The History of Café Racers


It is perhaps the most influential motorcycle movement the world has ever seen. Born in the streets of England in the 1950s, its culture still thrives around the globe. There will never be another motorcycle—or rider—quite like it. And yet, most of us have never heard of the café racer.

The café racer is both man and machine. With its Spartan appearance and aggressive styling, the café racer is one of the most distinctive and revered motorcycles in the world. Their impact on the motorcycle industry includes legendary high-performance motorcycles like Triumph’s Bonneville, Honda’s CB-750, and Kawasaki’s Z-1. Without the origin

al café racers tuning and designing their ordinary street bikes for power and handling, manufacturers may never have designed the modern sportbike.

The café racer movement may have been born in London in the 1950s, but it has developed into a subculture encompassing a desire for speed, a love of rock and roll, and ultimately an enduring love for a motorcycle that’s being revived worldwide.

The human side of the café racer was a perfect match for this type of motorcycle. The riders of these machines were young, and they wanted to go fast. The goal of many of the café racers during the 50s was the ability to hit a hundred miles an hour, better known as “the ton.” Author and journalist Mike Seate has been following the café racer for two decades.

discovery-hd-theater-cafe-racer-caferacer-tv-vintage-motorcycles-ace-cafe-london-rockers-59club-norton-triumph-triton-honda-historic-phot-16“The term café racer came from what’s actually a derisive term used to describe kids who hung out in cafés and raced fast. They would hang out in transport cafés and wait until somebody else came by on a fast bike and challenged them for a race, and they all rushed outside to see who gets up the road the fastest. When they get back to the cafés, which were often occupied by long distance truck drivers, the truck drivers would laugh and say, ‘You’re not a real racer, you’re not Barry Sheen, you’re just a café racer! And the kids thought, ‘Well you’re damn right I’m a café racer!’ So they would race to the next café, and then to the next one as fast as they could, and the name stuck; they embraced it despite the fact that it was a derisive term,” he said.

One of the birthplaces of the café racer was London’s Ace Café. The Ace was one of many cafés that provided a gathering place for teenagers and their motorcycles in the 1950s and 60s. Many, like the Busy Bee and Café Rising Sun have succumbed to the wrecking ball, while others, such as Jack’s Hill and Squires Coffee Bar have survived, hosting annual Ton-Up reunions each year. Avid motorcyclist Mark Wilsmore, who reopened the Ace Café to its former glory in 1994, says that rock and roll helped spark the subculture known as “ The Café Racing.”


“These kids over here, they have been the generation—rock and roll generation—they went out and bought the fastest vehicle they could afford, which over here was a motorbike. In the States, that was a car, and you had your hot rod culture come directly out of Elvis Presley and that lot, but over here, we had a similar sort of thing, but all based around motorbikes because of our different income levels. And the other great attraction of cafés, and I suspect diners in the states at that time, was the jukebox. And certainly in this country, when rock and roll first came around in the mid-50s you could only hear rock and roll on the jukebox. There was no radio stations playing it, no clubs playing it, so this new music of youngsters mixed with having their own vehicles and their own identity, um, along comes this Ton-Up boy and his bike, the café racer, it was invariably—the racing would be from one café to another,” he said.


The hunger to make their ordinary streetbikes go faster and resemble the machines ridden by British racing heroes like Mike Hailwood and Geoff Duke was all part of the café racer’s character. Doing the “Ton,” or hitting a hundred miles-an-hour, became a badge of honor—weather you made it back…or not.

Riders from those days say attempts at reaching the “Ton” on your average 650cc parallel twin were dodgy affairs at best. Riders could consider themselves very, very lucky to reach it as their engines had to be tuned well, but even the best engines could out-perform the skinny, bias-ply tires and meager drum brakes of mid-century design.

Road surfaces were not what they are today, with everything from poor road lighting to axle grease from cars and trucks making each corner a potential deathtrap. Trial and plenty of error was the order of the day and the Rockers, experimenting with countless performance modifications, came to create motorcycles that are still respected by go-fast aficionados. Brave? Crazy? Brilliant visionaries? Addicted to kicks? The Rockers were, and are, all of the above, which is why

the Café Racer culture still lives not only in the streets on London, but across the globe. Enthusiasts of all ages are once again building custom high-performance motorcycles out of their garages, machines that continue the tradition of the café racer. Join us for Discovery HD Theater’s “Café Racer TV” as we explore this rich history and the quest to “Do The Ton.”


松原 みき

Miki Matsubara (松原 みき, Matsubara Miki) (November 28, 1959 – October 7, 2004) – was a Japanese singer, lyricist, and composer from Nishi-ku, Sakai, Japan.

She is known mainly as a pop singer by some hit songs like “Mayonaka no door”, “Neat na gogo san-ji”, “The Winner”, among others. During her career, she has released 16 singles, 9 original albums. Despite her work being mainly domestic, she is well known outside Japan as an anime singer and songwriter. She also had some international work done in Tokyo with Motown musicians Dr.STRUT, from Los Angeles. On the other hand, she released a jazz cover album entitled “BLUE EYES”.

Enjoy Your Life Or You Will Never Be Happy

Working may make you happy, especially when you are successful and can achieve the highest career in your field. But remember one thing, that you must have time to enjoy all that, you also need to be happy in your life. You do not have to succeed first to be happy, even though your life is still in the process of success, you still have to be happy.

Enjoy your life today, because the day you have today will certainly never come back, so enjoy it as much as possible. In addition to working and doing other things, make sure you enjoy it happily. In the end, life orientation is not necessarily a great career and money, but you only need one word to enjoy your life, that is happy. Always enjoy your life and your time with maximum, so that you will not regret it later and you can live your life with a happy feeling.

Remember this story is not teaching you not to attach importance to your career, of course, you need to work hard in order to have a good career. But it is also necessary to enjoy life on the sidelines of your busy life.

May we all include people who have a good career and can enjoy our lives at all times. Because happiness will be gained when we enjoy our life.

Royal Enfield Early Year

In 1909, Royal Enfield shocked the world of motorcycles by introducing a small motorcycle engine Motosacoche V-Twin powered 2 ¼ HP (Horsepower), made in Switzerland. In 1911, the next model was powered by a 2 ¾ HP-powered engine and proudly claimed to have the famous Enfield 2 transmission gear. In 1912, the JAP V-Twin engine was powered 6 HP, with a capacity of 770 CC with a combination of sidecar. Thanks to this motorcycle, the name Enfield became very famous. In 1914, 3 HP-powered motorcycles emerged with Enfield’s own production machines which now have a standard paint scheme with enameled / black enameled and green tanks with gold trim.


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Simple is good.

Simple lets you see the wood for the trees. When you try to do one thing well, rather than several things as well as you can, the outcome will always be better. If all you had to do today was paint your front door, what a great looking front door it would be. You wouldn’t cut corners, you’d take your time, you’d get it right.

Simple prevents confusion.

And confusion kills great ideas. Muddying the water, considering all the options, bringing others in, pausing for breath, reporting back to the board, getting legal advice, adding it to the mix, adding it to the roadmap. They are all delaying tactics that only add confusion and get us away from what we’re trying to achieve. What if a committee’s only task was to simplify an idea? What if the only questions you could ask when someone presented an idea was about whether there was a simpler way of achieving something?

Simple makes you happy.

When have you been happiest recently? Watching your child discover something new? Standing on top of a mountain? Satin front of a fire? Laughing with friends? I bet it was something simple: something that was just in that moment: that one thing that produced a wave of happiness: something uncomplicated.