Saturday, March 31, 2007

Book review: Cafe Racers by Mike Clay

by Mike Clay
Published in 1988 by Osprey Automotive, London
Hardcover; Dimensions: 8" x 11" (20.5x28 cm)
ISBN 0850456770

Review by Rick K from webBikeWorld

"The book Café Racers is subtitled "Rockers, Rock 'n' Roll and the Coffee-bar Cult". I decided to review this book because the so-called café racer movement is really what inspired me to get involved in motorcycling, back in a time that seems both long ago and just yesterday.

There was something about the purposeful café racer styling that stunned me in a way that the American cruisers could not, and as I look back on my motorcycling career, the café racer is a thread that has run through it all.

Café racer style and the technology that ensued from racers' demands to go ever faster has been one of the two major influences on motorcycling as we have known it in the last century or so. It may not seem that way to American riders, many of whom only think of Harley Davidson, Indian and the "One Percenters" as the primary inspiration for modern motorcycling.

But the café racer movement is responsible for the "other half" of street motorcycling as we know it; that is, the half of us (and I'm just guessing at the numbers) who don't ride cruisers. Café racers were greatly frowned upon in the UK, just as the American rebels who started "bobbing" their Harleys after World War II were in the U.S.

The café racer movement inspired companies like Norton, Triumph and many others to finally modernize their designs to incorporate new technologies and styling that would serve this new market. The Italians followed suit with their big-bore examples, and although it seemed to me back in those days to take forever, the Japanese finally caught on. And just look what we have today -- an absolutely magnificent choice of high-performance street bikes, many of which can trace their heritage, if not their design, to the café racer movement.

Perhaps you don't know what the word "café" in café racer refers to? Mike Clay's book does an excellent job of explaining it all, right from the "before the beginning". The cafés (also known as "caffs") were the Busy Bee on the A41, Johnsons on the A20, the Ace Cafe (now famous again) and others around London. The Rockers, in their leather jackets, rode and raced on the public roads and gathered at the "caffs" to tell about it, to talk bikes, to hassle the Mods and to hook up with "birds", or "chicks".

There's far more history to this movement than I can relate, and I'd only be relaying what I've learned from others, so let's just say that Café Racers by Mike Clay is the place to start. The book is filled with many rare black and white photos of the bikes, the people and the clothes of the era. I'm not sure where he got them all, but thank goodness for the camera buffs who had the foresight to take and keep these photos for our enjoyment.

Clay covers it all, and several of the chapters use the motorcycle icons of the era as a backdrop to explaining the life and times. The BSA Clubmans Gold Star, Triumph's 650 and Norton motorcycles and their impact are described, and he explains how some of the modern bikes that we still see today are an outgrowth of the movement. Although there's a chapter on the "Decline and Fall", there's also a chapter on the revival of the café racer, which is still thriving today, almost 20 years after the book was first written.

Café Racers even has an introduction by the Rev. Bill Sergold, otherwise known as the "Rockin' Reverend", who started the 59 Club, which now claims to be the "largest motorcycle club in the world".

Café Racers is a marvelous book that belongs on the bookshelf of any rider who is interested in the history of motorcycling. There are still brand-new copies available, so grab one before it's too late."

The book is now really bloody hard to find today and if your lucky enough to find a copy it will fetch you around $250.00, wich is one of the rationals for my for mooching around the local colledge cheap used bookshops habitually-I live in hope.

The Rickman Métisse story and the "The Asphalt-Bastard".

Die Rickman-Brothers nannten sie "Street-Métisse".
Sie war aber alles andere als ein räudiger Straßen-Köter.
Greyhound oder Café-Racer hätte viel besser gepasst. Schließlich hatte die "Métisse" ein glänzendes Chassis, war superleicht, blitzschnell und obendrein weltweit das erste Bike mit Scheibenbremsen.

"Mitte der Sechziger ging's auf dem englischen Motorradmarkt noch richtig hoch her. Schließlich baute man weltweit die stärksten, schnellsten und meisten Maschinen. Und damit auch wirklich jeder erfuhr, was in der nächsten Saison los war, gab es im Herbst die "Earls Court Motorcycles Show" in London. Auch die Fachpresse mischte eifrig mit. "Motorcycle News" drehte kräftig am Glücksrad und verloste alljährlich eine Traum-Maschine. Mal war es eine BSA Lightning, dann eine Norton Atlas oder eine Velocette Venom Thruxton. Für 1966 hatte sich "MCN"-Chefredakteur Peter Howdle etwas ganz Besonderes ausgedacht. Dieses Mal spendierte man von der Edelschmiede Rickman die erste "Street-Métisse". Einer von den zig-tausend Messebesuchern war der junge Chemiestudent Peter Brewis. Genau wie fast alle anderen blieb auch der 500er BSA-Fahrer wie angewurzelt vor dem Rickman-Pavillon stehen. Die Street-Métisse zog wie ein starker Magnet jeden in ihren Bann."
Okay, its in German I know, but check the full site out, if you speak the language perhaps you can translate bit for us, If not-then just look at the pretty pictures.

Perfection: The Ducati Sportclassics Line.

The Paul Smart 1000LE

In the 1970s, sport riders were modifying their street bikes with some of what they saw being used on the race track, like clip-on handlebars, rear set footpegs, and “fast” colours. This was done just as much for the “look”, as for increased performance. In the end, motorcycle haunts of the time were filled with individualism and non-conformity expressed in trend-setting styles and experimentation with performance enhancement. The Café Racer style was born.

Welcome to the Ducati SportClassic family - motorcycles that capture the essential beauty, timeless style and emotion of the Engineer Fabio Taglioni’s original Ducati sport bikes of the 1970s. While retaining the best of the past, they have been developed using the latest technology and engineering, creating a range of thoroughly modern motorcycles that live up to today’s standards of road-going performance.

To attain the timeless beauty of the bikes that were the inspiration for the SportClassics, the key design, style and technical features of the originals were studied and targeted for modern interpretation in the Paul Smart 1000 LE, Sport 1000 and GT 1000: lightweight yet powerful new motorcycles that are easy to handle and fun to ride every day."

The Sport1000

The Ducati Sport1000 captures the bold style of the early bikes. Starting with the traditional monochromatic colour themes of yellow, red and black, each bike also has a contrasting racing stripe across the fuel tank and tailpiece. All three colours are complemented with a classic black frame. With a solo seat and clip-ons, the Sport looks low, lean and ready for a ride in the twisties. The clip-ons on the Sport have, however, been raised about 20 mm compared to the Paul Smart for a slightly more relaxed position.

The Sport1000’s suspension features a 43 mm upside-down fork by Marzocchi. Suspension by Marzocchi was also the choice on the original 750 Sport Ducati of 1971, and the brushed aluminium forks of the new Sport look as great now as they did back then. Rear suspension is handled by a Sachs single shock, which can be adjusted for pre-load, compression and rebound damping, in conjunction with an elliptical 60 mm asymmetrical swingarm.

The Sport1000 has inherited yet another outstanding feature from the original Ducati sport bikes: reduced overall weight. Tipping the scales at just 179 kg (395 lbs), you can feel how light it is whether you are going at top speed or simply parking. The limited weight is a distinct advantage of the Sport1000 when accelerating, cornering or braking. It's the Café Racer style of the Taglioni Sport 750 with modern Ducati performance.

The GT1000

The GT 1000 and Sport 1000 are powered by the outstanding Desmo 1000 DS engine. The torquey air-cooled 90º L-Twin is the perfect match to power these sport bikes. The cylinders with their traditional cooling fins and classic “L” configuration are direct descendents of the original Taglioni design. Slim between the legs and exposed for all to see, the latest two-valve Desmo system, fuel-injection and computer controlled engine management ensure that the 1000 DS engine is powerful, dependable and thrilling to ride.

The SportClassic design takes advantage of the beauty of the signature Ducati tubular trellis frames. The renowned strength and rigidity of the ALS 450 tubing has been further improved through the use of complex triangulation.

For the first time in three decades, the beauty of spoke wheels will grace a Ducati road bike. Starting with an alloy hub, the new wheels use 36 chromed stainless steel dual diameter spokes laced to 17” alloy Excel rims – rims famous in racing circles for their lightweight performance and durability. Mounted to the rims are modern interpretations of classic sport tyres, replicating the original patterns, but with modern radial construction techniques and rubber compounds.

Mounted to the alloy hubs are dual 320 mm brake discs up front and a 245 mm disc in the rear, both using lightweight black Brembo floating calipers to provide extra stopping power. Performance is further enhanced with classic black, steel braided brake lines.

The rear suspension system on the bikes takes a unique approach, with a single remote reservoir shock mounted on the left side. A 60 mm elliptical tubing swingarm harmonizes nicely with the trellis frame. Exiting on the right-hand side of the bike are twin stacked exhaust silencers, inspired by the black racing systems of the first big twins.

The cockpit's rev counter and speedometer gauges feature an analogue readout with white faces, and chromed trim. The rider's view is completed with a polished aluminium top crown and accessories."

The Sport 1000S

The Cafe Racer than never really shouldn't have been made in the first place: The Harley Davidson XLCR Cafe Racer.


"In 1977, the XLCR— whose design came from the pen and back-shop labors of Willie G. Davidson himself — was hailed as a beautiful design and an instant collector bike, but hardly anyone bought one. The XLCR was built only in 1977 and '78, and only 3123 copies were made.

Harley buyers went for the more traditional and useable Super Glide, while cafe-racer types found faster and more sophisticated fare in bikes such as the BMW R90S, Kawasaki Z-1, Guzzi V7 Sport or Ducati 900SS. Solo seating didn't help sell the XLCR, either, though Harley came out with an optional dual saddle and axle-mounted passenger pegs in 1978.

Strangely, none of this seems to matter now as much as it did then. If the Harley Café Racer was a little elemental and old-fashioned in 1977, its short comings gradually seem less important with the passage of time.

No one buys an XLCR these days as an only, all-purpose motorcycle. If we really want to go somewhere two-up, or to race the backroads solo, there are legions of newer bikes that are far better than any of the XLCR's competition from 1977.

Take away those period comparisons, and all you have left is a charismatic vintage bike that is beautiful to look at and exciting to ride, even now.

Willie G's Café Racer may have finally reached that magical age where a bike no longer needs to be better than some other venerable thing to justify itself. It only has to move the soul."

I was going to insert something cheeky to say about this forgettable bike, but the webpage writer seems to manage to say how dreadful the things were himself : "while cafe-racer types found faster and more sophisticated fare in bikes such as the BMW R90S, Kawasaki Z-1, Guzzi V7 Sport or Ducati 900SS"

But lets not end on a sour note; Harley Davidson seems to have moved a better direction with the XL1200N Nightster:

Give it some clip-ons, snip the rear fender a bit and it could be rather smart.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I think this might just be heaven: John Mossey Restorations JMR Egli Vincent.

"The JMR Vincent is
constructed by us with many
years of experience.
We started building these
machines some 10 years
ago and have many highly
satisfied customers both in
the UK and overseas

Our standard specification
opposite is very flexible and
the bike can be tailored to
your requirements."

Engine Specification
4 Stroke
2 Cylinder
Bore & Stoke - 84 x 90
Max BHP - 90 at 6200 RPM
5 Speed Gearbox
Electronic or Magneto Ignition
Alton Alternator
Electric Start
JMR Race Clutch
Black/Polished Engine
Compression 7.5.1 or 8-1
Carburetor Size - 32mm Amal or Mikuni
Exhaust Specification

1 7/8" or 2"
JMR Silencer

Chassis Specification
Smith Kanrin Brakes or
Menani Brakes
Egli Style Frame
Dual Shock or Mono Shock
Falcon Rear Shocks
Ceriani Forks & Yoke
18" Wheels
18" Flanged Alloy Rims
Tyre size:
Front - 360 H18
Rear - 410 H18
Weight - 181kg
JMR Alloy Fuel Tank & Oil Tank
Stainless or Fibreglass Mudguards
5" Speedometer
3" Rev Counter
Optional fairing

I want one, and I know I must have a elderly, accident prone and heavily insured relative out there somewhere...

Its official-I can't read Japanese: Official Motorcycles.


But I know a great bike when I see one....

Colorado Norton Works.

Rebuilt Norton Motorcycles From Colorado Norton Works

"CNW's mission is to re-build the finest Norton Commando motorcycles on the planet to match the taste and riding styles of our individual customers. We spend over 250 hours on each custom motorcycle re-build. We completely disassemble each Commando bike and re-build it from the ground up to create a stunning re-birth of one of the most exciting and rideable British motorcycles ever built. With our extensive experience and complete dedication to each project, it's no wonder we've become one of the leading custom motorcycle builders focusing on Norton motorcycles."

Posson Sculpure: The Ride.

The Ride Maquette • 14" x 7" • Edition of 30 • $2,600 Bronze
The Ride • 42" x 8.8"• Edition of 5 • $32,000 • Bronze

"The Ride seems to move as you look at it.
The bronze shows a couple enjoying a fast ride on a 60's “café racer.”

The Scene
In England in the '60's, there were young people called “Mods” and “Rockers.” Mods rode Vespa scooters and wore fashionable Carnaby street clothes. Rockers were more working class clothes and rode big motorcycles and wore leather and Levis.
A well off Rocker had a café racer, which was a street bike fitted to look like a Grand Prix racer. It was a fast ride to the pubs.

The Couple
The rider and passenger are wearing period leathers, “pudding bowl” helmets and very cool boots.
The rider is intent on the corner while the passenger laughs as she leans forward to tell him something.

The Bike
The motorcycle is an original design by sculptor Steve Posson, who has designed for several big motorcycle companies including Yamaha, Kawasaki and BMW. It has a big drum front brake and a dolphin fairing. It looks English, mostly.

“The Ride” is offered in two sizes; The maquette, the original small sculpture is 12 inches long in an edition of 30 on a marble base.
The full size is 42 inches long by 29 inches high, in an edition of 5. The full size can be displayed inside or outside. A base is not included. Posson will help with a base design as desired or needed."


Thursday, March 29, 2007

She may be slow but she's at least pretty: Triumph Thruxton.

"The Thruxton 900 - a café racer with an obvious race heritage (just check the ground clearance), power is made by the responsive 865cc parallel twin engine. This is a bike that really involves the rider. The handling has plenty of feel with damping tuned for a sportier ride and pre-load adjustable front and rear suspension. Aluminium rims, grippy tyres and floating front discs are just the cocoa powder sprinkled on the mocca.
Thruxton 900. True original. Modern icon.
The Thruxton is such a faithful version of those often home-built, sixties racers - with adjustable front and rear suspension, aluminium rims and floating front disc.
With its perfectly proportioned, evocative silhouette the Thruxton is a truly beautiful machine. It captures the very essence of the café racer look – the short-style front mudguard, rakish clip-on handlebars, distinctive seat hump and Spartan elegance – and matches it to exhilarating, fluid performance. Its 865cc air-cooled twin cylinder power plant is the most powerful of Triumph’s twin-cylinder line up. Wrapping the motor is a precisely crafted chassis that inspires confidence; its harder edge delivering real sporting character. The sturdy, preload adjustable 41mm telescopic forks and twin rear shocks give superb suspension action and compliance. A fully floating 320mm front disc and twin-piston brake caliper provide powerful, but sensitive, braking performance.

The Triumph Thruxton. Classic style of the sixties mixed seamlessly with a modern attitude."
We can't forget the Scrambler..

Or the Bonnie can we?

The other Cafe Racer: Bianchi's Milano (plus another).

"When we introduced the Milano in the previous century (OK, it was the late 1990s), the bike was ahead of its time. Now its time has come. Although the Milano’s swoopy aluminum frame and low-maintenance derailleur-free shifting are as distinctive as ever, what the bike represents—the idea that functional design can make a bold impression—is particularly resonant in the era of 3-buck gasoline. So while the fashionistas are swooning over the “café racer” aesthetic of your personal mobility, you’ll quietly be grooving to the Milano’s down-to-earth convenience, including fenders and a chainguard for cleanliness, a kickstand for easy parking, and a comfortable saddle with a built-in flashing light for the dark. Both frames available in either color."

Not enough? or too much?.. there is also Felt Racings Cafe racer.

Here's thier ad copy:
"Reminiscent of a classic 750cc street racer from 1970, the Café is lean and mean. And it’s not just the low-rise handlebar giving this bike its name: The triple tree fork, twist-shift 3-speed drivetrain, smaller/wider rear wheel, and the aluminum drum brake front hub all contribute to its true Café Racer style."
Wot? no clip ons?

Damn kids, Damn Priests: Rev Bill Shergold, Father Graham Hullett and the The 59 Club

From the

"Whereas Bill Shergold was very much enjoyed the media spotlight as the face of The 59 Club for the Church of England over Curate John Oakley, the original founder of the London youth club ; for the rebel rocker element, the real heart and soul of The Fifty Nine Club was Father Graham Hullett. Graham was hands on with The Club from 1962 until 1970 staying involved to at least 1973. Yup, it might surprise you to discover that The 59 Club was a church run youth club intended to save the souls of errant yobs - but it was!
Graham was a biker from even before he went into the Army in Germany and a genuine friend to the young rockers. Bailing them out of trouble, enjoying a laugh on the Isle of Man, seeing them through hard times - often out of his own pocket and to his own personal risk - and sharing their love of motorcycles.

We are dedicated to the ongoing memory of Father Graham Hullett, a real biker, and the real story of the rebel rockers of the 59 Club. Although it was certainly the time of their lives for all parties, there were always two sides to the 59 Club. The nice boys who came in from polite suburbs with helmets and all the latest gear to be part of a scene; and the greasy yobs that rode in hatless and gloveless on whatever hardware they could string together from local estates for the birds."

That cohort, that made up what was remembered as " The Rockers ", were the scene;
" ... a leather jacket did not a Rocker make. "
So then , who was Rev Shergold?, let the padre tell it in his own words:
"A newspaper reporter once accused me of buying a motor bike and a leather jacket as a kind of gimmick to attract teenagers to my church. That is quite untrue. I had a motor bike long before leather jackets had become the rage. In face, my outfit when I first started motor cycling would certainly raise a laugh among the young motor cyclists of today. It consisted of a green beret, long blue police mac, riding breaches and DR boots, all bought at the local surplus stores. As for my bike -a BSA Bantam- I got it simply to get around my parish which at that time was in a new housing area near London Airport.
I was taught to ride by a member of our youth club, Eric Hall, who allowed me to practice on his brand-new Douglas Dragonfly. We used to go out in the late evening so that no one could see my escapades. Eventually he decided that I was ready to take my test. I went to Ealing and failed.

The examiner was a woman and I'm convinced that her pet aversions were vicars and motor bikes. In any event, not only did she fail me but, as if to twist the knife in the wound, she informed me that I was a menace to the public. Perhaps I was. But I passed next time-only just, for I ran out of petrol on the way home!
This stage in my motor cycling career could hardly be called successful. The bike was a dead loss. I can't remember how many times I pushed it from Hanworth to Twickenham for the dealer to tackle the latest fault. One day I was vainly kicking it outside the house of a parishioner. The milkman was chatting on the doorstep and remarked to the woman: "What a pity vicars aren't allowed to swear." Little did he know.

Twice it broke down on the way to a wedding and I was so embarrassed at conducting marriage services with greasy hands that I decided to sell it and go back to my old push bike.

I was so completely fed up with motorcycles at this stage that I vowed I would never have another one. This resolve I kept until 1959 when the Bishop sent me to take charge of the Eton College Mission at Hackney Wick. This is a big and busy parish and it soon became clear that I must have some form of transportation. Since I had never learned how to drive a car, I decided to take a chance and buy another bike. This time it was a secondhand C15 BSA. It was almost like starting to learn to ride all over again. I used to get up about 4 am and ride around the empty streets. The C15 was a dream after the Bantam, but I wasn't entirely certain that I had done the right thing in buying a bike.

Perhaps it would have been more in keeping with dignity of a middle-aged vicar to have bought a car and learned to drive. Then my mind was made up for me. I remember the incident quite vividly. We were having lunch in the Clergy House when the phone rang. A little boy in our Sunday school had been playing in a bombed site and a huge piece of concrete had fallen on his head. He was badly hurt and his parents wanted a priest wanted a priest to visit him at once. I knew I should have to use my bike. It sounded simple enough. But Brentwood was a long way from Hackney and it would mean going along the notoriously busy Eastern Avenue.

There was no time for hesitation and I set off at once. It was a nightmare ride for one so inexperienced, but I got there and was able to pray with the little boy. Incidentally, he made a remarkable recovery. Safely back at the Eton Mission, I was filled with a strange sense of elation. Not only had I conquered my fear of traffic, I had been able to use the bike for doing my work as a priest.

Next morning in church I deliberately offered my bike to God and asked Him to make use of it in His work. It was a prayer which has been answered in a way I could never have dreamed of.

For the next two or three years I used the bike for pottering around my parish, but the thought never entered my head that one day I would start a club for motor cyclists. Most of my time was taken up with the youth club, which had just been launched by the Revd. John Oates. Perhaps I ought to say a word about this club because it answers the question of why the club is called the 59."

Its a great site, check it all out and learn some Cafe Racer history. Warning: you will be tested on it later.

( Rickman? )-Metisse Motorcycles.

"Our Heritage:

Métisse-Motorcycles has a long and distinguished history, from opening their first shop in 1958, to the Mark 1 Métisse in 1959, building high quality motorcycles right through to the present day.

For more information about the bikes we have built over the years, click on any of the pictures below for more information."
I did, and there was nothing.

But, thanks to wikipedia:
"Rickman Motorcycles was established by Don and Derek Rickman and manufactured motorcycles from 1960 through to 1975. Initially the frame designs were for scrambles, and then for road racing. Later, in 1966, road bikes were produced as well. The first street legal bike used a Triumph Bonneville engine. Rickman initially supplied frame kits, as none of the major British motorcycle manufacturers would sell engines to them. The frame kits were built for many engines, including Triumph twins, BSA singles and Matchless.

After the Royal Enfield factory closed, a little over 200 Series II Interceptor engines were stranded at the dock in 1970, originally on their way to Floyd Clymer (of Clymer auto manuals and Enfield "Indians" fame) in the United States, but unfortunately he had just died, and his export agents, Mitchell's of Birmingham, were left to dispose of them. They approached the Rickman brothers for frames, and as the Rickman brothers' main problem had always been engine supply, a limited run of Rickman Interceptors were built.
In about 1971, Rickman began producing complete motorcycles in 2 displacements, 125 and 250cc. The 125's had German Zundapp engines, while the 250's featured Spanish Montesa powerplants. Many of these little Motocross bikes were produced from 1971 to 1975, most being shipped to America.
Rickmans were known for their beautiful fiberglass work and nickel-plated frames.
In 1974, Rickman was awarded the "Queen's Award to Industry" for their export business, but it was the same year NVT collapsed. The Rickman brothers turned their attention to larger Japanese motorcycle engines, and produced a Rickman Honda 750. A Rickman Kawasaki Z1/Z900, Rickman Honda Bol D'Or 900 and Rickman Suzuki GS1000 followed.
Rickman frames are often referred to as "Metisse" frames, a term used for their own first effort. The Rickmans had a sense of humour. Google translates the word politely as "mongrel".
The company stopped producing complete motorcycles in 1975, continuing to produce chassis kits and accessories. In 1984 the Rickmans licensed production of their frames to MRD Metisse. Chassis kits are currently being produced by Metisse Motorcycles Ltd."

and there you go.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Words fail me: The Steffano Cafe 9.

"The Café9 brings a new level of sophistication to the luxury motorcycle market. The serious rider and collector will accept no compromises in the capability and quality of a motorcycle that is truly work of art and a marvel of engineering.

Weighing in under 400 pounds ready to ride, with 150 horsepower and massive torque of 80 ft-lbs, this race-bred road machine is confidence inspiring while delivering pure superbike performance.

The Café9 combines the awesome performance of the Ducati 999 superbike with Steffano's unique yet timeless styling, museum quality finish and the world's finest components to create a pure roadster with race proven performance, real world comfort, ergonomics, and design unlike anything in the world. The Café9 is a new category in motorcyle production.... the pure luxury exotic sporting motorcyle."

Café9 Features:

Weight: 375 Lbs.
Power: 140HP - 150HP
Torque : 80 ft-lbs
Aerospace quality carbon fiber bodywork
Exotic and practical sting ray hide luxury saddle
Integrated police radar detection system
Innovative integral silencer tail-section featuring dual side exhaust ports as never seen on a motorcycle before
20-spoke forged alloy wheels
Fully adjustable control levers, footrests and handlebars

I think its brilliant, but at over $75,000 its just a little over my budget. Steffano (AKA Acme Rocket bike) has built a run of other brilliant Cafes, like the stunning ACME Velocette:

Lastly, lets have a look at ACME's amazing Art Nouveau poster by Echo Chernik

Surfs up! Cafe

"CAFERACER.NET is an enthusiast organization. Our motivation in creating this website is to emphasize and support a dying breed of old-school race bikes. We hope to help promote the style and keep alive the nostalgia of these great bikes and the era from which they were born. We will be keeping an eye on the vintage racing scene. Our local track, New Hampshire International Speedway hosts numerous races for the USCRA and we will be expanding the number of tracks we cover in the near future. On our site, we will be posting dates for races and local swap meet events. We hope you enjoy our site and look forward to your participation."

A truimph of Japanese engineering: The W650.

From Motorcycle daily
"This is a painstakingly styled retro -- true to the British tradition and, as Kawasaki points out, Kawasaki's own 1960's vintage W-model.

The W650 actually displaces 676cc of air-cooled single overhead cam, eight-valve four-stroke. The pistons rise and fall together (with a 360-degree crank) like some of the British bikes of yore.

Modern touches include four valves per cylinder and constant velocity carburetors equipped with Kawasaki's integrated ignition control, throttle position sensor ("K-TRIC"). K-TRIC varies ignition timing according to throttle position and engine RPM for "crisp throttle response and better fuel efficiency", according to Kawasaki.

The 360-degree crank and parallel twin configuration would normally lead to significant vibration, but the W650 also has a balance shaft to help eliminate this.

Electric starting is featured along with a 5-speed transmission and Kawasaki's patented Positive Neutral Finder.

The W650 features a traditional double-cradle frame with large square-section backbone for a much more rigid chassis than the 1960's designs.

While the styling is very true to the 60's era, with twin rear shocks (pre-load adjustable) and a conventional telescopic fork, the W650 does feature a large, 300mm disc brake for braking power that would go beyond any 60's era bike.

The classically shaped gas tank features rubber knee pads, along with high-quality paint and chrome.

Ride reviews from Europe (where the machine has been available for a year) are generally favorable, but note that the machine should not be expected to match modern day sport bike performance figures (obviously). The motor is surprising flexible and punchy, while the handling is stable and sufficiently nimble.

Kawasaki certainly beat Triumph to the punch. While Triumph continues to labor on its parallel twin design (expected sometime next year) the Kawasaki W650 represents an existing choice for parallel twin fans with a taste for accurate 1960's era styling."
The W650 is a huge success in Japan and the E.U. with countless touring and Cafe variations being created many diehard enthusiasts- like this smart LSL Sport version.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Cafe racer of the week-and a little Lost in translation: Momo Guerrouaz's "Coffee Racer".

I was going to clean up this translated page, but I rather like the unedited form-its almost a little poetic, even read on.
This sublimissime XRS (R for racing) is the work of Momo Guerrouaz, true Géo Trouvetou of mechanics and especially artist at his hours! And it took hours of them to arrive at such a result: not less than six months full-time were necessary to carry out this small jewel straight left the seventies. From 650 Cm3 in the beginning, the cubic capacity of the twin passes to 710 Cm3. Inter alia, this mechanics receives a kit of forged pistons high compression, a ACT raçing, two superb carburettors Dell' Orto of 40 mm, an oil radiator and a clutch reinforced to make pass the cavalry which posts from now on 72 nags. The exhausts stainless were made to measure just like the remarkable moved back orders. The framework remains of origin, but was reinforced on the level of the anchoring of the oscillating arm. Nickelled, this one comes from Yamaha 750 TX. The shock absorbers are of Hagon tracks and the fork before origin was modified by the adoption of new holds of 45 mm and new plungers. One will note the presence of superb radiated wheels, well in the spirit Café Racer. Side speed reducer, one finds with before two discs of Yamaha TDM provided with grips of Diversion. With the back, an enormous job was made to adapt a disc on the wheel of origin, of the great art! The unit saddle tank and bubble is a copy of Rickman in poly realized of all parts and avoided of a red painting candy, choice of the landlord. And the last not, this pistarde is not a motor bike of living room, since Christian his landlord often takes it along to use his gommards on the track. Better still, this machine is approved for a road use! A headlight, a plate of immat' and the turn are played! Momo (of MBS Momo) is thus funny of character: pilot and preparer of dragster signal fuel, our friend opened his workshop in Toulouse six years ago. True touch-with-all, Momo cut a solid reputation in the medium and works already on other projects. Special painting, transformation, welding or parts and even creation of motor bikes to the chart, attention, this guy can do everything!

Bad marketing dept: Royal Enfield manages to offend men,women, motorcyle riders and underpants wearers.

Bite the Bullet Cafe Racer Boxer Shorts
"The Royal Enfield's Bite the Bullet Cafe Racer Boxer Shorts put the Retro in your pants and a spring in your step! Enjoy the roomy comfort of our sexy boxers as underwear or sleepwear. They’re 100% cotton, open fly...for thinking outside the boxers. Boxers, because you don’t want to be brief."

I'll see you at the Ace.

from Wikipedia:
"The Ace Cafe is an old transport café; from 1938 designed to accommodate the traffic travelling on the new North Circular Road. Popular with Rockers in the 1950/60s it was a local haunt for the petrol heads. Today it has been refurbished and Rockers and motorcyclists from all over the world go to the Ace to share stories, fix bikes and see the legend itself
The Ace Cafe located on The North Circular in London, was built in 1938 as a transport cafe primarily for hauliers. Due to the fact that the cafe was open 24 hours a day it soon started to attract motorcyclists. The cafe was rebuilt in 1949 after being destroyed in a World War II air raid. This happened because the building is very close to the Willesden Railway Marshalling Yard, the actual target of the raid. A number of events occurred in the Post-war environment to make the Ace Cafe a success, the emergence of the Teenager; increases in road traffic; and the British motorcycle industry being at its peak. Many young people started to meet at the cafe with their motorcycles and listen to Rock'n'Roll music.
The cafe established itself as a cultural hub for rockers, and many bands and motorcycle enthusiast groups formed there.
The original cafe closed in 1969; one usage before it re-opened was as a tyre sales and fitting shop. One abiding virtue was that for some time they did sell and fit motor cycle tyres. However the Ace Cafe was refurbished and reopened in 1997, but no longer for 24 hours. The cafe is now also famous for its various classic and sports car gatherings.
An attempt was made in the 80s and 90s to re-create the Ace Cafe some miles away on the Western Avenue"

and here's a little something from the Ace webpage:

"Driven by a passion for bikes and rock n' roll, Mark Wilsmore started planning in 1993 to reopen the legendary cafe. Twenty-five years after the cafe closed, the first Ace Cafe Reunion was held in 1994, attracting 12,000 people. The following annual reunions, known as "Ace Days", took place on historic ground: Brighton's famous Madeira Drive. The original Ace site couldn't accommodate the steadily rising numbers of visitors. Over 25,000 enthusiastic riders celebrated Ace Day in 1997.

Since then major steps have been made towards the reopening of the Ace Cafe, including securing the original site and launching the Ace Cafe Club, with parts of the original Ace Cafe opened to the public on FRI, SAT, and on Bank Holidays and every first Wedensday of every month. Visitors can check out the place and see the progress. Based on the rich heritage and traditions of the 50's and 60's, the Ace Cafe still embodies the same values as when the original Rockers called it home. What could be found on a Triton going for the Ton in the sixties today can be found on a modern sportbike or streetfighter. The bikes, the music, and perhaps the whole world have changed, but the spirit remains the same: Non-conformist, rebellious, individual and authentic."

There are in fact very thin rumours of an Ace Cafe opening in San Francisco that so far have only resulted in leading me on pointless trips to dissused and boarded up cafes and with cryptic promices from the local free motorcycle paper of an opening in the "very near future" this space.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cooking up a motorycle: Or a guide to Building a Bike in your apartment kitchen.


"It's tough being a grease monkey in New York City. I dream of a garage, a good space where I can keep my tools and spread out my oily motorcycle parts. My friend Andrew Anderson, a Scottish New Yorker, does not let space constraints dictate his passion for British motorcycles. He spent a good 6 months building a 1955 Triton in his three floor walk-up in Brooklyn.

Any advice for an aspiring apartment-bike-builder?
"Grinding, buffing, painting, polishing and wrenching is a messy business. You want to be able to contain the airborne dust as much as possible so a separate room is a big help.
Be very methodical about taking things apart and keeping all the related bits in the same box or bag. Become friends with someone who knows much more about bikes than you do."
And what else?
"Never wash your hands with citrus based cleaner if you are sitting in the bath."
Apparently hand cleaner can have a pretty strong reaction on the rest of your body, especially your most sensitive areas. What about the neighbors? Andrew didn't get any complaints, even when he started up the bike in his kitchen. But, you should probably take that into account if you want to start your own project."

Bike not included: Omars Cafe parts.

GT750 Suzuki Cafe products include:

· Fairing
· Clubman bars
· Fork boots
· Cafe fender
· Rear sets
· 3-into-1 exhaust system
· Taillight/license bracket

Happy news for Honda 550 owners as Now Omar has a stunning new Clubman line of parts that will make your bike into something really special.

Patrick Godet and his re-created Egli Vincents.

"Patrick is a craftsman where restoring motorcycles is concerned, if he were dealing with paintings, he would be called an artist of the Vincent school!. Art is in the Godet family genes, his brother is a renowned and successful painter in the impressionist style and Patrick is now developing a range of Vincent Egli motorcycles.

With permission from Fritz Egli to be the sole manufacture of new machines under the Egli name. The combined experience within Godet Motorcycles SARL, will ensure continuing production of the highest quality, as befits this historic marque."

The Cafe Racer Model (as shown above)

Delivered with 5" speedo
3" Smith Tachometer
Stainless steel battery carrier
Banana shape aluminium fuel tank
Godet special exhaust system
35mm Ceriani type forks
Fiber glass top fairing
Frame: nickel finish
Solo seat rear sets

Let's see, if I start saving now...

Local Japanese boy makes good: The Honda GB500.

From Wikipedia:
"In the late '80's, Honda experimented with a number of very unusual motorcycles. The GB500 Tourist Trophy was one of them. Originally marketed in Japan as as a 400, it was exported to the US, Europe and Australia as a 500. It was a moderate success in Japan, but in the US sales were hindered by the American love for large engines and dislike of the fairly high price tag.

The design used a 4 stroke dirt bike motor that was by that time already famous for it's near unbreakability. That thoroughly modern, four valve hemi single was wrapped in a vintage look tube frame and wire wheels, with what some consider to be the world's most beautiful gas tank. The look is pure vintage while actually copying no particular vintage model.
The Tourist Trophy name comes from the most famous road race of mid-century motorcycling, the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy competition. This is a tight race on narrow twisty roads through the towns and villages of the Isle of Man (between England and Ireland) where quick steering and precise handling works much better than huge horsepower. It was dominated for many years by single cylinder 500cc racebikes with "the look" that the GB500 copied.
In the US, the GB was considered too small and too slow. Sales were slow too. GB's were only imported for two years, 1989 and 1990. By the time the new inventory was gone from the showrooms it had already become known as a cult bike. Today, a good GB sells for as much or more than it did new, in 1990."

Dunstall Motorcycles.

The Dunstall Norton

"Paul Dunstall became very well known during the early 1960's as a builder of high performance parts for Nortons as the result of his own racing career. He went on to become the 'God Father' of Café racers and a manufacturer of complete bikes. Production of machines began in 1964 and continued into the early 1980's. They were originally based on the big twins from the Norton, B.S.A., and Triumph ranges. As the British motorcycle industry declined, he started to include machines from the top of the Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki ranges.
The Dunstall organisation also produced parts for a number of other makes including BMW and Yamaha. It grew to have offices in both the U.K. and the U.S.A. with dealers and distributors in many other countries. Starting as an off-shoot of the research and development efforts, the Dunstall Racing Team quickly became a major player in short circuit racing. They peaked in 1968/69 with over 20 wins.

At their peak, over 500 complete machines were built in one year."

The short life of the Seeley Condor.

Taken from French website and with Google's translating software, then translating that-here's what we could figure out about the elusive Condor.

"Seeley was founded at the end of the Sixties by racer Colin Seeley. They repurchased the patents of two machines Matchless (G50) and AJS (7R). They developed the G50, a 50cc of ultra race powerful which gained all brilliantly them They later produced of it a version of road which it baptized “Condor”. A few years later they built cafe racers using base existing engines, in particular that of the CB750 Honda."

Update: Here's The Seeley Honda Register's Description of the bikes:

"The Seeley Honda consists of a Honda 750 SOHC/4 engine in a custom chassis built by Colin Seeley, UK. 302 Seeley Honda chassis were built by Colin Seeley between May 1975 and sometime in 1978. Some of them may have disappeared, but the majority is still around. It is the goal of this web site to put together a register of all those Seeley Hondas which are missing in action, stored away somewhere, under restoration or still alive on the road.

There were four different versions of the Seeley chassis: One for the CB 750 K models (actually only for K0 up to K6), one for the F1 Supersport model (and the K7/K8) and one for the F2/F3 Supersport. Then there were the racing chassis which had a special oil tank and some other minor modifications. Frames for the German market had different steering locks and stops."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

From dirt to the street: U.K.'s CCM cafe Racer.

CCM C-R40 Limited Edition Street Legal Café Racer

Engine: Suzuki DRZ 400
Displacement: 398 cc
Power: 42 bhp
Transmission: 5 speed
Chassis: Steel Tubular frame & subframe, Tubular Swing Arm
Wheels: 18" Spoked
Front Forks: Paioli 41mm Telescopic/ Marzocchi 40mm Telescopic
Rear Twin Stocks: Hagon 360mm fully adjustable
Tyres: Dunlop TT100 K81 front and rear
Leather grain rear seat pod & headlight
Polished Alloy Tank 18 Litres Classic Monza Cap.
Price: £ 5840 (OTR)

"Whilst nothing now exists of the original CCM factory at Jubilee Works in Bolton, the site is now home to a new industrial complex that is once again housing the manufacturing line of one Britain’s few remaining dedicated motorcycle makers."

Our friend Carpy.

Its more than a bit hard to put into words about the brilliant work of Steve Carpenter and his Honda 750 Cafe Racer creations, so let the master speak in his own (and unique) words.

"Some people get a buzz out of Race horses, some get a tingle out of Nascar, some even get all wobbly over a dartboard, a pint of Lager and a pork pie. Me? Well, what turns my crank is a cool Cafe Racer, built from parts and resembles a stripped down factory bike and has more different parts than the Bionic Man.

I have been building these bikes over 20 years, and I grew up with these and know the History, a dispatch rider in LONDON for over 20 years and all Cafe bikes. Bet you a pound of flesh that they have no way as much History as me, I pour my heart and sould and past years experience into these.

..I am no fake, I am just me."

Click on the link and have a ball looking around. Carpy's bikes (and countless cafe parts) are just brilliant, and really a ton of fun (sorry, bad pun) for the money.

Everything old is new again: The return of the Vincent Black Shadow.

"The new Vincent Motorcycles are designed to state-of-the-art standards, consistent with their heritage of legendary performance. Their distinguishing features will include a large tubular, monocoque, single shock chassis, 130 horsepower 90° liquid cooled V-twin, inverted forks, forged calipers, tubeless spoke forged alloy wheels, carbon fiber bodywork, ultra-hi-performance, and exquisite craftsmanship. The Vincent will be styled in a manner significantly reminiscent of its predecessors and in keeping with traditional British livery."

The Vincent web page even has a clever bike configuration mode that will let you build up your own "Virtual Vincent" as it were.

Deus motorcycles.

"Deus is a completely different kind of motorcycle company. While focussing on the supply of custom motorcycles, parts and accessories, Deus promotes and celebrates a custom motorcycle culture that first appeared in Europe and America in the 1940s and which has recently been revived by groups of young enthusiasts in countries such as Japan, America and Australia.

While the sale of motorcycles and parts is at the core of the business- from Yamaha SR400s and TW220s to Kawasaki W650s as well as a selection of signifigant classic bikes, visitors to the Deus showroom will also find a range of items which feature timeless design and reflect the Deus culture.

Deus is the brainchild of a group of passionate and dedicated Australian motorcycle enthusiasts. They are united in their belief that motorcycling has been hijacked by corporate marketing forces and their desire to introduce a new generation of rider to that same pure enthusiasm that kick-started their own love of motorcycling."

Cafe Racer of the week: Seldon Deemer's Modial 5occ Cafe Racer

From Seldon Deemers Cyclography Website,

"1964. Mondial 50cc cafe racer, purchased in Genoa, Italy, where the spirited driving style provided my baptism in road riding. Big tank, small seat, low clipons, and a small handlebar fairing made the Mondial a young person's mount -- I'm sure my body couldn't long survive the uncompromising riding position at age 50. I crashed multiple times, mostly due to 2-stroke engine seizures, while covering nearly 1500 kilometers in August 1964, driving from Santa Margherita on the west coast, to Parma and Bologna, then down the Po River valley, and along the east coast to Ancona and Teramo, then back across the spine of the peninsula to Rome, Pisa, and finally Florence. Drafting behind buses and trucks helped me reach top speeds in excess of 40 mph... The Mondial wintered in Florence in 1965, while I attended college in Istanbul. The rider in the photo is Dennis Fonger, brother of Robert College's librarian, who bought it from the Mondial me in the spring of 1965, as I prepared to pick up my next motorcycle."