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Mod of the North
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All true. Question: How many times have you (or anyone here), actually seen (or legitimately know of) someone change gearing or do a differential rebuild, on a normally ridden street bike? Let's be real now, a normally ridden street bike please.
"normally ridden street bike" - I would say you are ruling out most motorcycles built for performance. No one buys a 160hp bike and "rides it normally".

Sport bike guys change the gearing all the time. Like said earlier some of those guys want wheelie machines and some want super long gears for top speed. Some change gear ratios like they pick a shirt for the day if they are a street/track kinda ride. I personally changed the gearing on my 2010 GSXR 600 to drop my cruising RPM in 6th gear on the highway.
 

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Mod of the North
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In defence of all the shaft lovers out there - I have read many of the adventure bikes are shaft drive and it's benefit there is reduced maintenance when on a trek. It also eliminates the possibility rocks and debris will be caught in the chain & sprocket. That I can see as being a good application.
 

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Mod of the North
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I think you giys are correct, the shaft drive on the larger heavier cruisers is great and you aren't going to notice the power loss. The issue the OP has seems to be only on the Japanese bikes and there are far less heavy cruisers in that line up.
 

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Mod of the North
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A lot will depend on what you want out of a cafe racer. The basic style limits you to a flat back bone. A Honda CX500 may work. Most shaft drives are Touring or cruiser style bikes with a rising back bone that ruins the cafe look.

If you are looking to customize an old bike more for looks than anything else the CX500 would fit the shape. I have surpisingly seem a Gold wing stripped and cafe'd that looked cool. If a cool look is what you are after you have more options.

If you are looking for a true purpose built cafe racer - meaning you want an old bike to prep for performance with the aim to race it in a vintage class your options are more limted. An old BMW would be a possible but very expensive and very hard to find.
 
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