The Yamaha XS500 has had a cult following for a while now. Plenty have been modded into cafe racers and with a thumper on board the classic motorcycle experience isn't lost.
Those who have built a few bikes and experimented with setups may have found that the radical look of a cafe racer does come at a price - loss of comfort and reliability. It is pretty much a given that as soon as one begins altering the stock ergonomics of a bike, handling and comfort could just as easily suffer as improve. Modding an engine is great fun and a good learning experience but the same holds true. How many projects have been ruined by someone being a little too optimistic or adding an engine part that is actually inappropriate for what is the desired outcome. Reliability is the first to suffer and frankly a new sound or shifted power band can often mask an overall decrease in performance.
I have hardly the desire to turn from the classic bikes and join the Harley or Goldwing fraternity but at least they ride! The older I get, the less comfortable these cafe bikes become. In addition, the one-off look of a heavily modified bike attracts enough attention that I can not leave one alone for too long. Riding to work is no longer an option. The result? 3-4 running bikes and only about 100 miles last year! The ergo of flat bars, padded seat, and belt drive on a bike with unique but almost production look begins to sound not so bad.
What these guys are doing is right up our alley - for the time being. A bike that has the look, has decent performance, and is reliable. I'm not advocating this kit nor a world of retro rod bikes - I typically shun the old "....classic look with modern mechanics..." trip but this should serve as inspiration to us regardless of the base model one starts with.
I say until it takes off and becomes a dealer option where there are several lined up at each MC show, all looking identical, it will be just unusual enough to be cool.