4 Creative Places to Use the Battery on a Café Racer

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Over the last few decades, cafe racers are becoming more popular. Their vintage style and sleek look could make any head turn while it’s ridden down the road.

Cafe racer builders often want to have as few components as possible so that it has a minimal appearance. Sometimes, hiding the battery is necessary.

The battery can be placed in the cafe racer’s compartment. The best places to put a battery on a cafe racer include putting it in a battery box under the seat, placing it on the rear swing arm on it’s side, placing it under the rear swing arm in a battery box, or replacing the air box with pod filters and putting the battery where the air box was.

After building over a dozen cafe races, I know the best places for the battery to go. They have worked well and have also been proven safe. This article will show you how to achieve that sleek look for your cafe racer.

Where to hide the battery

The best thing about making a motorcycle a cafe-racer is getting rid all the unnecessary add-ons. This makes the bike lighter in both weight and looks. If you’re like me, you’ll want to make your cafe racer see through from the side to really give it that true conservative look.

Sometimes the battery can get in the way of doing these things. The motorcycle needs the battery, so it’s not necessarily something you can get rid of. Cafe racer builders often wonder how to hide the battery so you can’t see it at all, but some batteries are just so big and bulky it almost seems impossible to do so.

Place the battery under your seat to hide it. Cafe racers are likely to have a custom-made, flat seat which will be the perfect cover up for the battery.

The bike’s battery box may not fit under the seat. This depends on how wide the frame is and the type of battery. It is possible to create your own battery box using metal plumbers tape. I have made a few battery boxes using sheet metal.

You can also hide your battery by placing it under the rear swing arm. This option isn’t for every motorcycle and requires a good amount of clearance between the frame and the ground for this to be successful.

You’ll need place the battery box underneath the rear swing arm or custom make your own and fasten it to the frame with metal plumbers tape. You’ll need to paint the battery box to blend in with the rest of the frame. Make sure that the battery is tightly fastened to the frame in order to prevent it from coming loose.

My favorite spot to place a battery on a cafe-racer is the top of the rear swingarm. This is not possible on every motorcycle. It’s all about the bike’s anatomy.

You’ll need to place the battery on it’s side so make sure you have a sealed battery because unsealed will leak if placed in any other position other than upright. Fasten the battery with metal plumber’s tape or other means to ensure it won’t budge.

Another place to place a battery on your cafe racer is where the airbox was. Obviously you’ll need to remove the air box to put it there; a lot of times the air box will have some sort of shelving or compartment that fits a battery nicely. If you decide to remove the air box, you’ll need to make sure you add pod filters to ensure your air is getting filtered.

A pod filter can be used to improve the fuel delivery and air quality. However, an air box will always give the best results. You can also click here to read my article on pod filters vs. air boxes.

Do you want to build a cafe racer. I’ve created an entire video series about how to restore a motorcycle (cafe racer style) from start to finish. This video series provides detailed tutorials about difficult parts such as the electrical, carb rebuilds and electrical. These strategies are also used to hide the battery. Click here for more information if you’re interested in building your dream motorcycle!

The Best Batteries that Hide Well

One of the biggest obstacles you’ll likely face when relocating the battery on your cafe racer is getting the battery to fit in the first place. These are some suggestions for the best batteries that fit on these bikes.

First, you’ll want to make sure you have a battery that is safe to mount on it’s side. The battery must be placed in the same places as previously discussed. As I mentioned, you’ll want to make sure it’s a sealed battery so it won’t leak when placed in a position other than upright.

A good alternative to a sealed cell is the absorbed glass matrix battery, also known as an AGM battery. This is a lead acid battery, but doesn’t require distilled water to be added occasionally like other wet acid batteries. And because it’s sealed, the plates inside are completely immersed in the acid so no matter what direction you place it the plates will continue to be covered. This is also the most affordable option.

A gel cell battery is another option. These are typically a bit more costly, but they come in smaller sizes.

Gel cells are technically lead acid batteries, but they can also be sealed. Instead of using wet lead acids, however, It contains electrolyte-sulfuric and silica. This “gels up” It is made of an acid that makes it immovable. You don’t have to worry about this one leaking either when placed in a position other than upright.

A third option is to use the aforementioned. Cafe racers can also make use of lithium ion battery. They are the most costly option, but they are also the most durable and long-lasting. They’re also small in both size and weight which makes it possible to place them in any of the previously suggested hiding spots as well as any other place you can come up with.

For more information about knowing whether or not it’s safe to mount a motorcycle battery on it’s side, see my other article by clicking here.

How to accommodate the wiring

Don’t forget you’ll need to accommodate the wiring when finding a different spot to place the battery on your cafe racer. This is not an easy task, but it can be done.

You’ll likely have to lengthen several wires that attach to the battery, especially if you’re planning on putting the battery by the rear swing arm. This is mainly done by adding some donor wire to the existing wire and splicing.

I don’t recommend splicing the actual battery cable wires. It’s best just to purchase longer battery cables suitable for your needs. A replacement like this usually isn’t too expensive.

Once you get the right amount of slack in the wiring, you’ll probably end up with a lot of wires hanging out in unsightly places. Part of the look of a cafe racer is hiding the wiring, so you’ll need to do just that. You can run your wiring along the frame, and then use zip ties or other fasteners to secure them. It’s a good idea to wrap the wires with electrical tape to make them flush with the color of the frame.

It’s also possible to run the wiring inside the frame since most motorcycle frames are hollow, but this is much more difficult and requires some alterations on your frame which is something I don’t always recommend. You can click here to read my article on hiding motorcycle wiring.

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