A café racer is a type of motorcycle that developed from a 1950’s British biker subculture called the Rockers. Young and rebellious, the Rockers listened to Rock and Roll music and wanted a unique and fast bike that would take them from one transport café to another. (Transport café is the British word for a truck stop or travel center). Café racer bikes probably derived their name from a race customary for the Rockers—a rider would leave a transport café, race to a point and then race back to the transport café trying to arrive before a song is played on the jukebox.
Café Racers are the European choppers and bobbers: European World War II veterans stripped European-made bikes to make them faster and lighter just like American Word War II veterans who modified military Harleys and started the chopper and bobber movement.
Typical Features or How to Recognize a Café Racer
The original café racers were stock motorcycles modified for speed and handling, not for comfort, and they featured low narrow handlebars, long fuel tank, small, usually solo seat mounted toward the rear, and rear set of foot controls and footrests. The bikes were stripped of unnecessary parts and their engines tuned for maximum speed. The low handlebars allowed a low riding position for better wind resistance.
Café Racers Today
Vintage motorcycles, including café racers, are coming back in style. Many professional custom bike builders are now recreating the café racer as a fresh alternative to the traditional choppers and bobbers. Many motorcyclists convert stock 1970s and 1980s Japanese motorcycles into café racers.
Motorcycle manufacturers are also experimenting with the café-racer concept. Royal Enfield revealed a café-racer production concept called Continental GT at India Auto Expo 2012.