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Just outside Athens is one of Europe's most innovative custom parts manufacturers. But getting it off the ground was no easy job.
Greek bike enthusiasts Christos and Antonis met while working for an aftermarket car parts company. It was there that acquired the skills and business acumen required to do what they really wanted – start making their own custom bike parts.
This was 2008, when the European custom scene was starting to blossom. Sensing something in the air, in 2010 the pair started to produce their first C-Racer parts.
Antonis: ‘We started tentatively, trying to develop into an unknown market – we didn’t know if it would work. We started with one seat and went from there. But the Greek market didn't want to know.’
Christos: ‘Then we went to European shows and talked to people, exploring demand and taste, and so we continued designing and making more parts’.
Today Christos is C-Racer's design and production director, Antonis the sales director, and together they manage a team of five working at their factory on the outskirts of Athens, from where they ship all over Europe.
Interestingly, all the solid parts of their products other than metal and aluminium are made from ABS plastic instead of fibreglass. Christos explains: ‘Fibreglass can be unreliable with paint, while ABS is flexible and much easier to work with. No one is making parts from ABS plastic – it’s expensive, but better in the
All the raw materials come from Greece, with only one plastic brought in from Austria and Italy, a special product with UV protection that can also be used unpainted. Several types of fairings, mudguards, and luggage racks are produced but by far the most popular part in their range are their seats. There are 40 different styles available, for cafe racers, flat trackers, scramblers and bobbers. All are made in house, each with a choice of six upholstery materials, five stitching types and six thread colours. The possibilities for personalised designs are endless.
C-Racer relies on distributors to sell their products, from Classic Bike Shop in the UK, to Café Race in Italy and Motorcycles United in the Netherlands. The company has proved to be a high quality and reliable player in the custom motorcycle business, providing innovation not only to professional garages, but also to the amateur mechanic who in two hours can transform his bike without having to chop anything.
Building a custom bike using their own parts was an obvious way to promote the C-Racer brand. First to undergo the makeover was a 1979 Suzuki GSX250 in cafe racer style – it's currently Antonis’ own bike. Then two years later in 2016 came a 1983 Yamaha XJR400, and finally in 2017 an SV650 scrambler. They were each revealed at Italy's premier bike show EICMA.
‘At EICMA you are going to talk to people from everywhere,’ says Antonis, demonstrating one of the strengths of these guys: public relations. They are fun, approachable and uncomplicated, and most importantly dedicated, and this all helps to make friends and tie deals in an industry that’s smaller than it seems.
For the custom duo ‘it’s all about the custom kits; that’s the future not only for us, but for everyone,' says Christos, adding: ‘The market is going towards smaller bikes – 650-700cc seem to be more in demand. With €10,000 you can now have two bikes, changing parts all the time. Street, scrambler, cafe… you can choose and make it happen fast.
‘The future is in the customisation of new modern bikes. They are easier and safer to ride, and they don’t leave you at the side of the road’. Christos then mentions the popularity of the XSR in Europe, partly due to it being such a good base for all sorts of custom approaches.
So what’s next for C-Racer? ‘We’re gonna keep creating new and better parts for the bikes people want to customise,' says Antonis. With such a simple and clear business plan, we reckon you'll see a lot more of C-Racer over the coming years.