Ryca CS-1: my first cafe racer

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You’ve got 10 seconds to guess which 650cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine and steel cradle frame form the basis of this Ryca CS-1 cafe racer. Hint: it’s got a low-maintenance belt final drive. Got it? No you don’t. It’s not anything dirt-based and it’s not anything from Milwaukee.
Los Angeles-based Ryca Motors has figured out a way to easily convert a
Suzuki S40 to a cafe racer. The conversion doesn’t even require welding.
That’s right, this is a Boulevard.

Suzuki-S40.jpgStarting with Suzuki’s lamest cruiser, Ryca fits a low-profile fuel
tank, a cafe seat assembly, rearsets, clip-ons and all the associated
bits and pieces that make the above go-together. They’ll build it for
you or sell you the parts so you can do it yourself. The complete
conversion kits costs $3,200, paying them to do the work adds labor to
that price. Brand new S40s cost $4,899, but you can find low-mileage
used ones for considerably less.

The result is a product that’s completely unique in the market place. A
reliable, economical (the S40 returns 63mpg), relatively affordable
beginner bike that actually manages to be credible and extremely
desirable. It’s new, but that big thumper and the fact that you can
assemble it yourself mean it has character. In short, the CS-1 is the
antidote to anodyne, out-dated, low-spec beginner bikes like the
Kawasaki Ninja 250 or, as Roland Sands would say, it’s not “gay balls”
like a Suzuki Gladius.

The 652cc single-cylinder in the S40 makes 34bhp and 34lb/ft of torque.
We don’t have a weight figure on the CS-1, but the stock Suzuki weighs
about 372lbs (dry) and we’d imagine that doesn’t change much. That means
the Ryca isn’t going to be terribly fast, but does have enough power to
comfortably cruise at high speeds on the highway and will probably top
out just north of 100mph. That’s a performance level ideal for new
riders. Upgrading the suspension, brakes and motor as a rider grows into
the bike should be relatively easy, affordable and rewarding.

Converting the S40 looks seriously easy. The only time you’ll have to do
anything but undo/redo bolts is when it comes time to trim the seat
tube a little bit, something you can probably do easily with a Dremel or
other easily available cutting tools.

This adds up to a nearly ideal first-bike experience. A person in their
20s sees a bike they actually want to own, they get their hands dirty
building it themselves, the end result is reliable and safe, that bike
isn’t so fast they scare themselves out of riding within a year and,
voila, lifetime biker.


  • al

    suzuki savage!!!

  • Why?

    Barf – Why not just buy a used Bonne or Scrambler for way less. Heck, buy a new Bonne or Scrambler for less.

    This is Hipster wet dream but way more “Gay Balls” than the a Ninja or Gladius.

    • Argas

      Price from the Website for a New Motorcycle:
      “Everything is factory fresh. All custom components are new. The engine and chassis are from a brand new bike with zero miles.

      Compare that to a new Triumph Bonne T100 @ $8,799

      or a Thruxton @ $8,799 / SE $9,349

  • The Grudz

    Coolness. Good looking, harmless. I’d have loved to rock this as a first bike. I’ve seen a few of these around the ‘hood and they don’t sound terrible, either.

  • Jerome

    A beginner’s bike with no turn signals or mirrors?

    • robotribe

      “A beginner’s bike with no turn signals or mirrors?”
      Hey, he did say “nearly ideal first-bike experience”, after all.

      Sarcasm aside, you’re right in pointing out that the lack of DOT standards such as those you mentioned make this anything but an ideal first bike. As far as price goes, unless your first bike is a total beater you bought on the cheap and most of your investment is the Ryca custom kit, it’s flat out ridiculous.

      Do I like it? For what it is, yes; for what it costs, no.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        I’m sure they just took the mirrors and signals off for the photoshoot, come on guys.

        And as for the cost, what do you expect? This isn’t mass manufactured in the far east, it’s made in Los Angeles. $3,200 isn’t bad for a complete conversion kit.

        • Argas

          It does look pretty cool and 3,200 is not that bad for a kit; however, if the target audience is beginners than they are way off track.

          What beginner is going to go through all this trouble when they could buy a Thruxton off the shelf that is essentially the same cost with far less hassle.

          I think you have the audience wrong. This is for the PBR/skinny jeans set that don’t mind paying a premium for style and irony. This is the same group of privileged dorks that dont blink at spending $50 for a “vintage” t-shirt.

          I guess that group could also be beginners.

          • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

            What the bike industry needs right now aren’t the 17-year old sons of existing motorcyclists, but an entirely new audience. I’d be ok with motorcycles being cool again, wouldn’t you?

          • W

            “Style and irony”! Thanks Argas, I laughed so hard a little ash fell into my pomade….

            But why harsh on the PBR? Seriously, nothing pulls the bugs off Persols like a warm PBR soaked rag

  • Glenn

    A 9K bike with a drum brake is without a better rolling douche for PBR swilling artfags, but trying to call it higher spec than a Ninja 250. Wake the fuck up.

    • Sean Smith

      Man, I rode a ninja 250 for a year. Those things are bar-none the biggest piles of shit on earth. The motor tried to commit suicide at 12k when a head bolt snapped in half. The kick-stand fell off on the freeway. The 1970′s style bias-ply tires cup instantly, and wear out faster than a set of DOT race rubbers. The freakin frame tabs that the rear-sets bolt to broke off. Not even from crashing, the just broke.

      Now, my ninjette was an 03 model with the 16 inch wheels, and the 08+ bikes got 17′s that you can actually put real rubber on. What they didn’t get though were higher build quality, a motor that doesn’t resemble a suicidal pack of bee’s, or the light weight (374pounds) a bike this should have.

      There ain’t nothing but a Hyosung GT250R that’s lower spec than a ninja 250. Even then, it’s really close.

      • Ian

        Funny. I’ve had an ’04 250 for three years. I’ve put about 10K miles on it- freeway, mountains, backroads, city, fire roads. No problems at all.

        70′s bias ply tires? Maybe you should have bought new tires. There’s plenty of good bias ply rubber out there in 16 inch.

        I think maybe you should
        a) acquaint yourself with the concept of basic maintenance and vehicle inspection
        b) not buy clapped out bikes worked on by 16 year old redneck spawn
        c) get more informed. the 250 is easily one of the most reliable bikes out there.

        Get a clue.

        • Sean Smith

          I have a clue actually. I wrench on KTM’s and build motors for a living. The broken head bolt only killed it for a day. It was reliable in that it never left me stranded, but it was a piece of crap. It’s an alright bike for someone that rides real slow, and doesn’t stress anything on it. I ride real fast, and stuff broke.

          Bias-ply tires are 70′s tech. I tried the Pirelli Sport Demons and the Dunlop GT-501′s. They’re both horrible. I could go on for hours about how bad those bikes are.

          Anyway… I wish someone would build a competing bike. Something to make kawasaki up their game and bring small bikes into present day. 374 pounds, 30hp and a terrible steel frame are laughable for a 250cc twin.

  • PeteP

    This would be excellent if the kid down the street built it from a wreck. But to buy one for $9K? I don’t think so.

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D.

    I dig this alot. I went the “Cheap used old Honda CB” route for a first bike, and while its working out fine, this would be an awesome first bike. Not to mention its suspension/engine/brakes were designed at least in the ’80s.

    But no love for the Ninja 250? Those bikes are a freaking blast. Nothing like running around the city with your bike running at 11,000 RPMs, sounding like a GP bike, while going the speed limit!

    Also, tsk tsk on using “gay” in a negative sense (even if it is a quote!) We’ve all graduated from middle school, right? I’m now going to use the term “Wes” to describe Italian V4 superbikes driven way below their limits in the city ;)

    • Lighten up

      Dude, you’re gay. Don’t be such a PC dork.

      • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D.

        Dude, don’t be so Wes-balls ;)

  • http://www.wtfweird.com macfarlane.a

    I approve. I’ve always believed that your first vehicle should be something you can easily wrench on by your lonesome. It builds character, teaches valuable mechanical skills (anything you don’t know or can’t figure out can be looked up on the internet in 5 seconds – smartphone in the garage FTW!), and gives an awesome sense of pride and accomplishment.

    My first car was a 1996 Jeep Cherokee Sport. A total beater, but it taught me how to change oil, brakes, filters, suspensions components, electrics, etc. My first bike was a 1981 Honda Shadow – a nice, $300 bike that taught me the basics about motorcycle maintenance and didn’t break my heart when I dropped it. I don’t understand why people do it any other way. :)

    • Jerome

      This thing costs $9 large, hardly a good comparison to a $300 rat beater. I am confident the owner would mind dropping it and would be better off keeping it stock. That thing is ugly out of the box so a few dings could only improve the situation.

      I agree with your point on wrenching and learning, but this douche cycle is hardly the way to go.

  • carbon

    Nice! Sorta bratstyle. Good job, rca. As cool as any Deus Ex Machina café races, and way cheaper, especially if you buy a used bike. Neat to see someone going down a different path to a café.

  • http://www.bottpower.com/eng Hugo

    It just shows that Suzuki can transform its Savage pretty easily in a “cool” bike for not so much money so they could sell it for maybe $5000…does that sound ok to you :)

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com M

    I want motorcycles to be cool again, too, but $9k isn’t going to bring anybody “cool” into motorcycling.

    Its much cooler than spending the $9k on a homogeneous Triumph or the like, but only a tiny fraction of the under-30 crowd (especially urban, where rent takes up 60% of our income) could possibly afford that to begin with.

    Now, a $4k 250cc sport bike, on the other hand…

  • gregorbean

    It’s just too shiny and belt driven. ;^) For the the price of just the kit you could find a pretty nice old CB, cafe it out and have something with a lot more character. Looks like it’d be an excellent beginner bike though, and no doubt it’d be nicer performance-wise straight away than an old CB. It’s cool but not how I’d spend my money.

    And while the single cafe-style seat is cool looking, it’s been my experience both personally and talking to new bikers, that part of the allure of biking lies in the possibility of riding a passenger–ie. beautiful girl you just met (in your dreams)–on the back of your bike. No doubt beginners should wait to ride two-up until they have some miles on under their belt, but to have the possibility would be important for me.

  • jeff

    I’m surprised nobody noticed the complete absence of a number plate or anywhere to put it. A plate is going to destroy the minimalist look of the tail.

    Speaking of the tail, that rear tire looks perfectly positioned to sling water, mud, and the occasional small rock up at the rider. SF and Seattle hipsters had better plan to keep the riding season short.

    Pretty, but too much form, not enough function.

  • The Grudz

    Who knew a silly ‘lil bike would illicit so much response? Couldn’t one just rivet the license plate to the back tire? And as for passengers, that why they make those neat shirts that say “If you can read this…”

    • JeffStryker

      As for passengers? This thing can barely get out of it’s own way solo let alone with a hipster’s fat girlfriend in tow.

      • The Grudz

        I think they call ‘em Muffin Tops…

  • Horace

    Would it not be simpler and less expensive to lightly mod a TU250 into a cafe racer?

    NEW = $3,799

    Sure it is much slower but this is all about “image” anyway.

    • Roman

      Wasn’t the HFL crew doing just that with a TU250 (cafe project)? Whatever happened to that, I was kind of curious to see the result.

      P.S. I live in a somewhat hipster-ish neighborhoods and I haven’t seen too many cafe racers around, although a guy one block over has a Thruxton with tasty Ohlins shocks on it. The bike du jour seems to be a late 70s early 80s standard Honda CB, or a BMW R75. But I live in philly, so we may be a bit behind the trend.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        That was about the time Suzuki ran out of money and fired its entire PR and marketing staff, so sadly the project never went anywhere for lack of funds.

  • Lockheed_Tvr

    I think that what this really points to is the ability for small manufacturers to design “build it yourself” kits for inexpensive bikes. Arguing about turn signals and mirrors is a little pointless – they can be engineered into such a kit. It would be cool to see other concepts come off of the same basic premise. A scrambler like the McDeeb Enfield or even a retro standard like an Enfield Bullit could probably be done off the same platform. The details are all negotiable. The basic idea is cool. Leaving the “new rider” idea alone for a sec, $6K (used bike plus the kit) is something a lot of people would entertain for a unique bike.

    • CindyBrady

      Unique? I guess maybe in the hipster definition, you know, ironic individualistic conformity.

      • Lockheed_Tvr

        Wow. When did cafe-ed out bikes become so common. I know that that it is not a new idea or anything but I see maybe 1 month on the road and I live less than half a mile from a hipster scooter/retro bike shop.

        I don’t live on one of the coasts so maybe that’s part of it.

        Perhaps I should have qualified it but I meant unique in regards to the more general bike community/new riders, not the enthusiast/hipster crowd. After all, that was sort of the point of Wes’ original post.

  • Liquidogged

    Wes, I get that you’re excited that motorcycling can reach a new audience, but this is grasping for straws. Get bikes back in the public consciousness as fun and practical, and that will help. This bike is not practical. It’s too expensive for beginners. It’s too expensive for a lot of riders, period. I don’t know about you guys but I buy all my stuff second hand and do the wrenching myself.

  • WayneW

    Do internet comment sections ONLY attract cynical douches?

    • pdub

      Hahahahaha! +10000
      Jeez you could post up a feature on Jesus’ water walking sandals and someone would find something wrong with them.

      Cool bike. Not for me but I like that someone saw that hiding in such a homely bike.

  • Hiwatt Scott

    This bike is a little TOO cool for it’s own good. Any hipster wise enough to recognize the cool features of this bike will already be beyond beginner phase (at least in their own view), and without endorsement of those first few trailblazing hipsters, the rest of the hipster lemmings have nothing to emulate.

    Also, I think a Royal Enfield makes way more sense, but who says style has anything to do with sense?

  • John

    I think build shows what you can do with just about any Japanese cruiser a vision and some elbow grease. My hats off to the builder, I hope his kits sell well. I wonder what a Honda rebel would look like with 18″ wheels front and shorter fork tubes? As for the price nay sayers, build your own for cheaper and maybe Wes will write about?

  • Steve L

    I had a Suzuki Savage as a runabout in college in the mid eighties. It was cheap decent fun. Never thought that it could be a good Cafe project until now, but if I was gonna “get my hands dirty” building one out of Savage I’d find a super cheap used one for around $1500 and put together a ratted out version myself using junkyard parts. As cool looking as this is $9k for the bike or even $3k for the kit is silly money. I’d rather get a new Thruxton or Scrambler to park next to my Monster for $9k or an already done 70s CB Cafe for $3k.

  • christian

    I think the point is you can look around for a used Savage for abour 2K, rip the tank, bars, exhaust, and seat off, add cafe-type components for maybe another 1K (you can find cafe tanks on ebay, etc. for about $500, $100 for a seat, with the rest for odds and ends like bars, etc…) and for around 3K, you have a cafe racer out of a current, reliable bike.

  • Balzaak

    really? all of you think you’d have to buy the bike new? do you all have a beer tap handles on your Harleys or are sporting that little trailer behind your goldwings?

    I just found a 2005 on craigslist for $2k. As for the conversion kit – do you really need to drop $3200? how about going out and doing what you’re supposed to do by finding parts to help build a more customized cafe racer?

    as for the mirrors – spend the extra $50 on the bar ends (was that hard?)

    but heck, thanks Ryca for showing me a something that I would’ve normally passed by as a choice for my wifes first bike

  • http://twitter.com/greatistheworld will

    Trying to wrap my head around all the thick vitriol slung towards “hipsters” and trying to figure out what a hipster motorcyclist is, if one exists. Is this just a NY/LA/Seattle thing? Who fucking cares. Is the bike cool or not? It is.

    The point is, awesome, actual style is easy with the right kind of bike and the right kind of bike might not be the kind you think you’re looking for.

    Good Lord, how jaded are these people.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      I’m a hipster motorcyclist. Anyone slinging vitriol is either one in disguise or a bitter fat person who wishes they could have sex with attractive women too :)

      • http://www.thisblueheaven.com MarkD.

        Amen brother.

        Also, a lot of hate on PBR. The shit is $2 for a tall boy! When you’re young and go out 4 to 5 nights a week, you need to drink cheap beer!

  • jimboecv

    What I think is cool is that it’s a bike most of us would walk right past but with some tweeks it’s a totally diffrent bike. Think of all the shit-beat beginner bikes with every control/corner/turn-signal bent that you can get for $1000, then put some time into it. Plus, it’s reliable-ish. Try that with your beat to fuck $500 CB350T! I know!

  • http://rycamotors.com/ Casey

    Hipster motorcyclists unite!

  • smokin88lx

    That is a huge improvement over the stock Savage (what it was called back in the 80s). Problem is you still have that crap motor. I wonder who is still buying new ones as mentioned before used ones are cheap and easy to find.

    I had a friend in high school that had one of the these and even he thought it was a turd. Nobody really cared because it was still a motorcycle and if you wanted to ride high school you took what you could get. I could keep up with him with my Kawasaki LTD 250, He’d do a little better on the hills though.

  • Epyx

    Well, I guess it is better than a scooter. I kid, it looks pretty cool, but I agree with the others that as a kit is makes little sense unless you already have the base bike to work on. Even if you can find a used one for 1k plus the 3k for the kit, there are better options for your $4k (as a beginner). I think this is best suited for enthusiasts and not beginners, guys that like to build and have a few bikes in the stable.

    I think the TU250 is a closer match from the start but the extra 350cc would probably be appreciated. I’m glad this exists, I just dont think they will get many takers. As some have written earlier, it may be less expensive and more rewarding to build one from Flea-Bay parts plus a cheapo used bike.

  • Balzaak

    rule of thumb: if you call yourself a “hipster” then you aren’t

    as for “what is a hipster bike?” there’s no such thing unless you count a Puch moped as being a bike but yeah, hipster will ride up to a guy on a cafe racer and say “I’m gonna have one of those someday” so if you call this low end cafe racer a hipster bike then sadly you’re gonna have to say all cafe racers are hipster bikes.

    • The Gulag Orkestar

      That is the most retarded statement ever. The Hipster Doofus knows exactly who and what they are. Every decision they make is has to be weighed for proper irony and congruence. Music, beer, cloths, transportation, and politics can all be pretty closely understood just by assumptions when looking at one from the pack.

      The most annoying trait most have is a blowhard attitude of superiority. Basically, Elvis Costello meets Janeane Garofalo, meets tight jeans, ugly glasses, and stupid t-shirts.

      As far as the bike goes it’s cool, probably too shiny and obviously cool for a hipster. Normal, non hipsters would think this is cool (*Gasp*). A hipster has to defend a lame ass bike of choice (like a moped). Something that is CLEARLY not cool but somehow is believed cool because it is ironic.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Come on guys, the whole “real” biker discussion vs anyone who isn’t your identical twin is quite possibly the dumbest thing ever.

        Diversity is good, conformity is bad. The bike world should be inclusive, not exclusive.

        • PacMan

          I don’t think Gulag was referencing “real” bikers at all but more just dissing a certain group of people (regardless of transportation). I don’t know if that makes it better or worse.

          Anyway, cool looking bike. I don’t like the vintage front tire and would prefer some modern rubber, but other than that I like it!

  • Trojanhorse

    Cool idea but obviously drawing some criticism, perhaps rightly so. My advice to anyone who wants a cheap, reliable, super-fun bike that they can easily configure in any style from cafe to track-day special – buy a 1st generation SV650. 2nd gen is cool too but you can pick up the older ones for a song…

  • Mattro

    most of the points of contention regarding this bike (or line of bike builds, in actuality) are relative/subjective — affordability, trendiness, attractiveness, and overall desirability.

    what isn’t subjective is how “ownable” the bike is, price notwithstanding. it’s bolt-on kit, meaning NO welding, no frame work, no part mods. it’s a kit bolted onto a platform which has had extreme longevity, meaning parts are easy to come by and technical information in abundant. also meaning that you can chose to base your cafe build-out on a very new (i.e. very far from dying) motorcycle.

    all this not to mention that the donor model, while certainly as expensive as one would imagine a brand new major brand bike in its class to be, is definitely at the low end of the new motorcycle spectrum and accordingly priced in the aftermarket. anyone with decent credit could finance one for, what, $30 a month? sounds pretty attainable to me.

    no, it wouldn’t be my first choice, but, as a proof of concept, i think i adore it.

  • Spank

    I like it, to the point I just found a used 04 S40 for $1900 and am seriously thinking about grabbing it this weekend and ordering the kit…even at the expense of looking “gay balls” until the kit arrives.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Do it, and send us pictures when you do.

  • schizuki

    Why the hate? I could see dissing it if they bastardized a classic MV Agusta or something, but they substantially improved a lame newbie cruiser. Anytime someone can make something from nothing is admirable. And it’s perfect for a Savage owner who has graduated to a larger bike and wants to keep it for a cool second bike. I like.

  • christopher ebert

    I wanna grab one, jack a single seat six inches, bags and a rack. Urban assault vehicle, more motor than an Enfield Military Model, plenty for the alleys on campus. Ever try to lube a chain behind saddlebags?

  • http://www.islamotelleri.com wes grown

    A beginner’s bike with no turn signals or mirrors?”
    Hey, he did say “nearly ideal first-bike experience”, after all.

    Sarcasm aside, you’re right in pointing out that the lack of DOT standards such as those you mentioned make this anything but an ideal first bike. As far as price goes,

  • http://www.hukukisozluk.com Ians

    Cool idea but obviously drawing some criticism, perhaps rightly so. My advice to anyone who wants a cheap, reliable, super-fun bike that they can easily configure in any style from cafe to track-day special – buy a 1st generation SV650.

  • http://superonlineadsl.org videosx

    I’m sure they just took the mirrors and signals off for the photoshoot, come on guys.

    And as for the cost, what do you expect? This isn’t mass manufactured in the far east, it’s made in Los Angeles. $3,200 isn’t bad for a complete conversion kit.

  • http://www.garantimuzik.com cenk

    Unique? I guess maybe in the hipster definition, you know, ironic individualistic conformity.

  • http://bedbugkiller.blog.com/ bed bug eradication

    Good post, thanks

  • matt

    If you go to the Ryca website, they make no claim as to this bike being designed or intended for beginners… That was a poor association made by the author between the original model and the new one. Go to the website and read their statement on their inspiration and intent for the design.

    3200 for a bunch of handmade parts isn’t bad when you consider fabrication costs when doing a custom project.

    Good design doesn’t necessarily need to be new or original, but it does need to work. This works very well.