Friday, November 23, 2007

We are moving!

Cafe Racer Society has been huge fun theses past few years - with over 240 hopefully informative (or at least interesting) posts. But with the impending sale of my vintage Cafe Racer after four years of fun I feel its time for something new...

The New Cafe Racer Society will focus more on the motorcycle in art, design, culture, film and the future,...and less an attempt to be all things cafe racer and the nuts and bolts of bikes.

I have transferd some of my favorite postings onto the new site and will for a while and at the end of November when I will keep this blog as an archive after that.

Till then...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Vintage 1987: Fast Art.

I pulled this amazing advert for Fast Art from an art magazine way back in 1987. It shows a 87 Honda CBR 100F painted by then innovative graffiti artist Keith Haring (who went on to shake the modern art world..and then sadly die of A.I.D.S all to soon afterwards) Fast Art gallery commissioned several other Graffiti artists Crash, Stash, Futura 2000, L.A. II and Zephyr to all create stunning examples of fast art. The full gallery of the art bikes can be viewed at the Art Crimes/ Fast Art Website

Revealed: The new Moto Guzzi V Classic Cafe Racer.


"The Guzzi V7 is back. Moto-Guzzi follows the revival style and will show at the next EICMA of Milan a whole new V7... on the V7 Classic, Moto Guzzi is again offering a motorcycle with classic, timeless lines in homage to true Moto Guzzi V7 elegance and style.

Equipped with a classic 750 cc engine and with looks characterised by the flat contour of the tank and seat, the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic is an impressively enjoyable and versatile machine.
Simple and with timeless design, all features will be unveil November 6th."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The real ghost rider.


"Ghost Rider" is the alias used by a Swedish motorcycle stunt rider in a series of independently produced DVD movies where the recurring theme involves Ghost Rider himself performing illegal maneuvers on his motorcycle on public roads across Sweden and other countries in Europe. The movies show Ghost Rider, mostly in the perspective of cameras mounted on his motorbike, racing at extreme speeds on busy roadways, provoking law enforcement officers into high-speed chases, and performing various dangerous stunts in mostly uncontrolled environments.

Ghost Rider's primary motorbike of choice for the movies is the Suzuki GSX-R1000. He has used a variety of different year models with differing modifications to each, including a fully carbon fiber GSX-R1000 K4 in Ghost Rider Goes Crazy in Europe and a 280+ bhp turbocharged GSX-R1000 K5 in Ghost Rider Goes Undercover. Although Ghost Rider's primary vehicle is a motorcycle, he uses a wide variety of other vehicles in the movies including different types of cars, bicycles, minibikes, and even a snowmobile on public streets. Each movie has a scene where Ghost Rider rides a highly tuned, turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa. The Hayabusa in Ghost Rider: The Final Ride was tuned to 417 bhp, and the one used for the later movies was at 499 bhp.

Swedish rock band Europe used various clips from the Ghost Rider movies in their music video for the song Got to Have Faith from their 2004 album Start from the Dark.

In Ghost Rider: The Final Ride, Ghost Rider does a timed run in Sweden from Stockholm to Uppsala (dubbed Uppsala Run, a distance of 68 km or 42.6 miles) in 14m 55s with an average speed of 273.1 km/h (170.1 mph) in heavy traffic. He breaks his own record in Uppsala Run 2 (Ghost Rider Goes Crazy in Europe) with a faster bike by a mere two seconds (14m 53s) with even heavier traffic present.

In Ghost Rider Goes Crazy in Europe, Ghost Rider does a timed run in Paris, France on the Paris Peripherique (French term for ring road/beltway) and completes the circuit with an elapsed time of 9m 57s. This was done as a tribute to a French street racer going by the alias "Le Prince Noir" (Black Prince) who completed the circuit on his motorcycle in 11m 04s in the year 1989. The times are incomparable however due to Black Prince's being obtained in heavy traffic with daylight and Ghost Rider's being obtained with very little traffic at night.
Also in Ghost Rider Goes Crazy in Europe, Ghost Rider does a timed run in the Netherlands from Rotterdam to Amsterdam (a distance of approximately 70 kilometers) in 20m 32s.

..and here's my favorite bit from the wiki:

"Ghost Rider has built up a myth that seems destined to endure: There are many in the motorcycle community that believe the real Ghost Rider died in an accident in 2005, whilst some of Stockholm's youth claim with conviction that he really is a ghost and can ride through walls to evade police."

Probally the best Birmingham-based vampire motorcycle movie ever made.

Review From Eat my
"At first glance it seems like the most unlikeliest of combinations: the guy who does the voice of Bob the Builder and the guy who plays C-3PO appearing in the same movie? A horror movie? A British horror movie about a vampire motorcycle set in Birmingham? Well, truth is often stranger than fiction and this movie is living proof of that, or rather proof of what happens when a production company behind a hit show lie to the TV studio backers about doing re-shoots, borrow the show’s sets, props and even actors, and make a low-budget horror comedy of their very own. About a vampire motorcycle. In Birmingham.

The film itself opens with a good old fashioned bit of biker turf war action. A devil worshipping biker gang has moved in to the territory of a rival gang called the ‘Road Toads’ to do a spot of demon summoning, so the Road Toads break out the weapons and carnage ensues. The Road Toads win, slaughtering all the devil worshipping bikers easy, but little do they know they were too late to stop the summoning and the demon is now here finding refuge in a damaged Norton Commando motorcycle.

So when Nick Oddy (or ‘Noddy’ to his friends, Neil Morrissey to you and I) heads off to buy a second hand, slightly damaged Norton motorcycle, you know exactly what to expect. At the beginning things are quiet, with only the brutal decapitation of Noddy’s mate Buzzer giving any hint that something is amiss (that’ll teach him for stealing the bike’s petrol cap). Then there’s the bike’s handling going bananas when Noddy happens to ride past the Road Toads, but he puts that down to dodgy steering, which is sensible really as that’s a little more probable than your bike being a vampire. The straw that finally breaks the camel’s back, though – when the bike reveals it’s true nature – is when Noddy and his girlfriend order a Chinese takeaway from the guy who plays Kato in the Pink Panther movies. That’ll teach them to order garlic prawns.

So with the bike now unveiled it appears that no one in Birmingham is safe. In a few sequences clearly inspired by a handful of contemporary American horrors (An American Werewolf in London immediately springs to mind) the bike goes on the rampage, killing other bikers, traffic wardens, coppers and old people indiscriminately. Noddy soon puts two and two together and he decides to head to the only place he can think of for help: the local church!

Watching I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle again after all these years feels almost like you’re unearthing a lost classic. The crack I made earlier about this movie’s Boon connection (a popular late 80s TV show starring Michael Elphick) sounds like a joke but as you watch the disc’s excellent retrospective documentary you soon realise that it’s absolutely all true. It’s a classic tale of low-budget filmmaking and one that warms any respectable film fans heart. Practically all the principal cast had appeared in Boon at some time or other (except Anthony Daniels), Noddy’s house is Boon’s house and the crew are all the same too. Sure, this gives I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle that cheapo TV movie feel, but this flick’s never going to be winning any awards for direction or cinematography, so who cares? When you’re out to make a tongue-in-cheek horror comedy with sod all budget, you take all the help you can get.

And anyone involved in this project should be proud. The script is knowing and self deprecating, plus it doesn’t mind making Morrissey, the movie’s hero, out to be a lazy male-chauvinist pig. The British predilection with toilet humour is here in full force (the ‘talking turd’ sequence being a particularly disgusting highlight, especially when in jumps into Noddy’s mouth) as is our obsession with having nice cups of tea to solve everything. The music is also suitably ridiculous, ranging an incidental score that sounds like it was lifted from a Carry On movie (yes, they borrowed the composer from Boon, would you believe) to pumping rock tracks, one of which is called “She Runs On Blood... She Don't Run On Gasoline” (which is included in it’s separate entirety as a special feature on the DVD). But the biggest gem in this pot of treasure is seeing Anthony Daniels – Mr C-3PO himself – as a camp gung-ho biker exorcist, complete with razor-sharp throwing-crosses. “Let’s go kick some bottom!”

So, don’t take it seriously and don’t expect anything ground-breaking or Oscar worthy and you won’t be disappointed. Do expect to see biker rock carnage, garlic bandoliers, multiple decapitations, fingers severed, vampire bike POV shots (through the cracked headlight, obviously) and Neil Morrissey with a fake turd hanging out of his mouth. This is one of those good bad classics that I’m sure a lot of people have forgotten about, so thank goodness M.I.A. have finally given this baby the golden DVD treatment it deserves as this is clearly the best Birmingham-based vampire motorcycle movie ever made."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Raptors and Rockets review of the CCM Cafe Racer.

From Raptors and Rockets:

Words: Tor Sagen/Photo: Gary Freeman/Redeye & Tor Sagen
"Since rising from the collapse in 2004 CCM have recently launched an all new retro collection of offroad and road motorcycles. The British maker of offroad and competition motorcycles has only recently turned to the retro market. And it’s a wise choice since CCM’s heydays was in the 70’s and 80’s. We rode the new Street Scrambler and Flat Tracker on English roads and on the Speedway track.

On my way to pick up the SR40 Street Scrambler it was my first time visiting the Bolton based CCM factory. CCM is hidden away inside an industrial area typical for the North-West of England, the industrial revolutions cradle. I am greeted by Gary Harthern (49), the Managing Director and saviour of the modern CCM. Further inside the new CCM premises off Vale Street in Bolton I find Austin Clews (42) on his knees working on next years FT35 Flat Tracker race bike. Austin is officially the Sales Manager, but everyone is very hands on in this family run business. Russel Clews (30) is the youngest of the two Clews brothers and the Purchasing Manager. These three make out the CCM management.

Austin runs through the controls and idiosyncrasies of the SR40. Idiosyncrasies because the SR40 Street Scrambler is the only existing prototype! So the seat is not final, the exhaust is too close to the rear tyre etc. I am being told that I am now an official test mule and if any problems just call. Worrying, but after writing down all the mobile phone numbers I feel safe that I would at least be picked up by a CCM van if something should go wrong.

The SR40 is a tiny and very short motorcycle. With a punchy little 398cc single cylinder engine taken from the Suzuki DRZ400 SR40 becomes somewhat wheelie prone. But with 42bhp and wide retro offroad handlebars it’s all very controllable. The SR40 is a Scrambler modelled on popular Triumph’s and BSA’s from the 60’s and 70’s. The handcrafted untreated alloy fuel tank makes a clear statement of minimalism and true retro looks. The aluminium mudguards and headlight with stainless steel guards are also retro and for someone that is used to riding a lot of modern bikes this is a real treat to the eyes. Despite the retro looks and image this Scrambler can and will handle most terrain.

The dry weight merely tips the scales at just over 120kg and riding it away from the Bolton factory I feel like a giant on the small bike. The ergonomics on this one and only existing prototype is nothing short of torture. I was shown the new seat at the factory that will replace this thin piece of leather that is fitted to this bike. When seated I could feel the sub frame trying to crush my bum-cheeks, but as mentioned this will be changed before production starts. The SR40 like any other new CCM will only be produced as Limited Editions-All handmade and assembled in Bolton.

The Paioli front fork has got modern internals, but is modelled on exactly how a classic offroad bike would have looked like. The suspension at the back is just as retro with double shocks from Brit firm Hagon. The suspension feels quite soft, but never bottomed out. The wheels are 18inch at the back and 21 inch at the front with offroad spec tyres fitted. These give the bike a tall and swampy feel on the road. They are slippery on the edges in the bends, but will easily do a wheelie on the wet when the bike and road is straight. Top speed on the motorway is around 90mph which is plenty enough on this short and small Scrambler.

On difficult offroad terrain is where this little gem could give a few grown up offroaders a surprise. It could be described as a mixture between a trails and offroad bike. Because it is so small and light it is nimble as very few bikes. At the same time it has got that low Scrambler seat height that will allow even docile offroad riders to perform daredevil manoeuvres on the dirt! The SR40 is a very forgiving offroad bike and I can’t see anyone ever getting into trouble on one! It’s like a small and stubborn mountain goat that will climb and climb when others have given up. So yes, a mixture between a trials bike, offroad and Scrambler is what the SR40 is. CCM have fitted Brembo brakes both at the front and back and not much is needed to stop this lightweight.

At the end of the test we headed out to Scunthorpe speedway circuit in the North-East of England. It was a bloody cold, wet and misty day-but I haven’t had this much fun in ages. On any Sunday is a brilliant film, and racing on the Flat Track ovals is all it’s about. This was my chance to play Mert Lewwill anno 1970 and I grabbed it with both hands! After doing loads of static shots around the track and action shots on the road I could wait no longer. I had Scunthorpe to myself and three bikes to choose from. The SR 40 Street Scrambler, the FT35RS and the FT35 race bike that won the British championship in 2006.

Since I had spent more time on the SR40 than the other two bikes at this point I headed out on the wet dirt track with the Scrambler first. First I just felt my way round to find out where the major puddles of standing water was and then I tried to start sliding like a pro. And I tell you it’s not easy and particularly not when it’s wet! The slide quickly becomes uncontrollable and who am I to demolish CCM’s one and only SR40 prototype? So I decided to go fast instead to let the sliding happen naturally. I forgot to ask the CCM guys which direction you are supposed to ride around Scunthorpe and went anti-clockwise. Not that it mattered as I was the only guy circulating. Pete Boast was present at our event to get some real sliding done for the camera and it didn’t take long before I had to call him in to get the job done.

But first I swapped the SR40 with the FT35 Flat Tracker race bike. A tuned single cylinder beast with a growl that shouts Torque! With 46.2Nm of torque on the rear wheel (!) available at just over 6.000rpm it tells a story. The race bike is a 500cc conversion though with Remus race exhaust and the max horsepower figure is 46bhp @ 7.500rpm measured on the rear wheel. Before I had had the chance to do one lap I was covered in mud! As you might know a Flat Track race bike comes without a front mudguard, but one usually put a mudguard on when it’s wet! We had still planned to shoot the FT35 roadbike and the CR40 Café Racer on the road so I thought it would be best to wait until last with the race bike when it was ok to get all muddy. But too late for my white Scott jacket. There’s no front brake which takes time to remember and you do need to brake even on an oval sometimes. The Brembo rear brake will have to do the job.

Later Flat Track racer Pete Boast went out on the FT35 race bike to show us how it was done. Even he found it difficult with the sliding on the wet Scunthorpe surface, but we got a couple of shots before he got a puncture on the rear tyre. We rode with Speedway tyres by the way to get some grip on the wet. Just a couple of weeks later Boastie won a race on Scunthorpe so the man knows his way around a dirt track. But with a punctured rear tyre and the light going fast we had to call it a day. No more Flat track racing for me that day.

CCM have been best known for making Supermoto bikes in the last few years. You might be mistaken to think that the FT35 road bike is a supermoto. It isn’t really, but you can treat it like one when riding. The main difference from a supermoto is that the FT35 is derived from Flat Track racing which means it has a much lower seat height for better control with those slides when leant all the way over. This FT35 has got road tyres and superb suspension from WP.

The first thing you notice about the FT35 is the tiny instruments from Accumen. It lights up like a Christmas tree. Then when pushing the electric starter button the bike is unbelievably loud! There is a reason for that and that is the cone shaped stubby exhaust from Remus. This is not standard off course as it’s highly not road legal. A single cylinder engine releases a lot of noise given the chance to breathe freely, even a small 398cc engine like in the FT35. As soon as the engine has warmed up and you can push the manual choke back in place it’s a little more civilised-But only until you touch the throttle.

This was fun for a while, but the loud noise is such a hard noise rather than a smoother sounding V-twin bike with open pipes. You really should ask your neighbours about permission before installing that Remus exhaust…

Out on the motorway this 400cc bike accelerates all the way to an indicated 120mph! That’s pretty unbelievable for any single cylinder bike to be honest. But then again the Accumen speedo might not be completely honest. This very bike that I was riding belonged to a certain Mrs Foggarty and might have more goodies mounted than I was aware of. The windblast is relentless and the sooner I could turn off the motorway the better it was.

In town I absolutely loved this bike. It doesn’t wheelie unless you want it to, but I certainly wanted it to and it did. In town I think it’s ok to be loud, agreed some poor little old lady might get her hearing aids blown up, but at least pedestrians and everything else can hear you coming. We were so close to getting into so much trouble several times during the weekend on the CCM FT35 that it was a slight relief to return it. I was chased away by this lady that claimed her horses that were in a stable several miles away, found the charming little bike disturbing.

So I returned the anti-social little beast back to CCM quite content. A weekend was enough, but there could still have been more fun to be had. Fun is all this bike is about and it is a great little short distance commuter.

I was now due to ride the CR40 Café Racer. But there was a problem when I arrived, there was no sidestand on the bike and the new one was not ready yet. We could have disengaged the sidestand switch and gone for a spin, but then CCM remembered that they had removed a footpeg as well to use on another bike that had gone out to the press in a hurry. So I had to settle with sitting on the CR40 S with the 80’s TT inspired fairing. The bike is very different from the SR40 Street Scrambler that it shares both chassis and other parts with. The clip-on handlebars are retro racing and the tyres are road orientated Dunlop’s rather than the knobby ones on the Scrambler. Great if you fancy the look, but me I’m a Scrambler man.


Of all the CCM’s that I rode the SR40 Street Scrambler is my favourite both when it comes to looks and offroad ability. There’s just nothing like it out there. The FT35 roadbike with loud pipes made the most spectacular impression and it handles better than all the other CCM’s-Perfect if you ride a lot in town or if you are not tall enough for a supermoto. But that Remus stubby silencer is bloody loud! Riding the bikes on the Flat Track was the highlight of the test and this experience is highly recommended. CCM organises Flat Track experience days and you should try it if you have got the chance. The combination of reliable Suzuki engines, quality suspension and brakes and hand built CCM chassis and fuel tanks should be irresistible if you like how the bikes look like. If not you could always buy a puke yellow DRZ400…

CCM brief history

CCM was founded in 1971 by Alan Clews-Then called Clews Stroka that soon became Clews Competition Machines, now known as CCM. During the 70’s CCM had great success in Motocross with John Banks and Bob Wright. In 1976 Eddie Kidd jumped 13 double decker buses on a 2 valve 500cc CCM. More than 54 machines were then sold to the Sultan of Oman for his display team. In the early 80’s CCM Armstrong won the British trials championship two years running with Steve Saunders. In 1981 CCM Armstrong won the 250 TT with Steve Tonkin. Niall McKenzie dominated the British 250cc Road racing championship with the world’s firs all carbon fibre frames. CCM produced over 4000 motorcycles for the North-American market under the Can Am brand. During the same period CCM produced more than 3000 MT500 army motorcycles to the British, Canadian and Jordanian armies. Harley-Davidson bought the rights to produce the MT500 in the US. In the late 90’s and until the bankruptcy CCM were active in four stroke racing with rally success in Dakar, but mainly on the supermoto track. In 2004 CCM was at the brink of extinction. Gary Harthern, a local business owner from Preston came up with the cash needed to restart production. Together with the two Clews brothers Austin and Russel he now runs the small British company from the North-West of England. Since then we have seen the launch of new bikes each year at the International motorcycle & Scooter show in Birmingham. This will continue and CCM are now developing a brand new 450cc motocross bike. Motocross is where it all started in the 70’s and be sure that CCM will soon be back on the MX scene."

At long last: a proper Harley Davidson Cafe Racer.

From The Kneeslider:

"..Hogbitz, in Chigwell Essex, England are now building Sportster based café racers.
The man behind the builds, Brian Udall, takes low mileage Sportsters and rebuilds them to resemble classic Tritons. The stock frame and forks are retained, to keep the cost down, the main changes are to the bodywork. The tank is swapped for a distinctive, hand beaten alloy unit and a new rear fender is fitted. The stock front fender is kept but cut down. The standard fork legs are also retained but polished, as are the calipers. The legs are then raised in the trees to steepen the head angle and quicken the steering.
Engine modifications are dependent on the customer with this example running an 883R motor that has been converted to 12000R and fitted with ported and polished Buell Lightning heads, a forced induction air cleaner and 2-into-1 SuperTrapp pipes.
The bike is finished off with Hogbitz clip-ons and a set of LSL rearsets to push the rider into a racing tuck aboard the custom seat. Hogbitz has plans to introduce its own line of rearsets in the future. There is also the option of an alloy seat unit which replaces the rear fender. The stock hubs are rebuilt into 18 inch alloy rims for the period correct look.
On the road the bike feels quite small and narrow and puts the rider into a stretched out, forward leaning riding position that is hard on the wrists until up to speed when the wind blast relieves some of the pressure.
The motor revs surprisingly freely and accelerated well from standstill and plenty of torque means the bike easily powers through bends in higher gears. It idles smoothly at low speeds in town without needing much in the way of clutch feathering.
Braking is fine with a two-fingered squeeze though lacking bite, which is typical of stock Harley brakes.
The relatively stock suspension soaked up bumps easily but was still firm enough to feels stable and planted through sweeping bends taken between 50 and 70 mph, a benefit of the forks being rebuilt with progressive springs and other internal changes. The change to the head angle made it surprisingly quick turning and flicking the bike from left to right was easy with a quick push on the clip-ons.
With a starting price of £7,500 the Hogbitz café racer is an affordable option for those who want the look of a classic bike but not the hassle of keeping an old Brit bike on the road."