When the economy took an effin’ dive into the nether reaches of financial hell, choppers and expensive customs went right down there with them. Cafe Racers took their place as an inexpensive way to create an individual piece of well-tuned art, or, in some cases rat rods that are one kick away from the junk yard.

Since there’s no single bike that defines a cafe racer – anymore than a single bike once defined a chopper or a bobber – we thought showing several variations would be more appropriate. This isn’t just about putting on some clubman bars, rearsets and pod filters. It’s something deeper.

Historically, cafe racers were stripped down bikes (mostly British made) meant to get from one cafe or coffee bar to another as fast as possible; sometimes before a song – typically rockabilly – ran out. Today, it’s still about stripping a bike down to its barest essentials and going balls out when you can. The more juice you can get out of the engine, the better. But no one cares what’s playing on the turntable or iPod when you do.

Now, just about anything can and is turned into a cafe style bike. We’ve even seen pictures of old Honda Goldwings that have have had the cafe treatment.

Above are a few examples of bikes from around the world that didn’t start out that way, but can now be called a cafe racer. We think anyone who says there a biker should get on one once and do the ton.