The cafe racer origin story begins with an inexpensive, light weight motorcycle that is modified to reduce weight, remove excess, improve performance, and increase handling competency. In the days of 5 figure customs, we tend to forget the label 'Cafe Racer' really represented something very different than today's definition.
The quintessential part of the cafe racer and the most important tradition that has persisted through the years is the respect to the even 'bone-line.' The bone line is the imaginary line from the back of the seat to roughly the head light of the bike when looking at the bike straight on at the side. How the bike's design relates to this line is like a rough equation for how the bike will look.
The other major component to a cafe racer build is to reduce. Brad of Ton Up For What has done just that for his little Suzuki. Clearing the triangle behind the engine by moving to individual pod filters, moving to a small lithium battery, and consolidating the electronics completely changes this previously vanilla-looking bike.
Brad has used a smart approach to this build with a budget-sense and a simple but effective color scheme that just works. Some of the builds I photograph are on a different level, but I always appreciate someone that can do a lot with not very much as that was the mantra of the original Cafe Racers. It's a perfect bike for a case-study on that design theme, and I consider that a compliment. Hopefully we can all use this as inspiration when building our own customs.