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Café Express: Freeride’s Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
If you’ve ridden a two-stroke, you’ll know how addictive the power rush (and sound) can be. So we have a soft spot for anything that smells pungent and goes braaap—especially if it’s got a bit of history and a side order of style.

Montesa bikes tick all the boxes: the Spanish manufacturer was hugely successful in motocross and road racing from the sixties to the mid-eighties. Its Cota 247 model was also popular with trials riders—but who’d have thought a trials bike would make a great little café racer?

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
Proof comes from the small village of Graulhet in southwest France, which is home to Pierre Dhers and his company Freeride Motos Racing.

Pierre specializes in the repair and maintenance of classic bikes, and prepping machines for vintage racing series. But he’s also very good at creating sharp-looking, quirky customs—like the Honda CX650 scrambler we featured a few months ago.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
“Although this Montesa was a trials bike originally,” Pierre tells, “our client wanted it transformed into a sport model. He was inspired by racing history, when Montesas skimmed around the circuits of Spain and the world in the 70s.”


It’s one hell of a transformation. At just 192 pounds (87 kilos) dry, the original Cota 247 is a nimble handler so weight reduction was not a priority.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
At the core of this build is the engine, a punchy little 247 cc number that puts out 20 frisky horses in stock form.

Pierre has given it a full reconditioning, with new bearings and seals, and even a new crankshaft. He’s also tweaked the stock exhaust system and intake, and fitted a big bore piston kit from Italkit.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
The original Amal carb has been upgraded to a Mikuni VM26 with a free-flowing BMC filter, and there’s now a Powerdynamo electronic ignition to keep the timing nice and regular.

After many ours of fettling and polishing, the motor looks as good the day it left the Barcelona factory in 1972.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
Right above is the fuel tank from a Malaguti Olympic, a 50cc moped from the 1970s. It’s an inspired choice: in this context, the chiseled lines look amazingly contemporary and completely change the vibe of the Cota.

Pierre has added a custom fiberglass rear cowl to match, plus discreet aluminum fenders. Midwest Aero Design shot the intense red paint, and a fresh coat of satin black epoxy helps the frame fade into the background.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
Pierre has modified the frame to suit the new lines, and also given it a thorough overhaul. “I cleaned up the welds with new TIG welds—for strength, because the originals are poor quality.”

The new rear cowl is covered in a racy black suede that extends over the seat pan, applied by Kabuki 
Sellerie. We haven’t heard of that French shop before, but they obviously know what they’re doing.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
Since this Cota tips the scales at less than 200 pounds, full Öhlins superbike suspension would be overkill.

So Pierre has overhauled and cut down the original Betor forks. Now fitted with shorter springs, they’re hooked up to 18-inch period-correct Akront wheels using a hub from a 1960s Montesa Impala street bike. There’s a matching Akront out back, cushioned by new YSS shocks.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
Converting a trials bike to a café racer involves a multitude of smaller details too. Pierre has created dozens of small parts—including new mounts for the tank, seat and repositioned footpegs—and adapted Tarozzi aluminum linkages for the foot controls.


He’s built new clip-ons too, adapting them to the stock Cota 247 top yoke, and installed a Domino throttle and Amal brake and clutch levers.

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing
The little Montesa is now ready to hit the streets. And we don’t know whether to applaud the new owner for his unusual choice of steed, or feel slightly jealous.

This pocket-sized café racer is unlikely to break any lap records at Paul Ricard, but it’ll rule the roost at the traffic light Grand Prix. More of this braaaple sauce, please!

Freeride Motos Racing | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Sébastien Colombier

Montesa Cota 247 cafe racer conversion by Freeride Motos Racing

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