Ace cafe

Here’s how you transform 200 odd kilos of a classic era heavy metal into an evocative café racer
Words: Saeed Akhtar

Regular readers of BIKE India will be familiar with the name of Chanderjeet Rai whose story we featured on these pages two years ago. He loves all things automotive, especially those that need two wheels for locomotion and an engine in between. This time round, Chanderjeet has directed his biking endeavours towards another realm – bike customization.

It all began way back in August last year when a local dealer offered him a 1972 Royal Enfield B-model 350cc motorcycle. Sensing that he was onto a good thing, Chanderjeet duly decided to go further and customize the bike in order to give it that distinctive feel. Since he already had an AVL 500 sitting in his garage, Chanderjeet was not too keen on retaining the bike’s original looks and decided to do away with it. Thus, the café racer project was born (he briefly mulled over a trials version too, but decided it had more cons than pros in India anyway).

First, every part that could be stripped off the bike was taken off. Then it was the fuel tank, the seat and the rear cowl which got the boot. In their place came an especially handcrafted custom tank in addition to a small, rearward mounted humped seat and an aerodynamic rear cowl. Complementing them were the modified handlebars for that signature café racer crouched riding posture. The non-folding kick starter was ditched and the footpegs were replaced by custom made rearsets which completed the riding position. Chanderjeet hasn’t fiddled much with the engine, considering its venerable age, and hence the only concession to performance is the free-flow exhaust. Over a period of six months, the old warhorse slowly evolved and after a final dash of chrome to the tank, it was ready to roll. As a fitting tribute to his better half, Chanderjeet chose to christen the now gleaming café racer as Richenfield – a portmanteau word that blends his wife’s name Richa and Enfield.


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