The world’s largest coffee exporter has finally produced a worthy cafe racer. We quiz one of Brazil’s growing band of customisers about his latest build.
Augusto Bittencourt is one of an ever-expanding bunch of Brazilian enthusiasts riding custom bikes. Most are in the classic 1950s and 60s vein, taking inspiration from Ace Cafe bikes. Augusto chose a rare TX500 twin-cylinder Yamaha for his first project and we love its stripped-to-the-bones simplicity – with clip-ons, rear-sets and pipes louder than a Sepultura riff it has a distinct urban street-racer vibe. We ask Augusto how it came about…
So Augusto, what’s the deal?
I’m 53 years old, a lawyer and my hobby is building bikes. To achieve my goals, I built a workshop in my house. I live in Casavel, in the south of Brazil.
What’s your biking history?
I was practically born on two wheels! My father had a Lambretta and I rode with him, then I bought my motorcycles and I still race off-road.
What other bikes do you own?
I have a Benelli Sei 750, Honda CBX1000, Kawasaki KZ1300, 1942 Harley-Davidson flathead, 1936 Express Werke, Aprilia 450 Supermoto, Yamaha YZ250 and Yamaha Royal Star 1300.
Tell us about your cafe racer…
It is a 1974 DOHC Yamaha TX500. It was in a very poor state when I got it. But I thought it had a beautiful engine, so when I saw it I immediately thought cafe racer.
What have you done to it?
Everything I’ve done has been to create a nostalgic mood. I cut and adapted the chassis, and put the battery under the tail. The seat is made from steel and comes from England. It’s the original tank but I’ve modified the sides. I did all the paint in a 1950s style. The original Yamaha front brake has been replaced with a Norton Commando drum, but the rear is original. The engine is standard but I’ve re-jetted the carbs and added new filters. I fitted Tomaselli 1950s-style handlebars and throttle. The speedo is Smiths.
Is there a cafe racer culture in Brazil?
It is only at the beginning. Largely thanks to the internet and cable television channels, Brazilians have begun to understand the beauty and history of the cafe racer culture. I’ve been interested in this type of machine for many years though. I came to the Isle of Man with my son Lucas last year to watch the TT races. My son races supersport 600s.
So does the inspiration come partly from modern racing and partly the Rockers’ bikes?
No my inspiration came from solely from the motorcycles of the 1950s, including the paintwork. It’s not just about style though. The bike has to perform and when I finished it I took her to the highway and was happy to see the ton so I consider her a worthy cafe racer, even though it’s a 1970s bike and not a 1960s British machine!
What is it about the 1950s cafe racers?
I like clean motorcycles, without many accessories, like the 1950s models that could run on roads and racetracks.
What’s the biking scene like in Brazil?
The problem is that we are still a poor country, but since our climate is tropical and allows us to ride motorcycles every month, we are seeing more and more bikes, which is really cool. There’s always smaller 125s, but now there are more customs and big trail bikes. In a big country like ours, there’s plenty of scope for some great road – and off-road – trips.