Whether you're a purist, casual admirer, or serious buyer looking at the wide range of current production cafe-racer offerings, you'd have to admit this current collection is pretty damn cool. Snobs may turn their noses up at these factory-produced bikes looking to capture retro aesthetics, but that's their prerogative. We, on the other hand, absolutely love seeing brands looking to experiment with the boundaries of what the cafe genre is capable of, not just where it's been.

We all know that pleasing everybody is a feat of impossibility, and the manufacturers of these new cafe-style bikes don’t seem to be aiming for approval from riders across the board. With so many different brands offering so many varying interpretations within the genre, there is a lot to choose from, but variety is the spice of life, isn’t it?

The Cafe-Racer Culture

Just like a lot of other styles of bikes, the cafe-style racer symbolized a subculture. In the ’60s, it was British bikes that were stripped down to bare bones and customized to get the look just right with elongated tank and low-mounted bars. In the ’70s, Japanese motorcycles squeezed the Brit-bikes out of the consumer market; the modifications changed a bit but the overall aesthetic stayed true for the most part.

Fast-forward to the modern marketplace and we now find these cafe-style bikes being offered by multiple manufacturers with their own spin on the genre. Some aim to capture the true retro vibe, while others take modern, somewhat futuristic liberties with their production models. Not every one will appeal to all cafe-racer fans, but love them or hate them, there is no denying that the cafe trend has gone mainstream.

2019 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 during sunset.
2019 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 | $5,999Royal Enfield

Now available in the US, Royal Enfield's Continental GT 650 twin is a fully modern motorcycle wrapped in cafe-racer style that will certainly appeal to those who value old-school aesthetics. Carefully crafted after Enfield's Continental GT 250, the GT 650 retains a familiar appearance and maintains a similar tucked-in riding position along with classic touches that have always attracted eyeballs to the cafe-style motorcycle.

With a starting price right around $6,000, there’s a lot to consider with the Coni GT 650. Potential buyers aren’t expected to sacrifice much with that price tag, however, with a totally new air-/oil-cooled SOHC parallel-twin engine as well as five tank options to choose from among other things. All that gives the bike its own streamlined sophistication that classic cafe aficionados as well as riders new to the genre can appreciate.

2019 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS Cafe on white background.
2019 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS Cafe | $8,099Kawasaki

Riders who love the sport-cruiser feel will dig Kawasaki's Vulcan S ABS Cafe offering, which brings comfort as well as Ninja-derived 649cc parallel-twin power to the table (along with a hearty helping of tasty cafe styling). To appeal to riders of all sizes and experience levels, the Vulcan features Kawasaki's Ergo-Fit sizing system that offers an impressive 18 different configurations to better cater to riders who can benefit from the adjustable footpegs, seat, and handlebars for a tailored fit and feel.

A sportbike-inspired chassis and suspension offer the rider aggressive handling abilities, and a seven-way-adjustable rear spring preload further promotes a true custom experience for riders of all sizes. The Vulcan Cafe strays furthest from the true cafe formula, adding only a cowling and not much else to tell you it’s a “racer.” This is really more of a crossbreed that’ll appeal to those enthusiasts who don’t expect retro flavor from a modern production cafe motorcycle.

2019 Triumph Thruxton 1200 on white background.
2019 Triumph Thruxton 1200 | $13,000Triumph

When you think back to the original retro-inspired cafe-racer movement, it would be impossible not to mention Triumph's Thruxtons. Today's Thruxton and Thruxton R (the premium version) both offer the 1,200cc Thruxton-spec Bonneville engine, which is more than enough to satisfy thrill-seeking riders who would expect such an experience from the namesake of Triumph's modern cafe racer. Yep, the Thruxton is as exhilarating to ride as it looks.

To match the Thruxton’s natural performance, the chassis and suspension promote handling prowess that works in tandem with the bike’s power abilities. You get a lot of bang for the $13,000 price here with the twin front disc brakes, 17-inch front wheel, clip-on bars, and overall sporty nature and ergonomics. The Triumph Thruxton is everything OG cafe-racer fans could ask for in a modern version: the nostalgia factor with the right look and, most importantly, well-rounded, exciting performance for riders who plan to ride often and aggressively.

2019 BMW R nineT Racer on white background.
2019 BMW R nineT Racer | $13,545BMW

For a cafe-inspired bike with a modern twist, BMW's R nineT Racer fits the bill pretty fully. The R nineT Racer strikes a perfect balance of nostalgia and today's sport-flavored performance that all riders will lust after. The lines of this bike are extremely pleasing to the eye, as the tank, half-shell fairing, and seat have been slimmed out to meet a sleek, aerodynamic appearance. The handlebars sit at a low position, and the footrests have been slung back to promote an aggressive riding position and place the body in full attack mode. To further promote the R nineT Racer's agile nature, the air-cooled, two-cylinder 1,170cc boxer engine is capable of 110 hp.

The Bavarian racer might not be the answer for demanding cafe purists, but for those who want perfectly engineered performance in a package that maintains a nostalgic 1970s vibe, BMW’s R nineT Racer is the best of two worlds.

2019 Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer on white background.
2019 Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer | $9,900Moto Guzzi

You might not see it at first glance, but the V7 III Racer is capable of two-up riding, which might be the tipping point for riders who often travel with a partner. The V7 III Racer has been produced in numbered editions which gives it a sense of limited availability, but plenty of V7s have found their way onto the road in the two prior generations of the model (both of which got vast improvements).

Now it's the 50th anniversary of the original V7, which was first unveiled in Italy in 1967, and new third-generation V7 owners can revel in pride of heritage along with the excitement of riding a bike that delivers high-flying performance with classic cafe-racing styling cues. Although the V7 III Racer is impressively equipped off the lot, Moto Guzzi has left a ton of room for customization to truly make it your own with its line of officially branded accessories.

2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe on white background.
2019 Kawasaki W800 Cafe | $9,799Kawasaki

Cafe fans who remember the impact of the legendary W1 will no doubt feel a direct connection to Kawasaki’s 2019 reintroduction of the W800 racer. Retro styling abounds, but it’s enhanced by modern technology and sophistication to give the W800 the aesthetic cafe purists can respect, with a level of performance today’s rider demands.

Kawasaki’s new W800 hits multiple hallmarks of cafe-racer heritage styling. You can practically check them off a list, from the vintage-looking front cowl to the low-slung clubman-style handlebars, long two-person seat, elegant muffler design, sleek, sculpted tank—man, the W800’s familiar attributes can be called out all day long. The 773cc vertical-twin engine promotes torque-heavy low and midrange performance while the front and rear suspension systems deliver modern handling with a smooth, classic appearance.

2019 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer on white background.
2019 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer | $12,783Ducati

Ducati has really doubled down on its lineup of Scrambler-branded motorcycles. Each model has a distinct, unique character, and the Café option is no different. The styling maintains that old-school vibe, but there's no mistaking that this is a modern machine. The cool blue throwback graphics are reminiscent of the 125 GP desmo and blend well with the frame and dedicated solo-looking seat (a cover masks the passenger portion). 1960s-style aluminum handlebars get bar end mirrors to add to the classic look, and 17-inch spoke wheels back up that vibe.

While the Scrambler Café Racer has a retro soul, it’s built to take today’s riders into the future. The bike is Ducati Multimedia System-ready and features crisp LED lighting and handy handlebar switch controls, while a dual-channel Bosch ABS braking system dials up safety ratings. The 73-hp rating is capable of delivering a real good time on one of Ducati’s coolest bikes.