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Old 02-16-2016, 06:40 PM   #1
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Randy's Cafe XR600

Sara Liberte

Randy's Cafe XR600 right side profile

Thumper: A four-stroke, single cylinder motorcycle.

Honda's XR600 is a unique and awesome motorcycle. Unique like a family of rednecks, that is. Honda has made a handful of real similar thumpers, all a little different, but sharing the same basic DNA. The 600 was the big boy in this class, putting out just about too much power for the trails, being too big and heavy to jump, and still being just a little too tall and uncomfy for highway use. It's always been known as THE baja bike, but hasn't had too many places that it fits in quite as well.

Choosing this style of bike for a full cafe conversion is no new concept, and no small task. The stock bike is too tall, with a clunky tail section and gearing that is entirely too low. However the narrow frame, lightweight and torquey engine, and natural steering dynamics point the way to an awesome tracker/ cafe bike once the work is done.

Randy Rothlisberger

Randy riding a Honda thumper back in his hayday

Randy is one of those rare gems that possesses both incredible talent and humility. I met him out on the Hot Bike Tour in South Dakota last summer, at Klock Werks, where he works part-time as a fabricator. When he rode up on this bike, I nearly dropped my helmet. Being 6'4" I have always had a soft spot for large displacement thumpers and the way they fit me. Being a hooligan, I have always drooled over torque monster that is that engine in that lightweight frame.

I don't even remember what I said when I walked up to him, something along the lines of "Wha-- Did yo-- Is this your-- XR600?! Ohmahgerdddd I love it,"

To which he responded, "Oh yeah, I like it. I built it in my garage with some parts I had lying around. Actually rides pretty nice!"

Sara Liberte

Randy Rothlisberger in his home garage

You bet your sweet Honda that this thing rides pretty nice. The forks and brakes up front are Buell XB9R parts that have been machined to fit. The inverted forks lower the front end (a key part of the cafe conversion on this bike) as well as vastly improve the handling in the twisties. A massive disc brake on the front wheel gives this bike pro-street level stopping power, which it now has the rubber and suspension to handle. A rear wheel off of a Kawasaki Ninja 250 fit after a little bit of machining, but does wonders as far as giving the bike that pure street stance. The engine has more than enough power stock, but the airbox was removed and replaced with a K&N filter to help get that open triangle under the seat.

Sara Liberte

Randy's Cafe XR600 rear view

The exhaust pipe was fabricated at home using the factory headers and a muffler from Cone Engineering. A gas tank from a vintage Honda XL250 had it's tunnel modified to fit the later model frame and the paint was all done in-house by Randy with some old paint that of course, he had laying around the shop. That wicked cafe seat is an aftermarket custom piece designed for a Honda 125. He used an old Klock Werks H-D fender with a few modifications on the rear and wired up a Trail Tech Vapor electronic speedo/ tach with a hand fabbed mounting system that he also made in his garage.

Sara Liberte

Randy's Cafe XR600 front left side

When we asked him for a few words about his bike, he listed all of the parts that he put on there and gave us this brilliantly Randy description:

"Starts easy (kick only) lights work well(no battery) handles quick and solid, brakes like nothing you've ever ridden (one finger advised first ride), have seen over 95mph with more to go (via GPS) and could easily pull taller gearing. Comfortable enough that you'll go looking for curves ( I'm thinking it could own Iron Mountain Road in the Black Hills!) Took me about 3 mo to build at my garage at home."

Sara Liberte

Randy's Cafe XR600 front right side

You don't see a lot of build like this because there aren't a lot of people like Randy. And if there are, they aren't out there posting their bikes up on the web, they're out hitting the twisties and building these machines to ride.

Randy Rothlisberger, you're our type of guy. Making something incredible out of what you've got and riding the absolute out of it, even if you do live in South Dakota and have all that perfectly snowy riding weather (not).

Sara Liberte

Randy's Cafe XR600 right side detail

Sara Liberte

Randy's Cafe XR600 right side profile

Sara Liberte

Randy's Cafe XR600 left side profile

As much as we wish we could give you a website to support this epic dude, we love that he doesn't have one. The photographer Sara Liberte, on the other hand, we have worked with in the past and she does some incredible work. Check her website out at

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