Monday, September 19, 2011

Cafe Racers

Recently a good friend ask me a favor which turned into a fun, different and learning adventure. He had purchased an older motorcycle and overhauled it as a Cafe Racer. On asking him to help me explain what a Cafe Racer is, he provided me with this explanation:

"A cafe racer, originally pronounced "caff" (as in Kaff) racer, is a type of motorcycle as well as a type of motorcyclist. Both meanings have their roots in the 1960s British counterculture group the Rockers or the Ton Up Club, although they were also common in Italy, Germany, and other European countries.

Rockers were a young and rebellious Rock'n'Roll counterculture that wanted a fast, personalized and distinctive bike to travel between transport cafés along the newly built arterial motorways in and around British towns and cities. The goal of many was to be able to reach 100 miles per hour (called simply "the ton") along such a route where the rider would leave from a cafe, race to a predetermined point and back to the cafe before a single song could play on the jukebox, called record-racing. They are remembered as being especially fond of Rockabilly music and their image is now embedded in today's rockabilly culture.

A classic example of this was to race from the Ace Cafe on The North Circular road in NW London to the Hanger Lane junction as it then was - it is now the more famous Hanger Lane Gyratory System - and back again. The aim was to get back to the Ace Cafe before the record you'd put onto the jukebox had finished. Given that some of the Eddie Cochran tunes that were in vogue at this time were less than 2 minutes long, the racers would have had to traverse the three miles round trip at extremely high speed."

This friend is one of many who are rebuilding motorcycles as Cafe Racers. The same friend has also created a group and page on Facebook and wanted some photos of his bike to include on the site. He was looking for photos in a gritty, urban landscape to fit the Cafe Racer style. We headed to one particular area of our neighboring city which had been recommended and had a very successful photoshoot. Here are some of the photos I took for him from that spot and a couple other spots we identified on our travels:

I really enjoyed this adventure and being put up to challenge to photograph something totally different from my norm!!

1 comment:

Paula said...

Awesome. Love them all. And cool bike too.