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Café au lait: A Honda CB450 from the Gaucho Highlands

Honda CB450 café racer by Caffeine Customs
Nothing beats a quick early morning blast through the hills above my house. The air is fresh, the sun is usually shining and I don’t have to share the road with many other motorized vehicles. I do have to share it with bicycles though—and I’m always amazed by how many people choose pedals over a throttle.

This Honda CB450 café racer, however, was built for someone who likes both. It’s the seventh commissioned bike from Bruno Costa, of Caffeine Custom in Brazil. And it’s affectionately referred to as the ‘White Shark,’ thanks to its slim, pearl-white monocoque.

Honda CB450 café racer by Caffeine Customs
“The owner is a cycling enthusiast who wanted a low and narrow motorcycle for short, fun rides around the Gaucho Highlands’ curvy roads,” says Bruno. “Mixing a classic café racer with modern touches, we built it narrow to highlight the engine and make it look bigger.”

With the project brief finalized, Bruno selected a 1987-model Honda CB450 TR as the donor bike. A stock CB450 would make for a great commuter, but it doesn’t set the world on fire in terms of styling. Bruno and his customer felt the same way, so very little of the original bike now remains.

Honda CB450 café racer by Caffeine Customs
The first thing to go were the snowflake-style cast wheels. In their place are the five-spoke alloy units from a later model Honda, which also lent its front fork assembly. Finished in dark grey and wrapped in fresh Pirelli rubber, the new hoops look decidedly more modern.

The custom front fender is made of steel, and does double duty as a fork brace. The striking, almost neo-retro design ties in nicely with the LED headlight, donated by a Harley V-Rod. This is bolted to the front end by way of a custom bracket.

Honda CB450 café racer by Caffeine Customs
Higher up, Bruno installed a custom top yoke with integrated LED warning lights, and a mount for a Motogadget Motoscope Mini speedometer. Clip-on handlebars, new grips, push button switches and bar-end turn signals and mirrors were also fitted. To keep the cockpit clean, all the wiring was routed internally through the bars.

Honda CB450 café racer by Caffeine Customs
Next up was the single piece tank, seat and tail unit. Bruno describes it as the most challenging part of the build, and it’s easy to see why. Starting with an aftermarket fuel tank, he fabricated a steel seat pan and tail bump, then seamlessly blended everything together.

The seat is trimmed in Alcantara, and although it looks thin, it’s luxury compared to the bicycle saddles the customer is used to. Out back is an integrated LED tail light, shining out from behind a louvered cover. The custom aluminum gas cap and laser-cut brushed steel logos on the tank are neat touches.

Honda CB450 café racer by Caffeine Customs
Custom bodywork is difficult to get right but Bruno has nailed it, along with the new rear subframe that supports it. The bike got a full rewire too, but since space was limited, Bruno had to get clever.

Everything is packed into a tray under the seat, which can be accessed without removing the bodywork. A small Lithium-ion battery is stashed under the swingarm.

Honda CB450 café racer by Caffeine Customs
The Honda’s engine was refreshed and got a new coat of paint to match the wheels. The pod filters and custom two-into-two stainless steel exhaust free a few extra horses from the 450.

Aluminum rear-sets were fitted for a racy foot position, and Bruno made an aluminum license plate holder to round out the bodywork.

Honda CB450 café racer by Caffeine Customs
The end result is a lean café racer with perfect proportions. The weight reduction and tweaked powertrain surely benefits the torquey twin, but it’s the aesthetics that make this a winner.

If there was a motorcycling equivalent of the yellow jersey, Bruno would be wearing it.

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Honda CB450 café racer by Caffeine Customs