So What the Hell is a "Cafe Racer"?

Rock and Roll, Iron, Guts, and Caffeine.

England, the fifties. Rock and Roll hit like ten thousand volts of adrenalin exploding inside anyone young enough to dance and old enough to smoke. Youth culture was born with the absolute Beginners and found its eternal soundtrack in Rock and Roll. So we got the radio, daddyo, now how about the ride, Clyde? The price of a cage (automobile) was far out of reach for the young, and in any case, postwar petrol was still being tightly rationed. But a second hand BSA or a 750 Norton (the snortin' Norton), well... get on, baby. With nominal engine tuning, many bikes would do the ton (100 mph), and a black leather jacket and pants were the natural skin of choice.

And the place for a youth rocker to be? Why, the cafe on the motorway, of course. Pubs? Full of boring old drunks. Boring. Youth gotta burn, y'know? Gotta be the caff. Get a cuppa, get a Gene Vincent number on the jukebox and steal a few sidelong glances at that new bird that keeps looking your way. Perfect. Before long the fine sport of record racing was created-start a song on the juke, dash out to the bikes, wick it up to a predetermined point some distance away and try to make it back before the song's up. Alive. No sport for drunks. The sharply focused, hyper-acute animal joy of the senses and the overpowering experience of speed; now that's entertainment.

Not Surprisingly, the British rockers idolized the top motorcycle roadracers of the day nearly as much as their favorite singers. John Surtees, Geoff Duke... Heroes. And rocker bikes were modified to resemble the factory racers as much as possible: low handlebars, rearset footpegs, even solo seats, all designed to move the rider from the upright "sit up and beg" position to the more effective and purposeful "racer's crouch": head forward, feet back. All for maximum control of the machine. Built for speed and 100% fatfree. The Cafe Racer. Head first, Rock and Roll, and devil take the hindmost.

Don't let anybody tell you different.

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