Cafe Racer a long forgotten Culture, Know the British history of Cafe Racer Culture

Let's revive the wild 60's biking culture popularly known as the Cafe culture and to begin with we have a short description of Cafe racer in general.


Let's travel back in time to recall the fun they had! "They" meaning that British generation that grew in England from early 60's to late 70's, A golden era of Modern British Industrialization, right when the country was loaded with plenty of jobs and the whole nation was fighting with the post-war effects.

What is a Cafe Racer?

The Café Racer is a lightweight, lightly powered motorcycle optimized by the riders themselves to hangout from one street cafe to another and back in 60's cafe culture was not just a fashion trend it was rather a revolution. But it's not just about bikes; the trend became a post-war subculture for young men who were frustrated for not being able to buy a car developed a fast looking motorcycles for short road race and to hangout from one cafe to another. 

CAPTION: Old Advertisement of Busy Bee Cafe
SOURCE: Busy Bee Cafe Busy Bee Café, Watford

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Back then when motorcycles weren't as fast as the modern day bike a term called doin the ton” or going 100 mph at least once on your bike was quite an accomplishment. Many good lads even lost their lives by living in a fast lane. As per many stories, the racers will tune in a song in the Jukebox and race and whoever covered the longer distance and arrived there before the song was over would win the bet. 

CAPTION: Ace Cafe Wembley Now SOURCE: Ace Cafe Wembley

Its a trend that started in Britain and took over the world and the basic concept of a cafe bike was speed handling rather than comfort. The boys with black jackets on with a lot of patches and badges ran from one corner of London to another fearless showing off their customized bikes with a fundamental principle "To young to die young and too fast to live slow".

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CAPTION: Factory built cafe racer From Enfield
SOURCE: Vintage images

The popular trend was to get a 300cc to 500cc bike and race around with friends showing the world that they just don't care.

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The Rockers: First group of lads that started the Cafe Trend

With the term cafe racer, another name comes along, and it's the early racers who started the whole culture and they were "The Rockers". So, who are these rockers? The Rockers are all the boys who ran rogue, fearless riding their bikes in the streets of London in early 60's. 

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CAPTION: Cult Members from The Rockers, 
SOURCE: Cult Members from The Rockers

Straight into rock and roll and jukebox culture these kids were the example of young and fearless. But the name wasn't actually given to the group it specifically was a part that was installed on their motorbikes, specifically Rockers 360 and it's variety.

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The street copy of (Grand Prix road racing motorcycle) Moto-GP in 60's, these cafe racer bikes had distinctive ergonomics, café racers are noted for their visual minimalism. Low-mounted clipper handlebars, prominent seat cowling, and the elongated fuel tank was its basic signature. So basically, the Cafe Racer, was a necked bike with minimal accessories and were the maximum speeding vehicle on the road back in 60's.

CAPTION: Cafe racers in Busy Bee back in 60's
SOURCE: Google images

Later, many companies started manufacturing these bikes, and many variations in the culture were seen. One of the most famous cafes then was Ace cafe London and it's still running. It's still a place for riders new and old to share their stories and fix bikes. Another famous street cafe where young riders could enjoy music eating besides his bike was Busy Bee Café, Watford, in the north west of London.

What happened to the necessity for a bike to be a Café Racer was it had to have a combination of some of these things: clip-on bars, swept back pipes, a racing seat, large carburetors, and a fiberglass or aluminum gas tank.

What happened to Cafe racers?

The subculture took a turn, and another group of people was seen in the London's street who were given another name Mods. They were clean, cultured, continental fashion following group of people who rode scooters which were comparatively slower than Cafe racers.

CAPTION: Mods in fashion
SOURCE: Google images

The group considered cafe fashion as worn-out and after the Mods grew in number British beaches and vacation spot saw an unnatural scene of two youth group fighting for the dominance of their fashion.

CAPTION: 60's riders in some group event after the subculture was over,
SOURCE: Ace Cafe

After the feud, some original members started to leave the groups on both sides, but it was time that changed the scenario. People started growing old, and they could only carry the trend on for so long, hence it was a bubble in time that brushed.


But now newer generation is getting more past culture oriented and are slowly getting interested in reviving the old culture once again. With that being said bigger motor production companies are again returning to the road, and we are seeing all the bike rallies and old cafe communities. Let's see if the recent wave of Cafe culture again takes over the world but today we are not here to talk about the new trend or about the hybrid bikes its a tribute to the trendsetters from 1960's.