Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Puchavus: 50cc Cafe Racer

I am building a bike to compete in our planned 50cc Cafe Races. The Puchavus will be rather unusual. Well, it will be a Batuvus with a two speed Puch engine... weird, I know.

A lot of people have built or are building what they call a "cafe racer." I beg to differ with them. A cafe racer is more than a set of drop bars, more than a quarter fairing, more than a stripped down, polished and kitted out Magnum.

So what is a cafe racer then? What is it that those crazy Brits came up with? and why?

Born out of the poverty of Post War Europe. The cafe racer was the precursor to the widely popular sportbikes of today. In the 1950s, motorcycles were primarily used for everyday transportation. The only fast bikes available were Grand Prix, or expensive race bikes. But then came rock and roll and the rebellious youth that took claim of this new musical style. They needed a special type of bike, a bike that could go AND look fast, and that didn’t cost too much. Stock motorcycles were no good for these groups; they didn’t handle well enough, as well as the fact that the new bikes were far too expensive for the teenagers and 20-somethings that were the groups’ primary members. Most work was done by the rider, or under his direction. The bikes were customized not only to reflect the individual style of the rider, but also to be agile and aerodynamic along Europe’s newly built twisting arterial motorways. Standard handlebars were replaced by super low ace bars or one-sided clip-ons. Next came racing style petrol/gas tanks and seats. The aluminum gas tanks were large and hand-made and most often left unpainted. Lastly was the paint job, though the Rockers and Ton Up boys were distinctively black clad, from their leather jackets and down to their jackboots, they often painted their bikes in fast’ or racing’ colors, like yellow, blue, or silver/chrome. Before the blanket 70 mph speed limit was laid upon the masses, the goal of many of these racers was to reach the coveted ton’ or a speed of 100mph while traveling from one transport caf to another. The need for speed, to look cool, and to be different were the primary reasons for a bike’s conversion to a cafe racer.

The Bike:
Batuvus Starflight frame, tank and wheels
Puch Za50 engine
Moto-Matic "San Francisco" Exhaust
Amal 17mm carborator
Custom intake
Vintage Cosmo "Bumstop" seat
Boost bottle
Drop bars (eventually clip-ons)
Motorcycle headlight
Tear-drop trailer tail light
Speedo mount off headset

The defining mark of this bike will be its stripped and polished tank and "bumstop" seat.

Updated October 19th, 2009:
For the record, this is the original "Puchavus." I am aware of a certain Buffalo Boy's Batavus/Puch combination (possibly even completed before the Puchavus) called the "Batapuch." That the name of this bike changed to Puchavus when it was up for sale at the beginning of the year is kind of weak, since the overall stability, much less panache, of the bike is not in the least comparable to that of the Puchavus. There is only one Puchavus.