Cafe Racer vs Scrambler

Cafe Racer and Scrambler are two distinct styles of motorcycles that emerged in the mid-twentieth century. They have become increasingly popular in recent years as retro-style bikes.

A Cafe Racer is a lightweight, low-slung motorcycle designed for speed and agility, with an emphasis on style and performance.

In contrast, a Scrambler is a motorcycle built for off-road use, with higher ground clearance, knobby tires, and an upright riding position.

While both styles have roots in the same era of motorcycle culture, they represent different design philosophies and riding experiences.

In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between scrambler and café racer to help you decide which one is a better option for you.

Cafe Racer | Pros & Cons | Scrambler | Pros & Cons | Cafe racer vs Scrambler | How to choose

Cafe Racer

Cafe Racer Honda CB400N on dirt road

A Cafe Racer is a motorcycle style that originated in the UK in the 1960s, and it was designed for racing on paved tracks. The idea behind this motorcycle type was to create something that was not only fast and agile but also stylish and attractive.

One of the key features of these motorbikes is that they have a single seat, which is usually a rear cowl. This design is meant to reduce weight and improve aerodynamics, which helps increase the bike’s speed and agility.

Another feature that you will find on most cafe racers is a single headlight, along with clip-on handlebars that offer a more aggressive riding position.

Most cafe racers come with an open-face lid that offers greater visibility and allows the rider to feel more connected to the road. They also have parallel engines and set-back foot controls that provide a rider with a tucked-in riding position.

This design allows for better weight distribution and improves the rider’s ability to control the bike.

Cafe Racer – Pros & Cons

Here are the pros and cons of café racers that you need to keep in mind.


  • Lightweight and agile, making them easy to maneuver and ride
  • Easy to lift and handle if dropped, especially for beginners
  • Can reach high speeds quickly, providing a thrilling riding experience
  • Fun and stylish, perfect for daily commutes or short rides
  • Offers a pure and minimalist riding experience for those who appreciate it


  • Not ideal for long rides, as they lack the comfort features of touring bikes
  • Aggressive riding position may cause discomfort or pain, especially for riders with back issues


green triumph scrambler parked on the side of the road

A scrambler is a great choice for riders who want a versatile and stylish motorcycle that can easily handle off-road terrain. They’re designed to be lightweight, agile, and durable, making them perfect for exploring both urban and rural environments.

These motorbikes typically have a classic, retro-inspired design with features such as a high exhaust pipe, a slim seat, and a minimalistic look. Some modern models come with advanced features like anti-lock brakes, traction control, and ride-by-wire throttle systems, which make them even more capable on and off the road.

Most scramblers come with a small, round headlight and a simple instrument cluster. They have a short, padded seat that’s designed to be comfortable both on and off-road. They also feature a high-mounted exhaust system, which not only looks cool but also protects the exhaust pipes from damage when riding over rough terrain.

Another great feature of these motorbikes is that they’re available with both single and twin-cylinder engines. They offer plenty of torque for climbing hills and navigating rough terrain, making them ideal for off-roading.

Scrambler – Pros & Cons

Here are the lists of pros and cons of a scrambler that you should keep in mind before making your buying decision.


  • Comfortable riding on rough terrain due to longer suspension travel and wider tires
  • More stable and comfortable to ride on uneven ground
  • Versatile, suitable for both on and off-road riding
  • Stylish, with off-road-worthy features
  • Easier to ride on off-road terrain than other types of motorcycles


  • High price tag
  • Requires more maintenance than other types of motorcycles

Cafe Racer vs Scrambler: Detailed Comparison

Now that you understand what a café racer and a scrambler are, let’s discuss how they’re different in detail.


brown bmw cafe racer parked in a city parking lot
cafe racer low exhaust design

When it comes to design, both bikes have distinct differences.

Cafe racers typically have a sleek, streamlined design with a low-slung clip-on bar, a single seat, and a stylish fuel tank featuring concave depressions. The swept-back exhaust pipes and air- or water-cooled engine give it an aggressive and sporty appearance.

On the other hand, scrambler motorcycles have a design focused on off-road capabilities. The one-seat paddle saddle and long-travel suspension offer a more comfortable ride, and the wide handlebars and compact fuel tank give the rider more control on uneven terrain.

These motorcycles also have thick, knobby tires and spoked wheels, enhancing their off-road performance.

In short, café racers are built for speed and style and have a more aggressive and sportier look. Whereas, scramblers are built for versatility and comfort, and they have a rugged and adventurous look.

It ultimately comes down to personal preference and intended use when choosing between the two styles.

Exhaust height

The exhaust height is one of the main distinguishing factors between cafe racers and Scrambler motorcycles.

Cafe racers are typically used for street riding, and their exhaust systems are usually swept back, similar to those found on modern sports bikes. They’re not designed for off-road use, although you can occasionally ride them on unpaved roads if necessary. However, their performance on such terrain may not be as good as on city streets.

Scrambler motorcycles are designed for both on-road and off-road use. Their exhaust system is usually placed high to ensure obstacle clearance when riding off-road. But you can also ride them on flat surfaces like streets and roads.

Riding Position

As mentioned already, the ergonomics of a cafe racer motorcycle are designed for a sporty and aggressive riding position. The handlebars are positioned low, and the fuel tank is designed in such a way that it requires the rider to lean forward, resulting in a more aerodynamic position.

In contrast, a scrambler motorcycle is designed with ergonomics that prioritize comfort over sportiness. The handlebars on a scrambler are wider and taller, and the seating position is more upright, similar to that of a standard motorcycle.

This design provides a more natural riding position that can be sustained for longer periods of time.


Scramblers have a more robust suspension system that can absorb shocks and vibrations better than the cafe racer. Their suspension system is designed to provide better stability and balance on rough terrain.

They have high-mounted exhaust pipes that allow them to provide better ground clearance, making it easier to ride over bumps, rocks, and other obstacles.

In addition, they’re also equipped with chunky, knobby tires for enhanced grip on loose or uneven surfaces, and their thick padded seats provide more comfort during long rides.

Whereas, cafe racers prioritize speed and style over comfort. They have a stiffer suspension system that is designed for quick, agile maneuvers on smooth roads. The low-slung clip-on handlebars force the rider into a forward-leaning position, which can be uncomfortable for some riders, especially during long rides.

These motorbikes also have narrower, less-padded seats that are not as comfortable as the thick-padded seats of the scrambler. So, scramblers are more comfortable than cafe racers.


Generally, cafe racers are more affordable than scramblers and can be a great option for those on a budget. They typically start from around $5,000 and can range up to $15,000 or more, depending on the brand, model, and features.

On the other hand, scramblers usually start from around $10,000 and can go up to $20,000 or more, depending on the brand, engine size, and features.


A lighter motorcycle can provide better handling and maneuverability, which can be beneficial for riders who are looking for a more dynamic and responsive riding experience.

On the other hand, a heavier motorcycle can provide more stability and comfort, which can come in handy during longer rides or off-road adventures.

a scrambler in the desert

Both cafe racers and scramblers are designed to be lightweight, with an emphasis on performance and speed. The weight of these motorcycles can vary depending on the style, modifications, and add-ons.

Historically, these motorbikes were often custom-built, and riders would try to make them as lightweight as possible to increase speed and performance. Today, many of these bikes are manufactured in factories with modern technology and materials, which can impact the weight of the motorcycle.

On average, cafe racers weigh between 400 and 500 pounds, while scramblers weigh between 400 and 550 pounds. It means that there is a minimal weight difference between these two types of motorcycles, and it’s not a significant differentiator between them.


Both cafe racers and scramblers can accommodate larger engines, which are great for achieving higher speeds and improved efficiency. The engines can either be liquid- or air-cooled, and they can have either single or twin pistons to provide the required performance.

However, it’s important to note that the exact specifications of the engines can vary depending on the specific make and model of the bike. Some cafe racers can have more powerful engines and offer better performance than scramblers and vice versa.


The popularity of cafe racers and scramblers varies based on the region and the intended use. Cafe racers, with their sleek design and faster speed, tend to be more popular in urban areas where they can easily maneuver through traffic. They’re great for shorter commutes or weekend rides, as they provide a sporty and stylish ride.

Whereas, scramblers, with their off-road capabilities, tend to be more popular in rural areas where there are open spaces and rough terrains. They are designed for adventure and can handle unpaved roads, making them perfect for longer trips and exploring the great outdoors.

How to Choose Between Cafe Racer Vs Scrambler

honda-cafe racer

When it comes to choosing between a cafe racer and a scrambler, you should consider your needs and preferences.

If you want a bike that can be ridden both on and off-road and handle various terrains, a scrambler is a way to go. It’s also more ergonomic and comfortable.

However, if you’re more interested in style and speed and want a bike that’s great for urban riding, a cafe racer might be more suitable.

You should also consider factors such as your budget and skill level before making your buying decision. Take your time, do your research, and test-ride different bikes to find the one that feels right for you.


Both cafe racers and scramblers have unique features and characteristics that make them appealing to different types of riders.

Cafe racers are known for their speed and agility, making them ideal for riders who prioritize style and performance. While scramblers are versatile motorcycles that can handle both on and off-road riding, making them perfect for those who enjoy exploring rugged terrains.

When choosing between these two bike types, it’s important to consider your needs, preferences, and riding style to ensure that you select the option that suits you the best.