The early times - A cafe racer

We all love cafe racers, and what they are all about, but who really knows the history behind them. In this article we are going to delve into more about the early years of cafe racers, and what has developed them over the years into what has become a huge culture around the world. Starting out from modifying their bikes to taking them to transport cafes to race them, find out about something that you might love but you didn't know. 

 
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The term 'cafe racer', can be applied to any old style bike that has had a simple modification to it, but we are talking about the proper converted bikes. We are talking about the enthusiasts that raced each other from cafes to other cafes, and as you might have just thought, this is how the term 'cafe racers' came from. People would sit in transport cafes and wait till another rider went speeding up, they would track them down and ask them for a race to the next cafe. Culture picked up from about the 60s with the UK having a small culture around the Ace Cafe, London. Ace Cafe, London has been a notable venue know across the world since starting in 1938 staying open to 1969 then being converted in 1997. Ace Cafe grew so popular as it was open 24 hours a day, attracting very keen motorcyclists, and with the culture growing and growing it started picking up to become such a prestigious venue. 

One of the most talked about topics amongst riders was getting their bike to that infamous 100mph, to do this riders had to heavily modify their bikes. This was to count yourself in amongst everyone else in the Ton-up Club. How to become a member? Simple get your bike 100mph plus and you would be in the club. Back in the 60s, most of the bikes where coming from Triumph, Norton etc.. and they weren't the fastest bikes ever which meant they had to be modified. The market for after market parts for motorcycles was huge with riders wanting to upgrade their stock bike to a 'cafe racer'. Over time, as you would imagine this was an expensive hobby, but this was what has evolved the culture known today. The bike had to be light, reachable of 100mph and in our opinion look good. Theres no question about it, we think these bikes look better modified into a cafe racer rather than a stock bike, and these riders certainly thought this too. Hundreds, if not thousands of riders would stop of at the Ace Cafe, showing off their works of art. 

The Ton-up club, Ace Cafe - The 60s

The Ton-up club, Ace Cafe - The 60s

Cafe racers might have been modified heavily but sometimes they weren't always made better, well not certainly for the comfort of riding a motorcycle. The seats where sometimes made from wood, and thin padding. Typically seen on a brat style bike, they are still the same style but they have come on. When riders had a huge budget they would combine different motorcycles, this was popular and created a "triton", this is a combination of a Triumph engine and a Norton frame. These bikes are rarely seen today but they look amazing, and can stand right out from a distance. 

What is your interpretation of a cafe racer?