Difference between Cafe Racer vs Scrambler: Detailed comparison

Cafe racer vs Scrambler
Cafe racer vs Scrambler

The most common and confusing question that most people ask me about the “difference between cafe racer and scrambler.”

Cafe racer and scrambler motorcycles come with minor differences that make these both bikes distinctive and standalone in their purpose.

After doing a lot of research and in-hand review of both cafe racer and scrambler motorcycle, here is what I found out.

So, What is the difference between Cafe racer and Scrambler? The key difference between a cafe racer and Scrambler style is their exhaust height and purpose. A Scrambler motorcycle exhaust is placed higher as these are meant to be ridden both on-road and off-road, whereas Cafe racers’ exhaust is positioned lower and meant to be used on-road only.

Apart from this, Scrambler motorcycles are more comfortable to ride than a cafe racer. But there are many more things to know about the fundamental difference between them. I have discussed everything briefly in the sections below to help you understand by giving some valuable insights. So, let’s start with the bikes’ overall Physical Appearance.

The major difference between Cafe racer and Scrambler

Here, we will discuss the most common differences that make the cafe and Scrambler standalone in their category.

Physical Appearance

Cafe racer physical apperance
Parts name of Cafe racer bike

Cafe racer comes with a single-seat, elegant fuel tank with a concave depression and low slung clip-on bars.

It has swept-back exhaust pipes along with the air-cooled/ water-cooled Engine placed in the motorcycle.

Because of this physical built-in and overall ergonomics, Cafe racers tend to have an aggressive riding position and sporty look.

Scrambler bike parts name
Scrambler bike parts name

A Scrambler motorcycle comes with a single-seat, long-travel suspension, wide handlebars along with a small fuel tank.

It has high-mounted exhaust pipes for ground clearance and comes with a torque air-cooled single or twin-cylinder engine.

It has a short paddle saddle, thick tread, knobby tires on spoked wheels, and small gauges.

Because of this physical built-in, Scrambler motorcycles are more comfortable than a Cafe racers. Scrambler motorcycles can easily and comfortably use both on-road and off-road rides.

Exhaust Height of motorcycles

The key difference between cafe racer and Scrambler is their exhaust height.

A cafe racer is made for street use only; thus, it uses swept-back exhaust like nowadays sports motorcycle uses.

With a cafe racer, you are bound to use it in the street only. I am not saying you can’t take it to the unpaved road, you can, but it’s not built for this.

A cafe racer motorcycle will give you high speed on city highways, but if you take it to off-roads and unpaved roads, its performance will not be the same.

Scrambler motorcycles are designed for both street use (on-road) and off-road riding. You can ride Scrambler on paved and unpaved or any off-road trails.

Thus its exhaust is mounted higher than the cafe racer to give total ground and obstacle clearance to it while riding. 

With Scrambler, you have the versatility of riding anywhere without having to think twice. Thus you can ride on-road, and if required, you can also ride off-road with the same motorcycle and performance.

Riding position of motorcycles

Cafe racer ergonomics are more likely sports; thus, its riding position is also aggressive. It has low handlebars and an elegant thin fuel tank that makes you lean forward to hold it. 

Thus because of this cafe racer riding position is a little bit uncomfortable. After riding the cafe racer for some time, you may start to feel pain in your body.

If you feel body pain while riding the cafe racer, you should rest for some time. Its riding position makes it uncomfortable to ride for longer distances.

Overall you will enjoy the on-road commuting over short distances with a cafe racer.

Scrambler motorcycle ergonomics make the riding position very comfortable.

It has high, wide handlebars with a simple seating position like standard motorcycles, as you can see in the above image.

Therefore, this makes the Scrambler motorcycle overall riding more comfortable than a cafe racer.

Purpose of the motorcycle

Cafe racers are made by stripping off unnecessary parts and fairing to make them lightweight. It is the type of standard motorcycle type with a sporty riding position and is suitable to drive on paved roads.

But please don’t mistake it by comparing it to standard motorcycles; it has sportier looks and aggressive riding positions.

Here I have mentioned a standard motorcycle with a cafe racer because of its minimal visual design.

Its primary purpose is better handling and speed; thus, it is made lightweight with a sporty riding position. 

Thus, you can use a cafe racer for short rides and daily commuting, but you shouldn’t consider using it for long rides.

For more information read this article, “Why you can’t use a cafe racer for long rides?”

Scramblers are versatile motorcycles because they can be used both on-street (on-road) and off-road. Its body has been stripped down to provide higher speeds and fitted with high-mounted exhaust to provide better ground clearance.

With Scrambler, you can use it on the street, muds, dirt, field, hills, and terrain without worrying about the performance.

Thus, it is the best adventure motorbike or dirt bike for beginners as it is light-weight, compact, and ready to handle any terrain.

Weight of the motorcycle

Both motorcycle cafe racers and scramblers are made light-weight because of their intention of providing performance, more precisely speed.

The weight of these motorbikes is subject to change. As the overall weight depends on the overall style of the motorcycle and its add ons.

If we talk about the initial trend of these bikes then people used to use custom-built cafe racers and scramblers for their use. Thus they normally made it lightweight for increased speed and performance.

Although nowadays, most of these bikes are manufactured in factories with newer technologies embedded. Thus here is the average weight for both bikes:-

  • The average weight for the cafe racers bikes is 400 to 500 pounds.
  • The average weight for the Scramblers is also 400 to 550 pounds.

From the above data, we can see that there is a minimal weight difference between these two motorcycles. So, weight is not an issue here till there is some modification done on the motorcycles.

Height of the motorcycles

The height of the motorcycle is the most important factor to consider. So let’s take a look at the heights of these two motorcycles:-

If you are between 5-5.5 ft then most of the cafe racer and Scrambler would fit you comfortably without having to stretch your legs.

But if your height is more than this, let’s say 6ft then you will feel uncomfortable after just 30 minutes. But yeah! There are some exceptional bikes available for you also.

Engine Performance of motorcycles

Cafe racer and Scrambler can support larger engines which is great for speed and performance.

Both motorcycle engines come with air-cooled/ liquid-cooled engines along with single/ twin cylinders to provide the performance required.

Apart from this, these bike engines are mostly the same so most of the factors like displacements, torques, number of cylinders, etc are the same.

Tires of motorcycles

Tires play a major role in the traction with the road surface that provides overall stability and agility while driving. Different tires serve different purposes, thus it’s the same with cafe racer and scrambler motorcycles.

As cafe racers are known for their speed and sports thus are equipped with sports tires. That helps with grip with the road on riding as well as in some cornering.

Scrambler motorbikes are made for both on-road and off-road riding thus its tires are made durable and provide excellent grip with the surface.


Which is the better option to consider buying between Scrambler and Cafe racer?

To better select and buy between these two motorcycle types, one should know the purpose of purchasing that. You should know, “Why are you buying a motorcycle? The purpose.”

For example, if you are looking to buy motorcycles mainly for daily commuting and riding over short distances. Then it would be best if you purchased a cafe racer.

Apart from this, if you are a little adventurous and like to do some off-roading and normal riding on a paved road, then scrambler motorcycles are good for you.

Note: If you are specifically looking only for off-road and Adventure riding motorcycles then Scrambler may not be the best choice. So, you must go with a motorcycle specifically made for off-roading a dirt bike.


Is Scrambler a dirt bike?

Scrambler is the old name for the dirt bike. And because Scramblers were capable of riding on off-roads, they were given an old name for dirt bikes. But, now dirt bikes are available and specially made for off-road riding.

Is Scrambler a cafe racer?  

Exhaust height is the main difference that makes Scrambler different from Cafe racer. Scramblers are made for riding on both off-road as well as on-road, whereas cafe racers are just intended for on-road. These factors make Scrambler different than a cafe racer.

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