13 Oct The Return of the Cafe Racer – Fyasko.com
The Return of the Cafe Racer
A café racer, originally pronounced “caff” (as in Kaff) racer, is a type of motorcycle as well as a type of motorcyclist. Both meanings have their roots in the 1960s British counterculture group the Rockers, or the Ton-up boys, although they were also common in Italy, Germany, and other European countries. If you are a connoisseur of the Cafe Racer legacy, take a look here.
Rockers were a young and rebellious Rock and Roll counterculture that wanted a fast, personalized and distinctive bike to travel between transport cafés along the newly built arterial motorways in and around British towns and cities. The goal of many was to be able to reach 100 miles per hour (called simply “the ton”) along such a route where the rider would leave from a cafe, race to a predetermined point and back to the cafe before a single song could play on the jukebox, called record-racing. They are remembered as being especially fond of Rockabilly music and their image is now embedded in today’s rockabilly culture.
The term cafe racer is still used to describe motorcycles of a certain style and some motorcyclists still use this term in self-description. Worthy of mentioning here is that an entire new sub-culture has evolved since the heyday of the Rockers. The ‘cafe racers’, a term that existed in the 1950s and 1960s to refer to bike riders of the race track, but is used now to describe motorcycle riders who choose classic/vintage British, German, Italian, or Japanese motorbikes from the 50s-to late 1970s as their bike of choice, over other styles of bikes.
These cafe racers do not follow the fashion/music subculture of the Rockers, old or new, but dress in a more modern and comfortable appearance with only a hint of likeness to the Rockers style. Common Levi jeans, generic motorcycle jackets, boots and/or shoes with modern helmets being the norm, instead of the very specific brand names, styles and look established by the Rockers. These cafe racers have taken elements of the American Greaser, British Rocker and modern motorcycle rider look to create a style all their own.
Harley-Davidson customized in the Classic cafe racer style has made a comeback recently, thanks largely to the increased interest in vintage motorcycles in general. The baby boomers were responsible for a surge in motorcycle sales in the late 1960s and ’70s, and many of this generation now find themselves with the time and discretionary income to recreate the bikes they had—or wished to have—in their younger years.
All we know is, a Cafe Racer is more than just a motorbike – it’s a way of life…