : How does the bike handle, has it been tested by motor heads in Dubai, what are their feed backs?
Thomas : Loosing 15kgs on the bike has definitely helped the handling. The bike has been ridden by CarbonOctane’s own Pradeep Warrier and his reply to another rider who congratulated us on a “Fab job” was – “And it gets better when you wind up the throttle !! Phew!!
Arnab : Do let us know about your future project, I am sure that our readers would be more than happy to follow your upcoming projects.
Thomas : Hopefully the projects will keep rolling from CR Worx. Thank you guys for taking the time out to see and sample the Falcon in person and will definitely keep you updated on our current and up coming projects. Cheers!
|Cafe Racer CR WORX “FALCON”
|Rated Output||75 hp @ 8500 rpm|
|Rated Torque||64 Nm @ 7500 rpm|
|For Enquiries : Contact||Jittu Thomas|
|Cell Number :||+971 50 454 7704|
|FaceBook Page “CR WORX”||http://www.facebook.com/groups/caferacerworx/|
Images by Brian Donegan :