Mac Motorcycles: plucky British upstart bringing kick ass café racers

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Mac Motorcycles has just announced itself to the world with a range of cool little café racer concepts. All are powered by the air-cooled single-cylinder 500cc engine out of the Buell Blast housed in a bespoke tubular steel backbone frame. They seek to combine a light weight with accessible performance and looks that successfully lean more towards retro-influenced than hopelessly out-of-date. Mac intends to produce the bikes in “small batches” for the UK, North American and European markets with prices ranging from $12,700 to $16,000 depending on spec.
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There are 4 different models; ‘Spud’, for dossing about on, ‘Ruby’, the
motorcycle equivalent of ‘the girl-next-door’, ‘Pea Shooter’, for
squirting to your favourite pub and gassing with your mates and the
‘Roarer’, a modern-day dinosaur-chaser!

We think our favorite is the Pea Shooter for its clip-ons, rear seat
cowl and high-level exhaust. All the bikes will make 34bhp in stock
form, but optional engine upgrades can take that up to a reliable
50bhp. The machines look ripe for customization too; doubtless there’ll
be a range of parts available from the factory as well as compatibility
with the usual aftermarket bits.

Mac is the fruit of a collaboration between successful furniture maker
Ellis Pitt and upstart studio Xenophya Design. The company is based in
Upton-upon-Severn in Worcestershire.

We think the idea behind Mac and its four bikes is brilliant, but worry
that UK production is leading to too high a price tag to capture
first-time bikers in search of an accessible, but high-spec motorcycle
or existing bikers looking for a fun second bike. We’re still hoping
that Roland Sands gets round to offering an affordable kit for
converting existing 450cc dirt bikes into cheap and stylish street
bikes.

Mac Motorcycles

  • http://www.damiengaudet.com blankfocus

    the bikes look great. you’re right though, seems the british pound may keep these a bit too pricey for most.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yeah, hopefully the good looks, unique spec and small numbers will make them viable.

  • aoelus

    For $16k one can build a pretty neat classic Brit cafe racer and enjoy the challenge of keeping the oil inside the engine.

  • riley

    Price aside, I’m enjoying the use of negative space in the design. It seems like this aspect has been all but forgotten in newer designs. Sometimes that little something extra a bike needs is nothing at all.

  • JR

    I think they’re beautiful. I would buy one today if not for the price tag.

    For that money you could build a replica of one of these and buy another brand new production bike… say a Thruxton.

    Bring the price down or I will be forced to reproduce this bike on my own!

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      I gather you aren’t aware of the cost to get an oil-in-frame steel backbone like that made, JR.

      • aoelus

        Don’t see why it should cost the earth to make a single radius bend in a steel pipe. No problem at all. Reminiscent of the ’55 Norton F type which was a straight steel pipe backbone frame cum oil tank. John Surtees has salvaged the remains and rides it at classic meets.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

          Just bending the steel tube is only a fraction of the work, aoelus. There are also several coped cuts and and odd-camber welds involved. The cost of steel at current market price plus the skilled labor it requires to do the job right on a consistent basis is not cheap.

          This is a handmade bike, not large-scale asian manufacturing for the sake of cost reduction, and as such costs money.

          • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

            I still wish they’d produced something affordable instead of 50bhp at 155bhp 1198 prices.

            • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

              You and I both know modern manufacturing is all about economics of scale (raw materials, manufacturing, operating costs) versus an ROI that allows the company to remain healthy. It’s a lot like gambling in many ways, and is why America doesn’t get many of the forward-thinking models offered in Europe and Japan.

              If Ducati built as many 1098s as there are CBR1000RRs, they’d be just as cheap. But if Ducatis were suddenly just as ubiquitous and affordable Hondas, would that guarantee the market would absorb the upscaled quantity? Small companies can’t afford to take this big of a risk. Therefor they run smaller batches which drives up cost. The usual bet is that a consumer market exists that will pay more for handcraftsmanship and rarity. But since the investment is smaller, the gamble is less.

              However, I question how much longer we’ll see a demographic willing to sustain coach-style building that can no longer compete with the engineering prowess attained by larger, better funded manufacturers.

              • v

                ” But if Ducatis were suddenly just as ubiquitous and affordable Hondas, would that guarantee the market would absorb the upscaled quantity?”
                over here the ducati monster 696 and the honda hornet are at about the same price.the same goes for the previous reincarnations of both the monster and hornet,and even though the monsters are perfect starter bikes and offer better value you can see three times as many hornets as you would see monsters.

    • aoelus

      In the late 60s and early 70s, Paul Dunstall offered for sale racing frames for use with Norton Atlas engines and they weren’t that expensive. They were nicknamed Drainpipe frames from the large diameter pipe used as an oil tank. This video shows a replica built by an enthusiast. You might want to try your hand at it.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QreNam7_wmY

  • M.P.

    Buell wishes they had thought of this.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      They probably have, but couldn’t convince Harley to let them make it.

  • JR

    well played Grant Ray… although it does look like the Roarer has a more conventional frame, am I right?

    I really dig the backbone though, reminds me of the confederate hellcat

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Yes, the Roarer is a conventional frame. Ditto on the Confederate remark. If you squint at the Mac Spud and imagine a rear cylinder, you can totally see a Hellcat.

      • http://ridethetorquecurve.blogspot.com hoyt

        …but the Mac Spud has the better seat height, foot control placement, and clip-ons

        Buell would do well by manufacturing something like these bikes.

  • http://muthalovin.com the_doctor

    The Café Racer styling is very awesome. They would make a terrific 2nd (or 3rd) bike, but the price is fairly steep. Maybe the financiapocalypse will bring the prices down.

    • Nesto

      Let’s hope so.

  • Nesto

    Love the design. I’d be on one had the price been more affordable for folks like myself… poor.

  • http://www.selfedge.com kiya

    I love the way these look, and the use of negative space is beautiful, if only they were about 15% less in price they’d be something more people would consider.
    With the options of bikes available now for around 9k to 11k it’s hard to spend 14k on something like this, especially in this economy. And i figure if a rider really has the money, they might not be looking for a complete new bike and might go for something more truly custom.

  • Greg

    I love the simplistic retro design and would consider one if the price was about half that. Moto Guzzi has the right price range for their V7 around $8k but if I was going to spend $12k + I’d rather have a Duc Sport Classic. For several reasons.
    1.Duc is not an upstart
    2.Two up is an option
    3.there’s now way any of these come close to Duc power and top speeds.
    Just to name a few…….

    Don’t get me wrong I love the Mac’s and would own one if I was a collector with endless amounts of money. The price is a real turn off though since I’m just a carpenter and don’t make enough to justify such a purchase.

  • Scott

    12-16K for a Buell Blast? maybe in West LA or SoHo… bwahahahahahaa

    1500 bucks for a minty donor bike + a couple of cases of Yuengling for your neighborhood welder

    keep it real yo

  • Rick Maiman

    WHY IN BLOODY HELL CAN’T BUELL WHO MAKES THE MOTOR TO BEGIN WITH “REVISE”, “MODERNIZE” THE VERY BLAST THEY CONTINUE TO SELL AS A LAME RIDER’S EDGE MOTORCYCLE FOR HARLEY’S BEGINNING RIDERS PROGRAMME. I’M WRITING IN CAPS TO EXPRESS MY SINCERE OUTRAGE WHY THIS AMERICAN COMPANY WILL SELL IT’S ENGINES TO A FOREIGN ALBEIT SAAVY COMPANY WHO TAKES THE BALL AND RUNS WITH IT. There, my temperature’s down a bit, but for the love of Jesus, Buell has the motor, manufacturing and engineering to produce this product, IN AMERICA!!!!perhaps as a higher state of the current Buell Blast which is so far past it’s prime that they have lost posession of thoughtful progression of that which they already produce.

    • Nesto

      Good point Rick. Do up a modern up to date Blast. Maybe take a following to the Kwak 250?

  • drjohndee

    Just confirming what we all know, café racer is the new chopper. Expect American Café Racer in about three months’ time, with condom-stuffed-with-walnuts-looking guys swearing and throwing clip-ons and rearsets at each other.

  • http://www.designronin.com Design Ronin

    Super nice is all I can say.

  • monkeyfumi

    If Deus can sell tarted up 20 year old sr500s for what they flog them for, surely these can work.
    I really like them, and hope they succeed.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      We hope they succeed too, we just wish we could afford one.

      • http://ridethetorquecurve.blogspot.com hoyt

        This is another air-cooled bike with the stressed chassis mated near the head.

        HFL was critical of the Core for this type of construction. I do not think that is an issue based on other bikes such as the Wakan, modern Irving Vincent, and Vic Vision.

        I would very much like the Pea Shooter suped-up with a rotrex

        • aoelus

          You mean Rotax? Yes, much better. The Type 804, 2 cyl. in line, 85Hp and 86Nm, would do the job. But the chassis would need some real thought for that power. The images shown work for the craftsman chopper not intended to be ridden, but for a real road burner, they remain concepts.

          • http://ridethetorquecurve.blogspot.com hoyt

            Rotrex makes a compact supercharger (the Roehr bike makes use of this product) that I believe only comes on at a certain rpm. So it is not a continuous drag on the engine like previous supercharging components

            http://www.rotrex.com

            • aoelus

              Oh, right. It occurred to me that the water cooled engine isn’t the look for a cafe racer. But the Rotrex does need an oil cooler except for the original S model which used the engines oil circuit. Tricky. But it would eliminate some of that beautiful negative space ;-)

  • http://ridethetorquecurve.blogspot.com hoyt

    The chassis above would be fine. It is very similar to the Wakan chassis. The Irving Vincent (that won the BoT in 2008) has a similar steel backbone construction.

    http://www.irvingvincent.com/

    • aoelus

      Hell, the Blast already has a spine frame mit oil tank. And at $4795 suggested list, MacMoto better damn well throw in a supercharger to justify their prices.

      [i]Wide beam HSLA steel backbone frame with built-in oil reservoir, Uniplanar™ powertrain vibration isolation, [/i]

  • Matt

    These bikes look great and I wish that I had the time/skill to turn my Buell Blast into something like this. But, they are going to need to tweak the design a bit because any Blast owner knows that the carb will need to be supported better than what is in the concept or you’ll be going through “intake boots” like they’re going out of style. Hell, the stock setup, with the carb being supported by the airbox doesn’t even do a good enough job of calming the vibration from that thumper.

  • motorjin

    Love the looks, especially the Spud, Peashooter and Roarer. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out where the battery is.

  • Isaac

    Hey, the ARMY showed up to Desert Storm without ammo.

    Why not a motorcycle without a battery?

    LOLZ I am playing around. I like the designs though.

  • http://www.designronin.com Design Ronin

    Price…… it costs what it costs. Not everything should be, or can be, affordable to everyone who wants it. That’s what companies like Honda etc are about, not small ‘bespoke’ companies that make limited numbers. I think their price tag makes them more attractive because those that REALLY want one, will find the means to afford it, thus they remain unique and ‘special’; the very essence of what a product like this is about.

    In today’s world, handmade means limited, which means expensive. If it wasn’t, then everyone would have one and there’s be a mark saying ‘Honda’ ‘Kawasaki’, ‘Yamaha’ etc down the side.

    For me, I don’t have that sort of cash lying around, but I can dream about it and that to me is just as exciting. Nothing like having aspirations to strive for…… either than or go try make it myself!

    • Phil H

      Well said – agree 100%.

    • aoelus

      Implicit in your argument is the idea that mass produced has the stigma of low cost and lacking the cachet that comes with high cost and low production numbers. Well that’s one way to look at things. But consider the long history of these manufacturers and the considerable body of knowledge and expertise they have amassed and the results show in products of an extraordinary high level of competence and quality. They represent amazing value accruing from their production scale. For me handsome is as handsome does, and just because a furniture manufacturer hires a design firm, and Xenophyadesign has a strong portfolio, and presents a range of bikes with cutesy names and based on an appalling power plant, doesn’t mean the product will have intrinsic value. But consider the mission statement of MacMotorcycles:
      The Brief:
      • Simple to maintain.
      • Nothing surplus-to-requirements.
      • Chopper and bobber references/details.
      • The lines of a rigid frame but with suspension.
      • Use a Buell ‘Blast’ motor and exploit its shape.
      • Harley posture, flat-tracker manners, Ducati handling.
      • Exploit the power-to-weight ratio of a 500cc single in a lightweight chassis.
      • A return to the spirit of motorcycling – the journey is the experience / story.

      What a load of blather! I for one will wait until HFL has a long termer for its crack test team to wring out before I consider a purchase…

  • meatspin

    the Blasst is a horrible engine. A Kawi 250 prob. makes more power and for the price, you could and should roll your own.