The Café Racer is one of the most enduring styles of motorcycle ever created, capturing the rebellious spirit of the 50s. From original Triton-building Rockers to modern-day Sunday riders on Thruxton 900s, there are thousands of enthusiasts across the world who aspire to own an old school road burner. A look back at the glory days of the Café Racer, from Friday night dices on the North Circular, through the street specials craze of the Seventies, to the modern day revival. Interviews with some of the old school regulars at the Ace Café, and an in-depth look at the great British bike builders like Norman Hyde, Steve and Lester Harris, the Rickman brothers and Paul Dunstall. Featuring a huge, global Café Racer directory – listing specialist builders, spares suppliers, websites etc – alongside a unique mix of personal memories, unseen photos, iconic machines and chassis builders in profile, this book is a must for any ton-up rider.
The Café Racer captures the very essence of motorcycling, with its stripped-to-the-bone styling and a timeless blend of cat-quick chassis, matched to a barn-storming engine.
From its roots in the '59 Club, home-brewed specials and the creation of the Triton by Dave Degens, the Café Racer became the must-have Rockers' motorbike. It then became the template for a new generation of fast road riders in the 1970s, with the rise of Dunstall, Rickman, Seeley and many more bespoke bike builders.
The factories jumped on the bandwagon. Machines like the Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk I, Ducati 900SS and the MV Agusta 750S all captured the spirit of the Café Racer. Then the slick, super fast, Japanese sport bikes of the 80s came along, and looked set to consign the Café Racer special to the history books.
But a revival had to happen. The Ace Café London re-opened, bike builders as diverse as Wakan, Fred Krugger, Nick Gale and Roland Sands all began to create lean, back-to-basics motorcycles, but with their own unique twist on Café Racer heritage. From the Buell 1125 CR to the Guzzi V7 Sport, mainstream modern bikes have also re-discovered their street racing soul.
Packed with previously unseen photos, machine profiles, interviews, and personal anecdotes from the glory days of Café Racer culture, this book takes a look at the enduring cult of the Café Racer, in all its ton-up glory.
About the author
Alastair Walker has been riding motorcycles for over 30 years and writing about them for two decades. Starting off on a BSA like his father and grandfather before him, Alastair owned several Japanese bikes before becoming a freelance motorbike journalist in the late 1980s. Since then he has tested hundreds of bikes, modern and classic, from a humble Honda CG125 to a 5.7-litre, V8 powered, Boss Hoss cruiser.
Alastair has worked on motorcycle publications such as Biker, Motorcycle Sport & Leisure, and the ACU's Bike Talk, as well as contributed to Motor Cycle News, Bike, T.W.O. Classic Mechanics, Classic Bike Guide, Used Bike Guide, Moto 73, Cycle World, and Dealernews USA. He currently writes for Carole Nash's web magazine insidebikes, and the Manchester Evening News. Alastair currently lives in Ellesmere Port near Liverpool and this is his second book.