You’ve probably never heard of it – café racer. What is it? Where does it come from? And why do I think it is one of the coolest looking bikes ever?
Born in the streets of London in the 1950s. With its spartan appearance and aggressive styling, trying to resemble the machines ridden by British racing stars like Geoff Duke and Mike Hailwood. The café racer has had a big impact on the motorcycle industry for example the Triumph Bonneville, Honda CB-750 and the Kawasaki Z-1. One of the birthplaces was London’s Ace Café. It was one of many cafés that provided a place for teenagers and their racers to gather in the 50s and 60s. Most cafés didn’t survive and were taken down however the Ace Café reopened in 1994 and is now back to its former glory.
The café racer may have been born in London, but has clearly made its way around the globe. The bike is a piece for those with a desire for speed and the love rock and roll.
The riders of these particular bikes were young and they wanted to hit „the ton“ (to hit 100 mph).
“The term café racer came from what’s actually a derisive term used to describe kids who hung out in cafés and raced fast. They would hang out in transport cafés and wait until somebody else came by on a fast bike and challenged them for a race, and they all rushed outside to see who gets up the road the fastest. When they get back to the cafés, which were often occupied by long distance truck drivers, the truck drivers would laugh and say, ‘You’re not a real racer, you’re not Barry Sheen, you’re just a café racer! And the kids thought, ‘Well you’re damn right I’m a café racer!’ So they would race to the next café, and then to the next one as fast as they could, and the name stuck; they embraced it despite the fact that it was a derisive term,” said the author and journalist Mike Seate who has been following the café racer for two decades.
For me the café racer is one of the coolest bikes ever, but you should see it for yourself!