The lightweight, simple, mechanically-superior cafe conversion

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Setting out to re-invent the idea of a no-frills, low-budget cafe racer, just with modern performance and handling, Roland Sands converted this KTM 530 EXC using little more than some new bodywork and shortened suspension. Despite the transformative results, the idea is that you could probably do something like this at home. Where most bikes built in the cafe mold end up with retro handling and performance to suit the looks, the idea here is to create a bike that performs like a Super Single.

We can see clear influence from Roland’s mad CR500 streetfighter, but
the headlight looks like something Shinya Kimura could have made, it’s
elaborate and mechanical in a way that contrasts the rest of the bike’s
simple lines.

The rear shock is the stock item, lowered by RaceTech, while the front
forks are off a KTM supermoto, but have also been lowered accordingly.
That’s pretty much the extent of the mechanical work, the rest is pure

“The bike is super fun to ride, it’s light, agile, torquey and stylish,”
describes Roland. “It does everything you want a good road bike to
do….it just does it better.”


  • Mark D.

    Bad. Ass.

    For most city-commuting riding, you don’t need more than a big-single engine, and this style beat factory supermotos by a mile!

    I think he’s hit on something here.

  • AceCafeClipOns

    Add a front mudguard… and I want one!

  • amsterdam

    Very sweet indeed.
    I was just thinking along these lines.
    I mean, I think I like guzzi caferacers best, but the old ones just don’t have the power to be an actual presentday cafeRACER. Same goes for all those retro bikes. Any other suggestions?
    And is this just a one off?

  • amsterdam

    And would it maybe be possible for Mr. Sands to make the tank a storagespace big enough to fit a helmet?

  • Ian

    At least he stripped off the poxy Norton decals this time. That really was a half arsed attempt to gain some Cafe Racer kudos in what is effectively just a supermotard with an aluminium tank.

    • VetteWrecker


  • The Grudz

    And I was just admiring an old KTM Duke in a local parking lot…dreaming of it’s potential. Two thumbs up on a clean, sweet machine. I can’t heap enough praise on big singles. Gregorbean and myself put 12,000 miles in 2 months on DRZ’s last summer. They didn’t look this good, but they were stupendous on all accounts(you have to be a glutton for a wee bit of punishment, though). Nice work Rollie!

  • BL

    i think it’s ugly, but i love the idea of it, and i bet it’s fun as heck.

  • Sean Smith

    That would make a fun toy if you had unlimited cash. Those neat-o wheels? They’re tubless Aplina’s. Last I heard it was $1800 for the rims. The motor will go like gang-busters and be dead reliable… for about 8000 miles. Then it’s time for a piston, rings and maybe a cylinder. At 16K you’ll be due for all this plus valves, and crank bearings wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    Knowing how dumb this would be to ride on the street, I still get at least a half chub when I think about this bike. As a KTM mechanic I thought it would be neat to build something like this. Then I thought about how long these motors last and bought a gsxr.

  • Cajun58

    Would somebody please dring back something that resembles a 250cc road racing series in this country so this idiot won’t have time to create rolling abominations like this.

  • mingh

    The idea isn’t new, and this specimen doesn’t tick my boxes as i’d much prefer a scrambler look over Yet Another Caff Lookalike. It remains a mystery why you never see such bikes in the streets. Great view on traffic without sore wrists or neck, a bit of hooligan handling with sound to match.

  • bobx

    i want to jump that off the curbs by my house.

  • spectator

    This bike is just like the craigslist ads for housing where every single one says “LOFT Apartment” and then they’re just a room in an apartment building from the 70′s, not a converted warehouse. Inappropriate tagging.

    This is a giant supermotard, with an ugly cafe-style seat. ‘Shortened suspension’ from what, 9″ travel down to 6″?