BMW Café Racers


Very nice quality collector's book, May 8, 2013 By
William Costello (Long Island, NY USA)
This review is from: BMW Cafe Racers (Paperback)
Just received my copy in hardcover, which I don't see being offered currently. (I pre-ordered mine)
I work as a color prepress specialist in print, and I would be proud of this book if I had prepared it myself. All the imagery, the layout, design, and the writing are all top notch. The photography was shot by various people from all over the world so it varies in quality a little, but overall I'd say this photography is as good as you'll get from this type of book where many of the bikes are shot by local photographers or the owners themselves. There are many bikes I have never seen before even though I am active in the BMW café scene, and the book goes beyond the typical BMW café racers covering BMW race bikes, bikes from the past, and also modern concepts and street fighter-type BMWs. It was nice to see some of the bikes built by people who are now friends of mine. At least, the type of friends that you've never met in person but you speak to often over the internet. There are a few top quality airhead cafés from the USA that are even better examples than some which were chosen to be in the book, but that must simply be because the writer Uli Cloesen lives on the other side of the world from the USA so he would not be as familiar with the USA cafés as I am. He still managed to find specimens from the USA anyway as well as from Japan, Germany, England, Netherlands, and other countries.
Anyway, if you are on the fence about buying this book, I'd say get it. If you are a fan of BMW café racers, this book is a must. Well worth the money.



BMW Café Racers. Door Uli Cloesen
[9781845845292 veloce]

Er zijn al veel boeken verschenen over BMW motorfietsen, maar dit is de eerste die de evolutie van de BMW sportmotor naar BMW caferacer behandelt. Een merk dat niet snel wordt geassocieerd met de cafe racer scene blijkt toch vele fraaie en technisch hoogstaande motoren te bieden die in deze groeiende trend prima meedoen. Met details van kleine tot zeer grote custom jobs, de scene zelf, de eigenaren en uiteraard veel techniek. Prima voor de BMW eigenaar die zijn eigen weg volgt, met 180 foto's, totaal 128 pagina's, Engelstalig. Het boek heeft een harde kaft.


Schon die auf muskulös getrimmte R 100 RS auf dem Titelbild lässt vermuten, dass der vorliegende Band so manch ausgefallenen Umbau enthält. Und in der Tat gewährt “BMW Café Racers” höchst interessante Einblicke in die bunte Welt des Café-Customizing. Zusammengetragen hat die Schaustücke der in Deutschland gebürtige und seit über zwanzig Jahren in Neuseeland lebende Uli (Ulrich Peter) Cloesen. Da das Buch sehr bildlastig ist, sollten die Texte in englischer Sprache umso weniger ein Kaufhindernis darstellen. Der Autor beschränkt sich bei seiner Auswahl nicht auf Café Racer mit den Zweiventilboxern. Vielmehr spannt er einen weiten Bogen von den Classic-Rennern à la R 37 bis hin zur Studie Café Concept 6, die BMW 2009 auf der Mailänder Eicma präsentierte. Dabei kommen auch die Vierventilboxer, die F-Twins und die K-Modelle nicht zu kurz. Und selbst die CR&S Vun findet Erwähnung, weil sie vom Rotax-Single der F 650 angetrieben wird.


In seiner international orientierten Auswahl berücksichtigt Cloesen überdies Ural mit einigen appetitlichen Concept-Bikes. Glanzlicht ist dabei das Dragbike von YSC in Minsk/Weissrussland, das von zwei hintereinander geschalteten Boxermotoren angetrieben wird. Die auf der Custom Bike 2010 in Bad Salzuflen gezeigte Maschine wurde mehrfach preisgekrönt. Wer BMW und/oder Café Racer mag, wird an diesem Buch viel Freude haben.
Ebenfalls bei Veloce hat Uli Cloesen drei weitere Werke in ähnlicher Machart veröffentlicht:
BMW Custom Motorcycles, Italian Custom Motorcycles, Japanese Custom Motorcycles sind ebenfalls über den Interhandel erhältlich. Da bleibt nur zu hoffen, dass der Wahl-Neuseeländer demnächst auch Café-Gespanne zwischen Buchdeckel packt. Auf drei Rädern gibt es schließlich auch schon so manches Schmuckstück.


Uli Cloesen – BMW Café Racers, Veloce Publishing Ltd. 2013, 128 Seiten, Format 25,5 x 25,5 cm, Hardcover, ISBN 978-1-845845-29-2,


BMW Café Racers continues what is now a four-part series of "square" (25 cm x 25 cm) books authored by Uli Cloesen for Veloce Publishing.

The first of the series was BMW Custom Motorcycles: Choppers, Cruisers, Bobbers, Trikes & Quads, reviewed by yours truly back in June of 2011 (Was it really that long ago? Seems like just yesterday...).

I didn't know at the time that there would be a series of these books...and perhaps neither did Veloce (or the author).

But here it is, almost exactly two years later and we have what can be considered Part 2 of the series, BMW Café Racers. Also released is the very wild 'n' crazy Italian Custom Motorcycles: Choppers, Cruisers, Bobbers, Trikes & Quads (review) and now I'm very curious about the last of the current series, Japanese Custom Motorcycles: Cruisers, Bobbers & Ditto...

I didn't quite know what to make of BMW Custom Motorcycles, but BMW Café Racers makes a lot more sense to me. In fact, for me it was the original BMW café racer, the BMW R90S (background), that was one of my first BMW objets de convoitise.

The R90S was and is one of the most classic, iconic motorcycles of all time, no ifs, ands, buts or any two ways about it.

But, like I wrote in my review of BMW Custom Motorcycles, "BMW Motorrad seems to be almost phobic about even mentioning a reference to their past, much less bringing out a modern retro Airhead model to celebrate it." That's just as true today unfortunately, even though it is rumored that BMW will release the "NineT", a limited-edition retro, this year at the annual 2013 BMW Motorrad Days

The NineT (or whatever it ends up being called) remains to be seen, but so far the reports haven't kept me up at night dreaming. Instead of really stretching and making what would have been the true "Last of the Airheads", BMW will apparently use the old and somewhat troublesome "Oilhead" engine for what appears to be a very mild makeover of a generic R1200R.

What makes it unfortunate is what could/should be -- hinted at in this BMW Café Racers book. There are some awesome BMW café racers shown here in 205 (count 'em) color photographs, big as life. We're talking everything from the ultra-classic 1925 BMW R37 to Yuri Shif's very custom two-engined (placed vertically and back-to-back!) BMW Airhead custom that simply has to be the single most outrageous BMW ever made.

And yes, that classic R90S is in there too. Don't forget the K1100 "Flying Brick"; BMW's "No, we're not Japanese" four-cylinder water-pumpers. Believe it or not, there are some pretty cool-looking customs...I mean café racer-ed 'Bricks around also. Not to mention some sweet-looking Ural café racers -- can you imagine that?

BMW Café Racers is short on text and long on photos, and any BMW lover will want this book. When I reviewed BMW Customs, I wasn't sure what to make of it. But now that I've seen 3 volumes out of the 4-pack, I get it. You'll definitely want all four. Example: In the book Italian Custom Motorcycles (review), there's a Laverda chopper, among others. You're in for a treat!



Following on from his excellent book on BMW Custom Motorcycles, author Uli Cloesen turns his attention to Café Racers which use the German BMW marque as donor machines, which are rapidly becoming popular the world over for such use. Until recently this was a marque not commonly associated with the café racer scene, which traces its roots to the ‘Rocker’ era of the late fifties and sixties and British motorcycles.


Now as the historic UK brands tend to be worth more as original factory machines with many being rebuilt to standard, there has been a growing trend of custom BMW café conversions as people look to alternative reasonably priced donor machines. These are illustrated in detail with stunning images of sporting, racing, and ‘caféd’ BMWs throughout this hardback book from Veloce who are in the process of producing a whole range of books on specials using donor machines not previously associated with customising, or the Café culture.


This is definitely not a book for the purest BMW owner, but it is one for those who want to see the possibilities that an open mind and some engineering skill can produce. Divided into logical chapters covering Airheads, Oilheads, modified singles to parallel twins, Fours and Concept 6s and even those derived from the close cousin the Ural, nothing from the brand is left out.


The stunning images on good quality art paper are well laid out with sufficient text to educate and entertain without getting too deep; making it a book you can easily dip in and out of as you view bikes from all around the globe. The owner’s stories and technical descriptions are all recorded and you can see that some bikes have had thousands spent on them and others not a lot. All though have been built with the same basic idea of creating a machine the owner will be happy to ride to a gathering where the café racer culture is still alive and appreciated.


Cloesen has been involved with bikes for 35 years and he has certainly come up with another work that nicely fills a gap in the market and certainly one in BMW motorcycle literature making it a must have for BMW aficionados and lovers of café racers alike. Certainly for the uninitiated it is educational as well as being a rattling good read for £25.00! ISBN 978 1 845845 29 2


Available from all good bookshops or direct from the publishers Veloce at


Review by Ian Kerr



Es gibt bereits viele Bücher über BMW Motorräder, aber bis jetzt gab es noch keine Publikation über die Evolution von BMW Sportmotorrädern zu so genannten Café Racer. Das neue Buch ‚BMW Café Racers’ von Uli Cloesen zeigt fantastische individualisierte BMWs aus aller Herren Länder von damals und heute und damit auch all den damit verbundenen Innovationsgeist.


Mit Geschichten der Eigentümer und technischen Beschreibungen ist ‚BMW Café Racers’ ein Muss für BMW Fans und Mitglieder und Fans der Café Racer Szene gleichermaßen. Obwohl die Marke gemeinhin weniger mit der Café Racer Szene in Verbindung gebracht wird, gibt es einen immer größer werdenden Trend zu individualisierten BMW Café Racer Umbauten. Einige davon werden in diesem neuen Buch detailliert beschrieben. Inklusive erstaunlicher Fotos von Sport-, Rennsport- und eben Café BMWs.


Das gebundene Buch füllt damit eine Lücke in der BMW Motorrad Literatur. Es enthält spektakuläre Fotos von einmaligen BMW Motorrädern aus aller Herren Länder. Es gibt einen sehr guten Einblick in die Welt der BMW Café Racer. Geschrieben für BMW Fans und Café Racer Liebhaber gleichermaßen, deckt das Buch Einzylinder, Zweizylinder, Vier- und Sechszylinder Modelle ab und beinhaltet sogar Beispiele aus der Individualisierer-Szene des Ural.


Der in Neuseeland lebende Autor Uli Cloesen ist seit 1975 begeisterter Motorradfahrer. Seine Motorradkarriere startete er mit einem Maico MD50 Straßenmotorrad. Mit den Jahren besaß er einige BMWs, Yamahas, eine Kawasaki und eine Royal Enfield. Am liebsten mag er BMW Zweizylinder-Boxer. Mit solchen Motorrädern ist er bereits durch Europa und Neuseeland getourt. Die Kunst der Umwandlung von Serien-BMWs zu individualisierten Motorrädern hat ihn immer fasziniert. Egal ob bei alten Boxern oder neuen Sondermodellen wie dem ‚Concept 6’ – dem Reihen-Sechszylinder Café Racer Konzept von BMW Motorrad, das auf der EICMA Motorradmesse in Mailand 2009 zum ersten Mal vorgestellt wurde.


Mit 128 Seiten und 180 Fotos von Motorrädern – von preisgünstigen Umwandlungen bis hin zu Modellen, bei denen nur das Beste gut genug war – zeigt das neue BMW Café Racer Buch die ungewöhnliche Verbindung von BMWs und Café Racern, inklusive den neuesten Trends. Somit schließt das Buch eine Lücke in der BMW Motorrad Literatur.


Egal ob Luft- oder Öl-gekühlt, modifizierte Einzylinder oder Zweizylinder-Reihenmotoren, Vier- oder Sechszylinder – lernen Sie mehr über den wachsenden Trend der Motorrad-Individualisierung. Das Buch BMW Café Racers (ISBN: 978-1-845845-29-2) kostet 28,80 Euro und ist bei den üblichen Buchhändlern erhältlich.



BMW Café Racers

By Uli Cloesen / 124 Pages / Published 2013 by Veloce ( who supplied the review copy / Also available from Octane Books / Price $65.


I guess I still associate café racers with Tritons but here`s a whole book about the BMW variety. I wasn´t sure it would work but i think it does.


Author Cloesen apparently lives in NZ but his largely photographic book covers bikes from the UK, USA, Europe and Japan - plus a couple of Australian examples. Some bikes have been built by enthusiastic individuals while other are the products of specialist companies.


There`s a lot more variety than I´d expected too. The book´s chapters are divided into Classic Racers, Modified Singles and Parallel Twins, Airheads, Oilheads, Sixes - and even one on Urals (one of which is a twin-motor drag bike)! Some of the bikes are `pure` BMW while others have borrowed elements, whether it´s a Cagiva Mito Seat, RG500 forks, a Honda RS250 fuel tank or a Magni or Nico Bakker frame.


The classic R90S was obviously a model for a number of the bikes featured while other much more radival, even an R800 flat tracker. The skills involved in some of the bodywork and the clever mix of components has created some superb-looking bikes. The book closes with seven pages on the factory´s own interpretation of the look - the stunning Café Concept 6 unveiled in 2009.


If I had to pick a favourite, though, it might just be the Japanese-built Ritmo Sereno RSR featured on the book´s cover.


Review by Mark Holman - Bike Rider NZ Magazine Sept 2013 -