Cafe Racer Insurance

Cafe Racer Insurance

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Quintessential Cafe RacerCafe racers, born on the streets of England in the 1950s, have experienced a renaissance in the past decade.  Custom bike shops have proliferated across the globe, as have the “yard-built” and “shed-built” customs of the everyday Joe. Meanwhile, the values of popular platforms like the Honda CB series and BMW airhead models have jumped.  Manufacturers like Triumph and Honda have hopped on the bandwagon, releasing retro-styled bikes that recall the cafe racers of old, and the big cafe racer blogs boast hundreds of thousands of visitors per month.

In purest form, a cafe racer is a lightweight bike optimized for speed and handling rather than rider comfort. They’re minimalist in every aspect, harkening back to early 1960s GP racing, with several typical design elements:

  • Low slung handlebars (clip-ons).
  • Long, slim fuel tanks with knee-grip indents.
  • Thin seat, often with tail cowling or cafe “hump.”

The trend is thought to have originated in the UK, used by certain motorcycle cliques to cover short distances between “cafes” (pubs).  Legend has them modifying their bikes to hit “the ton” (100 mph).  Riders from the Ace Cafe London would set off into the night, trying to complete and return from a street course before a song on the jukebox could end.

Cafe Racer Coverage

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Insuring a Cafe Racer:  Special Considerations

Most cafe racers are built on factory frames, complete with VIN numbers, which means they aren’t too difficult to insure.  However, finding a policy that will cover the full value of your bike, given the aftermarket parts and modifications, is more complicated.  In some cases, an appraisal may be necessary.

Appraisal:  Most motorcycle insurers are capable of covering a basic bike, but if you buy one that is of unusual manufacture or is heavily customized, you may need an appraisal. Bring the build sheet if it is a custom build or the sales slip if it’s a recent purchase.

Agreed Value:  This is a declaration of value on your policy, which you provide and the insurer confirms.  It’s the market value of your motorcycle, plus all of the custom parts and equipment.  This value is updated as you make modifications or upgrades to the bike.  Typically, this is for bikes 25 years and older, and is used instead of an appraisal.

Custom Parts Coverage:  Basic policies rarely cover custom parts, but many insurers offer Custom Parts and Equipment (CPE) coverage.  Even the most lightly customized bike is going to have aftermarket bars, tank, and seat. If it more heavily customized, you may have altered forks, different brakes, handmade custom exhaust, etc. Without a policy to cover these aftermarket parts, your insurer may not fix your bike, or will only put OEM parts back on it.

Theft and Comprehensive:  You might think that the distinctive nature of a custom bike acts as a theft deterrent. Not so.  Customized bikes are very appealing to thieves, who can chop them up and sell them for parts. You will want to make sure your bike is covered against theft from your home, storage, or transport vehicle. The comprehensive portion covers your bike in the event of fire, wind, water, or vandalism.

Roadside Assistance:  Unless you have a good buddy with a trailer or truck, this will set your mind at ease when scooting about on a vintage Triumph or BSA, Honda or Kawasaki. It covers the cost of towing your bike home or to the shop after a breakdown or accident.

Other Recommended Coverage

Cafe Racer Insurance

Collision:  Collision covers you when you collide with stuff. This is optional coverage unless you have a loan against the bike. Optional or not, unless you can afford to replace your bike out-of-pocket, you should carry this coverage.

Medical Payment:  This coverage is for injuries incurred while riding. Some of the highlights of this coverage are: prescription drug payments, dental care, medical co-payments and deductibles from other health coverage policies, home nursing care, or funeral expenses.  In some cases, you must carry a minimum amount of this coverage if you don’t have health insurance.

Liability: As you probably know, this is the required coverage in most states.  This covers you in case you’re found at fault in an accident.  Each state has its own minimum coverage requirements for bodily injury and property damage.  These limits are typically lower for motorcycles than for cars.  Cafe racers are rarely built for two, but this coverage will typically protect a passenger if you’re carrying one. The property damage portion covers items like fences, lawns, vehicles, etc.

Insurance for your Cafe Racer:  Best Companies?

Cafe Racer Insurance

The best insurer will depend on an array of factors, such as your bike, your location, and your coverage needs. If you have a high-dollar, structurally-modified collector’s bike such as a Triton or Tribsa, you may need to work with a specialty insurer such as Hagerty’s.  The bike must be worth more than $7500, stored in a garage, and older than 1975.

However, most cafe racers these days can be covered by major insurers with less hassle and lower premiums.  Companies like Progressive, Nationwide, and others offer policies for bikes 25 or older, often using the Agreed Value of your motorcycle, which can be updated whenever you make significant modifications or upgrades.

We have a convenient tool where you can enter your zip code and see which companies are insuring these bikes in your area, then request and compare quotes from each.  This takes much of the legwork and hassle out of the process.

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